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 SHEEP FARMING
BOX SET OUT NOW


A remastered & expanded 2CD+DVD and a remastered Limited Edition White Vinyl LP of Sheep Farming In Barnet are out NOW

Order
The box set

Cherry Red
Amazon
The vinyl album
Cherry Red
Amazon


2CD+DVD TRACK LIST
(All tracks remastered 2020)

CD1: SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET

1. Neon Womb
2. Indecision
3. Waiting
4. Computer
5. Victims Of The Riddle
6. Elusive Stranger
7. Our Movie
8. Danced
9. Last Goodbye
10. Victims Of The Riddle 
(Vivisection)
11. Race Through Space

Bonus Tracks

12. Gaoler
13. Bird In Flight
14. Tribal Look
15. Love Me 
(Dangerfield Session)*
16. Tribal Look 
(Alternate Mix)*
17. Our Movie 
(Shoestring Version)*
18. Waiting 
(Shoestring Version)*
19. Neon Womb 
(Shoestring Version)*
20. Danced 
(Shoestring Version)*


CD2: RARE & ARCHIVE MATERIAL

Spaceward Studios Demos May 1978

1. Computers (Demo)*
2. Little Boy (Demo)*
3. Close Encounters (Demo)*
4. Watch Me Sane (Demo)*

Spaceward Studios Demos Dec 1978

5. Jailer (Demo)*
6. Race Through Space (Demo) *
7. Elusive Stranger (Demo)*
8. Problem Child (Demo)
9. Israel (Demo)
10. Christmas Carol (Demo)

Chappell Studios May-June 1979

11. Race Through Space 
(Alternate Mix)*
12. Neon Womb (No Saxophone)*
13. Our Movie (Alternate Mix)*
14. Waiting (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
15. Indecision (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
16. Computer (Alternate Vocal Mix)*
17. Vivisection (Improvisation)*

Rollerball Rehearsal Studios Oct 1979

18. Love Me (Demo)
19. Tribal Look (Demo)
20. Guilty (Demo)
21. Three-Sided Face (Demo)

* Previously unreleased


DVD: RARE & ARCHIVE FOOTAGE

1. The Story Behind The Album: 2020 Interview
2. Track-By-Track Album Commentary: 2020 Interview
3. Neon Womb: Acoustic Session 2020
4. Computer: Acoustic Session 2020
5. Bird In Flight: Acoustic Session 2020
6. Race Through Space: What’s On 12/04/1979
7. Toyah Interview: What’s On 19/04/1979
8. Danced: The Old Grey Whistle Test 04/03/1980
9. Indecision: The Old Grey Whistle Test 04/03/1980

For more info at toyahwillcox.com Sheep2020

Review in Classic Pop Magazine (Issue 67, Jan/Feb 2021)


18/11/2020

TOYAH TALKS
SHEP FARMING IN BARNET

WITH PHIL MARRIOTT
13.11.2020



PHIL: I'm so thrilled to be with Toyah Willcox on Zoom! How are you?

TOYAH: Woooo! I'm OK. It's really good to see you. I haven't seen many people in the last seven months so it's so good to see you!

PHIL: I was just going to say – likewise. The last time I saw you was at Wise Buddha, a studio just off Oxford Street in Central London and we could see each other face to face

TOYAH: That was about 18 months ago

PHIL: I know! How have you been?

TOYAH: I'm really good. Well, I'm really confused because I live in a market town, on a square, one High Street and I'm bang in the middle of all of this. I have a chemist next door, we did have a bank next door but we bought it and that's now our offices. 
So I'm looking outside my window and there is all normality. There's no sign of any kind of lockdown and I'm wondering if I'm being lied to because I've got people on park benches, drinking coffee, talking to everyone, eating and I'm thinking “I thought this was a lockdown!” I'm so confused!

PHIL: It's crazy, isn't it? I went past a bar yesterday and they were walking in and out and my partner said "hang on a minute! It's meant to be lockdown!" I think it was take-away, it just felt like normality, it just felt normal. It's weird

TOYAH: This feels normal. None of that terror of last April. Everyone's just having a lovely time out there and I'm thinking someone's played a joke on me because I've been indoors for so long

PHIL: We do need it though, don't we … By the way I've been loving your lockdown shows every Saturday. It's been a real ritual. I've been pottering around and then I've been switching onto your Toyah At Home show on Saturday morning

TOYAH:
Oh, thank you

PHIL: It's been fantastic, really enjoyed those. And they've been really honest as well because you've been talking about your life and feeling nostalgic and talking about what's happening at the moment and we don't normally get to see that – you walking around your house, showing things in your house, your books. It's been brilliant 
 

TOYAH: I'm going to keep it up because normally on my working year I'm running an office. I run the band, I run the record side of things, I run the gigs – booking them and I never get time for any of that so it's been fantastic for me and for my husband Robert. We've been kind of been able to address what fans need
That might sound silly because fans just need to see you live and (to) do your music – well, lockdown has proven much more than that. I'm going to try and keep it going and try and prioritise the connection we've made with the fans and stop prioritising the ridiculous amount of bureaucracy we both have to deal with. So it's been great on that level it's been a fantastic year!

PHIL: It's been really good for the fans as well like you say because they really appreciate it because they're feeling a bit lonely and isolated and it's good to have that company as well, isn't it?

TOYAH: It's been shocking. We do a lot of celebrity messaging. We were a bit doubtful about it at first. We thought "oh gosh is this a step too far?" It's been a absolute joy and occasionally you get the odd message from someone saying "I'm so desperate, I'm so alone, can you just say something to help shake this blackness off me"

We've really really loved every minute of doing these messages and also realising that our broadcasts have a deeper meaning than just us going "look at us". It's all become so much deeper and that is beautiful. It's affected my writing. The new album Posh Pop is really deep, it's really passionate and it really rocks and that could only have happened because of this exceptional year

PHIL: We have to talk about Sheep Farming In Barnet. I can't believe it's 40 years


TOYAH:
Look what I've got! (Waves the box set about)

PHIL: I know! I can't wait to see that

TOYAH:
This is an exclusive!

PHIL:
Amazing!


TOYAH: It only arrived two days ago 


PHIL: It's new images as well isn't it, like you've shown there, new photographs that we've not seen before. This is an album that was released in 1979 as an AP – an Alternative Play (above) and then it was released as an album in 1980 so you're obviously celebrating the 40th anniversary. 
What are you memories of this though because obviously a lot of stuff gets forgotten about. You've got a very good memory I have to say, watching your Toyah At Home videos. You seem to remember a lot of detail. Do you remember detail of that period?

