Interview: Kim Wilde
Enlish pop singer Kim Wilde is best known for the phenomenal success that she acheiveed throughout the 80’s with songs like her debut single Kids in America and the her cover of the Supreme’s hit, Keep Me Hangin’ On which secured Wilde with a major US hit and helped the musician become a household name around the world. She supported Michael Jackson at the height of the King of Pop’s career for 33 dates as part of his Bad World Tour, has opened for David Bowie and sold an impressive 10 million albums over the last 35 years.
A regular on the touring circuit, Kim Wilde is heading to Australia with fellow 80’s star Howard Jones, bringing her back catalogue of hits down under throughout November and in the lead up to her return to Australian shores we were given the opportunity to chat with Kim about her career, her many accomplishments and the upcoming tour dates. Here is what Kim had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: How are you and where are we speaking with you from today?
Kim Wilde: Yeah I’m great thanks Brendon. I’m at home at the moment. I’m in Hertfordshire which is about an hour north of London. It’s a bit of a rainy day but its beautiful because all the flowers are out; especially all of the roses.
BV: That must be nice because I know you have a soft spot for the gardening.
KW: That’s right, I love my gardening. I spend a lot of time out there. I also just got back from walking our two dogs.
BV: What kind of dogs do you own?
KW: We have got two Airedale Terriers; a young one who is ten months old now and we’ve got an old one whose been with us for twelve years.
BV: You will be heading down under in November to play a series of shows around the country. Have rehearsals for the show started and what can you tell us about the set list you have planned for the fans?
KW: In a way we’re in constant rehearsal because most of the songs – well, all of the songs – that we’re going to be playing in November, we’re already playing at festivals here in the UK and abroad in mainland Europe. Howard is also currently touring over in America so we will be a well-oiled machine by the time we get to November, that’s for sure (laughs).
We are yet to have our rehearsals together and we will be obviously presenting our biggest hits and some surprise tracks from the 80’s, something more contemporary and certainly some songs together. There’s lots of finer details to come up with but I can’t wait to tour with him and I can’t wait to get back to beautiful Australia.
BV: You have toured with Howard in the past – on the Here and Now 80’s revival tour some years ago over in Europe. What do you enjoy the most about having Howard on the road with you?
KW: We are survivors from a decade that has brought a lot of joy to people. We have respect for each others music and a passion for music which hasn’t diminished at all; if anything its gotten brighter and stronger and yeah, I think thats some things we share in common. We don’t take ourselves too seriously but we take what we do very seriously.
BV: Is there anywhere that you are particularly looking forward to visiting or seeing while you are here. Any bucket list items you are hoping to tick off that maybe you haven’t had a chance to do on previous visits?
KW: Back in 1994 I did a greatest hits tour and at the end of it a friend of mine flew into Australia to meet me and we went backpacking around big parts of Australia and we had an amazing time. We started off in Perth and we ended up in Queensland and went to the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef and we had some amazing experiences. Not least of all on Magnetic Island just off of Townsville which we absolutely loved. We just love that place. Its a beautiful, unspoiled island. So maybe this time we will get to see a little bit more although the tour is pretty intense so I don’t think it will be a tour where I can multi-task with the trekking and the digging.
BV: Like you just told us; the tour is quite grueling I that it is 9 dates quite closely placed together. How are you with touring like this these days?
KW: Yeah, I try not to do an awful lot of it. I’m often just flying out over a weekend to do a gig. So with a tour like this – I mean, I keep pretty fit anyway and I try to look after myself so it wont be a huge shock to the system but I will keep myself moving on the tour and when I’m able to I will get out and have a good walk around and see what I can of beautiful Australia and get lots of sleep and not party too hard. Though, its my brothers birthday on the 6th of November so it might be a bit of a tender gig the night after (laughs).
BV: You have to have a cheat day somewhere within the tour!
KW: (laughs) yeah, I think that will be the cheat day. Oh look at that (looking at her schedule), we’ve got two days off after that. Whoo hooo (laughs).
BV: Perfect timing!
KW: Exactly. The 7th and 8th November we’ve got off and we play again in Sydney on the 9th so I should have recovered by then (laughs).
BV: Well, depends how hard you party Kim.
KW: Well, yeah. Those hard partying days are a bit behind me now. You have to look after yourself when your knocking on like I am (laughs).
BV: I am assuming that your biggest hits will be making an appearance within the set list of the upcoming shows. Songs like Keep Me Hangin On and Kids in America. Do you still enjoy performing these songs after 35 years – in the case of Kids in America?
KW: Maybe 10 or even 15 years ago we rerecorded Kids in America with Charlotte Hatherley from Ash and that really invigorated it and rocked it up and I’ve been doing the version like that pretty much until fairly recently. Before that I had a long break; I got married and I had children and so I didn’t sing Kids in America for several years which was a really good thing to do. So recently we had another look at Kids in America again and we’ve taken it back to having it sound absolutely like the original version of it which is the record that everybody loved and still loves so its sounding very authentic again. It sounds very driven, like the original and you know, the reaction we get from the audience is always astonishing for that song and I think 100 years from now, people will still get excited about hearing that song.
