BBC RADIO SUSSEX
WITH ALLISON FERNS
ALLISON FERNS: Toyah joins us on the line this afternoon – hello Toyah!
TOYAH: (on the phone) Hi Alison! How are you?
ALLISON: I'm well! What a career you've had! 13 Top 40 singles, 20 albums, 2 books, you've appeared in something like 40 stage plays, ten feature films! What haven't you done?!
TOYAH: Well, I think all of those figures have actually gone up quite a big in the last ten years! (Alison laughs) I'm a working woman, I love -
ALLISON: You don't stop!
TOYAH: Well, why should I?
TOYAH: If I have a job that I love, and it goes for everyone in the world - if you do a job that you love you don't actually do the job the with a end in sight. You just live it. I love singing, my voice is getting better all the time. Technically I'm getting better all the time and I love writing. So with my band The Humans (below) which is a bit of an alter-ego from Toyah of “It's A Mystery” fame - this is myself, Bill Rieflin, who was, now here's someone eclectic, he was the guitarist in The Ministry, he was the guitarist in Nine Inch Nails, he was the drummer in REM and he's the bass player in my band The Humans -
ALLISON: That's some pedigree!
TOYAH: I work with people who are very highly qualified and capable of many many things.
Photo by Dean Stockins
ALLISON: I love the fact as well that you've never let yourself be pigeon holed like you say - you've got your singing, you've got your acting, you've got your writing?
TOYAH: Well, people do try to pigeon hole and I think to a certain degree people need to. I have no qualms at all about doing shows where I sing my hits because my hits are no longer about me – they're about the audience and the audience now defines that.
ALLISON: People's memories, your music will be the soundtrack to things that were happening in their lives at that moment ...
TOYAH: Well, sadly mainly my music is the soundtrack to people either breaking up or being expelled from school … (Alison laughs) But that fits in really well what I'm doing today which is slightly rebellious.
ALLISON: And what a great venue. You're coming to Trading Boundaries in Uckfield. Have you been there before Toyah?
TOYAH: Yeah, I sold out there in October (below,"Acoustic, Up Close & Personal") and it was just stunning!
ALLISON: It's such an interesting place -
TOYAH: We could've sold out the whole week. Basically it's a sit down cabaret event and it's got the most fantastic shop! I'm going early this year to go shopping -
ALLISON: We've got some lovely stuff! They've got these beautiful wooden letters that light up that I'm particularly keen on! (laughs)
TOYAH: They've got some fantastic furniture, some fantastic clothes and it's got a court yard with the most stunning high end shops and Roger Dean has been exhibiting there - that is an artist that got me in the profession. He did all the artwork for people like Yes and Asia and I when I first saw his artwork I started touring at the age of twelve and I've since met him and made friends with him.
But getting back to Trading Boundaries people sit and they have fantastic meal and we do the show. But it means as a musician and as a crafts woman I can share my craft with the audience because it's that intimate that you can let people in a bit more than you do say at a theatre. With The Humans is a very lively concert – it's myself and two basses, that's the head, that's what you get at the front of the stage. It's bass driven because the bass is my favourite instrument. And then we all sing and we have lead guitar and keyboards as well but that's not dominant. The dominant thing is the voice and the bass guitar.
Photo by Asher Meekins
ALLISON: It sounds great. Is it fair to say you didn't have the easiest of childhoods?
TOYAH: Well, compared to what the younger generation is going through now I think I had an absolutely blessed childhood. But I had a few kind of physical problems I had to overcome. I always had a problem with walking, I have curvature of the spine and my feet were clawed but I grew out of that with physio therapy and I was just in the Birmingham children's hospital twice a year and they just kept on eye on my body healing itself. So when you're a young girl and you want to look pretty and be accepted by your friends, it was a pretty strange existence.
ALLISON: Yes of course, I can imagine it was. You keep very healthy, you follow – some might call it strict, some might call it a very sensible way of life?
TOYAH: Some call it boring as well! (Alison laughs) The only thing I get ostracised for – I'm teetotal and I don't smoke … |Both of those things are a huge problem for people socially. It's astonishing - “You don't drink? Why don't you drink?! What's the problem?”
ALLISON: I suppose it's that whole sort of rock star persona as well, people probably expect “Toyah Willcox , oh yeah! She's probably this, that and the other …!”
TOYAH: I can be quite wild without drinking (Alison laughs) I'm also … stop me when you get bored! I eat 80% raw -
ALLISON: Oh, OK! A lot more people seem to be doing that, don't they? Seems to be -
TOYAH: Yeah and I eat fish. I'm desperate to cut sugar out of my life. I'm desperate! Every day is battle!
ALLISON: It's tricky. One of my colleagues is doing that at the moment, I think it's going OK. Weirdly though she said her partner is doing it and her partner has now stopped craving sugar all together.
TOYAH: I'm waiting for that to kick in -
ALLISON: Yeah, it hasn't started yet! (laughs)
TOYAH: Four o'clock myself every afternoon I have to lock myself into a room til the cravings go – it's that bad. I've been a sugar addict all my life and I would do anything not to want or expect sugar as something that is pleasurable.
ALLISON: No, it's so hard as you say -
TOYAH: It's impossible!
ALLISON: In fact it's three o'clock for me, fifteen minutes to go and I've already got that craving kicking in! It's lovely to talk to you. Thank you so much for taking the time and we can't wait to see you at Trading Boundaries in Uckfield on the 11th of April. As you say you're performing with your band The Humans, in fact I can play a track now.
TOYAH: Thank you!
ALLISON: Yes, you and The Humans. This is “These Boots Are Made For Walking”. Toyah Willcox, thank you so much!
TOYAH: Thank you!