80s dazzler Kim Wilde stands up for pop

Buzz’s Carl Marsh was moulded by the 1980s, which means there’s a little bit of Kids In America hitmaker Kim Wilde in his DNA. Not literally, but you know. Anyway, after 40 years in the game Kim’s in Cardiff this month on a greatest hits type tour, and here are some of her related musings.

Like most artists, these last few years have put a hold on your touring – but not everyone was due to be celebrating 40 years since their debut album came out! A setback, but a huge relief to be on tour again?
Kim Wilde: Yeah, it was a huge disappointment, like it was for loads of people with all kinds of plans as we all went into lockdown. It was the greatest hits tour, and everything got put on ice – except they released the album. But the tour couldn’t accompany it. Now it can. So, it’ll probably give that album a new lease of life, but it’ll undoubtedly be a great way to celebrate 40 years in the industry.

There was a time when, I think, none of us knew if we’d ever get our old lives back in any shape. For me, as a performer and a live artist, there was very much a moment where you thought we might never be able to do this again. So there’s a sense in which I appreciate my career more now than I’ve probably ever done in my whole life. And I enjoy being in front of an audience.

Moreso, I find the entire thing pretty emotional. To stand in front of a whole bunch of people after this period of time and to know when you look out… you know that you’re looking at a lot of people who’ve been through hell. So there’s something really humbling about that. That reality that we all went through the same thing together. And we’re all on the other side and having a party celebrating. There’s something fabulous about that, I have to say.

I grew up in the 1980s, and I remember seeing you on Top Of The Pops for the first time with Kids In America, and for me, that is the best decade of music.
The great thing about the 80s was it was just a crazy sort of chaos of styles. I mean, it wasn’t just all sharp haircuts and shoulder pads [laughs]. There was disco, new wave, synthpop, prog of course. We had Genesis, Yes and all those bands; we had rock’n’roll, Queen, U2… ska. So yeah, it was a really eclectic decade for many individual artists doing their own thing in a very particular way.

The synth, new wave and the postpunk/pop area are where my brother and I felt the most natural about making records. Even though we’ve been brought up on punk, which we loved, there was always pop. Always pop. Although punk had been massive from around 1975/76 onwards, and as much as we love the Sex Pistols, we loved [Abba’s] S.O.S. and Mamma Mia! So we combined our love of rock’n’roll.

The music does live on via many revival tours, as well as solo tours like yours, and it’s not just for the old fans: many new fans are discovering 80s music via these events, plus movies and TV shows.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely, you see that in the audience. I see that. And the reality of the younger generation loving this music by many people who weren’t even born then. So, now to be 62 and to celebrate being a pop star is really fun. Because for lots of years, the word ‘pop’ was a bit of a dirty word. And it’s lovely now that it’s been truly appreciated, celebrated and respected, as it should be.