Kim Wilde: ‘Music is my first language’

She spends half a year making music, the other half gardening. “I think it’s both great,” says Kim Wilde. The English singer will perform on Sunday at CCXL in Vlissingen.

She was the crowd-friendly face of the new wave in the 1980s. A tad alternative, but especially very poppy. “Yes, that’s right,” says Wilde. “I grew up in the seventies with glam rock. I loved that. Then you got the punk and the new wave. A lot happened in the music. My influences My dad was a musician. I grew up in a house where strings were constantly being struck, piles of great records were lying around. I can still get as excited about Metallica as I am Tchaikovsky. “That is a broad concept, because strictly speaking, trash metal also falls under pop music. There is often snobbish about what is and what is not possible. I do not like that. I have taken part in many types of music.”

Her debut was overwhelming and her comeback too. In 1981 she stormed the charts with Kids in America, her most famous song. Suitable for discotheque and car radio, with her bouncy blonde hair and black-rimmed eyes she looked like the most alternative girl in the class. Other hits in the eighties were Cambodia and View from a bridge. When her success declined in the 1990s, Wilde accepted the role of Mrs Walker in the London musical version of Tommy. There she met Hal Fowler, whom she married and had two children. “I thought I would never do anything in music again. I was 36, became a mother, I had a family, and I locked the door. Another door opened. I threw myself into gardening and started studying horticulture. “


She presented a popular gardening program for the BBC and published two books about her new passion, translated into Dutch as ‘Tuinieren met kinderen’ en ‘Tuinieren!’. The German singer Nena, who, like Wilde, had her heyday in the eighties, brought her back on the track of music in 2003. “I ran into her and she asked me to record Anywhere, anyplace, anytime. I didn’t expect it to be such a huge hit. One day I was still in the garden with my rubber boots, the next day I was back in TV studios. I had to get myself back on the saddle quickly. I had to get back into shape. I had two children, this came completely unexpectedly.”

Wilde started performing again in 2007, for the first time in over a decade. Now she combines music with gardening. “I’m 55. I’ve seen people who live struggling and I haven’t always had it easy there are two things that help me: music and plants. They keep me going. Part of the year I’m busy with music and part with gardening that works well, I don’t see that changing anymore. I will always be busy with plants and always sing, whether it be in a hall for hundreds of people, or in a local choir.”

Eighties revivals

For the time being, Wilde is still filling large halls. The next week she will be touring the Netherlands, starting in CCXL in Vlissingen. Many of her shows are eighties revivals. Pure nostalgia, she acknowledges, for which she is not ashamed at all. “I grew up in the sixties and seventies. When I hear a song by Billy Joel, I am instantly back in the days when I was a teenager. I am very aware that my music is no different. I think more and more people are looking back and longing for that time, which was calmer and more organized. The time before the internet and the mobile phone, with less threat of terrorism. Of course, the eighties had their own problems. But what a carefree time it was. You were still allowed to smoke on airplanes, you were driving a car without a seat belt. Not sensible perhaps, but they are happy memories. It is definitely not the case that I live in the past, but it is nice to return to it from time to time. And that is possible through the music.”

Wilde is also working on a new album, which she believes should become a tribute to pop music.” I expect a lot from it. They are really good songs, a little contemplative, with compelling melodies and a real pop feeling. The magic of a good pop song is that it can get you through the day. Music is my first language. I don’t think I couldn’t write songs anymore. Okay, I can’t write songs like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder, I can’t sing as well as Aretha Franklin, but I did take my own place in pop music. My career is neither too big nor too small. It’s just right.”

Kim Wilde, Sunday October 9, CCXL Vlissingen, starting at 8.15 PM.