TOYAH:
It's shockingly bad. My wonderful archive manager and he designed this, Craig Ashley, designed with Alan Sawyers – he writes a essay about each project. We're already onto Blue Meaning and then we're onto Anthem so we're 12 months ahead. We put this (Sheep) to bed three months ago. My memories were jogged by an essay that Craig had to send me. He knows more about my life than I do. He prompted my memory with this astonishing essay that's in here (shows the boxset) I thought "I did that?! I did that?! Oh my God!"

This is a long time ago this album but what I will say about it – I've always remembered that I think it's the one of the most relevant, one of the most original, ingenious albums of that period and it's never had that credit. Cherry Red (the record company) have really taken this on board and they are giving it the 100%. It's a beautiful album. 
There's a beautiful innocence but there's also so many pathways we opened for other people with this album. It's a fun album. It's a real danceable album. It's about youthful energy. It's beautiful and it's a side of punk that isn't that well known. It's great. I adore this album


PHIL: So this album was recorded – correct me if I'm wrong – Chappel Studios, New Bond Street wasn't it, in Central London -

TOYAH:
Yes!

PHIL: Which is now the Mulberry store. There's something about quite poignant about that – it should always be that studio I guess but what are your memories of recording there? Do you have many memories of you actually recording it?

TOYAH: Next door was Chanel and Hermes and I just pooh pooed them “Who wants to spend that on a handbag?” I don't want to spend half a million quid on a silk scarf. If only I knew, hindsight is a beautiful thing. The studio was upstairs, very very traditional. Almost old fashioned because the studio was a song writer's studio. 
There was quite a few studios in the corridor I was in. We were one of the first punk acts to go in. I found the whole recording process in this particular instance very difficult because we now know I sing without headphones on. I cannot do that (puts hands over ears) It just affects me emotionally.

So this took about four albums to discover that. Steve James, our producer, realised that he was going to get the best performance out of me if he just put speakers in the room and I performed as live. That was a learning curve - it was a big learning curve. So the first songs we recorded - for me – were emotionally quite tough because I was just trying to learn how to work within this dead space. 
Recording studios – if you haven't been in one – have no sound reflection. So we've got sound reflection here, I'm surrounded by mirrors, I can hear myself speak but in a studio it's a dead sound. It's really difficult to form notes in that kind of sound so … 
You asked me what was the experience like? It was a major learning curve of dealing with working within dead sound. Now, if I'm acting and I'm in a studio there's nothing more beautiful than dead sound because it makes you forget about the camera. So it was very very enlightening, it was energetic, we were an energetic team

I think it was challenging for the whole band because Keith Hale was brought in as an arranger and that was frustrating for Pete Bush who is the main keyboard player on this album and he felt very threatened by that. But all this rather glorious usurp thing and power play is the result of this album. 
That and the fact that we honed every song in front of a live audience, which is such a privileged thing to so. We would do these incredible long encores that were as along as the actual show because the audience would never let us go

We would run out of songs so we'd start to play them stuff we were formulating in soundcheck and this is how we came up with these glorious arrangements because we knew what affected the audience before we went into the recording studio. 
That is something that all young writers should have the privilege to do today because to watch an audience affected by a bridge or a chorus – you just know what you need to do as a songwriter. So much of today happens away from a live audience and this is all about live audience work. It was magnificent

PHIL: The album title itself – it still raises eyebrows today, doesn't it? Sheep Farming In Barnet. It's one of those really distinctive album titles that really
stand out - 


TOYAH: I know! Well, I lived in Barnet and bang in the middle of this urban kind of chaos with the A406 was a field with sheep in it and I just thought "sheep farming in Barnet?" So I wanted to call the album something that didn't relate to an emotion and didn't relate to another song. I wanted something completely out there. 
This is me (show the album cover) having broken in to Fylingdales - the early warning system - where they had sheep grazing and when we broke in we found an awful lot of dead sheep and we were arrested ten minutes after that was taken

Bill Smith the art director was with me as was Jem, my boyfriend at the time and we had to hide the film down my pants. We knew we would not be body searched. We were literally just marched off the premises so we got the film out. So that whole "sheep farming in Barnet" was just a big question mark of what is our reality?

PHIL: Is that something you do today? Stuff the -

TOYAH: Guerilla filming?

PHIL: Just stuff the evidence?

TOYAH: Everything? Yeah, everything goes down my pants. As I get older it it's one of my things I do with my personal dementia – everything goes down my pants (Phil laughs)

PHIL:
I remember NME did a review – I think it was a three star review, it should've been more obviously but for the NME that was pretty good. At the time they called you a "post punk Grace Slick" -


TOYAH: I have no problems with being the punk Grace Slick. My goodness that woman was a great voice

PHIL: It's a nice comparison. Now, the album was split into two parts – much like Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love which had the Ninth wave as the 2nd part -

TOYAH: Yeah! This was 1979! (waves the box set about) 
 
 
PHIL: I was going to say – you did that before her. Both brilliant albums obviously but this had Heaven and it had Hell and there is a lot of darkness in this album because there's a lot of vivid imagery when you listen to those lyrics. I suppose it's the horror and sci-fi fan in you, is it?

TOYAH: It's very dark poetry. I mean Neon Womb is quite innocent. I was making a movie with Katherine Hepburn called The Corn Is Green. I had to get on the tube train. The first tube train of the morning in Battersea which was six in the morning and I had to walk over to Victoria to get the train. And I just remember being alone in this tube that was neon lit and I thought "this is like a neon womb." 
So that's where that name came from. Indecision I wrote in my home in Birmingham, the lyrics came there and I was doing lots of TV promotion for the film Jubilee and I just couldn't make up my mind what to wear so Indecision came out of that. And then Waiting is very dark

Waiting is about if we looked at the planet and it only had burn layers and every burn layer was a war and you'd cut through them you'd see a very different planet. We wouldn't see a green planet. So Waiting is about layer upon layer upon layer of wars that we've had in the past … Let's say – let's be brave about this – 50 000 years? It's an endless theme on this planet. So that's what that one is about. Danced is about a second coming because I was brought up in extreme religious education by parents who weren't religious

So because I was a rebel and because I was really out there as a child and I've always been a bit like this - they thought to cleanse my soul I should go into extreme religious education which I had from the age of about 10 ten right through to 14. So that has affected the poetry of my life a lot and that's what Danced is about. 
Danced is saying the 2nd coming is coming – this is fantasy – but it ain't going to be a human being! It's someone coming from up there so that's what Danced is about. I'm always questioning the metaphor of what I've been taught and there's so many metaphor's in this (shows the box set). But I think that's what the fans like is that I use the imagery of metaphors to question things


PHIL: And there are so many anthems on this as well, particularly for fans that have been with you from day one. You know, Danced. You mentioned Neon Womb as well. These are real live favourites. There's a couple of of tracks I've never seen you perform live, Computer being one of those. Is that something that you would think about playing?

