80’s star and gardener Kim Wilde to Musis Arnhem: “It’s not just about plants and songs”

ARNHEM – 1980s icon Kim Wilde will be playing in the Musis concert hall in Arnhem on Thursday evening 21 November. “I enjoy the performance more than ever. I have a great bond, we get a good response.”

Kim Wilde is almost 60 years old. Whoever falls into the same age zone knows her, of course. From the Kids in America, whoa! From the posters in the Hitkrant. From MTV. From her newwave hairstyle and her leather jacket. Tired of the pop scene, she seemed to have found a new destination in the late 90s, when she spread her passion for gardens through television and books. Now, twenty years later, she is fully performing again.

Arnhem is one of the many cities that you visit on an intensive European tour. Are you so active in music again, because the garden business has fallen dry?
Haha, I wasn’t really in the garden business. Although I still like gardening. My husband does have a garden design company and that is going well. That I perform is because I enjoy it more than ever. We are now in the Netherlands for the sixth consecutive year, in November. I have a great bond, we get a good response. It is wonderful to bring the old hits together with my new songs, that keeps things fresh.

Soon in Arnhem you are barely 30 kilometers away from Hummelo, the biotope of the world-famous garden architect Piet Oudolf.
Oh! Oh yes, yes! I know that one. He is the specialist in ornamental grasses and he does wonderful things with that. I have never been there, but I would like to see it. This time of year is suitable.

Unfortunately, he just closed his garden to the public last year. Maybe it makes an exception for you.
Haha, who knows!

Your latest album is called “Here come the aliens”. What does a woman used to dig into the earth with extraterrestrial beings?
In 2009 I saw something in the air that I could not explain and I had the strong feeling that it was something intelligent. The album opens with 1969, a song about growing up, seeing a man landing on the moon and being completely upset. I still see myself sitting on the couch, watching the black and white TV, together with my father. And then fifty years later, as a woman, you stand in your own garden watching lights dance in the air. And I wasn’t the only one, there were more witnesses. It was an exceptional, inspiring event. Many people in the world think we are the only living things. I am not one of them.

You were young when you experienced the success and associated pressure of your musical career. Thanks to the tranquility of gardening, you conquered the shadow side. Which of the two experiences do you attach the most value to?
That is like asking who your favorite child is and that you have to choose between your son or daughter. They have both given me joy and I have learned from both. My husband works as a volunteer in the local community in a project that promotes the therapeutic value of plants for people. That’s how it started for me: gardening contrasted with what I did professionally in music until then and it had a beneficial influence. Now I feel blessed because I can devote myself to both. And it’s not just about the plants and the songs, but also about the connection you make with other people.

Your musical career was synchronized with the 80s, the era in which the LP changed to the CD. Now we have streaming music services. How would Kim Wilde have fared if she would have started now, as a 20-year-old in music?
There are now also many 20-year-olds who do beautiful things in music. Take Billie Eilish, for instance. I wish I would have been among them if I had been 20 now. My own son is 20 and is just starting out in music. He is a singer and composer, he has his own band. I watch him find his way. It is not easy. I had a happy start. I had just the right hit at exactly the right time. The focus is now more on live music. There are more gigs and more people are going there. Music has become a bit of a side issue that you listen to on your iPhone. But there are always more people for whom that is not enough and who want the whole experience, not to hear the flawless studio production from other people, but to feel the live experience.

Sounds like when we were listening to the new LP of an artist together with our friends.
Yes, I always did that with my Elton John records. Then I went to sit on the bed with my friend Claire and we put on those LPs again and again. Music is to share. The best place where you can do that now is a live concert. That gives a great feeling. I know that. I notice it every time I perform.

If you were to compare yourself to a plant, what would it be?
I think it would be a herbaceous perennial. Something that comes up every year, but what knows that it must lie down when it gets winter and that it must rise when it gets spring. I take a look in my garden now… I choose the red sun hat! Piet Oudolf also uses it a lot with his grasses.