07 September, 2006


SONG: "Thunder In The Mountains"

Toyah Willcox is somewhat of a pop icon but much is misunderstood about her career. If we look back at her 80’s pop success she’s probably best remembered for bright hair and outrageous outfits. But there is so much more to Toyah Willcox than just the singer. Let’s pick up the story from when she left school:

I took my O-levels quite late coz I lost a year during my schooling to have corrective surgery on my feet but I left school at about 17 after doing my O-levels and I went straight to drama school and already by then I was known in Birmingham for being the oddball that walked around with dyed hair.

And you’ve got to remember that this is pre-punk, this was about 1973-74 and it was while I was drama school I had to kind of earn my own way to pay my fees because ironically the drama school I went to, which was in Birmingham, I was the one member of my year who didn’t get a grant.

I just failed my grant audition … the man who took my grant meeting, I think he was called Mr Slade, took an instant dislike to me and he wrote down on a piece of paper which I saw: “She has a lisp and isn’t attractive” and therefore I didn’t get my grant. So when I started drama school at the age of 17 I did have to pay my way coz my parents couldn’t pay for me and I worked in all the theatres in Birmingham so I’d go to drama school from 10 to 5 , then I’d go to the Alex Theatre or the Hippodrome Theatre and I’d dress, I’d dress the stars who were on tour.

And I got known really quickly, I got known as the Bird Of Paradise and that was a name given to me by Judy Geeson and it was followed by Simon Williams and Sylvia Simms or people who I dressed who took an immediate liking to me. And also what I did during this period I did extra work at a fabulous TV station owned by the BBC called Pebble Mill which is now being erased to the ground.

And it was there that I got spotted. There was a director there called Nick Beacat and his brother was a composer and Nick was a playwright and they were looking for a girl to play a character who breaks into theTop Of The Pops studios to sings a song and she gets caught. Now they couldn’t find this girl in Birmingham, they certainly couldn’t find her in London …

One day apparently in a peak of despair Nick Beacat went to the wardrobe department in Pebble Mill and out poured his woes and he said “I really don’t know what to do, we start shooting in two weeks” and the wardrobe lady said “There’s a girl in Birmingham you really have to see because she’s an oddball and she has brightly coloured hair and she’s like no-one else we’ve ever met and she does extra work.” So Nick Beacat came to the theatre school to see me and he apparently made his mind up there and then that I was this girl.

But he asked me to come to London and I did a singing audition and I sang David Bowie ’s “Life On Mars” which ever since has meant so much to me because I got the job. I did the audition with Phil Daniels, the actor Phil Daniels and two days later when I was back in Birmingham, already living the high life because everyone in drama school wanted to what London was like and what the audition was like so I already had a story to dine out on for another year. And the phone call came from Pebble Mill and they said “Toyah?”

And said “Yes?” and they said “We’ve got some good news for you, you’ve got the job and you start on Monday”, (laughs) and I can’t tell you the absolute joy! When ever I get a job I just feel that joy, thank goodness and that really was the beginning for me because although I was pretty bad in this play, it was called "Glitter" (below), and it was part of a series called "Second City First", and I was the leading role, it was me, Phil Daniels and Noel Edmonds in his first and last acting role … and even denies that he’s done it to this day.

That was the beginning because when it showed three months later on national telly unbeknownst to me and actress called Kate Nelligan was watching and Kate was about to star in a production of "Vienna Woods" adapted by Christopher Hampton at the National Theatre to be directed by Maximillian Schell, the very famous German superstar.

And she got Max to sit down and watch me and they decided that I was right for a part in this production so the next day I got a call from the National Theatre saying would I come down and audition and that was it. I never went back. I moved to London the day I got the National Theatre job with a carrier bag full of salmon sandwiches that my mother made.

And I can remember sitting on the train thinking “I’m not gonna go back, I won’t go back, I’ll find somewhere to stay” (laughs) coz I was just so ripe and ready to leave Birmingham.

And I remember I walked into rehearsals and met everyone: there was Brenda Bletham, Warren Clark, Elizabeth Sprigs, Kate Nelligan and they said “Where are you going to stay?” and I said “I don’t know” and Brenda Bletham, bless her, said “I’ve got a sofa, you can sleep on that” and I thought nah, don’t want to sleep on a sofa, it’s not good enough! So I just … y’know I said “No, that will be alright, thank you” and really didn’t do anything about and eventually at the end of the day Kate Nelligan said to me “I have a granny flat where I live Stockwell, would you like it?” and I moved in.

And I phoned mum that evening and I said “Mum, I’m not coming back” so mum said ”Well, what are you going to do, what are you going to eat, where are you going to live?” and I said “Don’t worry, I’m moving in with Kate Nelligan and I have the flat for as long as I want it, oh and Maximillian Schell is taking me out for dinner tonight” so literally in 24 hours my life changed like a flip of a coin.
And it was … it’s been like that ever since really. So I worked at the National when the play opened, I got all the pictures, I got all the headlines even though the one scene I had in the play was literally two pages of dialogue. But people found the lisp quirky and they just found me quirky and it always worked in my favour.

And I got an agent, wonderful wonderful woman called Libby Glenn who is an American and had been an actress and was in a film called “Isadora Duncan” with Vanessa Redgrave and she didn’t like acting so she became an agent and one day she phoned me up and this is literally … (pause) literally a year after leaving drama school and I’d already moved to London and life had taken its course and she phoned up and she said there’s an audition for you tomorrow with George Cukor and Katherine Hepburn (below with Toyah) for a remake of the Emlyn Williams play "The Corn Is Green”.

I thought “Yeah fine, whatever” … By this time I had bright red hair and she said “Could you not go with your red hair please, could you borrow a wig?” So I borrowed a wig from the National Theatre and it was my “Tales From The Vienna” wig and I went along to Eaton Square where there was an awful big queue of kids, y’know up the hallway, up the stairs to the flat and it was my turn and I rang on the doorbell and George Curkor opened the door and let me in and I sat down and did a reading with Katherine Hepburn.

Now, at this point I didn’t know who I was meeting, I … I had no idea y’know, I hadn’t phoned mum and told her I was doing this and this was just a lovely couple of old people. And at midnight that day my agent phoned and said “Congratulations Toyah, you’ve got the role, they are so enamored with you, they want to do a reading with you tomorrow.”
I thought fine, OK, well the wig had already gone back to the National Theatre by this point so the next day I go to Eaton Square and I knock on the door, George Cukor comes to the door and he looks at me and he said “Would you like to take your hat off” meaning my red hair and I said “It’s mine, it’s all mine, Mr Cukor, it’s not a hat” and he kinda had that look on his face “Oh, what have we done?!”