TOYAH:
Yeah! In lockdown we had to do the DVD filming (for the disc in the boxset). Nigel Clark of Dodgy, my neighbour, came round and we performed Computer. He performed it beautifully, he even did backing vocals and that's on the DVD version of this (shows the box set). 
It's gorgeous so we could put that in live now but there's so much material, my whole back catalogue, I have to capture in shows today, an hour and half shows I have to capture about 28 albums. And remember 14 of those songs are hit singles. So we chop and change and we try and fit everything in. Computer might come into the show but then we'll get people complaining we can't fit in Neon Womb, Danced and everything else

PHIL: Too many songs to play

TOYAH:
There's just too many songs to play. You got Our Movie as well. I get a big call for Victims Of The Riddle but that is impossible to sing live. It's in an octave higher register than I normally sing in today and also it's one of those songs once you've done the first two lines everyone goes to the bar or starts talking. So we've decided if the fans demand a song and they don't listen to it – we don't do it! 
 
 
PHIL: I want to talk about the digipak that you have in your hands of this album because it's a real treat isn't it, for fans because there's a lot of versions they've never heard before. We mentioned Computer just then. That sounds quite different in its demo form. Are you quite happy to release these demos because obviously these have never been released before. It's so great to hear these now after so long

TOYAH:
This is the first album released where Joel Bogen (the original Toyah band guitarist and composer) and myself have actually been corresponded with about having permission of them going on the album. So one of my top selling albums in the world now is an album called Mayhem which is demos that Joel and I never wanted to be heard and ironically that is the world top selling Toyah album 
So this time around now Cherry Red own the whole back catalogue they have agreed that will never happen again so we're even re-vamping Mayhem for its re-release. So there are 30 additional tracks, most of them unheard going onto this. It's a double LP and a live DVD and there's even DVD footage that's never been seen before

PHIL: It's a real Christmas present, isn't it?

TOYAH:
It's perfect!

PHIL: Yeah!

TOYAH:
When we do demos they're pre-producer arrangements so obviously when you get into the studio and having heard the demo and hopefully played the song live in front of an audience you can then re-work it. So doing a demo is like trying out a recipe for a cake and if you feel that you can improve – then you improve and most of the time that's what people do do

PHIL:
So Victims Of The Riddle is your debut single which is featured on this album. There was another version on the single B-side which was called Vivisection. To me that seems like a kind of outspoken view of your hate for animal experiments. Was that the case? Was it that obvious?


TOYAH: Yeah.

PHIL: It was?
 
Toyah with her rabbit WillyFred in 2016
 
TOYAH: Yeah. I like to think it's not so awful today and I think a lot of people, a lot of human beings stepped forwards and said "you can test that on us." So stop breeding animals to test on. So I put my hand up here – I'm against vivisection but I've had hip replacement, I've had life saving surgery for cancer. Animals have paid so that I can live. So it's not as if I've even avoided every aspect of the results of vivisection. 
Where my argument is and if the make-up industry - which has something like a £6 billion fund for testing - keeps testing on animals they're never going to change the world and protect and do good husbandry to animals. Now at the time we were making this … '79 … this was … I mean it was rampant. Animals were just being treated so badly

I was a very experimental singer in the beginning, I use my voiced as an instrument thus the stylisation on Vivisection. And I wanted to use this as a wake up call to those who didn't know about the cruelty to animals but also the amount of people who were willing to be human test people. 
And it was just – if you don't bring that into your audience's intelligence then no-one could do anything about it and I think the greatest revolution we have had in the 40 years is we've stopped buying things unless they adhere to an ethic we believe in. 
So good husbandry, non-cruelty to animals, respect for animals, understanding that animals do have souls, they do have an emotional life, they feel pain as much as they feel joy and this was what that was about

PHIL:
I'm glad you answered that question that way because I certainly saw it as very influential at the time – like you say it was a different time back then, in the 70's and the late 70's. There was a lot more of that nastiness going on and as a result more people have become vegetarian and vegan as well over the years, particularly the last five years people have become vegan which is great. So it's a good shift, isn't it?
 

TOYAH:
It's very good. I think in a year's time when we have a vaccine for Covid and there has been human guinea pigs involved here ... I think one of the biggest outcomes of Covid and Covid history we probably, worldwide, will become vegetarian. What I mean by that is the easiness within Covid is mutating within the animal circuit and if we keep consuming animal flesh we are probably going to help Covid mutate even more. I'd like to think that one of the kind of strange blessings of this exceptional year is that the majority of the planet will become vegetarian

PHIL:
Siouxsie and The Banshees did the Kaleidoscope album a few years ago which I saw at South Bank, I know you're a fan as well, of Siouxsie -

TOYAH:
Yes!

PHIL: Is that something that you (want to) do with Sheep Farming? Do it as a whole?


TOYAH: (I'll) do it with any album but people want Siouxsie. I've had to - this is my career “Let me in! Let me in! (bangs the air with her fist) “Give me a fucking job!” Siouxsie, you know, gets invited because people absolutely adore her. I'm not on Siouxsie's level but I think what will change for me because in the last 40 years my catalogue has been with a record label that has actively allowed it to die and now Cherry Red- as soon as they announce these releases – I mean this went number one in the pre-order charts across the board and Cherry Red have released the demand is huge

But if you don't have the record company behind you and the PR behind you and the team behind you … I don't get invited to play whole albums at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. So I now think this is going to change quite radically and hopefully my work will get the respect it deserves. But it has to be out there for that to happen and in the last 40 years it's just been buried


PHIL: Last Goodbye, another track on this album, last time we spoke we talked about your love of horror

TOYAH: Yeah 
 
PHIL: And you told me watch The House That Jack Built, which I saw after your recommendation and yeah – it disturbed me very much (laughs)

TOYAH:
That's an astonishing film. There's another one I'll recommend to you and it's very gentle. It's a love story but it also it also tiptoes into the surreal and horror and it's called Border. I just adore this film -

PHIL:
I've seen it, it's amazing. It really gets under your skin, doesn't it?


