My kids ignore my music advice laughs 80s chart-topper Kim Wilde ahead of Ipswich and Southend shows
- Credit: Archant
Eighties trailblazer Kim Wilde is back with a new album and her first full UK tour for 30 years. She talks about trying to give her kids music advice and how having a family was more important than her pop career.
Like every mum, Kim’s always on hand to guide her children; both of whom share her passion for music. Like most kids, they ignore her.
“Harry’s 20, he’s got a rock band called Keid. My daughter Rose is at university studying music and they have a good old smile at what I did and appreciate bits of it, or not. They’re treading their own path but they know we’re always there.
“Of course I try to chip in sometimes, but they’re not usually very receptive. I’m just like any other parent trying to dish out sound advice from time to time, only to be looked at like I’m something on their shoe,” she laughs.
They could learn a lot from her. Kim is one of the most successful female pop stars the UK has ever produced, topping the charts both sides of the Atlantic, selling more than 30million records in the process and blazing a trail for the women who followed.
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When music stopped being fun, she got out. Luckily, it coincided with a whole other part of her life opening up in front of her; becoming a wife, a mother and re-discovering a love for gardening.
“I have a lot of creative energy and it had to go somewhere so it went into the garden which I could share with the children. That was the plan anyway. It didn’t quite work out,” she laughs. “I think they hate it but they’ll love it one day.”
Music runs deep in her DNA. The daughter of Marty Wilde - one of the first generation of British pop stars to embrace American rock and roll - she always knew her passion for it was authentic and trusted her instinct to pursue it professionally.
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Putting all her heart, soul and faith into her career, she also knew it wouldn’t be the whole story for her.
“What I wanted more than any of that really was my own family. That was just slightly above my ambition for the rest of my life... my career without a family wasn’t as rewarding,” says Kim, who appeared at the Let’s Rock Norwich! festival in Earlham Park last year.
“I did find being very famous and very successful often quite a lonely place to be at the end of the day. My brother was married with children. My parents had started a family again... everyone was having families and it was all I really wanted. When that happened, everything fell into place; that was the part of the puzzle that was always missing.
“Having children was one fabulous distraction, but all the passion for music was kind of put on the back-burner. A family without my career would still be rewarding but I’d miss it. Now they sort of go together which is even more perfect; these are definitely the better balanced days.”
Music is very much on the front-burner now.
“The children are poised to take off on their lives and I guess that’s allowed mum to breathe a bit and get back to business. I’m very excited about it, it’s amazing how much you can do with that kind of energy. I feel like I’ve got it back again these last few years, putting this album together. It’s a very powerful time.”
A lot of artists I talk to about returning to the business after a while away say they don’t crave chart success anymore. Not Kim, who feels great to be back in competition. New album Here Come The Aliens is a statement.
“Once you love pop music, you always love pop music. Even if it goes on vacation for a while it always comes back to where it belongs. I want to re-establish my position in the great cacophony of pop music, the big picture of pop. I’ve come back to stake my claim, my little patch of it.”
Her 14th studio release, the album was recorded at London’s legendary RAK studios, where she began her career.
She says: “I only did half the vocals there. I ended up doing the rest with my brother in his much smaller studio in his home because I found the emotion of being there just a bit distracting. I remember sitting opposite Mickie Most, the legendary producer who passed away far too early, on the sofa in his office. It’s all still there; the discs on the wall, stuff on his desk.
“For me, it’s a very emotional building to walk into. Sometimes I can be there and pull out some great vocals and sometimes it’s just too much. Remembering being 20-years-old and walking in there, meeting him... he was such a charismatic person and had such a black and white view on everything. He was so positive, always and he never gave you the tarted up version. He always said exactly what was on his mind. He was quite a challenging person to be around sometimes but I always loved his honesty and his vision.”
Choosing between Here Come The Aliens and previous albums is like asking her to choose her favourite child.
“Now I’ve got a little bit of distance, to a degree, because we’ve finished it, it’s out and we’ve started to promote it I can see it’s the natural follow up in a way to Close from 1988. The two are very connected and the albums in-between were a bit of a diversion, still a hunt for the holy grail of the perfect pop record but a slight sort of detour.
“I made an album in Germany called Come Out and play which was like the little sister to this album, but overall Here Come The Aliens is the album that if anyone was waiting for a Kim Wilde record this was the one they were waiting for.”
Kim burst onto the music scene in 1981 with the worldwide hit Kids In America. This was followed by seminal smashes including Chequered Love, Cambodia, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, which was number one in the USA; You Came, Never Trust A Stranger and Four Letter Word. I suggest she’s struck gold more often than not.
“I’ve had a great career singing those songs live for many years, particularly in the last 15 with the 1980s becoming even more potent as the years go by. But I’ve always really fancied the idea of balancing out this career of mine, which is starting to feel a bit bottom heavy with the early hits and petering out eventually in the late 1980s.
“I always thought it would be a great challenge and really fantastic if we could just have a few hits at the other end of the career as well. I think with this album we’ve really got a good chance of doing that. We wrote the first song, 1969, back in 2014; then I got distracted by one of my favourite projects I’ve done in my whole career which was the Christmas album Wilde Winter Songbook which I absolutely adored.
“There was a lot of live work all around the world, touring with Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones which was time consuming but really good fun; bringing up a family still obviously, still playing my part as mother and wife, a lot of live presenting... so, yeah, all sorts of good and bad distractions but always with the eye on the prize - that we would make at least one more, in our minds and hopefully everybody else’s, perfect pop record.”
The idea of throwing her hat in the ring again, especially in today’s constantly evolving music world, is as scary as it is exciting.
“And potentially just as, if not even more, rewarding because I think once you get older you appreciate everything so much more. You appreciate the little things - getting a good night’s sleep or a sunny day - in a way you might not have appreciated when you were 25,” she adds.
Amazingly, this is Kim’s first full UK tour for 30 years.
“I’m just very thankful people are interested in what I’m doing again after all these years and I’m really proud of my new album and excited to showcase it on tour. It’s been a very long time since I’ve made that kind of commitment. It’s my way of going out and saying thank you to everyone for coming to all the 1980s gigs and making me feel young again - allowing me to grow old again in public and still get excited about singing Kids in America with a woman who’s pushing 60,” she laughs.