19 April, 2019


TAMMY: It's time to hear from an artist who's been making music for many decades and has made Worcestershire her home. She's back with a new album called “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. We welcome back Toyah!
TOYAH: (on the phone) It's good to be back! How are you today?
TAMMY: I'm alright. How are you?
TOYAH: I'm really good, I'm having a really good time ( laughs) Everything with the album has had such a positive reaction and I'm 61 this year and I didn't expect this to be happening in my life and it's really good
TAMMY: Aww! That's really lovely. 61 one is in old money - that's fifty now – it's different … When I used to remember my mum being in her forties and now I'm there … it's kind of different

TOYAH: I remember forty was considered middle age when I was a child and I feel fantastic. I'm actually enjoying life now more than ever before. I tell young people I see you've really got this to look forward to. Don't let anybody put it down, this is great!

TAMMY: Your glass is half full and I like that, it's infectious already. The new album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. I love that. Described as revelatory and accomplished. Now the accomplished bit seems about right about someone who's been making music for so many years but the revelatory bit – do tell?

TOYAH: Well, it's an interesting one really. Its a very happy “up” album, it contains a lot of joy within the music. And the lyrics – I'm a lyricist – so are spikey and I like to invert meanings. Songs like “Heal Ourselves”, which is about communities helping themselves to feel stronger and to bond more, I kind of take on the role of protector. You don't expect a woman to do that, even in these days you don't expect a woman to offer protection in a masculine way. 

An in a song like “Bad Man” I'm talking about – we so often put people into cliched images, cliched accusations where actually, deep beneath the skin, they're pussycats. So I like to invert meanings and I like to throw away stereotypes. 

The opening song “Dance In A Hurricane” I could've only have written from the age I am today. It was finished in January, it took a year to write because my co-writer Simon Darlow, who wrote Grace Jones' “Slave To The Rhythm” by the way –


TOYAH: - Who I've been writing with in a songwriting partnership for 42 years, wasn't convinced that the four bars he'd written for the intro of the album was actually going to be the biggest song of my life -


TOYAH: And it took me a year to explain to him that those four bars are so magical that they have to be the opening song on this album. And we made it happen and I still believe after days and days of radio promo (Tammy laughs) that “Dance In A Hurricane” is the one song I want to be remembered for. 

I couldn't have written it until I became an adult the day I lost my parents. There's something about that dis-connect, where you have to learn to trust the world again that you become a bigger and better person

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: And that's what “Dance In A Hurricane” is about

TAMMY: It's so funny, everything you've just said – because I've got a couple of notes written down here and I'd written on this little scrap of paper that the 15 tracks on the album – looking at life and love and empowerment and wonderment and I'd put here “I guess it's fair to say you couldn't have made this album forty years ago”?

TOYAH: No way. Absolutely no way. I needed to be able to step away from my teenage self that had crushes on everyone, step away from my 30 year old self who was just frustrated with life. I needed to be in a place I'm now and I wanted to reach back through time to younger generations and say “everything will be alright”

TAMMY: I love that. I think we need to hear this song which has also been described as an ode to defiantly walking your own path through life. And it appears to me, as a youngster watching Toyah on Top Of The Pops, my sister kind of trying to be you singing in the hairbrush (Toyah laughs) and kind of having the hair and all of that going on. It seems to me you've always done that and that's what's so kind of inspirational I think about you, as an artist

TOYAH: I find myself, in retrospect, able to say that I'm very lucky no one took an interested in me in the business and what I mean by that none of the megastar management wouldn't be interested in someone like me. 

Therefore I've had complete freedom to choose my path and it meant that I created my own projects and they all did very very well and even today I manage myself, which means I can remain true to myself

TAMMY: Toyah, it's interesting isn't it, because we talked about kind of walking your own path and being yourself and having autonomy. Are you then defiantly walking your own path in 2019? How is life?

TOYAH: Well, it's busy, it's very busy and I would do anything to find a PA at this moment in time (they both laugh) because I do four shows a week and I get home and I live in your area and I'm in the office til six in the morning doing contracts for the band. It's very busy, I run a very successful business, which in being Toyah Willcox. 

I think I'm walking my own path because I do not believe and have never believed that you retire from who and what you love and who and what you are

TAMMY: I can ... yeah, yeah - 

TOYAH: And I will sing as long as I can still hit those top notes and I can walk on stage. So I intend to keep on going as long as I'm still in love with what I do. And I am still in love with what I do


TOYAH: It's a very very lucky place to be, to be in show business and to be in it for 42 years. My husband, who's Robert Fripp, (below, with Toyah) says if you live long enough everyone falls in love with you again. There's definitely been yo-yo moments when it's been a huge struggle and you just keep going!

TAMMY: You seem – in spite of your fame and success, it certainly hasn't gone to your head – very grounded, and live in Worcestershire and I'm kind of just wondering if you get that double take in where you live or have the locals just accepted you as one of their own? I did see a thing on TV, an antiques programme, that was looking in your house and I was like “I'd die for a house like that!” 

It's just lovely and all of your paraphernalia around the house, fabulous! How is life living in Worcestershire with your husband, you're both very famous …

TOYAH: We absolutely love it and there seems to be an invisible rule. We live on the High Street between two shops, I mean we couldn't be more visible but I think the community has made an invisible rule to let us have a normal life. 