TOYAH: It's gorgeous. That is like reading a really good book. It translates beautifully

PHIL: Absolutely, a very atmospheric film. But Last Goodbye on Sheep Farming – it's quite an evocative lyric. Again quite a dark lyric. There is lightness as well, obviously, on Sheep Farming but I'm just going to read the lyric here : “He points the knife between her eyes. Its light reflects on the one he despises. Here's one for the pain, here's one for the lies. When flood flows out I watch her say goodbye” That is quite -

TOYAH:
It's a revenge song but I mean this is about the vulnerability of men and men are vulnerable and this is the ultimate revenge. He can take on someone who is more powerful than him and it's a woman. So I always like to kind of invert what people see as normal. I think woman are just as easily aggressive as men are and devious and plotting so it's revenge on someone who has psychologically destroyed someone else. 
And I think historically – I need to place it in context – 40 years ago and even 50 years ago you never heard about women's prisons, you never heard about female criminals. It was always men. There were only three that we heard about when I was young that were serial killers. I'm not going to name them, let's not give them the publicity but what you didn't hear was about was petty female criminals, female prisons and female aggression. 
It was never reported 50-40 years ago as it is today. You know you've got Piers Morgan doing “Female Serial Killers” today so here we were in the punk movement, '79, and it was such an opportunity to be one of the first women in this movement that I could invert everything I'd been taught

And one of them is about women being psychologically cruel which kind of covers a lot of the early work. So I was just inverting stories and turning them into myth really. And another thing that was emerging at this time … computers were being programmed at this time on a mass level. So a lot of people we worked with, our roadies would disappear at night to go and do binary programming into computers and this was going on 24/7 to get computers how they are today. So there was this kind of secret technology going on that fascinated us but we didn't understand

I mean if we ever knew we would have a phone in our hand (shows her mobile) or we'd be able to talk like this (on Zoom) … that was science fiction. And another thing that science fiction back then … was … oh, it's going out of my head … ah yes! Was how games were developed. 
So Dungeons and Dragons was very much a fantasy game then and it was the only fantasy game as was – Lord Of The Rings was a book, you never realised it would be made into a really brilliant digitally composed film. So fantasy for me was very very important. It was escapism from a normality that could be not only boring but could also be dangerous so all of that reflects in my work as well


PHIL: I could sit and talk to you Toyah for hours. I know you've got other interviews to do because you've got so much to do in the coming weeks before this re-release, this re-vamp of Sheep Farming In Barnet. 
It's out on the 4th of December but I have got one last question which I invited people to send in and this is a question from Darren Anthony and he's asked which 3 things, if there are 3 things, would you change about your debut album if you could?

TOYAH: Ohhh! Do you know, Darren, this is such a good question and the only thing I would change – because there's a beautiful innocence about this album – I would change nothing about the music. I would've changed immediately the technique I use for singing because I've only in the last ten years really gleaned my 100% technique. And I would … just … how can I put this? If you're a singer you understand “opening the throat”. I would open the throat more, I would've had more confidence as a singer

Instead I'd get into the studio and lack of confidence would make me go (pulls shoulders in and head behind hands) I would just close up like that and the voice became quite small. So that's one thing I would change but I can only answer that in hindsight. Elusive Stranger is an incredibly popular song and I would've just not sung the intro in that octave. I would bring that down an octave which would make it far easier to sing live today. 
And I can't find a third thing I would've changed. Perhaps the one thing I would've changed about the whole of the beginning of my career – I was very against my natural femininity where women who are hugely successful not only exhibit their femininity but they control their femininity and I saw my femininity as a barrier that I needed to either kind of break down or walk away from. So I probably would exploit it - in the right way, in the Madonna way – my femininity

PHIL:
I should say it's also out on white vinyl which I've ordered and I can't wait to see that either!


TOYAH:
Wahey! 
PHIL: To represent the golf balls on the sleeve

TOYAH:
Oh, I know! It's a clever design. It's clever. Phil - thank you so much and I hope see you sooner than the 18 months -

PHIL: Yes, me too. Good luck and stay safe. Thank you, Toyah

TOYAH: Good luck everybody! 
 
 

You can watch the interview HERE

04/11/2020

The Toyah Willcox Story
Interview by Iain McNay
2020


Ahead of the Sheep Farming In Barnet CD boxset and limited edition vinyl release in December 2020 Toyah talks about her music, acting career, relationships, marriage and ups and downs

29/10/2020

TOYAH ON
THE MRS BARBARA NICE
& FRIENDS PODCAST
13.10.2020 


BARBARA: Hiya love!
TOYAH: Hello hello!

BARBARA: Thanks for doing this, I know you're busy and all that

TOYAH:
Don't worry, I'm good

BARBARA: Right. Now listen – where are you living now luvvie, out in the countryside somewhere nice?

TOYAH:
No, I'm in the middle of a market town near Worchester. I'm on a main road – well, I say a main road – it's a market town, I live on a market square and it's a very busy bustling town

BARBARA: Right. Because I live in King's Heath which is where -

TOYAH: I was conceived and born in King's Heath, on Grove Road. I used to walk into town because it's only three miles so it was calmer and quieter just to walk it

BARBARA: I know, love. Well, we're all walking now. I don't go on a bus at the moment. How are you doing over lockdown in Worchester? Is it affecting you or what's going on, love?

TOYAH: It's very very interesting. My husband has seen summer in England for the first time in 50 years because he's a touring musician

BARBARA: Haha of course, yeah

TOYAH: I feel I've got to know him – we've never had enough time together to know our foibles and boy is he a control freak

BARBARA: (howling with laughter): But has he got foibles?


TOYAH: (trying not to laugh) Yeah - I mean it's just so interesting. I've never been busier. Everyone is coming to me to do work for free - I don't know if it's the same for you?

BARBARA:
Yes luvvie, everybody wants something for nought but listen it's alright to do it for a while but not all the piggin' time. We're clever but we can't live on fresh air

TOYAH: I've had six months of it, it's starting to feel as though I'm in prison. But I'm not complaining, our home is beautiful, our garden has never looked so fabulous. So it's good

BARBARA:
I keep thinking it's like yin and yang, there's been good things and bad things about it, Toyah, but before we go any further because I want to talk to you about all this stuff with foibles and any DIY you've been doing and I know your record company wants to make sure we mention this. You've got this album coming up … It's a lovely title "Sheep Farming In Barnet". Why have you called it that?

 
TOYAH: It first came out in 1979

BARBARA: Oh, right! (laughs)

TOYAH: It's a re-release. The whole of my back catalogue is available in shops as of January so this is the very first album I ever released and it became very famous because it was featured on Shoestring with Trevor Eve and I played a character, a girl in a band and they featured all the music in this particular episode

BARBARA: Right, now, I remember Trevor Eve and I remember Shoestring. Wasn't he like a detective?


TOYAH:
That's it, a detective in Weston-super-Mare of all places (Barbara laughs) I think we need more detective stories around the world in Netflix from Weston-super-Mare

BARBARA: We absolutely do! Home of trouble and intrigue

TOYAH: I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Weston-super-Mare, my father went -

BARBARA: I thought you said King's Heath

TOYAH:
Ah - but my father went to see the end-of-the-pier show when he got back from the war and my mother was a dancer that opened the act -

BARBARA: Awwww

TOYAH: And they fell in love and thus the Willcox family were born

BARBARA: I tell you what – I love end-of-the-pier shows and I was thinking with all this outdoor entertainment having to come back … would they bring back beach shows, pier shows?

