Eighties star Kim Wilde gave up the pop world for gardening but is back on tour with a series of Christmas party shows. She spoke to Duncan Seaman.
There’s much commotion in the Kim Wilde household when The Yorkshire Post catches up with the Kids In America hit maker. “I’m home alone today with a puppy which has only been with us this past week and just as you called she woke up and I had to put her straight outside,” she says, composing herself. “We can carry on now.”
Aside from puppy-sitting, the 55-year-old singer is gearing up for a handful of festive shows to coincide with an expanded re-release of her album Wilde Winter Songbook, one of which is at Holmfirth Picturedrome.
“I’ve loved it ever since I was a child,” she says of the Christmas season. “I’m sure a lot of children would say that to you, although sadly I’m sure there are many children who don’t have that experience of it.
“Fortunately Christmas has always held some kind of magic for me in some way or another, especially since having our own children, and I’ve always loved everything that goes with it, from the most profound aspects of it to the most superficial – everything from the fact that it’s about family and love and hope and all of those old-fashioned but very meaningful concepts to Christmas decorations. I love the whole thing.”
At her Christmas Party shows the Brit Award winner will be performing a selection of songs from her album – “Of course there are some classic Christmas songs on there – Let It Snow and Winter Wonderland” – then as a bonus, she says: “I’m going to throw in some of my own favourite festive pop tunes as well that everybody knows.”
“The idea is for everyone to have a really good time,” she adds. “It’ll be a very accessible show, you won’t have to know the album inside out to enjoy it. A lot of care and attention is going into it and a lot of charm and a lot of love.”
As well as several self-written songs on a wintry theme, including one with her husband Hal Fowler, Wilde’s album intriguingly includes a cover of Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal featuring her 50s rock ’n’ roll star father Marty and her brother Ricky, who wrote her 80s hits Kids in America, Chequered Love and Cambodia.
“I love that song, it has a sort of Beach Boys quality to it from the Pet Sounds album, I think, it could almost have been on that album,” she says, adding how much she likes the coldest of seasons. “I’m a real winter girl, I was born in the winter, in November, I always associate good things with my birthday and the winter time.”
She’s especially keen on winter as a gardener – the alternative and highly successful career she took up after leaving the pop world for a time when she started a family.
“It’s a great time when all the shrubs and all the trees on the outside to the untrained eye look like they’re dying, or almost dead, but underneath but all the life is still pumping away under the ground, ready to burst into action the following spring.
“I love the silhouettes of winter, I love the shapes and the forms of trees and shrubs and landscape and shadows, I love the frost and I love the snow so, yeah, I’m a real winter fan.”
Wilde says she thought she’d “left music for life” when she quit the business aged 36 and couldn’t have envisaged that “live music was going to reclaim me in quite the way it has” via the vogue for 80s revival tours and festivals.
Horticulture had been recommended to her by a man who came to “keep the grass down” in her new home. “He had just been to Capel Manor, the horticultural college in Enfield, which is only about 40 minutes from where I live, and he said, ‘You should go there, you could learn a hell of a lot about what you could do with the garden’. I said, ‘I just don’t know what to do with it’, so he said, ‘Why don’t you go and do a summer course there’ and that summer changed my life, I got the bug for it big time.
“I think the creative vacuum that was left from my music career was much bigger than I anticipated and it needed filling, really, and I guess even having two children wasn’t enough for me.”
Wilde became such an accomplished gardener she won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2005. It’s a hugely proud moment to rank alongside her highest charting singles.
“In the countdown of my final seconds on this planet the moment that I won that medal will certainly be in that countdown,” she says. “It’s one of the best things that ever happened to me, one of the most amazing experiences. It took a long time coming, there was an amazing journey to get to that little courtyard garden at Chelsea Flower Show, and it was an incredible adventure and I shall probably write about it one day.”
Next year she intends to release a new album of original material, “most of which I’ve either written with my brother or some writers in Sweden”. “I’m very excited about that,” she says. “I’ve been working on this album for over a year now and it’ll probably be out next autumn.”
Looking back, she feels fortunate to have had a career “that’s only ever given me challenges and success, more than I ever dreamed of or felt I deserved”.
“I fell very humbled by it and very grateful for it,” she says.
Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party is at Holmfirth Picturedrome on December 16. For details visit http://www.picturedrome.net/