And he let me in the door to meet Katherine Hepburn and he said (does mock American accent) “Katherine, this girls hair, have you seen her hair, it’s not a hat Katherine! It’s her hair! “ and Katherine just immediately stood up and ran her fingers through my hair and said (mock accent) “Ohhhh! Toy-aah! It’s just so wonderful! I wish I could’ve done that when I was you’re age! It’s like feathers!” and she completely forgave me.

And we spent the whole afternoon talking about punk rock (laughs), she was more interested in the band and the band I had and the touring and my lifestyle as a woman of the new age. Because what you’ve got to remember about Katherine Hepburn is she is one of the first women ever to ear trousers and she got vilified for that and her first acting reviews were appalling, she was called wooden, she was called masculine, ugly and The Washington Post actually said “This woman must never grace our stage again.”

So her to meet someone like me, who was already liberated, already incredibly opinionated and independent was really refreshing for her so we struck up an incredible bond and this bond carried right through filming and she was very protective towards me. Because obviously I was green around the edges and didn’t have any of the technical knowledge she had and also I was full of bravado and I didn’t have any of the manners she and George expected because she had to be called “Miss Hepburn” and George “Mr Cukor” or “Sir”, I mean it never occurred to me call anyone y’know anything like that so there were a few occasions when George would derive and say “It’s Miss Hepburn to you!”

But Katherine always remained positive and I can remember we were filming scenes together and we did a lot exclusively together, she would always have the camera favour me. Which I thought was delightful. And so generous and so wonderful.

And Mr Cukor used to shout at me every day and I thought I’ve let him down and for many many years, coz I was only 20 when we made this film, for many years I felt that I’d let him down and then I picked a book up recently on his life and it fell open at a chapter and the chapter started “Mr Cukor famous at shouting at
his actresses” so I realised I was actually in a very privileged place.

SONG: "Be Proud, Be Loud (Be Heard)"

I decided by the age of seven I wanted two distinctly separate careers, I wanted to sing and I wanted to act but I didn’t want to do stage musicals coz the music never appealed to me. I was very much a rock chick even by the time was twelve so when I was at the National Theatre working, and I started at the National when I was 18, it was the right environment for me to work out how to put a band together and how to meet musicians because the theatre was full of musicians as well as actors.

And through a series of coincidences I just got involved in a punk band and that was purely from asking around y’know “Has anybody got a band, does anyone need a singer? And I just used everyone I met as an opportunity so there was no clear defined path, everything was about chance really.

And I ended up in a punk band from Golders Green, and we used to rehearse at Golders Green cemetery and we did a few gigs together and the leader of the band was a man called Glen Marks and his father ran Golders Green cemetery. I remember because Marc Bolan died during this period and we hid in one of the gatehouses to watch the funeral.

And we went off and we did terrible gigs, I mean really bad gigs and I was a really bad singer and a performer at that point coz … I was … it meant so much to me that I was permanently nervous and I’d walk on stage and just become a jibbering wreck and hide behind a kind of ugly bravado, there was no craft there or anything.
So I remember we played the Dagenham Ford Motorworks and we played youth clubs all over the place and I realised this was going nowhere fast. But Glen Marks introduced me to a protégé who was at his school called Joel Bogen (below on the far left). And Joel Bogen was a very accomplished musician, he was guitar player and he was by far the most accomplished musician that I’d met at that time.

And Joel and I struck up a writing partnership and this partnership lasted many many years. And in the beginning we’d only meet up on Sundays and we’d write and we’d answer ads from the NME and eventually we got a keyboard player called Pete Bush who had a music room in his house in Totteridge so we all rehearsed there and slowly the band came together from friends of friends of friends.

And we started to do more serious gigs but during this period my acting was taking off and I was working with Derek Jarman making "Jubilee".
And all of these film jobs allowed me to take the band a step further coz I was getting publicity which meant I could say “Oh, by the way I’ve got a concert happening next week”.

Now in those days and I’m talking about 1977-78-79 the pub circuit was a really healthy circuit and we were starting to turn up to play pubs all over the country and about 2000 people were turning up so we were getting a reputation for being a good band. Even though as a punk band we hadn’t been signed yet which was frustrating us and it wasn’t until I got to make "Quadrophenia" in 78 that I managed to get a record company to come and listen to us and they were called Safari Records. And they signed us on the spot.
We hired a studio near I was filming "Quadrophenia" and I can remember saying to Sting who was in "Quadrophenia" ,“Oh, I’m just off Sting, I’ve got to do a showcase for a record company” and it felt so good saying that because Sting was very much on the ascendant and he’d already been signed and y’know he was big news then. And when I came back after lunch I said “By the way Sting, I’ve got a recording deal” (laughs) and he was so lovely and gracious about it, it was fabulous!

But the funny thing is, everyone who worked on "Quadrophenia" wanted to be in a band: Phil Daniels, Mark Wingett, Gary Shail, they all wanted this elusive record contract. And Sting got one first and then I got one and it was all so competitive it was hysterical.

ROSS: "Quadrophenia" was obviously a big film …

TOYAH: Mmm …

ROSS: And it did do well, it probably goes down in legend really doesn’t it I suppose?

TOYAH: Yeah.

ROSS: How much of an impact on your career did that film have in itself?

TOYAH: We made "Quadrophenia" in 1978 and it was really a hard role for me to achieve. Firstly I was brought on board to screen test the Leslie Ash role with John Lydon, Johnny Rotten, and Franc Roddam called me and asked me if I would get John Lydon through his screen test so … I had a few meetings with John Lydon and we rehearsed the scenes we had to shoot at Shepperton (studios) and we went off and did the screen test and it was quite terrifying for both of us. But I had to say John Lydon was a really lovely actor.

He had a fabulous quality and Franc Roddam phoned me a few weeks later and said “I’m sorry, it’s just not happening. Firstly the insurance won’t back a film with John Lydon in, they think he’s a liability and we’ve cast Leslie Ash in the role you screen tested for” and I said “Wait a minute Franc, there’s other roles!” and he said ”Surely you would only want to a lead?” and I said “No, no, can I be seen for something else?”

This went on for months and eventually I turned up outside Franc Roddam’s window and I knocked on the window and I said “I’ve heard that you haven’t cast Monkey yet?” and he said “Come in, come in” and Phil Daniels (below with Toyah) was in the office with him and Franc said “Well look, do the scene with Phil now and if you snog him the job’s yours” so I did it! I’d known Phil before, I’d made "Glitter" with him, we were friends. So it was absolutely cool. So reluctantly Franc Roddam gave me the role of Monkey. But boy did I have to fight for it!

