Blonde, beautiful and bolshy, Brit pop sensation Kim Wilde burst onto the music scene in 1981 with Kids in America, quickly becoming a worldwide household name. With a 35 year career that saw her produce 25 hits in the UK top 50, Kim could be forgiven for resting on her laurels. Instead, she’s choosing to continue touring, with a stop in our very own Gold Coast included. We spoke to the charming chanteuse for Blank GC.
You grew up in a musical family. Has this always been a love or was there a time when you considered pursuing another career choice?
From as young as I remember music was the most powerful voice in my life and one of the most inspiring things around me. I was bought up in a musical family. My dad (Marty Wilde) was playing, singing songs at home, writing and also performing of course but that also had happened just before I was born. He was always playing music you know. The record player was always on and was playing something great. Of course I grew up in the 60’s, which was one of the most incredible decades for pop music. It’s a combination of things really being brought up in a house where music was central and being bought up during some of the most amazing decades for pop music. Then just hearing many talented singers. Every time I heard a voice and there was one that I loved, you know whether it would be Cilla Black, Gene Pitney or Sandie Shaw. As a child those voices resonated with me and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to sing and perform.
In the 1980’s you had your big break with Kids of America which launched your career. What do you miss about the 80’s?
Well I don’t miss much if I am totally honest with you. I had a great time during that decade and it was an amazing period of time, I had some amazing things that happened for me. I had some amazing tours that I was involved with, amazing successes all over the world and a huge amount of travelling. It was a lot of hard work actually and obviously that doesn’t get seen really by most people. You just see the artist running around wearing nice dresses, partying a lot and singing pop songs on stage and stuff. But it was all pretty hard work. The success I had was global virtually so I wouldn’t want to go back to the 80’s, due the hard work. Actually being 20 as well made it even harder work. It is an emotionally turbulent time and I think I had a much nicer time in my 30’s.
You have performed for well over 30 years now what have you enjoyed the most about your career?
Well you get to meet lots of great people and you get to see a lot of beautiful cities and towns. One day you get to wake in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Oslow, Sydney and some of the most amazing places on the planet. You know New York, Japan and Tokyo. These are privileges that not every human being has and I really loved that. I tried to fit as much into the countries as I could while I was there. Out of all the countries I visited over the years it was Australia that I have got to see the most of. I ended up doing a tour back in 1994 then after I managed to go do some backpacking and that was one of the most amazing things I ever did.
What was as your favourite part of Australia?
Well we went to Perth for a while and hung out there on that side of Australia. We ended up just driving down to some of the vineyards, we went to the Daintree rainforest, we went to the Great Barrier Reef and then we went white water rafting down the Tully River. We went to Cairns so we didn’t get to see so much but we did a lot and had a wonderful time. We went backpacking on Magnetic Island off of Townsville that was lovely.
You mentioned in previous interviews your daughter is getting into the music business as well. I intentionally say the word “business” as it’s become that way. What advice do you give to your daughter at the beginning of her musical journey?
Well she is 16 now and she’s really all ready been writing for about five years, so she’s just a natural songwriter. She is currently at a music college locally and she is just focusing on her craft. She is just putting in the hours and she’s kind of moulding into a singer-songwriter for the next generation. I’m hoping that’s what she wants to do anyway and of course as a mum I just want her happy. I think so she thinks that is going to go that way I am sure it will to absolutely. So yeah she plays guitar, write songs, goes to Music College and our son Harry is a great electric guitar player. He has a band called Keyed and he is on the ready to rock the world. So you keep an eye out for both of our kids.
Do you encourage them both to have a backup plan should their music career not be successful?
Well Rose has a strong work ethic as well and we really do encourage that. She has a very nice job just locally working in a Caribbean restaurant. She is learning how to clerk, get to work on time, get a pay cheque and appreciate it all. You should always be able to pay for drinks and a few other things to especially at that age. So we do encourage that. Harry has a few jobs he does as well and working outside to pay for petrol for the car.
While I was researching you online I came across a video of you singing on a tram. What do you think of social media and how it assists in marketing new artists?
Yeah well it’s really become like massive and huge thing isn’t it? Internet and social media obviously like anything it has its drawbacks and it’s terrible side is indeed. I kind of embrace all the good things about it. I enjoy Twitter but I don’t do Facebook and stuff like that, as it is a little bit time-consuming. But Twitter you can dip in and out of and share a bit of what it’s like to be living on this amazing planet from time to time. I love the way that Twitter can connect people from all over the world. I have been talking to Rae Earl, the famous Author, and she is living in Hobart and we contacted her because I enjoyed a series she wrote called My Mad Fat Diary. Now she is coming to my gig when I go to Hobart, so it is great for things such as that.
It has been amazing for my career and allowed me global access to artists. I love it!
I’ll bet it has you can speak to people and connect with people who are going through what you’re going through you know it’s a huge source of courage and companionship.
From your perspective what else has been the biggest change in the music industry over the 30 odd years that you’ve been in it?