And our life is very normal. I shop in the local shops, I'm passionate about keeping the High Street alive. It's a very special market town that we live in -

TAMMY: It's lovely, yeah -

TOYAH: And yeah, people recognise us but they don't make it impossible for us to have a normal life

TAMMY: Oh, that's really nice

TOYAH: My husband Robert and I have this conversation – we have it regularly, but we only had it two days ago – I'm now turning 61, he's now turning 73 -


TOYAH: We really love where we are. We feel that – it's obviously our home, we've been there for 17 years, but we feel that out of everything we do – and we both tour the world constantly, we want to go back to where we live. 

We feel going back is where we should be. So there's none of this feeling "oh, let's do LA, let's do New York, lets do Paris". We belong where we live and that's a lovely feeling

TAMMY: Isn't that great … Let's talk about another track on the album. How about “Sensational”. What's that about?

TOYAH: Oh, “Sensational”! I'm very passionate that we tell our children that they are beautiful and unique -

TAMMY: Awww …

TOYAH: And we live in a time when social media … it's so lacking in intelligence and imagination to be critical. Negativity is easy, that's why it flows. I think it takes a strong person to complement another. You come across young girls who have no confidence but you also come across boys who've no confidence and I've seen more eating disorders for example in boys than I have in girls. 

We should all have a right to tell someone, even if we know them or don't know them, that they are remarkable. I'm always going up to someone saying “my God you look fantastic!” because I appreciate the making the effort

TAMMY: Isn't that lovely -

TOYAH: “Sensational” is talking to the audience saying you are sensational! Don't let anyone tell you any other way! You are – the fact that we're all here – we should be grateful for it and respect it

TAMMY: Do you know, the essence of Toyah – we should bottle it and all take a sip every day. I love that!

TOYAH: I would just like a percentage of that (Tammy laughs)

TAMMY: She is a business woman after all! (both laughs) Toyah, we need to reminiscence a little bit because you grew up – is it in King's Heath in Birmingham?

TOYAH: I certainly did

TAMMY: Not far from where I grew up in the 60's, the 70's. Interesting time politically and socially. What were your aspirations and what was the young Toyah like? What did you want to do?

TOYAH: My aspirations – I wanted to be the biggest rock star in the world (Tammy laughs) and the biggest actress in the world

TAMMY: Oh well, there you go!

TOYAH: Yeah, my aspirations weren't normal (they both laugh) I knew as soon as I could walk what I wanted to do. I was a show-off

TAMMY: That's amazing, isn't it?

TOYAH: It's been very frustrating to live with that amount of ambition. Very frustrating

TAMMY: Interestingly I did read a story and you can correct me if I'm wrong, because there's loads of rubbish out there … At school, didn't you set off an alarm clock during a visit to the school by a certain PM?

TOYAH: I did. Just imagine doing this today. Margaret Thatcher was the Minister of Education I think about '72. She came to my very posh all girl school to talk about the future of education to the pupils, to the parents and the teachers and me just being an absolute wally (Tammy laughs) … 

I took five alarm clocks into the school very early and set them to go off under the stage (Tammy laughs) at two minute intervals. She was working to time, she hit that stage at 3 pm, exactly at the time as the alarm clocks were set to go off and she didn't bat an eyelid and everyone knew it was me

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: The irony of that – in '81 and I'm talking about 9 years later, my office - and I was the biggest female singer in Europe at this time, my office was across the road from her home -

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: So every day I went to my office and I looked at number 4 Flood Street, Chelsea, where she lived and I thought “I wonder if she knows?”

TAMMY: My! That's such a brilliant story! I absolutely love that! I love it! Because of course we know that you've always written songs that they kind of challenge and inspire and about being true to yourself . “I Want To Be Free” - I remember seeing that and thinking it's awesome, I love that! 

All the big hits that were in the charts, “It's A Mystery”, “Thunder In The Mountains” and so on. Where did young Toyah get that confidence and that courage to stand up and be counted?

TOYAH: I think punk rock. Simple as that. I knew – because I'm not physically exceptional – I'm barely five foot tall and I wanted to be in an industry where you had people like Cher, ABBA, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, you know these beautiful tall elegant women. Feminine graceful women … Well, I am none of that! I was very independent image wise from the age of 14. 

I was a hair model in a big department store in Birmingham, did the big hair shows around the country, had coloured hair right before punk and I knew I was going to have to be different to be noticed. But I didn't have confidence and then I discovered punk and punk was very accepting of women. 

It really was the only movement that I know that if you were a strong person it didn't matter what person you were, you were welcome and you had a place on the stage. So I think punk gave me my confidence

TAMMY: That's amazing. And in terms of your career it isn't all about the singing because there's acting too. You were at Birmingham Rep School for a little while because my brother was there and his claim to fame was “I was at Rep School with Toyah”. But you're not acting now are you, you're doing this, that and the other, you know -

TOYAH: I loved that school! It was very rinky dink and I absolutely loved it, it was my happiest time. We were in a real theatre and for me to be in something that's real – (rather than) if you're on a film set or a TV studio – you absorb it and I loved being at the Old Rep Theatre. 