We then made the film and it was a complete immersion because Franc wanted us to meet original mods and rockers, he wanted us to experiment with the drugs they took back them. He wanted us to know what commitment that generation made to being a mod. So I mean the red hair came off, white hair went in its place, I had to kind of disown punk for a while which made me very uncomfortable coz I liked being a punk rocker.

We went off, we had parties in the East End with mods and rockers, we got up to all sorts of things that were illegal and then we started shooting and the shooting started in Brighton and it was very very nice, it was good fun. In the beginning days it was probably more fun and then as on any film the pressure builds and builds so you kind of have to hit deadlines and the budget starts to run out.

When the film was finished we were all invited to see a press showing of it and I went with Sting and Mark Wingett and Gary Shail and I can remember sitting there watching it and none of our scenes were in it. It was completely re-written in the editing room. And it was solely about Phil and well Phil’s character and his obsession with Leslie Ash’s character.

We were pretty narked because we inherited a lot of kind of value and hope in what this was going to do for us in the future. And I remember it was tough period: "Breaking Glass" was being made, which I also auditioned for which Hazel O’Connor got.
Kate Bush auditioned for it too.

So we were pinning all our hopes on "Quadrophenia", y’know putting us into that stratosphere. But when we watched it, no, we were all kind of segregated, we were all downgraded to kind of bit players. So it was very very disappointing for us. That said … it’s had the most longevity of any film I’ve made. It’s built and built in its legendary status and it hasn’t done me any harm what so ever.

At the time it game out in 78-79 the press slated it, which was again heartbreaking but the audience rated it. So within about six weeks of it being out on general release I could tell it’s affect because mods were turning up to see my punk band. And I was getting 50/50 in the audience. No other band dared do that because you kept your audience to a specific. And it really over the years has helped revive me repeatedly to a new generation. The only other thing that’s done that for me is "Teletubbies."

So every new generation that’s come in and discovered "Quadrophenia" and you know what young people are like they think they’re discovering something for the first time … So for twenty odd years, twenty five odd years that film has introduced me to new generations and I’m very very grateful that because y’know as you get older it’s the best thing you can have happen to you ... is there is something out there that generations love.

ROSS: Toyah had spoken openly about the illegality of some of the things she was asked to try whilst making the movie. So I asked her what her own experiences were with drugs?

TOYAH: Well, funny enough when I moved to London in 76 there was obviously a lot of drugs around but personally I didn’t have the money to get involved. What I never realised was how much heroin and cocaine was around. But as my career evolved, and I arrived in London a chubby ten stone 5 foot woman, the pressure was put on me to loose weight and especially when the band was getting better and better and better. So the only thing I, y’know, really dappled in was slimming pills which were very easy to get your hands on and they were a form of amphetamine.

So round kind of 77-78 I was taking about 5 slimming pills a day and it got my weight down to 7 stone which is what I had to do. I would’ve never done it any other way. But all around me people were smoking spliffs and those who could afford were having cocaine. But it wasn’t until I rehearsed a kind of charity event with The Stranglers. Hugh Cornwall had been put into prison for something and The Stranglers were putting on two days of shows at the Rainbow Theatre with quest stars. And I went into rehearsals to sing two songs with Hazel O’Connor and The Stranglers. And that was the first time I’d even seen heroin and I’m not saying The Stranglers were taking it, I am saying everyone else was.

And there were lines of heroin chopped out everywhere and I found that incredibly shocking. And then when we got to the Rainbow Theatre the security there that had been hired, they were all snorting heroin as well. And I can remember one occasion when the security that were there to protect me and Hazel were actually vomiting in the toilets because they had all taken heroin.

Now in the culture that I come from, y’know the punk effic, heroin was looked on the way we look on paedophiles - you just don’t touch it. It’s scum, it’s base, it’s the worst thing you could do. So that really surprised me and I then discovered that the heroin users of that period, like all drug addicts, do it secretly because people do frown upon it.

The most common use of drugs by punks was the cheapest and that was sulfate which is speed. And everyone was doing that, absolutely everyone. It kept you going basically because we worked incredibly hard. But I wouldn’t say that drugs were rife because punk rockers just didn’t earn the money like bands like The Rolling Stones or The Who were earning y’know in the 60’s, we were getting by on 30 a week so that kind of kept us on the road as it were.

ROSS: Now moving into the pop career: when do you feel you had your first big success as a pop artist?
TOYAH: My first hit was "It’s A Mystery” in 1981 but what people never realise is for five years running up to that I’d been a touring and recording artist so my first real hit, the one in my heart, was the very first Indie chart which started in 1978-79 … my very first single “Victims Of The Riddle” was number one in that chart for 12 months.

So even though it was an irrelevant chart at the time I was the first number one artist in it and I’m incredibly proud of that because I think the Indie music is were everything begins, that’s where fashions and trends begin. Then I had an album out called “Sheepfarming In Barnet” which sold incredibly well and went to number one in the Indie album chart.

"Blue Meaning," which was my second album, came out in 79 and that went in at number 2 in the main charts but funny enough album charts back then weren’t taken as seriously as the singles charts coz single market was bigger … So as far as I’m concerned I had a hit album way before “It’s A Mystery”. And then “It’s A Mystery" came along and literally went in at number 4 in 1981.

SONG: "It’s A Mystery"

TOYAH: I'd always wanted to do Top Of The Pops, it’s something y’know obviously as a child you sat and watched it religiously every Thursday and even though it was dream to do it I was kind of excepting by the age of 22 I might never get to do it. It was an incredibly powerful program back then, you really weren’t a star until you’d done it. And OK I was doing concerts, I’d had albums out and I had a huge following … I still didn’t believe I’d make into the mainstream.

And when the call came through that
“It’s A Mystery” had gone in so high and that I was going to do TOTP (above) the next day … I was quite freaked out really!
Because I wanted that first appearance to be absolutely perfect and my costume maker back then was a girl called Melissa Caplan and she was an art student and I’d ordered some new costumes with her but there was no way she could’ve gotten anything ready for the next day. And I said “Well, y’know Melissa just stay up 24 hours, get it done overnight coz this is TOTP”.

I remember we got to the studio the following day at ten in the morning and all terribly excited and really it’s a very basic program: you rehearse a few times and then you’re shut in your dressing room for 8 hours and then you do the show. I mean it’s exciting but when you talk about it, it sounds absolutely banal. When Melissa’s costume never arrived, she just couldn’t get it done in time …

And I remember I had a dress made by a designer called Willy Brown and I don’t like dresses but Willy had designed the clothes for David Bowie on the “Heroes” project so I thought I’m going to wear this dress and in a way it was saving grace because it was very unusual and very beautiful and very feminine and I looked so innocent!

