‘I always want to be a rebel, that keeps me young’

Kim Wilde (63) is more successful than ever. The British pop diva from the 1980’s, who toured with Michael Jackson, is still able to set a hall on fire. She will come to our country soon and perform her biggest hits. Undoubtedly also her breakthrough hit ‘Kids in America’. ‘My father thought that song was just something for me’, she tells us.

The British pp singer Kim Wilde, also known from super hits ‘Cambodia’ and ‘You Came’, starts her tour on 9 April in Leuven, on 13 April Deinze follows and on 15 April Antwerp. Performing live is still the thing she loves to do the most. From her home in England she calls us. She sounds cheerful and enthusiastic. She is definitely up for it. ‘With my band I come to the Netherlands and Belgium for a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. On 15 April we quit the European tour until the end of May.’

Do you need a holiday?
No, then we’re going to record a new album, which will be released in the autumn. We are writing new songs. I am very enthusiastic about it. It’s going to be a fantastic album.

And after that you’re touring again?
Yes, at the end of May we play in Austria. You know, I’m always on tour. I love playing live. I have a fantastic band. There’s more demand for Kim Wilde concerts than we can handle.

On your website you’re described as one of the iconic pop stars from the Eighties. How does that feel?
Honestly, if enough people say that you’re ‘iconic’, you start to believe them (laughs). I don’t take it that seriously. But is great to be associated with such a beautiful decade in pop. I was a big fan of what happened in Eighties music. Punk, disco, rock… There was a lot to experience.

In 1981 you broke through with the new wave song ‘Kids in America’.
I still love new wave. ‘Kids in America’ was my first single and a big hit immediately, all over Europe. A year later it was number 25 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. That was a lot. I became a real rock star (laughs). But it was never the plan to conquer America.

Why did you sing about kids in America as a 21-year-old?
That song was written by my father Marty Wilde and my brother Ricky. There was a fascination about everything that came from America: hamburgers, Cadillacs, Elvis Presley and many other big artists. I thought ‘Kids in America’ was a great pop song. I still love to sing it. It’s a rebellious song, in fact. As a teenager I was a rebel, and my dad saw me like that. And so he really felt I should sing it.

You were a teenager at the end of the Seventies, during punk.
I loved punk music. The attitude was… very rebellious. Punk influenced me and a lot of my contemporaries. After punk came new wave. I am a bit of a rebel, you know? (laughs) I always want to be a rebel, it keeps me young. On stage I still feel like a young girl. Just like the old days (laughs).

Do you have good memories of Belgium?
Absolutely, just good ones. I performed a lot thee. My singles had more success in Belgium and the Netherlands than in my own country sometimes. ‘Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime’, the single I recorded with Nena, was a number 1 hit in Europe, but in the UK it wasn’t even released. I never really understood it, because it’s a fantastic song. It’s interesting how musical tastes differ from country to country. I loved working with Nena, she’s an inspiring lady. I performed with her afterwards a few times.

But they didn’t forget you in your own country?
No, I still perform a lot there. Most of my concerts are in the UK. I am asked for Eighties festivals a lot. Last Christmas I toured with my ‘Wilde Winter Acoustic Tour’. It was very successful.

Touring a lot is probably connected to your recent divorce from your husband Hal Fowler? You have more time now.
(laughs) No, I have been playing live a lot more in recent years. But because I have such a good band and we have a good reputation, we are simply booked more often in recent years. People come to see us and are very enthusiastic. They tell their friends, and they want to see us then too. I love nothing more than playing live, really. Doing more shows is probably less connected to my divorce, but more with the fact that my children are now adults and they need me less. My son Harry is 26 and my daughter Rose is 24.

How do they handle their parents’ divorce?
Oh, fine. They always feel good.

Why did your marriage break up after 25 years?
I prefer not to talk about that. Sometimes things just happen. Life goes on. In December 2022 we filed for divorce. In an official statement we said that the divorce happened amicably and there was no third party involved. Hal and I are still friendly.

Your kids are also active in music.
Yes, Harry plays in the band Wunderhorse. At the end of this year they release their second album. Rose studies psychology at university, but she also sings. Music is in our family. With my brother Ricky I still write songs. Last night we made a fantastic song. Our collaboration is still great. You will notice that when you hear the new album. My last album ‘Here Come the Aliens’ was also full of songs by Ricky and myself.

In ‘1969’, the opening number of the album, you sing about the moon landing and your belief that there are aliens, watching us from space.
It’s one of my favourite songs. The moon landing in 1969 made an enormous impact on me, until today. I remember sitting on the sofa watching it on a black and white TV and following the whole thing. My father was obsessed by that moon landing. He helped me to open my mind to the possibility of alien life. Now I am convinced that it is a reality.

You even saw a ufo on 26 June 2009, the day after Michael Jackson died.
That’s right. I saw a green object in the sky, and it didn’t look like a drone. It was certainly something from outer space.

In Neverland they also saw that ufo. Was Michael Jackson in it, perhaps? Was he taken to the heavens in a ufo?
(Laughs loud) Here in England a lot of people saw that ufo too. I am not crazy, really. But I know: whoever says he or she saw a ufo, will be seen as crazy. I’m used to that. I know what I saw. There must be alien life out there. 100% sure.

You opened for Michael Jackson during his ‘Bad Tour’, but you never spoke with him?
No, that’s right. Michael was very private. I only met him briefly for a promotional photograph. I think if I would go on tour with Beyoncé, it would be the same. Michael was a superhero on stage, but besides that he lived a lonely and isolated life. I felt isolated myself, sometimes.

You started a different life then.
Yes, I thought: there has to be more than the life of a rockstar. In 1996 I met Hal, we got married and had children. I have to say: I had more fun when I wasn’t recognized than when I was successful with my music. I loved anonymity.

You took up gardening, but became a wellknown gardener, you presented gardening programmes on TV, wrote books about it.
That’s right, even as a gardener I became wellknown, but I didn’t feel as isolated because of it. I was a mum who just loved gardening a lot. I am still in love with my garden, I spend a lot of time in it. I like being busy with my vegetables, flowers, trees… I find peace there. My garden is my church (laughs).

But still music won’t let you go.
No, I can’t live without music. I have never enjoyed my singing career as much as I do now. And I look forward to my new album so much.

Is your father still busy in music?
Yes, he’s almost 84, and just released new music on Spotify. He’s constantly writing new songs. Music keeps you young, that’s obvious. I notice that myself too.

You are 63. Do you still feel young?
I still feel very young (laughs). I go waterskiing, I ski in the snow, I train in the gym… I am a very active person. I want to keep in shape. I want to feel physically well as well as mentally.

Are you still single?
Oh, no comment (laughs). But I can sayu this: I have never been as happy as I am now.