That gave me a lot of confidence, I was probably the least talented there but I was the most driven. I can't express how important it is to have drive. I think it was this whole thing – I think I was used to being mocked by my family and not being taken seriously. It just made me so determined to succeed

TAMMY: Wow! I love that. And loads of films including “Quadrophenia”, loads of stage plays and books and the music. If you look back down the road leading you to where you are now – would you change anything, would you have done anything differently, Toyah?

TOYAH: Oh, that is such a good question! I would've acted on my moments of inspiration rather than thinking that they would always be available and what I mean by that you do have bursts of insight that are definitely meant to be acted on. 

They're a lovely experience, you feel alive from head to toe and I always thought “Oh, I'll put that down later” Never! Never! You act on it in that moment, it's there for a reason. And I would've studied harder at school. I wasted 14 years of my life

TAMMY: Wow. OK. It's fascinating talking to do because I get an air of philosophy about you. I don't necessarily mean religion but there is something about you that just, you know, is deep and it's considered

TOYAH: Well, absolutely. I think part of that is we have the length of life we have for a reason. I just do not feel this is it, I never have. I live in an incredibly haunted house -

TAMMY: Oh, is it?! Ooh!

TOYAH: People who refuse to believe have said they will never go in hat house again -

TAMMY: God …

TOYAH: So I just feel this is all part of a greater thing

TAMMY: Hmm. Yeah, I think you're right as well. Talking of home, you know, we have two magnificent musicians living in one house … Is there any chance that the neighbours, as mush as they're being very cool about you being there and all of that – do they ever hear you having a little jam in the living room? No … or? (laughs) I'd love to live on your street – can you imagine!

TOYAH: Boy, you've opened a can of worms there! (laughs)

TAMMY: Oh, have I? (laughs)

TOYAH: I'm studying music at the moment and I have a wonderful teacher called Chris Long, who the community will know because he's always doing concerts, a keyboard player. He's teaching me music theory and keyboards. He insists that I practice with somebody jamming along with me and I asked Robert to jam along with me and Robert was so unhelpful and so ungiving. 

You've got to bear in mind I believe my husband and I are slightly on the spectrum of autism and Asperger's. We don't compromise with each other. He felt I was not playing to the metronome and he refused to play any more with me 
TAMMY: Oh no!

TOYAH: So yeah, you might be able to hear us arguing about playing together (Tammy laughs) but actually playing together … no! 

TAMMY: (laughs) “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” is the new album from Toyah. You are touring – do you still get that buzz from being on the road all these years on?

TOYAH: You mean the terror? Yeah, I do! (Tammy laughs) It's what I do. I've never done anything else. It's part of me. Yes, I do get nervous but I would be more nervous if I wasn't doing it, so there you go. For the next track – I think it should be “Telepathic Lover” which is great one to rock out to

TAMMY: What's that about?

TOYAH: It's about being apart from the one you love and dreaming them into the room

TAMMY: Whoa! Love that! If only that was possible!

TOYAH: Well, yeah, my God - nothing would get done

TAMMY: (laughs) And on that note – you can see Toyah at loads of festivals across the summer. The Mill in Birmingham on the 18th of October. Have a look at the website because all the stuff is there and you get your hands on this brilliant album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. Toyah, it's been a joy! Thank you!

TOYAH: Thank you so much, Tammy and it's good to talk to you and I can't wait to come home!

17 April, 2019


MARK CARTER: Congratulations on the new album! I have been listening and I love it! It's a great sound. You must be very proud?
TOYAH: I love it. Some people have described it as pure joy and is a joyous album and there's absolutely no point in me trying to be serious and adult. I do energy and I think this album has it and yes, I really love it. I've been living with some of these songs as long as ten years.

Tracks like “Sensational”, which is being treated as a single at the moment. That was written in 2007 and it's been in my set, in my live touring for all that time and the audience know every single word to it. So I don't know if you know the story of what happened and why this album is being released?
MARK: Go on
TOYAH: (laughs) I will! On my 60th birthday last year the fans downloaded me to number one in the charts and I was unsigned and it lead to many people saying "we can't give you radio play, you have to be a signed artist". So Demon Records picked the album up, we've added five new songs to the album. It's been one hell of a journey getting this into the shops and on the pre-order chart it went straight to number one and of course I've been touring this music for 12 years.

Some of it was only finished in January but my audience know this album and they want it so I feel I've kind of walked backwards into this particular bout of success and it's down to my audience supporting me and I'm very grateful
MARK: An incredibly loyal following that you've had over the years as well?
TOYAH: They're very loyal. I perform live a lot. Mainly in England, I do four shows a week throughout the year. I tour two shows constantly – one is the acoustic show which allows the older members of my audience to feel that they can relax and sit and listen to stories and music and then I have my really loud energetic rock band that tends to play on Saturday and Sundays (they both chuckle) That's when people can dance for 90 minutes.

So I've been doing this – the 80's revival started in 2002 when I was asked if I'd like to play Wembley and I said yeah! (Mark laughs) I've been waiting for 40 years, of course I want to play Wembley! (laughs) I haven't looked back since. It's just been a phenomena. For my generation of artists - the doors just opened and it hasn't stopped

MARK: How fantastic! And “Dance In The Hurricane” is fabulous. It kind of sums up somebody walking through your path in life and that is, may I say, what you've done brilliantly over the years, isn't it?
TOYAH: Well, thank you. “Dance In The Hurricane” I think for me will be my epitaph, it's what I want to be remembered for, it's that one song I feel as an artist, thank you, I know why I've done this for 40 years. We only completed the song in January.