And I remember we were on and Adam Ant was on the show and Adam by this time was a massive massive star and I hadn’t seen him since the making of "Jubilee". And we never got to see each other to talk but I was just wildly excited and trying to kind of control my nerves and thank goodness we were miming because I don’t think I could’ve sang live, I was so terrified.

And I just knew out there my parents would be watching and that made it wildly exciting because the rebel had kind of made it. Because when I left Birmingham no-one had any expectations for me whatsoever and to suddenly be on TOTP and looking really nice (laughs) even though I had bright red hair it was very very satisfying and it was probably the only time I’ve ever felt that I had arrived at a destination.

ROSS: I asked Toyah is she had a personal favourite amongst the songs she’s ever recorded?

TOYAH: It’s very hard to say I have a personal favourite of any song I’ve ever done because every song is so infused and flavoured by who and what you are at the time that you’re involved in writing it … That sometimes the memories taint the success of the song. With "It's A Mystery” that happened because the band that I’d been touring with for three years split and only Joel and I remained. It was a heartbreaking time. I was appearing in The Royal Court Theatre in a Nigel Williams play called “Sugar And Spice” (above) at the time with Caroline Quentin.

And the band decided to split because it was obvious that I had two loves in my life and they felt I wasn't dedicated enough. And a producer called Nick Tauber came along and he started Joel and I demo'ing and he had picked a song called It’s A Mystery” which Keith Hale had written, from the band Blood Donor. But at the time “It’s A Mystery” was just a vocal intro and an instrumental ending so it had to be arranged into a song and after it was arranged I wrote the second verse because there was no second verse available.

We went into the studio and we recorded it and I really didn’t like it. I felt it wasn’t me, it wasn’t representative of what I was trying to do which was slightly outlandish and bombastic and very feminist in it’s approach at the time. But that’s the song that “happened”.

And it’s so ironic that this song I really didn’t believe in or didn’t personally like became the most important thing in the whole of my career. Then with “I Want To Be Free” that went to number 8, that was fine, it was a lyric I’d written at school y’know about hating being at school and hating being patronised and talked down to because I was considered a child. That went to number 8 so great and then “Thunder In The Mountains” came along which went to number 4.

And I should’ve really enjoyed the success of “Thunder In The Mountains” but by now I was on a kind of boulder that was rolling quicker and quicker and quicker and I had to produce songs in shorter timespans than ever before because everyone wanted the “next” song - the "next" look. And with “Thunder In The Mountains” I can remember I wrote the lyric the day that Princess Diana and Charles got married.

I had two stalkers sitting outside my flat in their car. They had my phone number and they were phoning every five minutes. And they were making my life unbearable. And I had a deadline on this song and I can just remember pacing round the flat desperate, felling like a trapped animal wishing the phone would stop ringing and wishing these two people would go away because they were in a way destroying what they wanted me to do to make their life feel good.

So already the success and the pressure was on me by the third single for that year. So when “Thunder In The Mountains” did incredibly well it was slightly tainted by a resentment from me of what it took to get it finished because my wonderfully creative life was actually turning into felling like a fish in a goldfish bowl.

So when anyone asks what is my favourite track, every track has a memory and has some history attached to it. So I would actually choose one song that is probably my least well known song, it’s called
“Martian Cowboy” and it’s off an album called “Love Is The Law”.

And I love this song because it was recorded in 1983 and I was appearing in “Trafford Tanzi” at the Mermaid Theatre at the time which was a massive success. It got me worldwide critical reviews. And I’d go in and do “Trafford Tanzi” from 7 till 10 and I’d go into the studio (Toyah at the studio door in 1983, below) from 11 till six in the morning to make “Love Is The Law” the album.

And it worked perfectly for me because all the adrenalin from “Trafford Tanzi"would then keep me recording through the night. And “Martian Cowboy”(chuckles) I’d written in the morning with Joel Bogen and he went into the studio and put the backing tracks down ready for me to come in and do the vocal in the evening. And I can remember thinking “I want to be really relaxed for this” so I took a temazepam sleeping pill! (laughs)

And I usually kind of kept these on me to slip into Joel’s drinks because he was so funny after he’s taken temazepan. I didn’t do it often and it wasn’t, y’know, not the most responsible thing for an adult to do (laughs). I had actually sneaked one into Joel’s drink once and locked him between the studio and the engineers desk in the glass booth and we recorded him going “What’s the matter - I don’t know what’s going” (laughs), but that’s another story!

Anyway I took a temazepam and did the vocal for "Martian Cowboy" and Nick Tauber said “I don’t know ... I don’t know how you’re doing it but you sound so relaxed!" (laughs) And it’s one of the best vocals I’ve ever done coz I’m absolutely chilled out and it was done at two in the morning and it has a really lovely feel to it.

It’s a song that has a great sense of continuity throughout it. And as piece of writing and a piece of performing I like it. I’m quite proud of that and it’s not tainted by any outside memories. Its history of how it was written and where it stands it’s a very pleasurable history. So I can still listen to the song and hear the song - not think about the stalkers outside or anything like that.

SONG: "Martian Cowboy"

ROSS: I saw Toyah recently doing her one woman show and noticed that she does a lot of covers of other people’s material as well as her own. I asked her why she’d chosen certain particular songs?

TOYAH: The songs I do in the show are partly reflective of my history and obviously I do hits, I do songs that people remember me for. But there are a few other songs in there which are "River Deep Mountain High”, “Sweet Child Of Mine” by Guns’n’Roses and I’ve put them in because I can perform them really well and they add another dimension onto who and what I am. Because people remember me as a singer for “It’s A Mystery” and “I Wanna Be Free” so they remember this kind of hyper active child running around the stage.

So I wanted to add songs into my one woman show that kid of put another dimension onto me as a singer. So it’s personal taste, it’s ability, and it’s also just trying to surprise my audience a little bit.

ROSS: You make a point in your one woman show about your age …

TOYAH: Hmmm-hmm.

ROSS: And the fact that on your gigs you’re wearing shorter and shorter skirts and showing more and more of Toyah to the world …

TOYAH: (laughs) What woman?

ROSS: Why is it you do that and what do you feel you’re putting across, what message?

Hmm-m. When I was twenty like anyone else who’s twenty, you don’t think beyond the age of 25 maybe 30. You think you’re going to be young forever. And you’re just not interested in the inevitability of growing older. And when you grow older perceptions towards you change and there are these clichés, especially in the entertainment business, that y’know a woman will get less acting roles, she’ll get less visual roles because her sexual power is ebbing. 