BV: Talking about Kids In America – you were very young when you released the song which has become quite an iconic track over the years. Do you think you were well prepared for the international success that was sparked from the release of the track?
KW: Yeah, I definitely was, yeah. I was about 20 years old when it happened and I was ready to rock. I was absolutely rearing to go and then all of a sudden I had a massive hit of my hands and I just couldn’t believe that I was doing the job that I always wanted to do and that I was getting paid for it so it was all good. I realised how lucky I was and I was brought up to work hard and to appreciate the good things when they came into my life and I knew a good thing when I saw it when I had this career land in my lap so I just committed to it 100% and worked really hard.
BV: If you were to travel back in time to give your twenty year old self advice – advice to that young 20 year old woman in the Kids in America video – on the future and how to play the music industry game, what would it be?
KW: I would say to start songwriting. I didn’t start songwriting until about my 3rd album. I didn’t really feel happy with my experience with songwriting for several years after that. It wasn’t until Close was released in 1988 that I felt I had really arrived as a songwriter myself. I would have said to my young twenty-something year old self to not be intimidated by all the great songwriters before you and all the great writers now and even by your own father and your own brother and to start writing those songs right away. And I would say that to any other young artist now and its something that I encourage my own children to do They’ve been writing songs themselves for several years now and they’re still only 16 and 18 years old.
BV: You have had an incredibly impressive 35+ year career – numerous hit singles, many awards including a Brit Award and you have opened for some of the biggest icons in music including Michael Jackson and David Bowie. Looking back over your career – among so many accomplishments, what would you say have been the highlights?
KW: For me the highlight happens every time I go out on stage now because I’m reaping the reward for all of the work and all of that time and all of that passion which has distilled into a beautiful liqueur and I get to taste that liqueur every time I go out on stage now.
So the best moments of my career and really happening at this point of my life but if I look back in retrospect, in terms of the highlights; Michael Jackson is an obvious highlight within my career. I had Close out so I had 4 or 5 big hits off that album and touring with him was astonishing; 33 concerts with Michael Jackson at his peak was completely inspiring and an amazing event.
BV: With so many changes in the music industry since the 80’s – digital downloading, social media, reality TV shows serving as platforms for new talent – what are your views on the current music industry and do you think things are going in a positive direction?
KW: Yeah, through the middle of the 80’s – well, perhaps even throughout the whole of the 80’s – the music industry had become quite greedy and it wasn’t a very good time for artists or probably for radio either at that time. I think things have changed a lot now. The artists have reclaimed a lot. There has been a lot of emancipation through the internet. I think because people have gotten used to the internet that they have gotten bored of that already and they want to go to a gig and they want to have the real live experience. I think the fact that there has been so much music on the internet has made people realise how much they want it live. Live music is a big deal again and that has been a really good thing I think for artists, songwriters, bands.
BV: It’s been a few years now since your last studio album of original songs. Are there any plans in the pipeline to head into the recording studio again anytime soon?
KW: Yeah, we’re just finishing off a new album which I am really excited about. A new Kim Wilde album with great new pop tunes. The type of songs you might expect from Kim Wilde in 2017 I guess so I am very excited about it. I have got high hopes about it especially as I just saw Rick Astley go to number one in the UK. If Rick Astley can go to number one then maybe I can too.
BV: Final question for you Kim. What would you like your fans at these upcoming shows
KW: We live in a tough old world and there is a lot you can cry about and a lot that make you feel like getting out of bed isn’t such a great idea and I think all of us who have an opportunity at some point in out lives no matter what we do to fight that feeling and to help others to do that to and to bring hope and joy and to reflect whats great about being alive and sharing time together on this amazing planet. I know it all sounds a bit naive to say these things but if you don’t sort of fight the negativity that is endemic on this planet then there’s no hope and I feel that music is a great way of uniting people and bringing joy into peoples hearts and get them to think “yeah, its not so bad being here and I’m just gonna fight that feeling which makes me want to give up a lot” and there is a lot of stuff out there that makes you want to give up. Every time you look at the news and every time you look at your twitter feed and when you turn on the radio. Theres a lot of bad news out there so you have to fight extra hard to find whats good about being on this planet and there’s plenty.
BV: Perfectly put Kim. Thanks so much for the chat and we can’t wait to see you and Howard when you tour later this year.
KW: No worries at all. Thanks Brendon.
Kim Wilde will be touring with Howard Jones throughout November at the following Australian venues….
Australian Tour Dates – November 2016
Wednesday 2nd November – CANBERRA, Canberra Theatre
Friday 4th November – SYDNEY, Enmore Theatre
Saturday 5th November – BRISBANE, Eatons Hil
Sunday 6th November – GOLD COAST, Jupiters
Wednesday 9th November – SYDNEY, Rooty Hill RSL
Thursday 10th November – HOBART, Wrest Point
Friday 11th November – MELBOURNE, Palais Theatre
Saturday 12th November – ADELAIDE, The Gov
Sunday 13th November – PERTH, Astor Theatre