The whole album is just me and my co-writer Simon Darlow, who by the way wrote “Salve To The Rhythm” for Grace Jones. Simon and I started writing when I was 19 and he was 17, that's when we first met and that's how long our relationship has been as writers. 
So “Dance In The Hurricane” started as just the intro with a narrator telling the story of the Crimson Queen and then it went into four bars of drums. And for a year I've been persuading Simon that those four bars of drums is a major song and eventually I pinned him down and we got the song! I finished the lyrics in January, we recorded it, it took a while because I couldn't stop crying while recording it because both of my parent's passed away while making this album -
MARK: Oh gosh
TOYAH: And “Hurricane” is surviving loss and finding positivity and love again. It's a very passionate song that I feel I only could've written at the age of sixty. I love it and to hear you say you love it means a lot
MARK: Thank you. Bonnie Tyler was on the show the other day and she sounded like she is having the time of her life, she is into her sixties and absolutely loves it. She's got a new album out as well at the moment and you sound like this is the best time in your life as well?
TOYAH: I highly recommended it! No one tells young people they've got something to look forward to (laughs) It's fabulous! 30 was hard – my thirties were terribly difficult because you're biologically dealing with everyone asking when are you going to have babies, which I found very very infuriating.

I just found the changes you go through ... I found hard. 40 was great fun! 50 was OK but 60 is magnificent! I'm 61 in May. I have loved very minute so far and it's true – you don't give a damn, therefore you start enjoying it 

MARK: Isn't it funny, I can remember the day after I got married I was asked when will the children be coming along -
MARK: It's odd isn't it, it's really weird -
TOYAH: And no one takes no for an answer -
TOYAH: I knew all my life I'd never have children but no one listens. It was very very difficult. And I also I found that people who had children didn't trust me. If I went to dinner parties or parties people didn't want to talk to me and that was very peculiar but I'm well through that now
MARK: Good for you. I tell you what, Leslie Ash was in Brighton this week because they're launching this big Quad40 thing, celebrating 40 years of “Quadrophenia”. Can you believe – 40 years?!
TOYAH: Yeah, Leslie, myself and all the cast we've been together a lot. Last year it started kicking in, we made a documentary for Sky Arts and that's everyone from Ray Winstone, Sting, right through to Timothy Spall and all of us on the poster so there's a lot happening this year to do with “Quadrophenia”. I can't tell you just yet because (there's) a lot of surprises but The Who are involved
MARK: Wonderful. And of course a lot of that film is in our neck of the woods in Sussex -
TOYAH: Oh yeah! Tell me about it!
MARK: Love it! Now, how much of your career, I'm intrigued by this - how much of your career in the early days did you manage to shape or was it shaped for you?
TOYAH: I was pretty much the driving force. There's two blades to my career – I'm not the kind of artist that the mega managers want to manage. I'm just not in that league but also people realise I'm very good at managing myself, which is what I do. I'm very quirky, I don't fit in any mold therefore I think my lack of international success has allowed to mold myself into what I am today.

So it's a double edged sword. It's been good, it's been difficult and I think in the long term it's been a blessing. I just don't fit in anywhere and people don't know how to manage me. But I realise because of that I've created my own projects and they've done well. Does that make sense?
MARK: It does make sense, My colleague here who is - I think 49 next month – she said to me "I really wanted to be Toyah because she was the cool one". Were you aware back in the day that you were this person that they were trying to copy, emulate your style?
TOYAH: Oh, definitely! Yes, and I think about 8 years ago a very famous supermarket based it's clothing line on my look in '79 so I am aware of that but I don't behave like an influencer. I just want to be me and I want to be a creative person. I can't give my life to continual Instagram and facebook. I just can't do it. It's too busy. But I am aware of it and I'm also very respectful of it as well

MARK: And you've got two dates coming up in our area quite soon. St John Church in Farncombe – have you played there before?
MARK: Brilliant!
TOYAH: This is what I love about doing these acoustic shows – I get to see real places and we play what I call real venues. They're very small, they're very personal. Last week I did a tiny judge house in Otley up in Yorkshire and you'd think these are going to be tame and people just sit down and enjoy it … we had a stage invasion! (Mark laughs) These are very funny events because of the intimacy.

With the acoustic show I tell stories but it is music led. It's me, two guitarists and we all sing. But people get up and they want to sing and they want to dance. It's fantastic! And tell me, where's the other place I'm playing in your area?
MARK: So 10th of May St John's Church in Farncombe and The Haunt in Brighton, which is much later in year, 2nd of November
TOYAH: Yes, that's going to be rocking! That is “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” tour so that's going to be very loud
MARK: Can't wait to see you in our neck of the woods, Toyah, great to catch up!
TOYAH: Thank you so much Mark, great to talk to you!

16 April, 2019


STEVE JORDAN: Good afternoon, Toyah Willcox!

TOYAH: (on the phone) Hello! How are you doing?