Now I personally think that’s a pile of bollocks and it’s perpetuated by an industry that will keep perpetuatingit as long as we allowed to be … y’know … perpetuated! So I always make a point of telling people my age because everyone I know of my age lies! I’ve got very famous female friends who say they are ten years younger than they actually are and I have strong feelings about this because if we keep doing this as successful woman, as business women, then no-one, the future generations will never be encouraged to except how wonderful every stage of our life is.

And we’ve managed in the western world exclusively to treat women over the age of 35 as if they’re invisible. And I think it’s ludicrous: we’re living longer, we want second careers, we wanna keep working, therefore we’ve got to make sure we are valid in the workplace.

Now luckily there are a few women around who’ve proven to be absolutely incredible right up into their 60’s, you’ve got Cher, you’ve got Madonna who will be hitting 50 in two years, you’ve got Kate Bush who’ll be hitting 50 in two years, I’ll hit 50 in two years. And I’m absolutely determined that the way I did with punk and I think very few of us through the punk movement liberated a lot of women for the future … liberated them from Laura Ashley prints.

I want to do the same for women who want to keep working right up until they’re 65-70. And that is making as valid and attractive and approachable not kind of “Oh, isn’t she unusual because she’s two stones heavier and got grey hair”. Y’know just because you grow older doesn’t mean you have to get unfit, doesn’t mean that you loose your sexual prowess, and all of that.

So I think it’s incredibly important to keep women on the map no matter what age they are. So I do quite actively fight ageism. Obviously because I’m there and I’m in that moment now. But I’m SO NOT INTERESTED in being treated as unusual because I’m successful at 48. And being treated as “Well, you’re 48 therefore you’re not interested in music anymore” y’know it’s silly things like that.

I’ve got more money now than I ever had at 20 and a lot of women of my age have, therefore we are as marketable as a 20 year old woman. So we’ve got to go out there and create that presence and that need for y’know age appropriate clothes because the problem I think women have at the moment is that we’ve got Top Shop to shop in - or you’ve got Jaegar so really we’ve got find designers who are going to design appropriately for us.

So there’s all these new horizons to be explored because I’ve grown up in a commercial world that thinks women are only living and breathing from the age of 12 till they’re 30. And there’s
a lot of re-invention to go out there.

SONG: "Obsolete"

TOYAH: Looking at music and age, the only music category that respects age is the blues. We haven’t quite yet got the same respect for blues artists, who are in their 70’s, as for say like the Rolling Stones who are a bit of visual joke. Y’know and ironically they are behaving as white blues artists.

Now when you look at dance and rock and disco and all of that they are treated exclusively as young things but I’m just not interested in dealing with bigotry and those kinds of boundaries so if I’m working in an area where really the walls are so thick you can’t knock them down I just move on and find another way of working. Now I’ll always work live because I’m a good live performer.

And if MTV wants to ignore me, if the music press want to ignore me then I’m still going to survive because I draw an audience because of my reputation. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, so I think yes, the music industry which is getting smaller and smaller, record and albums sales are diminishing and diminishing, are exclusively going for the teen market because they’re still spending money.

What we’re facing now is what the world of entertainment faced in 1920 and that’s a major revolution. No-one knows where it’s going. In 1920 film was invented and Hollywood started. Hollywood as we know could’ve actually started in Yorkshire but for some reason: happened in Hollywood. Now that meant of lot of silent film stars suddenly fell by the wayside as it became important that actors needed more than one dimension. They needed to be able to speak as well as act and look great.

Now what we’re going through with music in this new millennium is that the industry as we knew it has become so small and even artists like The Rolling Stones don’t sell albums. They could never live off their album sales. But they’re stadium artists. There’s a revolution going on and no-one knows where the commerciality of music is going to go. And I think that actually makes a very exciting time for people like me. Because I draw as many audience to a live show as a chart act does.

Last year I did the Hastings Music Festival, Keane opened it on Friday, I closed it on Saturday and had more people in the audience and in the poll vote that went on in the papers that week: I won the poll. But I don’t have Keane’s visibility. So everything’s is changing and have to think how do you cope with that, how do you capitalise on that. And personally I think it’s going to be through the internet. So if I’m to start writing and recording again it’s going to be for an internet audience.

ROSS: You spoke just now about sexual prowess. Let’s touch on that, if we may? How open were you sexually when you were on tour because people always read in the paper -


ROSS: - about always jumping into bed with people and it’s normally the guys that are boasting about that. The girls tend to not say what happened with them so give us a bit of an inside as to what you were like at the time?

TOYAH: If you were to ask me were there sex drugs and rock'n'roll in my career when I started out y'now in my twenties for me there was nothing. I was surrounded by security and my boyfriend (Tom, below with Toyah) was a member of my security team and when I was on the road the only thing I ever saw was the tour bus, the hotel room, the dressing room and the stage.

Everyone else around me might’ve been involved in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and back then, and I’m talking almost 30 years ago it was exclusively men from what I could see that had the groupies. I always had a boyfriend so actually, my life was incredibly conservative.

I would drink perhaps but I could do nothing that interfere with my performance the next day. So my life was incredibly rigid, incredibly closeted and I can remember the only time I ever used my voice was during the performance. The rest of the time remained silent and that was to protect my vocal cords. So my life back then was surprisingly uneventful.

And my management made sure no-one ever met me and no-one kind of ever got to see me private. And I remember touring as an incredibly lonely experience. But that said those performances on stage were heroic and magnificent. I put everything into it and actually when I came off stage there was nothing left to give, I was completely spent! So I was very very dedicated to the kind of perfection of what I was doing.

ROSS: And do you think that kind of sexual prowess you talk about has come out in later life?

TOYAH: Oh yeah! It wasn’t until I hit 40 that I became remotely interested in my sexual power. Now obviously I have had sexual charisma and magnetism back in my 20’s and my teens. But I was completely oblivious to it because everything to me was about business and it was about the business of being a serious performer and the business of being a good singer. It never occurred to me that I could use my sexuality to sell units. And it wasn’t really until Madonna came along that that light bulb went on for a lot performers, it was like “Oh! OK, right, sexuality and singing- it can go hand in hand!”

So really it wasn’t until I was 40 and I’d had a pretty bad decade as a 30 year old, I hated my 30’s. I put on weight, I did TV presenting which I didn’t enjoy, it was nowhere near as satisfying as being involved in music. And I hit forty and I thought well, if I’m going to do something I really believe in, now’s the time to get on and do it. And I lost a lot of weight, I lost two and half stone, I got a band together, I went on the road and kind of realised that I was at my most sexually potent.

And throughout my 40’s I’ve exploited that to the full, I’ve worn less on stage in the last 8 years that I’ve ever worn on stage: thigh boots, mini skirts and kind of suits of armour, y’know bustiers, I really have gone out for it. I’ve made of point of being a sexual being.

