With a wry chuckle, Kim Wilde says: “I know it sounds unbelievable. You can imagine the headlines ‘Pop star sees UFO in her back garden’, but that’s what happened.” Kim says the other-worldly experience back in 2009 inspired tracks on her forthcoming album, appropriately entitled Here Come The Aliens, and says: “One of the first songs I wrote for the new album was inspired by a close encounter I had in my back garden in Hertfordshire. I was in the garden and I saw these lights and I felt absolutely they were not of this world. It had a big impact on me.” Her niece Scarlett was inspired by the alien story to design the cover of Kim’s new album. “My niece is studying art and is a backing singer. She’s a talented girl and I sort of put her right in the deep end,” smiles Kim. “I saw some of her work and it was amazing so I told her what had happened and she decided to go retro and create this sort of fantasy world. I was not scared like the look of the album cover, when it happened, but it’s a great design.”
Best known for 1980s hits Kids In America and You Keep Me Hangin’ On, the multi-awardwinning singer has sold more than 30 million records worldwide and returned to the RAK Studios in London – the same studios where she began her career back in 1981 – to make the new album. “Recording the album there was a pilgrimage,” explains Kim. “It was there that the legendary Mickie Most launched my career. “The studio has not changed. Mickie changed our lives and it was a magic time. It was 1980 and I had just left art college and was dreaming of being a pop star. “I turned 57 this year. It’s very hard now to think I’m pushing 60 and then I was only 20 when I first walked into the building.” As the daughter of British rock ‘n’ roller Marty Wilde, Kim grew up surrounded by music. “My dad was listening to Elvis and rock and roll and contemporary music and then he would be putting on Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Music was fed to us and later it was the Beatles and Kratfwerk.
“My father had mixed feelings at first about me singing and being involved in a career that may or may not take off. But I was determined to get involved in music and, once he saw me on video, he realised I was serious about this and became involved. He co-wrote all my big hits.”
Success came quickly for Kim and she was soon a regular on posters and the front covers of music magazines. “I was only 20. I had spent a year at art college and couldn’t believe my luck,” she remembers. “I always wanted to be on Top Of The Pops and then I was on with Madness and a whole bunch of other people. lt was like a dream come true.” Kim was one of the most successful female UK artists of the 80s.
“My career has always been about great timing,” says Kim. “Mickie Most, touring with Michael Jackson, being asked to open for David Bowie. Touring with Michael taught me a lot about being professional. Watching him at the peak of his career was incredible and inspiring and had an impact on the way I approached touring and singing and, well, other stuff I can’t even put into words.
“And when I was asked to open for Bowie, I thought I must be doing something right. “Toyah, Carol Decker and Siouxsie Sioux were all around and I used to think ‘Why have I not got a distinctive voice like that?’ It took me years to realise I did. Everyone told me I had, but I just never believed it.”
Kim’s voice is now stronger than ever and she’s looking forward to getting back on tour following the release of the new album. “Both my children are nearly 20 and I’m now putting the parent energy back into my career,” jokes Kim. “All these things are happening to me this year. It’s a nice and unusual feeling. I’m very excited indeed.”
Kim’s varied career has seen her make a name for herself as a gardening expert, but music has always been her first love. “Performers can be terribly hard on themselves, but I have decided to give myself a break really. I’ve been married 20 years to Hal, I have great kids and we all have our health. I have too many things to be grateful for to spend time nit-picking.”
Kim’s album is released on March 16 with the UK tour beginning on March 30. Go to kimwilde.com for details.