STEVE: I'm fine, as bubbly as I expected you to be when I knew that you were going to be on the programme today

TOYAH: Well, thank you! (Steve laughs) I do bubbly very well

STEVE: You see, for me, once again I'm speaking to somebody – I have a lot of your work in my loft in flight cases (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, I think it's time you go up into your loft and you get it all out again

STEVE: I need a record player to be able to do that. Why I've not got one one I've no idea - particularly doing the job I do

TOYAH: Vinyl is just the phenomena of today isn't it - because vinyl is selling more than every other product at the moment

STEVE: It's amazing that there is a generation right now that don't realise that that was the norm

TOYAH: Yes. But mind you if you've got all my vinyl up in your loft you are sitting on a fortune

STEVE: Is that right?

TOYAH: Yes, it's worth so much. One of the picture discs is worth about £500

STEVE: Oh, don't tell me that because I haven't got any picture discs and there would've been a time when I would've thought "shall I pay the extra £1 for a picture disc?" and I thought no, the money from my paper round will only go so far 

TOYAH: Awww! That's so sad! (Steve laughs) Well, you know I'm releasing a vinyl album on the 13th of April - Record Store Day. I have a bright pink limited edition vinyl of my new album coming out. “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”

STEVE: That was absolutely seamless, ten out of ten Toyah, for getting round to that (they both laugh)

TOYAH: I thought I'd better get that in when you still have some money in your pocket

STEVE: I have a copy in front of me now and that crimsony pink that you talk about now – that's such an eye catching album cover. Really good!

TOYAH: It's great, isn't it? The things they can do these days (Steve laughs)

STEVE: I mean it's – colour of course has been one your things down the years, we'll get round to that a little bit later on as I talk to you. But it's been a while but you've been out and about, you're touring, you've been playing live but this album is a labour of love, isn't it, because it's taken quite a while to put together - finally assemble every piece of it

TOYAH: Well, it kind of came together by accident. There's only two people on the album, myself an my co-writer Simon Darlow (below, with Toyah). People might not know Simon's name but he wrote “Slave To The Rhythm” for Grace Jones. So Simon and have been writing together, we're a songwriting team and we started writing when I was 19 and he was 17. 

So that was 1977 and about ten years ago we decided to start to write together again to see what would happen and our publishers just were over the moon. They said what we were delivering was just some of the best stuff they've ever heard. 

So my latest single “Sensational” was one of the first songs to be written and that was picked up by Weight Watchers, so people will have heard that but they don't know what is was but that was the campaign song for Weight Watchers TV campaign about five years ago


TOYAH: So this album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” has had a ten year journey and its been a phenomenal journey. Most of the songs have been in movies, the last song on the album “Our Hearts Still Beat” was the end song of a film called “In Extremis”. All of the songs have been used in a London musical called “Crime And Punishment”, which was out four years ago. 

And the fans – last year on my 60th birthday May the 18th – downloaded me to number one in the charts and the unprecedented thing about this is I was an unsigned artist

STEVE: Oh wow!

TOYAH: And for me to be able to talk to you now, to have radio play I need to become a signed artist and Demon Records picked up on this and this is now an official release and to show how in demand it is - when they announced it two weeks ago I went to number one across the board in all the download charts. 

So that's the chart that happens when it's not even a physical release. The physical release of the double CD is on the 12th of April and then this wonderful bright pink limited edition vinyl is the 13th of April

STEVE: That's actually staggering – I'm actually taken aback (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, so am I. We didn't expect it. I can not tell you how surprised we were. It was announced exactly two weeks ago and the record company within an hour were contacting me saying "we are utterly gobsmacked you are number one in every chart." And that's the download release

STEVE: You're not even properly released yet


STEVE: So how have your musical tastes changed down the years then, because obviously people of my age will remember you as I described you earlier on, very bubbly, very smiley but in a way a rebellious singer with kind of rebellious songs. Has age calmed you down?

TOYAH: No. I think my generation is always the punk generation, we're always rebels. We're the generation that forgot to grow old. But you asked me how have my musical tastes have changed and I'd actually say that they've kind of regressed. I'm so heavily appreciative of the Rolling Stones, of The Doors, of Tim Buckley, of Velvet Underground, Lou Reed. 

Probably more so now than ever before and in retrospect you realise what incredible songwriters these people were. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is probably my all time favourite album and it's taken to get today to see the mastery of those performers and those writers. So I'm probably very retrograde in my taste more so than ever before

STEVE: Funny you should say that, I'm like you, Simon & Garfunkel are one of those as well that at the time I just did not appreciate what is was that I was playing and there's another one, I had to rediscover “Rumours” (By Fleetwood Mac) all for myself because a friend played to me when I was 19, my dad played to me when I was about 7,8,9 and I didn't really take it in. You listen to it again when you've grown a little and ah, it's completely different! 

TOYAH: Yeah. It's phenomenal and I think when you're a bit older you just understand the journey they had to make to get that music out and it just makes it such a complete picture. Back in the 70's artists really were artists, they lived the life and they were almost in self-destruct mode. 

There's so many incredible stories about making this music from marriage breakups to relationship breakups to the band hating each other so much they can't even travel on the same plane and it just adds such a depth to the music

STEVE: I think the next part of the programme you're really going to enjoy because I'm going to play one of the songs you would like me to me play from this new album of yours

TOYAH: Oh, yes please!

STEVE: So which one can I play, Toyah?

TOYAH: Well, “Dance In The Hurricane” is being reviewed as the best song of my life. It's quite long, it has an intro with my husband Robert Fripp on it, which I wrote, he's not playing on the album, he has nothing to do with the album but he's the narrator that opens the album. 