Now that falls hand in hand biologically with my clock ticking away saying “Well, y’know this is the last embers of your biological clock - what are you going to do about it?“ Well, I’ve taken it out on stage. Most people kind of hurry up and have their last child … well I’ve never been bothered with children or a family. And I suppose I’ve used my 40’s to really say: this is a fantastic decade, this is what can be done in this decade and in many ways it’s my most successful and happiest decade of my life.

SONG: "I Want To Be Free"

ROSS: Whilst many celebrities hide the fact that they’ve had cosmetic surgery, I found Toyah extremely open about the whole issue:

TOYAH: Well, today I think the attitudes have changed considerably but two years ago, … let’s go back three years coz that’s when I started researching plastic surgery. I found that the whole industry had a smoke screen around it and the only information I could find were programs on the telly and programs on the Discovery Channel. And they were all about BAD plastic surgery. I wanted to know about the good one! I wanted to know where can you go to the guys who can really do it?

And I found that all my friends who are in this industry and y’know really good close friends were saying "well no", they didn’t know anything, they couldn’t help, they wouldn’t have surgery. And all around me I knew that they were having surgery! They were having botox but I could not find out who to go to or what procedure I wanted. And when I looked it up on the net I found that one company in America did 240 different procedures.

So how the hell was I going to know what was right for me? And I think when you’re going to deal with a part of your body and let’s say especially the face … this is something you see every day in the mirror and people see you every day and the first thing they look at is your face or obviously it means a lot to you. People will judge what they think of you by your face.

Now I was already 45 and I looked quite tired, I’d lost a lot of weight, and I wasn’t happy with the way I was ageing and what I really really didn’t like was that I’d get up in the morning after a great nights sleep, feeling fantastic and I’d look in the mirror and I’ see someone reflected back to me who didn’t look well. And that was a big problem for me because my voice is maturing and it’s at its peak, my abilities as an actress are at their peak and there’s this damn face letting me down!

So I started this journey of discovery and luckily I started to find people who would talk and the main person I met was a woman who works at Knightsbridge called Linda Meredith who is a skin specialist. And she felt exactly about herself as I was feeling about myself. And we became very strong buddies and companions through this journey.

And because she was working with very high profile A-list superstars she started to find out names of who did what and how they did it. Now what was important for both of us: we wanted surgery but we wanted the surgery to be secret, we didn’t want scars on our face. Now I could name a male TV presenter here and now who has gone off to Switzerland twice for facial surgery and his scars are visible.

I’m not going name him! Keep watching the telly- you can’t miss him!
And I said to Linda there is absolutely no way I’m ever going to have surgery where I’ve got scars on my cheeks, under my chin, down the middle of my throat.

I want invisible surgery and we ended up going to have meetings with a French surgeon we heard about who has supposedly operated on Hollywood A-listers. And the reason he was so good and so successful is because he’s work was very very natural. I didn’t want to end up looking as if I was standing in a wind tunnel and y’know all I wanted was the very bad bags under my eyes to go, my turkey neck to go and I just wanted to look well! So I had meetings with this man, he’s called Dr. Olivier de Frahan and I told him all of what I’ve said just now. I said “Look, I have a problem with visible surgery, I am an actress, I may not be a megastar BUT my face is important”.

And he understood. And I saw him for six MONTHS before operated. I took him photographs of myself throughout my ages, I said what I liked about these photographs, I said what expressions mean the most to me and he devised the surgery around who and what I was. And I know many surgeons who don’t even meet their clients until the day of the surgery. So I really was incredibly specific about it.

And it occurred to me that there is a lot of women out the who need this knowledge. Because they are going to surgeons, trusting that every surgeon has the same ability, every surgeon will invest the same amount of time in them that I demanded from my surgeon. And that every surgeon will give them something that will make their lives better. Now what was quite remarkable with my surgeon, he sat me down and he said "you know, a facelift won’t bring you happiness." He said "if you’re not loved if you’re marriage isn’t working if you are resenting something, no facelift will ever get rid of that."

So he had the whole psychology too. So I thought my God, you know this, this is absolutely amazing. It’s science, it’s much deeper than the world of media was presenting to their readers and to their TV viewers. And I thought I’ve got write about this because otherwise I am an enemy to women who are going to see me and see that I look better. And undoubtedly a newspaper will out me for having surgery and if I’m not completely honest about the journey and the effort and the time I’ve invested on this then I’m not really helping fellow women.

So I just wrote the book (above) and it was very interesting experience writing the book because it opened up so many areas to me I explore as an actress. And that is the importance of your face and face value and how people judge you at face value. And then you think “wait a minute!” Why do they judge you just at face value? And then you go deeper into characteristics and habits you have that are all to do with making people like you.

And the book just evolved like a ... continuous spiel of consciousness. And I think I was a very qualified person to write it because as a rock singer, as an actress I’ve always been involved with image. And how important image is. So I came out with this book in the end you know you think if you’re going to write a book about a facelift you can actually do it one chapter.

But no - it’s very very in-depth and very important and the most surprising reaction I’ve had to it is people have read the book and they’re not interested in the surgery, they’ve come to me and said “do you know I’ve always suspected that the shape of my nose has meant people think I am strident or people think that I have a hot temper."

Because I’ve explored all these avenues of how we judge people. Like very full lips mean you’re incredibly sexual. And what it means very full lips means that you’re hormonally ripe, you’re very fertile. That’s why Angelina Jolie is so succesful. Because that full mouth means she’s incredibly fertile. Small eyes, they have meaning to people. People would judge you if you’ve got small eyes. So I’ve written a book that really is about the power of the face.

ROSS: Now is it only the face that you’ve had done or is there other parts of the body as well?

TOYAH: I’ve only had my face done because funny enough it’s one think I couldn’t live with! I haven’t had anything else done. I would really love other things done but my husband would prefer me not to and he was very supportive of the facelift. Because he lives and works in America and virtually every woman he knows has had a facelift so why should he deny his wife that? When you know, I wanted it so badly.

But as for the rest of the body my feeling is as long as I’m fit and I’m slim then you can have great clothes and you can hide everything. I have absolutely no ambition to never wear a bikini again. Or a swimsuit in public so you know it’s not a problem. But - having said that – I know by the time I’m 55, possibly 60, there are many things I’d like done. I’d like a tummy tuck, I’d like my bottom lifted and I’d like my breasts reduced! But my husband just won’t tolerate that.

You see so many programs on telly about it now, with of sort of boob reductions, boob enlargements, designer vaginas. You know there’s so many things going on now.

TOYAH: Well, the thing is you can have surgery that’s natural. At the moment an awful lot of young girls want surgery to have large boobs. I find that completely alien because I’d like to get rid of my boobs. I hate them with passion And they’re only there coz my husband likes them!