Well the industry has lost a lot of its clout from a financial point of view, which is probably a good thing you know. When anything becomes too big and too powerful it can start to become quite toxic, as we have seen with the banks. So it’s been really good for the music to be less regulated less bossed around by music industry. An industry that now has to redefine itself and find a new role for itself. Hopefully that role should be that, which it was in the first place, to search out new talent and nurture new talent. Gets that on its way instead of just sitting there taking all the money at the end of the day. It was kind of where it was going towards the end of the 80s, and into the 90s it became a very greedy monster. So music has kind of got back its power. There is a strong shift back to live music, a lot of gigs, venues doing a much better business and massive amounts of people going to all kinds of festivals around the world. You know people love to be together listening to music. Some of them get up and sing your own songs so I think this is a very good time for music.
Do you think the reality TV format is a good thing for an upcoming artist or not?
That is something I get asked a lot and I think probably that if it were me, and that was happening, I probably would go for it. A very talented young friend of ours singer-songwriter has just got involved in one of those programs in the UK. It doesn’t go out until next January and he’s been worried about the pros and cons of doing it. He has made the decision to get some exposure and see if he can make it work for him. I totally respect and understand anyone who wishes to get in bed with that, but I would say from my perspective now and all these years later I would avoid it like the plague.
You mentioned the love of gardening. My question around this is who looks after you garden while you’re away touring?
You know Larson is really hands-on in the garden so really he helps a lot. However it is an ongoing thing and there is always something to do. There is always something that needs sorting out. I designed it so that it doesn’t need too much work. Having said that it is pretty time-consuming at certain times of the year especially this time and springtime, but I love that. I’d rather go out in the garden rather then watching TV. Autumn is such a good time as well and I just love the different colours of the leaves with the promise of spring.
You have had the pleasure of touring with one of my all-time heroes in Michael Jackson and also the likes of David Bowie, tell me a little bit about this?
Well the Michael Jackson tour came up in 88 and I remember getting the phone call. I was working with my family at the time. My mum called me up to tell me about it and I said you have to be joking I’m not going on tour with Michael Jackson that’s crazy. You know I just didn’t feel like I was up to the job, I didn’t think I was capable of being part of that amazing tour. My mum, bless her, she talked me into it. She said “Yeah you can… you can do it kid”. I launched into that it was the Bad tour he did. One of the most successful and amazing tours he ever did and I was there alongside him for 33 shows. Watching him at the peak of his career often side of stage and getting to see a very unique view of his world, which seemed a bit lonely. I have to say but I think that’s true of a lot of people who are very, very famous it can be a very lonely isolated place to be.
I imagine during that time would have been a highlight of your career what are some other moments that you look back upon and think WOW?
Yeah obviously a few years later I got to tour on the greatest hits tour that David Bowie did, which was amazing obviously because like me everybody else who loved music was brought up on David Bowie. I remember listening to hunky-dory on my Dad’s Vinyl in our home and buying David Bowie records. I just loved him and then to be on tour with him too is just incredible. So yeah I have met a lot of my heroes. Elvis Costello I’m a huge fan of and it’s wonderful to meet your heroes.
Who are some of the heroes or musical idols that you would love to tour or collaborate with?
I don’t know about that really. I mean I used to love in INXS and would have loved to have toured with them. I have to say, Michael Hutchence was one of the most authentic rock stars the world has ever known he is up there with Mick Jagger, he is incredible, in fact I think he is better than Mick Jagger.
Have you ever seen INXS perform live?
Only via the Internet or TV. No hang on… actually we saw them at Wembley many many moons ago, I just remembered. How could I forget that? I remember just being absolutely blown away by his charisma and his vocals. Of course I remember seeing him
Where do you see yourself in either 5, 10 or even 20 year’s time?
Well I am 56 next month. 56 years old…. wow my Dad is just going on tour and he is 76 years old. I wonder and I think that when you have got a voice and you love to sing I think there is a very good chance I may still be singing in some way. Probably not running around singing Kids in America. Perhaps doing acoustic different versions of it. I love more traditional songs too and Christmas songs I made a Christmas album a few years ago I’d like to sort of focus more on that kind of work. So yet is all kind of different areas you can go into when you love music it’s a broad palette. There’s a lot to choose from you can go for some of the hot colours or sometimes you can choose some of the cooler colours and get a great result.
What is your favourite Christmas Carol and what are your plans for this Christmas?
Well I love Silent Night. I kind of augmented that song into a funk tune. I love traditional pop songs but I also love Christmas pop songs. I like the classic ones from wizard, fame, Elton John and Paul McCartney. Every time they come on you know makes my heart sing. When I recorded my Christmas album most of the songs ended up becoming originals, but I also did a few Christmas classics such as Let it snow. It is one of my favourite albums that I have made actually it is called Wilde Winter Songbook.
So next Sunday you’ll be on the Gold Coast are you looking forward to coming to Australia to tour?
Yes. I have always had an amazing time and Australia never let me down. I have always had a magical experience in Australia. I’ve got a very strong emotional connection to Australia and I have had that since I was 13 years old so there is a little part of Australia that lives in my heart.
Is anything you’d like to say your fans? What can they expect from the tour over the next few weeks?
I am amazed that people are still so excited about coming back to see me after all this time. I want to thank all of them for watching my career and getting excited about what I do over the amazing past 35 years. We are going to deliver a show that is going to pack a punch, so don’t come to sit down and relax. It is quite a noisy set and we the still know how to rock ‘n’ roll.
Kim Wilde plays Jupiters Casino & Hotel on 6 November