It's a very personal song to me because while we were making the album I lost my parents and I feel you really grow up at that point but the song is about the fact that I believe we are still utterly connected to everyone in our lives no matter whether they're here or not

STEVE: From the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” this is “Dance In The Hurricane” from my guest today, Toyah Willcox

“Dance In The Hurricane” plays

STEVE: You mentioned earlier this amazing shocking pink crimson cover that you have to go with your album, which is, like I said, such an impressive album cover. You have of course been known down the years to be colourful and one of the things I didn't even need to look up, because I remembered from the back of mind, was your appearance on the Kenny Everett Show (below) many years go, where computer trickery got them to change your hair colour and Kenny couldn't keep up with what colour it was

TOYAH: I loved doing that show

STEVE: It looked one of those programmes where they get the camera crew laughing always - got me as a kid and I realised there's no studio audience but he's making his friends in the room laugh, this is great!

TOYAH: It was astonishing because I think things like that only happened in a America up until that point but Kenny was a very serious guy. You didn't really joke off camera. When he was setting up and rehearsing is was all very very natural, very normal but then the mayhem started as soon as the cameras rolled and everyone in the room would be hysterics

STEVE: And another BBC programme that I know you were really desperate as a youngster to get on and then finally did - was Top Of The Pops

TOYAH: Oh, heaven!

STEVE: The UK's premiere chart show. Can you remember -

TOYAH: Yeah!

STEVE: - The day you realised you're going to be on and then what actually happened that day?

TOYAH: It was with “It's A Mystery” and I really thought this song would not work. I thought it would be a complete flop. I remember I was lying in the bath in my apartment in Hendon in London about 7 at night and the phone rang. It was the record company and they said you're on Top Of The Pops tomorrow and I just – I was speechless, I was in shock (Steve chuckles) 

Because my family and I watched Top Of The Pops religiously every week and we watched it as a family and it was a very safe happy thing to experience. We never criticised the music, we never criticised the show, the show was part of our family, part of our community and here I was, I was about to go on it. I was overwhelmed with excitement

STEVE: I was in awe of it. Even as someone who is not a performer I wanted to be on it anyway even if I was stood right in the front of the audience

TOYAH: Yeah!

STEVE: I just wanted to be in the studio while it was on. It looked such fun to be a part of

TOYAH: Well, it was a long day. We'd arrive at 10.30 in the morning and we'd rehearse about five times on camera. Then you go to make-up around six, then you rehearse again before it went live on air and it usually went live round 7 or 7.30. Even after a day of solid rehearsals I can remember being utterly terrified in case something went wrong ... but it never did

STEVE: So all that bravado you showed as Toyah, the performer, you still had the nerves behind the make-up and the hair and the clothes?

TOYAH: Yeah, I was on with all these other artists which I was in awe of. I think the first time I was on I was on with Adam Ant, Human League and a few other obviously well known people … Midge Ure … I was so in awe of them I didn't know how to communicate with them. That level of success was very new to me. 

Up until that point I'd had five years of working in movies, doing the pub rock circuit. But you very rarely met famous people. I say that – I'd already made a film with Katherine Hepburn and Sir John Mills and Diana Dors but rock stars? I met very few rock stars until that point. And I was in awe

STEVE: And “Quadrophenia” of course and then – I was at a party once, it was my bosses party, I was at his house and his youngsters were in another room, this is about 22 years ago and all of a sudden this show that they were transfixed by was on and I'm thinking "is that Toyah's voice I can hear?" And it was. It was Teletubbies

TOYAH: That was amazing. I only did two lines -

STEVE: That's right -

TOYAH: “Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies come out to play” and then I closed it with “the sun is setting in the sky, Teletubbies say goodbye”. At the time that was released I was the presenter on BBC Holiday and I can remember being mobbed in Marbella. We couldn't film because parents were telling their children I was on Teletubbies. We just could not go anywhere, we were surrounded by hundreds of kids

STEVE: Gosh!

TOYAH: It's amazing that those two lines caused more hysteria (Steve laughs) in my life than anything else I've ever done

STEVE: That's amazing. Finally, tomorrow night you will be performing in Nottingham -

TOYAH: I know, I am, I can't wait! I'm at – can you remind me …

STEVE: Ravenshead -

TOYAH: And I believe it's the Town Hall. It's my acoustic show, which I do all year round and it's storytelling it's acoustic music. It's all the hits, we are going to be doing songs off the “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” but it's lot of fun. You might think that an acoustic show is quite sedate and tame and it's just storytelling and you can sit there and relax and enjoy … 

Well, in Otley last week we had a stage invasion (Steve laughs) Which took me by surprise. The audience went utterly crazy, they were off their seats, we started improvising the set and we had no security and they all ended up on stage so anything can happen at these shows

STEVE: Wow! And then later on in the summer you'll be at the Rock and Bike Fest, South Normanton?

TOYAH: Yes, that's the band, the full rock band, which is going to be fantastic and then I'm back in Nottingham to play the Rescue Rooms on the 26th of October - is to perform the album "In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” plus the hits

STEVE: And the album is out the 12th of April. Toyah Willcox, thank you for being my guest today on BBC Radio Derby 

TOYAH: Absolute pleasure!