ROSS: I can understand that! (both laugh)

TOYAH: But you know surgery can be there for lots of subtle reasons. It’s not just about your boobs. And there is an awful lot of women out there, my age, who are just ready to have fun with their lives and they’ve saved their pennies, they’ve worked hard and they now want to kind of relax a bit and have a bit of a party time and perhaps they’re looking for a second partner in life. And they want to feel attractive again and all of that so I think surgery is the way of the future.

It’s not going to go away, it’s not a fad by any means and surgeons are inventing ways that we can choose which age we want to remain at. Now there are some very famous 30-year women out there who aren’t ageing. Because they’ve started looking after themselves young. They started botox at 23, they’ve perhaps had a little nip and tuck and a little bit of eyelifts, browlifts which means they’ll never age. They will remain at 30. I realised at 45 that if I didn’t have surgery it would impossible to get back to looking 35 coz you just age too far.

So the whole science is at what age do you start this maintenance and what age do you want remain looking. I know 60-year-old women who look 30 because they’ve known the tricks. They’ve known that they’ve had to start this kind of non-invasive surgery or very small procedures incredibly early on so that their face doesn’t stretch and deteriorate to a point that the only way you’ll ever tight skin again is to make it as if you’re standing in a wind tunnel.


SONG: "Echo Beach"

ROSS: Amongst my favourite anecdotes Toyah told me was laying on bed with Sir Lawrence Olivier and encounter with what she believes could be ghost of his ex-wife.

TOYAH: In 1983 I was in play called the Trafford Tanzi in the Mermaid Theatre and I was asked if I would go along and have an audition for a John Mortimer screenplay called The Ebony Tower which was taken from the John Fowle’s short story. And it starred, Greta Scacchi Laurence Olivier (below with Toyah) and Roger Rees and eventually starred me, I got the job. So we all had to fly over to the Dordogne where we were filming and at the time Laurence Olivier wasn’t a well man, he had stomach cancer and he was hemophiliac as well.

And he could only work three hours a day and the whole day was structured around Laurence’s availability. And he had a permanent nurse with him and he had to take a handful, about 30 pills every 30 minutes. These were keeping him alive so obviously we were all very concerned about him and we really looked after him. But I struck off with him and I think it’s because I really enjoyed listening to his stories. They were absolutely wonderful! And he was staying in a very posh chateau and the rest of us were in a kind of road motel just a mile away.

Every evening I would meet up with him and supper with him. And he was just more than happy to talk about his experiences with Marilyn Monroe because he did "Prince And The Showgirl" with her. He ended up loathing her and I found this interesting because I actually think Marilyn Monroe was a phenomenal talent. Obviously Laurence Olivier were - but they were just from a completely different cultural genres. He talked a lot about her and she arrived deliberately late which kind of meant everyone was tired and not ready and when she suddenly turned up and said "well I’m ready" everyone else had run out of steam!

But I also helped Laurence Olivier learn is lines in the morning. So he would be brought into the chateau where we were filming and he had a room there and I’d always go up and join him in the room and we’d end up lying a double bed together with our scripts and talking away. And we would actually never learn our lines! We’d always end up gossiping! I remember this one story he told me: he was married to Vivian Leigh who was an astonishing actress! But she had a very bad nervous breakdown late in her life after making “Gone With The Wind”. People thought that was the end of her really.

And he was telling about this and there was obviously some deep regret and some guilt there because he was very earnest when ever he talked about Vivian Leigh. But the one thing struck me in the conversation was she had this nervous break down and she returned from it. She returned a better actress. I got the feeling that this baffled and miffed Laurence Olivier. He would talk about this and we’re lying on the bed and at the foot of the bead was a wardrobe because we were in a real living chateau.

He got to the point where Vivian Leigh had died at her apartment in Eaton Square. He was called over to go and view the body and when she’d died she’d fallen off the bed and as what happens when you die, you’re incontinent and he was saying how shocking it was to see in that state and how no-one ever wants to been in this state. You know, by this time the atmosphere in the room was quite electric and because he could tell a story as if you were actually there and you’re re-living it. Suddenly, in the wardrobe door there was a key in the lock and key turned and door swung open.

And already the hair on the back of our necks was standing on end because of the power of the story but then it was like “oh, OK!” I turned to Laurence Olivier and I said “I don’t think we’re alone!” and was he so excepting of this and he said “No, I’ve always felt her around.”


ROSS: Amazing. Now he used have a little tipple in between times I understand, didn’t he?

TOYAH: I would meet Laurence Olivier after the days filming at his chateau which was one of the poshest places in France with the most amazing restaurant where butlers served you and everything. My orders were never allow him more than 3 bottles of champagne. And get him to bed by 10 c’clock, you know, of course all of that went out the window.

We’d get to third bottle of champagne and we’d both be pretty merry and I noticed he’d started to leave the room to go to the bathroom a lot. I and thought "no, he can’t be needing to go to the bathroom that much" and I started to worry to whether he was OK. I followed him out and the reception are of the chateau was a very large glass display case with Napoleon brandies in.

They were about £500 a shot. So he wasn’t going out to go to the gents, he was going out to have a shot of brandy or a shot of whisky but it was vintage whisky. I would tell him and I would say, “My orders are: three bottles of champagne and then to bed! What are you doing?!” And he would just go “F-off darling.” Our drinks bill at the end of the film was phenomenal. It was something like £35 000. It was ludicrous!

But you know this was a man who was terminally ill and he was enjoying life! You’re not going to stop him! But he was crafty, as ill as he was what so impressive about him was that his spirit and his lust for life was that of a 20 year old. It was undiminished by time or illness. The passion was blazing! The same as when he was in his twenties. And it was magnificent to see.

ROSS: I asked Toyah is there was anything in her life that she would change?

TOYAH: What would I change about my life? Well, when I was at school I wish I’d learned more. I pissed my school days away and I’m cross with myself about that because if I really put my foot down I could’ve learned an instrument and I never have and that’s held me back so badly.

My lack of interest in English literature, I could smack myself on the back the head for not reading more. OK, I was dyslexic at school but I still could drudge my way through a book. And I was definitely lazy at school. I’ve always used dyslexia as my excuse but what is unforgivable is dyslexics are above average intelligence.