TOYAH: Well - thy should!

BARBARA: Resurgence you now what I mean, love?

TOYAH: Yeah, you've got to pay people, this is the problem


BARBARA: I know, Toyah (laughs)

TOYAH:
Last week I did Deezer's drive-in cinema in London (above) It was gorgeous! The sun shone until it went down on the horizon. It was absolutely gorgeous! I opened it … They were showing concerts from Madonna, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks and Prince and this was to raise money for musicians and technicians who haven't been able to work for the six months

So when you talk about performing outside – I mean I'm up for performing anywhere but you've got to remember everyone from the person that cleans the venue to the person that puts the stage up to the actual artist is got to be paid

BARBARA:
I'm absolutely with you, Toyah. Have you always had this feeling that we should all get paid because -

TOYAH: Hah! Yes!

BARBARA: You're like me – I haven't … lots of people think why don't you do it for nothing?

TOYAH: Because we're women!

BARBARA: Oh right! OK. So you think your husband is a good fella? He's got his foibles as we know but do you think you've been asked to do stuff for free more times than your husband does?
 

TOYAH: Oooh! That's such a good question. We're now getting into the argument of inequality of payment. My husband earns I would say ... at least 50 times more than I do and I work 50 times more than he does. That is just … you know – what it is

And I find that being a woman in the music industry you have to be available, you have to be able to … well – just be there! And at that point it's not about money - it's about profile and being seen … I'm 62 and I still feel I have to prove myself. So that's a big big quandary we're talking about there

BARBARA: Yeah - because life's all yin and yang and all that – because you're 62 – do you think it's keeping you fit and on the ball?

TOYAH: Oh yeah

BARBARA: Yeah - because you better keep going haven't you Toyah love, you know what I mean? We've still got so much to prove

TOYAH: Yes!!!

BARBARA: You what I mean “I've got to keep going – any minute now it could all happen” (laughs) That kind of feeling


TOYAH: Any minute I'm going to be discovered

BARBARA: That's right! (dying with laughter) So me hair better be alright and … I've been doing cold water swimming Toyah, have you ever tried it?


TOYAH: Well, I live on the river Avon (Toyah and Robert in their garden, below) and I don't want to try it – I avoid it ever day

BARBARA: Oh right (baffled) … Why do you avoid it? Why love?

TOYAH: Well, it just scares me in case I get swept away

BARBARA: Right … I've been going in the Avon. I've been going in there. I went in there yesterday, love
 
 
TOYAH: What was it like? It's flooded!

BARBARA: It was very high, that's very true that is. Why was it … ah! It was a lot higher than it usually is

TOYAH: How come you're still alive?

BARBARA: We don't stay in for very long I tell you that for nothing. It's very good for you, honestly

TOYAH:
Well, I believe that. Did you swallow any of the water?

BARBARA: No, but sometimes people go past in boats and go “we wouldn't swim in it, we know what goes in it” which I think is them pooing in it. I don't mean in a bad way but emptying the … which they should't do, Toyah

TOYAH:
I know that fish and sheep and swans and ducks all poo in it

BARBARA: Yeah I know, I know … but that seems such a natural – I tell you what - I've been very interested in – because you used that word sheep and the re-mastered album is called "Sheep Farming In Barnet" and I've noticed this going from King's Heath … All the sheep stay in one direction don't they? So say a sheep is laying down – every sheep is laying down. Say one sheep is looking to the left – they're all looking to the left. Have you ever noticed that about sheep?


TOYAH: I have noticed that. I have a lot of sheep opposite me in the field and they … well, it's a herd. They're a herd community … But they do trust each other. When their feed comes out they're all there. 
I just watched a wonderful film the other day – sheep that discovered a trampoline (Barbara laughs) and it has actually worked out how to use the trampoline. I think sheep are clever because they pretend to be stupid and they're not …

BARBARA: Oh, lovely! I'd like to see that! So it's jumping up and down on the trampoline?

TOYAH:
It's worked out what to do. Just put “sheep on a trampoline” into google

BARBARA:
(laughs) Well, I'm going to and all my listeners – I tell you what, we've got people in New Zealand and everything … I bet after this they're all be putting “sheep on a trampoline” - but also google this re-mastered album by Toyah. And you're doing a Twitter Watch Party? (NB: It's a Twitter Listening Party) Tell us about that, love – what's that?


TOYAH: That was last Saturday. Tim Burgess of The Charlatans runs these wonderful listening parties. They played the whole album (Anthem) and I tweeted all the way through the album and it had such a huge reaction. It was one of the biggest albums of '81 and at the end of that year I played Drury Lane on BBC (below) so that was broadcast to twelve million people

So this is a big album and it was fantastic! So many people have great memories from meeting their future spouses, getting chucked out of school for dying their hair pink, just being in trouble with their mum for coming to see me concert when they should've been studying for their O Levels. All of that
 

BARBARA: Now, talking about kids and you were talking about kids turning up in the cars to watch the outdoor performance … I feel very sorry for young people with all this lockdown stuff, don't you -

TOYAH: I feel sorry for - (they talk over each other)

BARBARA: Go on -

TOYAH: We didn't have to pay for our education. I don't know how old you are but I didn't have to pay and I don't want to be a politician but I know what I believe in and no child that is growing up to be a taxpayer should have to pay for their education

And if we can find all this money today to fund everyone in furlough - which is deserved - but why can't we find the money to fund the NHS and fund future taxpayer's education It drives me mad

BARBARA:
Oh dear … it was all that “there's no magic money tree” and suddenly they found loads at the back of the settee, didn't they. “Hang on a minute! We can shut down all the schools, we can plough your own furlough, we'll pay you for that” ... Who do we owe the money to, Toyah? We owe it to somebody ...


TOYAH: Let's hope it's Philip Green and … a few other billionaires (Barbara laughs)

BARBARA: I hope it's Phil Green – he's a nuisance isn't he with the awful treatment of the BHS people. I think you're like – you like things to be fair for people. Maybe there's a way after all this that things will get better. There was a moment when I looked out my window and I saw the birds – like you say with your husband – in the summer …

I think our summer's been beautiful I think and the birds … Back to nature which you are anyway where you are living and I thought maybe we can have a different way of life. Maybe this will make things different for us. Do you think there's any hope of us living a better life, like you say – not having to pay for education, Toyah?


TOYAH:
I think it's a learning curve. I don't want another six months in the same house with my husband though (Barbara dying with laughter)

BARBARA: Right, how can we help each other? I'm the same with my husband. Does he do crosswords?

TOYAH:
No

BARBARA: What's he doing?

TOYAH: He shuts himself in his study and comes out when he wants to be fed (Toyah and Robert at home during lockdown, below)
 

BARBARA: Oh right … 
TOYAH: I mean he's a wonderful wonderful man

BARBARA: That is rare, of course


TOYAH: I'm a vagabond, I want to be out there travelling, singing, seeing places

BARBARA: Oh right. This is often what women and men are like. The women have got more of this vagabond you know “let's get on the back of the car and go and put on a show somewhere”

TOYAH: Yes!

BARBARA: Men are saying “where's me tea? What are we having for dinner?” I've got a sitcom called Mrs Barbara Nice which they are repeating on Radio 4 Extra at the moment which I'm really glad about. You know when you've done something good and you think awww nobody will ever hear it again and they bring it out and I was thinking ooh - smashing

It's all about me and my husband Ken and the way – Barbara and Ken have just retired and Barbara is wanting to do loads of things but he doesn't want to do them and that is typical really

TOYAH: Sounds like my marriage!

BARBARA: Yeah … Why don't you come wild swimming with me and Vera?

TOYAH: They probably would – I'm going with my hairdresser of 50 years -

BARBARA: Brilliant, Toyah! (cackles)


TOYAH: And my husband who'll need feeding

BARBARA: Alright - but they probably won't come in – it's usually women that do it … Which again fits in with this thing of – this spirit of adventure. We only stayed in for a couple of minutes yesterday because it was freezing but it's made us feel alive -

TOYAH: What - swimming?

BARBARA: Yeah, in that water, yeah


TOYAH:
I just can not believe (laughing) – do you go in -

BARBARA: It's a fisherman's place and we always say, if there's one there - “do you mind if we go in?” and yesterday this fella said “Yes, I do” (cackles)

TOYAH:
That water is moving so fast! We've had five days of rain – I can't believe you did it! (Toyah in her garden with the river Avon in the background, below)


BARBARA: That's it – I didn't realise it was so high

TOYAH:
Are you sure he wasn't saying “no lass, don't go in, you might be washed away” “I prefer you don't go in”

BARBARA: He might've been helpful (cackles) We're going to have to meet up, it's brilliant to talk to you, Toyah! So anything else you want to - I've enjoyed meself having an early morning laugh. I think laughing is good for you as much as anything. Do you?

TOYAH:
Ah – laughing is better than everything else. I was going to say it's better than sex but I know I'll be quoted (Barbara laughs) “Laughing is as almost as nice as eating chocolate”

BARBARA: (laughs) It's brilliant! I feel better for it already. So you're still working hard and I've been working hard all the way through – it's like what you were saying about women – you just have to think “I better get on with this!” It's literally sink or swim, isn't it?

TOYAH: Well, I suppose at the age of 62 if I don't get on with it I'm really going to miss the boat

BARBARA: Yeah

TOYAH: At the moment I'm doing my next solo album which lockdown is perfect for because I can get on and do it and I can write in relative peace because normally – and I bet you're the same – I'm in the car about 8 hours a day going to venues so it has allowed me to be really really creative and that for me is a really kind of good side. As you say this time has good and bad. But having the time to just find myself creatively has been really good

BARBARA:
It's brilliant you've said that because I've spoken to a lot of artists and one of themes of these chats with people has been creativity. And some people have said “I've not felt – I think I ought to be creative but I haven't felt like it” whereas you've done it, I think it's brilliant


And like you say I have spent hours and hours on public transport – buses, coaches, trains – going up and down the country and doing my work gigging, you know … and to be at home … I like that, Toyah. I don't like all the travelling … You might … I like being somewhere different and I like being with other people but I don't like being knackered all the time and coming home and seeing my garden and thinking I can't do me garden


TOYAH: Well, it's the carrying isn't it … You're carrying stuff in and out of venues, in and out of hotels. I love my car because as soon as I get in the car and I've done the gig – the silence is beautiful and I can just enjoy the moment of that concert that has just happened. And I miss that magical little bubble as I drive through the night. That for me is my favourite part of the day

BARBARA:
Awww … I think it's interesting – the different things we miss. I tell you what I properly miss – do you ever watch Talking Pictures on the telly?


TOYAH: All the time! It was was on an hour ago!

BARBARA:
It's brilliant, Toyah, I love it. There was one – I love anything that's set in the theatre – you know, a show business story … I can't remember which film it was, some very good actors in it and there was a scene backstage in the dressing room and I suddenly thought … I'm missing being in a dressing room


TOYAH: Yeah …

BARBARA: You know, with the other actors – I love acting, I know you do acting and all. You know, that feeling with being in a room with people and backstage … On stage is alright but backstage is magical. I miss that, the backstage bit

TOYAH: I agree. Performers are very observational – they'll tell you things in the green room that you see every day but you don't realise. With Talking Pictures – I was on in lockdown with Quartermass (below) and I watch it because I've worked with virtually everyone on it. I've worked with Sir John Mills, Lawrence Olivier, Richard Johnson who was on last night … So I watch it and think oh my goodness – when I was 19 I worked with these people!


BARBARA: Aww … What a brilliant career and life you've had … When you were a lovely kid, lovely girl, love the idea of you walking into Birmingham, a smashing spirited girl … Did you have any idea you'd meet all these fantastic icons? These great people?

TOYAH: I was determined to meet them but I wasn't confident that I ever would. Something just miraculously changed around the time I was 18 and people just started to see me for the first time. 
I was at the Birmingham Rep Drama School and I wasn't very honed – very much a rough diamond but someone spotted me and they thought “that girl is for TV” and I ended up at the National Theatre by the age of 18 and doing these amazing films with really big stars and then music took off. So I consider the years between 18 and 25 as if an angel was on my shoulder just pointing in the right direction. It was quite magical

BARBARA: I love this expression that suddenly “somebody saw me” and that's so – we all need these mentors, don't we and that's where things like kids going to drama school, kids going to Midlands Arts Centre … I worry about kids not being able to kick off their careers at the moment because they're all being kept away from each other. 
We need these art places for people to mingle with older people. They know what they're talking about and go “hey, you're good you are! And I'm going to help you”

TOYAH:
You also need the culture of kids going out and physically meeting other kids. Those with talent because they go out and do exactly that. They walk onto every karaoke stage, they walk onto every platform in a bar, they actually do what they're dreaming of doing, no matter where they are – they physically do it and there's nothing like the physicality of experiencing and audience literally two feet away from you. 
That's what teaches you more than anything. So I agree about the art centres but I think if you're going to live via social media you really need to get out there and meet people face to face

BARBARA: Couldn't agree with you

TOYAH:
You trust humans beings more by doing that

BARBARA: And also, Toyah, when you talked about the audience – the audience tells you you're good as well, don't they?


TOYAH: Oh yeah

BARBARA: The audience go “we like you” and I think they guide you. It's like a game of hot and cold with an audience. They kind of egg you on and if you're doing something they like they become … more behind you and if you go away from that they turn up a bit – they make you, they form you

TOYAH: Have you ever had an audience member who's had a running conversation with you right through the show?

BARBARA: Little bits but … not much. Why? Have you?

TOYAH:
Yes! (they both laugh) When I do rock clubs and there's no crash barrier and I don't really need crash barriers but sometimes stages are no higher than two foot and I'm only about 4'11 … People are literally – you can feel their breath and they're saying “oh that dress is nice” “Oh look that lipstick, what colour is that lipstick?” 
And you're singing and all you can hear is “oh gosh I like your shoes” (Barbara laughs) and “what you're doing after?” and you're bang in the middle of song!


BARBARA: It's very good of you to keep your concentration! I would say something! Don't you ever stop and say “Marks and Spencer's” or …

TOYAH: I do sometimes but if I veer of a lyric and I'm not going to go back to that lyric, I'll never find it again

BARBARA: (laughs) Do you think they're trying to put you off? They can't help it?

TOYAH: No! No, I think they're just being friendly, they're being “them”

BARBARA: Awww … how lovely, Toyah. Do you have, I bet I know the answer to this - do you have superfans that follow you everywhere?


TOYAH: We do have superfans … You've got to remember it's expensive to follow someone everywhere and I bet you're the same as me – my gigs … I have no geographical sense whatsoever … I could be in Inverness one day and Brighton the other and then back up to Aberdeen so my superfans need a lot of money to follow me

BARBARA: I've got one called Deborah. I always say “Oh Deborah won't come in” and she's there like “piggin' heck - it's Deborah!”

TOYAH:
Oh - that's good!

BARBARA: (laughs) It's nice, yeah. You don't feel alone. You can feel quite alone - which you don't maybe feel so much because when I'm doing stuff it's just usually me on my own … But you're with a band mostly are you?

TOYAH: That's really hard being on your own like that

BARBARA: Yes it is, love

TOYAH: I'm with – I've got four band members (below) and they drive me mad – the same way my husband does that they always want feeding (Barbara laughs) When I get to a venue all that matters is the show, the music, the audience. That's all that matters. And I don't go to work – or the reason I'm a singer is not because I want to feed someone when I get to work so that's actually one of my biggest bugbears in life

BARBARA: (laughs) What are you saying, Toyah? You'd be better off offering them a meal while you set up. I wouldn't be bothered about that. I like this idea “it's the audience (that matters)” … I'm all for the audience

TOYAH: Oh God they matter so much! They've paid so much money to see you. They are all that matters. They are absolutely the most special people in the world once you walk on that stage. I'm really passionate about that, I'm so protective towards the audience


BARBARA: I'm glad you are, I'm the same. I do things with my audience like take them out and play “what's the time Mr Wolf?”

TOYAH:
Oh, how do you play that?

BARBARA: I give them hi-vis jackets so they don't get run over. I'm the wolf and the audience follow me. So they go “what's the time Mr Wolf?” and I turn around and they freeze and I go “one o'clock” and then they follow me again and that carriers on til I say “dinnertime” and then I run after them because I'm going to catch one of them and have them for my dinner and people do get frightened, Toyah

TOYAH: (laughs) How old are your audience?

BARBARA:
It varies, some of them are very old, some of them haven't run for years (they both cackle) Some of them are younger. One of the things I like about my audience and I think you might be the same – it's very varied. 
So young kids really like me, I've got a lot of young lads that like me quite a lot. And then there's older women, younger women. A variety of people. I welcome everybody and (I am) very inclusive. I think it's important. I call them FOBS. Friends of Barbara

TOYAH: That's nice. I like that. Mine would be FOTS

BARBARA: Yeah, that's right. Friends Of Toyah (they both laugh)

TOYAH: Hello, FOTS!

BARBARA: Yeah - you could use that and I can say “I taught Toyah that!” Who else could we have … Friends of … Madonna. FOM


TOYAH: That's good. Do we know a Dick? A FOD

BARBARA: FOD! Friends of Dick's. I can't think of …

TOYAH: Horatio Dickinson. Friends of FOOD … no -

BARBARA: You're doing really well, you should be doing Word Search, Toyah

TOYAH:
No, I'm so dyslexic it's not a good idea

BARBARA: Are you? Oh well, you're a brilliant talker. You didn't hear Floaella Benjamin on Desert Island Discs did you?

TOYAH: Oh, I love Floella! I didn't hear it but I love her

BARBARA: I want you to listen to it because FOFS – Friends of Floella's, I think they're very special people. It's a very moving … have you met her?

TOYAH: Oh yeah

BARBARA: Oh God, alright. You've met them blinkin' all. Is she as nice as she seems? She seems wonderful

TOYAH: Floella used to organise the Woman Of The Year event in October (Toyah with Princess Diana at the 1986 event, below) at the Savoy so I mean she's just one of these phenomenal women who does everything and does it really well and does it without and inch or a speck of scandal. That woman is as pure as saint. She is phenomenal


BARBARA: She comes over as that. Listen, how about me, you, your hairdresser friend, Floella, Vera all go in swimming in the Avon. Say a week on Monday?

TOYAH: I have a terrible feeling only three of us will come back

BARBARA: (dying with laughter) Which three?

TOYAH: (laughing) I don't think my hairdresser would make it!

BARBARA: (cackling) So it's me – I'd come back. Vera would! You think Floella's going down as well? (howling with laughter)

TOYAH:
I don't know Floella well enough – if she can swim

BARBARA: Fair enough – we'll have to ask her (laughing) You've made me laugh, You've got to go because you've got ITV and everybody to talk to today. You've been part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival as well having a chat with me so thank you very much! We've had a laugh, haven't we?


TOYAH: Yes, it's been wonderful and I hope to get to see you soon

BARBARA: Yeah – for this swim

TOYAH: (sarcastically) Lovely!

BARBARA: Bring someone close and a woolly hat!

TOYAH: I'm going to bring a wetsuit!

BARBARA: Oh no no no! You've got to go skin on skin

TOYAH: Oh! (both burst out laughing hysterically) I'll bring my favourite young man then

BARBARA: Yeah alright! Good luck making your husband stay tonight!

TOYAH: Ooooohhhh

BARBARA: Thank you! You've been lovely. Take care, Toyah

TOYAH:
Take care, safe journeys!

BARBARA:
I love you darling, take care, bye


TOYAH: Bye! 
 
Listen to the podcast (Toyah comes in at 9 minutes 30 seconds) here

23/10/2020

TOYAH ON
BBC RADIO LONDON
WITH JUMOKE FASHOLA
3.10.2020



 
JUMOKE: A new drive-in music experience is coming to London on the 7th of October where you'll be able to watch live recordings from all the greats from Madonna to David Bowie from the comfort of your car or chair. Joining us now is 80's star and this year's host Toyah Willcox. Toyah - good morning! So lovely to have you on the programme!

TOYAH: Thank you Jumoke. I have not been up this early in a while. I'm a concert singer like you. Mornings are very very strange places (laughs)

JUMOKE: I did think that, you know! I said "Toyah! This time of the morning?!" I was like "she must be enthusiastic about this!"

TOYAH: Of course I am! Absolutely. But I'm used to going to bed six in the morning. I'm usually driving back from Glasgow or I'm driving back from Penzance. Always on the road so this is fabulous! And I live in a market town and I'm looking out onto the street and it's completely quiet. It's rather beautiful

JUMOKE: How lovely! Thank goodness you know how to drive because this is all about a drive-in
 

TOYAH: It is for me really important because from about the beginning of April live performers – and I'm very much ... 99% … my living is as a live performer and a live musician – all our incomes stopped. And when you think about the technicians who put up all the stages, who do all the sound, they carry all the equipment … These technicians have not had any financial support for six months now. So the whole reason that Deezer is doing this 80's drive-in is to raise funds for live musicians, mainly the technical team.

The drive-in is going to be beautiful. Everything is going to be priced at 80's prices. The ticket is only £15, but you'll get a burger and a drink for 70p. And we want everyone to dress up, come with an 80's spirit. I call it a big warm 80's hug. This is the decade of showing off, exuberance, of big brash music and there will be wonderful concerts on the screen by David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Madonna and Prince. I mean could that be any better? And I believe I'm singing too

JUMOKE: Oh are you?! What a wonderful treat! It must be lovely actually to be able to go out and do that after all this time?

TOYAH: It's phenomenal to be able to sing live. I don't know about you Jumoke … In my house I have a green screen studio that connects me to the world … I have recording facilities so I've been recording in New York, I've been in LA – from my home. So I've had six months of super creativity and super worry about everyone's health but it's all been from the one address. So to actually get out there and see and hear a live audience is such a privilege
 


JUMOKE: And you as an artist – it must've been an extraordinary time the early 80's into the 90's. What was it like for you a performer but also being surrounded by these legends?

TOYAH: It was magical because back then everything was on a such a quick ascension to do with technology. I had my first hit in '81 although I was really super successful as an album artist from '78. So '81 MTV launches in August and that changed the world because not only were we singers – we had to make videos so we became very visual artists.

And what I remember about the 80's apart from playing in the stadiums and festivals to 200 000 people was that we had to create these really powerful looks that people would remember and for me it was big hair, very dramatic clothes.

I always came on as a warrior woman looking far larger than life. And I remember the 80's as being very warm and very inclusive of the audience but of course when we got the 90's everyone remembered the 80's because of Margaret Thatcher and I think now we can forget the associated politics of the time and just hear the music. I have so many young fans under the age of 25 who contact me all the time saying “we've just discovered you! Oh wow!” And it's all new to this generation which is so rewarding

 

JUMOKE: It's interesting when you talk about the fashion as well because now everybody seems to have a stylist and a stylist and a half and three stylists, whatever - but you must've just been going "I just want to be me and this is what I'm going to do" and that must've been so exciting?

TOYAH: It was very important to me as one of the rare females in the industry back then and you didn't have female executives in the industry in the UK back then – you did in the USA and it's a really important factor that women were involved in the industry so here I was, barely five foot tall, I didn't look like a supermodel – I had to make my mark.

So I did by working with really wonderful arts students – a phenomenal woman called Melissa Caplan handmade all my clothes as she did for Bananarama and Spandau Ballet as well and Steve Strange of Visage. She hand painted everything so we were very very striking (below).

All of our hair was never natural colour, mine was always orange so I had a lot of say in it – it meant a lot to me that I lifted that glass ceiling for women who didn't look like supermodels and said it doesn't matter what shape or size you are … If you've got an idea, that's what counts, it's your voice that counts and that was really really effective. I got about 10 000 letters a week off young girls saying "thank you, I never had confidence in myself and you've given me confidence." So that was really important to me then and it's really important to me today 
 
 
JUMOKE: Thank goodness you did do that because even today we are still battling those kind of stereotypes - which surprising given the amount of technology we've got and the opening of the doors and the glass ceiling and all of that kind of stuff that has been shattered but for some reason the music industry in particular seems to be hung up on this idea of what beauty (is) and what is accessible in terms of music and pop?

TOYAH: Well, that's a really interesting question because who is driving that? Because when you look at the really big women, the über triple A-list women - I think to some extent it's their choice and then when you look at the kind of natural level of social media … that's where the problem is because young girls think that is a normality and it isn't a normality.

I think a normality comes from the beauty within and when you've got a young girl who has a phenomenal voice, phenomenal talent – that's all that counts. That's all that matters – is that that talent gets to the stage, that that talent gets nurtured, that a career gets nurtured and both you and I know this. We need those people that nurture and move us forward and support us so we can be artists.

So I would say there's a huge division between the A-listers and the young generation coming up because I think it's unrealistic to put the body beautiful before the talent. I just don't think it's right. And you've got such talent in this country and around the world so the more the industry and the executives in the industry can help the talent the better is what I say.

If you were to ask me why am I still here is because I've always driven my talent and I've slightly laughed at my physicality. And the way I say that – I'm very quirky, I'm very off-the-wall, this drive-in on Wednesday I'm going to be in full costume. It's a costume (below) you either find amusing or incredibly beautiful 
 

JUMOKE: Oh my gosh! I love the idea of this but also what I love about this idea of looking back to the 80's in this way is that it will remind people about the individualism that really structured and was part of music industry - which we hope can regain some footing

TOYAH: You just hit the nail on the head. It's individuality. And that for me – I'm 62 … I remember the 60's very very well. The 70's incredibly well … it was the incredible individuality of the artists. It seemed to come before the music to a certain extent.

I think individuality opens many doors for younger generations – to just step through that door and be brave enough and put their hand up and say “I have a voice”. I think individuality is pretty glorious thing and it's not always to do with body shape or really selling your agenda. I think it's selling your ideas so I totally totally get that. Individuality.

JUMOKE: Alright - so it's this coming Wednesday, the 7th of October, it's part of National Album Day -

TOYAH: And I'm a National Album Day ambassador -

JUMOKE: Oh, fantastic!

TOYAH: And we're celebrating on the 10th of October artists' albums rather than single songs. Complete works. So with the drive-in London – it's all to help the technicians within the music industry who are unable to earn a living

JUMOKE: It's been a joy Toyah, thank you so much for joining us this morning. The legend that is Toyah Willcox! I was really inspired by that conversation. Thank you Toyah, for sharing your memories of the 80's