STEVE: It's been such a thrill for me to have you on, thank you so much

TOYAH: Thank you Steve, you're very welcome

15 April, 2019


ELERI SION: The Punk Princess is celebrating over 40 years in the business with a new studio album called “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” and I'm delighted to say that Toyah Willcox joins us now

TOYAH: Yay! What an introduction! Than you so much!

ELERI: It's all you, it's all you Toyah! How are you?

TOYAH: I'm really good, I'm very happy, thank you

ELERI: Lovely to have you back on BBC Radio Wales. So let's talk about the release of this new album, which isn't exactly a new album, it's a re-working of your 15th original album from 2008

TOYAH: For many people it is a new album. For my dedicated fans - they know it. The writing for this started in 2007 and the first single from this album “Sensational” was the Weight Watchers campaign song on TV -

ELERI: I knew I'd seen it! You know when I was listening to it I thought I recognise this song! OK - right! Carry on!

TOYAH: Then my writing parter and I – I write with a man called Simon Darlow, who I first met when I was 19 and he was 17 and we've been writing together now close to 42 years. So Simon wrote “SlaveTo The Rhythm” for Grace Jones so a very accomplished songwriter. We work together all the time, we've written for film, we've written for stage. Every song on “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” has been used in a London stage musical “Crime And Punishment” four years ago -

ELERI: Right ...

TOYAH: My fans – this is quite complex but my fans know this story. Last year on May the 18th I was 60 years old and they downloaded me to number 1 in the charts


TOYAH: And I was unsigned so a record label called Demon Music came to us and said this album has to come out. The only way we can get you on the radio is if you are signed. So we said we want to re-imagine the entire album which only our fans know about and we want to add five new songs. We went away, we put down live drums, re-mixed, wrote the five songs and this is the album that's coming out on the 12th of April 

ELERI: And what a joy it is

TOYAH: The fans have already taken the world by surprise because in the pre-order charts, which was three weeks ago, they've put me at number 1 in every pre-order chart (Eleri laughs) So I feel as I've walked backwards into success this way. The audience have made this possible

ELERI: Isn't that fantastic! That's the love the people have for you. You know, 42 years in the business it must be lovely to know that. But this also is fully endorsed by your husband, the King Crimson himself Robert Fripp!


ELERI: So tell us -

TOYAH: Can I just add it wasn't endorsed by him. It would still be called “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” (Eleri laughs) We're two highly independent people! (Toyah laughs)

ELERI: So you don't do anything – you keep everything separate?

TOYAH: Everything is separate except -

ELERI: Even your bank balance?


ELERI: Ooooh!

TOYAH: There is no way we'd still be together if he shared my bank balance. That man shops more than I do (Eleri laughs)

ELERI: The first song of the album “Dance In The Hurricane” is a note to walking your own path through life -

TOYAH: And it's introduced by Robert. That is Robert.

ELERI: You know what – it describes you perfectly

TOYAH: Well, I wrote it (laughs)

ELERI: (laughs) Well, you know yourself! How much of this song is – so it's all purely about you and your path in life?

TOYAH: I think it's about all our paths and this song “Dance In The Hurricane” can only be written from the perspective of my age. The whole album I wanted to be age appropriate but I'm still a punk rocker. I think we're the generation that forgot to grow old. We still want to dance, we still want joy in our life, we still want to party and we still want love and we all want to feel safe.

So “Dance In The Hurricane” is written from the perspective that - the days my parents passed away and we're all going to go through that – I became an adult. But I still feel they are influential in my life and “Dance In The Hurricane” is learning to trust love again

ELERI: And do you know, that's not the only track I presume is from your heart because there is a track on the album which is about self-empowerment -

TOYAH: Well, “Sensational” is about all our empowerment and that's the present single. “Sensational” is – if we do not empower our children how can we expect the future to survive?

ELERI: How much of a struggle has that been for you during your own life? To be accepted the way you are? 

TOYAH: Well, standing here about to turn 61 it's not a struggle at all because you get to this wonderful age and you don't give a damn! And that is absolutely true, I've never enjoyed myself more than in the last year and it's a privilege to reach this age. I think we deliberately go through decades because we need to grow. I found my thirties very hard. Biologically, mentally, everything was hard

ELERI: Like what? Tell us more about that?

TOYAH: As an artist the only question I was ever asked was when was I going to have children? I found that incredibly offensive. Just because I was born a woman doesn't mean I decided to have children. It was a very difficult decade trying to be an artist because women are under huge problems to conform to everything to do with femininity. It wasn't the place I was in. 

I found that my forties were a joy! I think in her forties a woman is in her prime. You're sexually powerful, you've got much energy still. Fifties were good fun but so far sixties have been the best!

ELERI: Oh, you're making me cry, I'm 47 and I'm still waiting -

TOYAH: You've got all this to look forward! (Eleri laughs) No one will tell you you've got it to look forward to and you have

ELERI: OK. I'll take Toyah's word for it! The album cover sees you all in crimson as well with an elaborate neck adornment. Your style, Toyah, has always been iconic, so have you always been in total control of your look?

TOYAH: I have a very good team. The team have been with me for a good 20 years. I have a wonderful photographer Dean Stockings, who created all the computer graphics around the album cover as well as the “Sensational” video, which is just stunning. And my make-up artist Sean Chapman, who I also paint with, he created that wonderful piece that rests on my shoulders, which I've called The Fallen Crown. 

It's like silver twigs coming out of my shoulders. The idea behind this imagery is if you are permanently on a pedestal you can never grow. You need t come off the pedestal and live a real life and then you grow

ELERI: Oh Toyah ... I think it's time for us to hear that brand new track of yours.

“Sensational” plays

ELERI: That was “Sensational”. Literally sensational, it's the brand new track from Toyah from her new album that she has re-worked. It's “In The Curt Of The Crimson Queen”. What a great track! Absolutely beautiful

TOYAH: Thank you

ELERI: So I'm thinking … Do you fancy going back and tinkering with any of your other albums? I'm thinking “Anthem” now, from 1981 … Yeah?

TOYAH: We'll get to “Anthem” … I actually think one of the most ground breaking albums that I've made and I've heard and I'm talking generally across the board as an artist here is “Sheep Farming In Barnet”. It's phenomenal. It's my first album, it breaks all the rules, it's so fresh today – I love performing it live. 

I would like to go back and really add a lot of technology to it, a lot of synthesisers, a lot of sequencing because I think it's still a mega album. “Anthem” was my first platinum album, it's a beautiful album. I think it's complete. Doesn't need touching.

ELERI: Well, it gave us “I Want To Be Free” and “It's A Mystery” although “It's A Mystery” was on an earlier EP but how do you look back at that particular song?

TOYAH: When I was first approached about it it was written by a friend of mine called Keith Hale. It was originally a kind of 12 minute vocal intro an something like a 28 minute instrumental that followed. My record company asked both Keith and I to turn it into a pop song format. 

I was very worried about it because up until that point I was championing being a really strong strident Boadicea type woman and I felt “It's A Mystery” it's just too vulnerable. But I compromised and we worked on it, I wrote the 2nd verse lyric. When it came out I was treading it, I really was treading the reaction. It went through the roof!

ELERI: Yeah!

TOYAH: Absolutely through the roof! I mean there were even days when we were waiting for the Sunday chart placing when the shops ran out of vinyl. The factories had no vinyl in store to get the record into the shops. We had to physically hire men in white vans to go round all the record stores collecting broken vinyl and take it into the factories so that we could get that chart placing

ELERI: You're kidding me? So you were totally involved in all of that? Personally?

TOYAH: Yeah of course! I'm always involved

ELERI: But back in the 80's when you talked to people you see, they weren't involved. So you were quite a feisty – well, I can tell you still are – feisty woman. I would say that you don't accept no as an answer

TOYAH: I'm tenacious is probably a better way of saying it.

ELERI: I apologise! (laughs)

TOYAH: Sometimes I have to accept no. You know if you go and phone up someone like “Killing Eve” and tell them I should be the lead in that series they're going to say no (Eleri laughs) So you know you have to just accept that. I self manage and it's hard work because it's very busy (laughs) – being the star and the manager are two full time jobs. 

I'm always willing to try new things and that has opened many doors for me. I've never been a snob about what I do. I've never been queasy about what I do. I'm always open and willing to try new things and I think that's just led to very exciting work

ELERI: Well, you're career hasn't been just about music of course. You're acting, your CV in that department is pretty impressive. And also you've been involved in many social activities. Where does your social conscience stem from?

TOYAH: That is such a good question because I have a devil on my left shoulder and an angel on my right and they are constantly arguing (Eleri laughs) I do sit on the fence

ELERI: Do you?

TOYAH: When it comes to politics. I don't want to be a political artist. But I play in front of an audience four times a week and you look out and I feel such compassion for everyone and everything I see. I know the angel is winning. I think jobs like dealing with the big B, the Brexit ... can only be done by people who are qualified to do that job and I only interfere when I think I can add an perspective that I think is valuable

ELERI: Another spectrum - “I'm A Celebrity” ("I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here"). You said yes to that back in 2003. What was that experience like for you?

TOYAH: I feel lucky because when I did it it was the second series and people didn't have to jump out of helicopters and only the last remaining contestants had to eat whitchetty grubs. I went out 5th on the Friday. By Saturday those three contestants were eating whitchetty grubs. I feel really lucky – I got off lightly there

ELERI: (laughs) Well, listen, you are going to be touring throughout this year, performing songs from the new album and 50 confirmed dates and festivals. Dublin, Bali, Belgium and Wales!

TOYAH: Switzerland has gone in since as well – it's just adding and adding and adding! The whole year has gone crazy!

ELERI: Well, you're going to be at the Let's Rock Wales on the 1st of June at Tredegar Park and then you're coming to the Acapella Studios in Cardiff with an acoustic “Up Close And Personal” gig 

TOYAH: On the 28th of June. We love that venue

ELERI: So how much time have you spent in Wales over the years then?

TOYAH: Gigging - a lot ... seeing it - not at all

ELERI: Oh, well try and find some time then, especially in June, it's going to be beautiful weather hopefully

TOYAH: I know, it's going to be gorgeous

ELERI: (laughs) You have no time, have you?

TOYAH: No (laughs)

ELERI: Listen, it's been lovely speaking to you, Toyah. You are still The High Priestess Of Punk or Punk Princess, which ever you prefer (Toyah laughs) All the very best and as usual it's been a pleasure!

TOYAH: Fabulous to talk to you, thank you so much!