And I never really did anything about it till I left school. So I’ve wasted that brilliant youth when you can absorb so much. I regret that big time! Other things I regret are to do with my procrastination. I’m those of people that will only do anything at the last minute. I think there is a brilliance in me and I’m not going to be modest about this. There is a brilliance in me that could’ve done much much more if I didn’t procrastinate so much. So the opportunities I have in the future is to prove that brilliance! (laughs)

And I just will just not let a day go buy without exploiting my ideas. Because every idea I’ve had has emerged some point on the planet. Even through Spielberg or Channel 4, my ideas are in tune with culture. Therefore I don’t want to lie in bed and the light bulb going on “oh, that’s a good idea” and wait for someone else to exploit it. Because I believe in morphic resonance. And morphic resonance is that there is a kind of layer round the planet that is full of ideas that are ripe for plucking.

I can give you an example of this: in 1982 when I was writing lyrics, all around round the world you had people like Hazel O’Connor writing lyrics, Kate Bush writing lyrics, Kim Wilde writing lyrics without any of us knowing each other at the time. We would write exactly the time themes. That is morphic resonance. I’ve never cashed in on the fact that I’m so in tune with that. Almost to a psychic level that I really could pip other people to the post with ideas.

So instead I sit round dinner tables with friends and I sit my husband and go “I’ve had this idea blaah blaah blaah, little alien comes to earth and then changes the earth" and my husband says “Act on it! Do it! Make it real! Make it yours” and that is what I want to do in the future. Act on this ability I have to know culturally what’s going to happen next.

ROSS: I think the truth in that is the universal consciousness which all tap into. And many sci-fi writers tap into that in the same way. Now let’s just talk very quickly about your husband (Robert Fripp of King Crimson, above with Toyah). You’ve had one of the longest running relationships in showbusiness with someone who himself is very famous in the industry. Normally a recipe for disaster. How has yours survived so long?

TOYAH: My marriage is it’s 20th year. People say now we’ve been married for 20 years, it’s a wonderful successful marriage but it’s a job, it’s something you work at. It’s not something you take for granted. It hasn’t been easy. Hasn’t been terrible either but it’s not something that has just played its own way through time.

When I first got married it was very difficult because my husband was critically more acclaimed than me as a performer. People played on that. It took a while for my husband to realise it. I’d say to husband you know, let’s say we were at a dinner party at Notting Hill … and people were actively undermining me.

I’d say to Robert “Did you notice that?” and slowly he got to realise how people would play us off each other by undermining me and only acknowledging him. Part of that is sexism too but by having very open conversation about how this was happening and it was happening in the press as well, we got actually stronger and stronger. Because we became more protective of each other. And people used to actively try to make us argue and break us up. Unbelievable behaviour we witnessed and the resentment we’ve witnessed. So we worked at our marriage over time.

Now famously this year the McCartneys have broken up. And you know for Heather Mills, everyone criticising her for being abrasive I totally understand because Paul McCartney is a hundred times more famous than my husband and I think there’s people out there who are jealous of relationships - who will do anything to undermine a relationship. And I’ve certainly experienced it.

But over time people realised, y’know by the 10th year we were married, by the 15th year we were married that actually they weren’t going to be able to break us up because the marriage went beyond our careers.

If you were to ask me y’know what are the keys to that … I have a lot freedom. He does too but we’ve been able to run careers successfully apart from each other which is very satisfying. I am financially equal to him which is important to me. I’ve never asked him for a penny in my life, we go Dutch on everything.

I really feel I couldn’t live off a man anyway, and the fact is that in recent years my wealth has built and built and built and means that I can relax and be trusting in a relationship. I don’t know why it’s so important to me but I would feel trapped if I depended on my husband for anything other than friendship and a soul partner and reliability. The thing is we’re together coz we want to be together, we’re not together out of necessity.

ROSS: When you say you have a lot of freedom in marriage - is it an open marriage sexually?

TOYAH: Oh God! My marriage isn’t open sexually, we are fiercely possessive of each other, ironically there is no way I would do anything to make my husband jealous. It took him about five years to learn that I really didn’t want to know about his past and he’s ex-girlfriends and I had no desire to meet his ex-girlfriends, just because they’re ex-girlfriends doesn’t mean that I have to have some sort of form of relationship with them.

I am incredibly blinkered like that and in a way my husband is too. We are very physically private. I think what has worked is we’re both physically shy. When we go out into the big wide world, we’re going out to work. I’m not interested in flirting with other people or have other people flirt with me. I don’t find it particularly flattering and I don’t have a need for it. So y’know that’s ever really been a problem.

ROSS: Now how do you find each others music?

TOYAH: Hahaha!

ROSS: Appreciated or not appreciated?

TOYAH: (Laughing into her hands) Oh my God!!! I don’t KNOW any of my husband albums other than an album called “Discipline” and I’ve never heard “20th Century Schizoid Man” but it’s the same y’know: he doesn’t know my work either!

And we’ve made NO effort to study each others work! I mean for a while we had a band together called Sunday All Over The World which I did some of my best singing and my best writing on and there’s songs on that that I’m immensely proud of! But there’s defined borders around that, it doesn’t bleed into anything else.

In recent years my husband’s branched out as a solo artist and I’m incredibly involved in that and he likes me at his shows and I do actually talk to him about chord structures and sounds and where he should be taking it and he has actually critically taken all of that on board. But that’s only started happening in the last four or five years. Apart from that I really don’t get involved in his career.

SONG: "The Vow"

ROSS: So what does the future hold for Toyah Willcox?

TOYAH: I have a lot of projects coming up. What people don’t know about artists is that there is a lot of projects on the horizon that boil away that sometimes never reach the surface so you don’t know how involved someone is with them. So for instance this year I’m a director and a co-creator and a presenter on a new game show that’s being placed, it’s probably going to go with channel Five. But I’ve been working on it with two friends for a year.

My friend Colin David who’s an inventor, came up with the idea over dinner and I said “We have to make it!” So we made a pilot, we put a company together, we own a company called Eccentric Games. And I’m a co-producer with him on that project.

I’m also a writer and co-producer on a TV series and a film that we’re selling at the moment, called the "China Detective" which I’ve been working on for over a year with a writer-composer called Martin Cisco. I’m cast as the lead in the remake of the "Medusa" which is raising money. I’m also cast in a play - in a film with Phil Daniels called “The Bentley Boys” and again these are all projects that have been waiting to be green lighted … now 50 % of my life is about getting projects going, they don’t always happen but you have to give them a 100 % of your commitment.

And on top of this I’m making telly programs, I’m touring the band and I’m writing books so it makes for a very active life. When people say to me “What are you doing at the moment?” I say “You REALLY don’t want to know, the list is endless!” but just because you don’t, say, see someone on telly or see someone perhaps, y’know, you think maybe they’re not touring at the moment doesn’t mean I’m at home watching telly! (laughs) You’re actually busier than ever because you’re kind of plotting the future.

SONG: "Angels & Demons"
SONG: "It’s A Mystery (Weybridge Mix)"


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