2016 continues to be a big year for Aussie fans of 80s music. We have already seen some very big names from the decade touring here but hold on guys… there is more to come! Kim Wilde and Howard Jones are teaming up for an Australian tour in November and I caught up with Kim recently to talk about the tour and her Australian connection.
This will be the first time the two artists have toured together but they do have a history of performing together. “I have done a lot of concerts with Howard,” Kim tells me. “Especially here in the U.K. We do a lot of 80s gatherings like 80s Rewind and Retro so we’ve done a lot of shows where we’ve been on the same line-up but we haven’t actually toured together. We’re good friends and we’ll work on some fun ideas and some stuff that we can do together as well as obviously doing our own stuff. On the last tour in 2013 when I came over with Nik (Kershaw), Nik was playing in my band and then my brother was playing in his band and we ended up singing a song all together at the end so I’m sure Howard and I can come up with some ideas to make it really special for you guys.”
Kim assures me that anyone who is a big lover of the 80s will not go away disappointed. “Obviously Howard will be singing those incredible songs that everybody knows and loves so well from him and I’ll be doing exactly the same thing and then I’ll be throwing in some interesting covers, probably from the 80s decade. I’ve got a feeling we’ll keep it fairly 80s-centric,” she says with a laugh. “There aren’t any rules about this tour so I guess we’ll have to keep a few surprises up our sleeve. Howard is such a great artist. He’s very creative so I’m sure he will come up with some very imaginative ideas.”
Kim has a strong connection with Australia. She has been coming here to perform ever since the 80s. “Working with Molly Meldrum of course and travelling all over Australia and so I’ve been coming to Australia right from the very start of my career,” she points out. “I came over first as a child with my parents so I have a very strong connection. I remember going to Kings Cross and staying there with my mum and dad. It was about 1973 I think. I was about 13 years old.”
“When we got there in ‘73, the Sydney Opera House had only just been completed. I remember us going to have a look at it. It’s such a magnet. I know it’s a magnet for all tourists but I just love going back to that place and it takes me right back to standing on the steps outside it when it was completed so I have a very strong connection to that particular building. I’ve got a photograph of me actually standing right outside it when I was 13 so I’ll have to circulate those again when I come over this time.”
Kim has some very happy memories of being here when she was young and later on, in about 1994, of backpacking around Australia with a friend. “We went to Perth first and then we went to Western Australia and we drank a lot of really nice wine there. We went to the Daintree Rainforest near Cairns; we went snorkelling of course in the Great Barrier Reef and we went to Magnetic Island which was incredible. I loved Magnetic Island.”
Aside from her passion for music, Kim is also very passionate about horticulture and the environment. “I’m working now with a really great volunteer project locally which works with volunteers and the community with plants as therapy so I’m quite involved in that as well as my own garden.” In 1994, she met Bill Mollison, ‘the King of Permaculture’. “He had a big impact on me. He is a great environmentalist. Actually meeting Bill back in ‘94 after I toured there had a big impact on me because he was living the life, living close to the land and looking at sustainable ways of treating the environment without ruining it and it all had a huge impact on me.”
Protecting and nurturing the environment has been a big part of her life ever since. “It’s our whole life,” she explains. “My husband and I are involved in a project that we get involved in locally and gardening has become a place where we can meet. He’s been working at the National Theatre in London for seven years now. He’s been an actor all his life and I’m travelling and singing and recording and having my life and gardening is one of the only places where we can actually work together so gardening, for us, becomes intensely important and a great place to return to from the madness and the creative chaos of the rest of our lives.”
The singer is very aware of her strong fan base in Australia and, as she tells me, the connection is even stronger now because she has family here. “My niece, who will be performing with me on stage as my backing vocalist, is now living in Sydney. She’s fallen in love with an Aussie and she’s studying at an arts college in Sydney so we’ll be going over to her place wherever she’s living in Sydney.”
Obviously, growing up in a musical family also had a huge impact on Kim’s life. She recalls watching her father, singer Marty Wilde, strumming a guitar and playing great melodies and songs and listening to everything from Tchaikovsky to Elvis Presley and everything in between. “My dad was a great lover of all kinds of music. He’d bring home Kraftwerk albums, Aretha Franklin, all the best albums that were coming out during the seventies. In our living room, we would play them on our record player so we had a rich upbringing listening to all kinds of fabulous sounds, especially Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. That’s my favourite. It was an endless stream of inspirational music being played in the house that imbued a great love of music in the hearts of not just me but my brother Ricky Wilde who is in my band now and he’ll be on tour with me. He’s my rhythm guitarist and continues to be my producer and co-songwriter so there’ll be three family members on stage; myself, my brother and his daughter, Scarlett, who’s now living in Sydney.”
So the musical genes have been passed on to another generation of the Wilde clan. “We all are passionate about music. It’s a different language that we can talk so it’s a bit like being bilingual,” she laughs.
Kim Wilde and Howard Jones will be touring Australia in November. Get full tour details here.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved