20 April, 2019

TOYAH ON BBC RADIO DEVON
WITH RICHARD GREEN
20.4.2019


RICHARD GREEN: Let's have a chat now with a wonderful lady who's got some brand new music coming out. She's been doing the business for many years, probably more years than she cares to remember! Toyah is with me - hi Toyah!

TOYAH: (on the phone) Hello! I think I've been doing it for more years than your audience have been born for!

RICHARD: Well, I don't know so much about that but listen – you've got a brand new album -

TOYAH: Yes!

RICHARD: Perhaps you can sort of clarify for us, it's “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” - but it's partly new and partly re-working of old. Can you just explain for us?

TOYAH: OK. It's not that old, the songs began their lives around 2007 and only the fans that come to see my shows knew these songs. And then on my 60th birthday last year, which was May the 18th, they downloaded everything to number one in the charts -

RICHARD: Great!

TOYAH: And at that time I was an unsigned artist and politically to get radio play and presence you have to be on a label. So a label called Demon Records said "we have to release this because there's an audience who desperately want it". So the first song of the album, “Sensational”, did start its life around 2009. It became the theme for Weight Watchers so it was on telly all the time. 

Then the other songs have all been used in movies and the entire album has been used in a London stage musical called “Crime And Punishment”, four years ago. Then we've written five brand new songs. The last to be finished in January was “Dance In The Hurricane” which is the opening track. So this album has walked back into success -

RICHARD: Wow! That's nice though, isn't it?

TOYAH: Yeah and the fans have made it a huge success already. Two weeks ago in the pre-order chart, which is what happens now and it gives you a sense if something will chart – I went number one across the board in all the rock charts in the pre-orders -

RICHARD: Are where are you Toyah on that one, I'm just going to pin you down, are you a vinyl sort of tactile person – I suspect you probably are -

TOYAH: Well, it's a very satisfying thing to have back -

RICHARD: Yes

TOYAH: I had success last year with a release called “Desire” and that just sold out and when the vinyl arrived through the post in my home I thought “oh, this is a really nice feeling!” I feel like an artist again – I've got vinyl!



RICHARD: Yeah and of course it feels from the audience's point of view like they own something. If you stream stuff nowadays you don't sort of connect with it the same way. Well, I don't anyway ...

TOYAH: Well, I feel the same about books. I like to have a book in my hands so yes, you're right. It's a product and you own it

RICHARD: Yeah. So tell us then what's going to happen with this album. You said there the audience have got it up to number one in the pre-order chart, which is absolutely fantastic. What sort of welled up in your inner spirit when you realised you were going to be number one, you're going to get good traction on this album?

TOYAH: Yeah … I … (struggles to find words) It's taken a while to sink in. Because I play all through the year, I do four shows a week and I have done for the last twenty years and my shows sell out. I'm used to having an audience but to suddenly know there's going to be this presence ... I'm still coming to terms with it because it's going to very different how it was 42 years ago -

RICHARD: Yeah

TOYAH: The world has changed considerably and I'm learning every day about what a download chart is, what downloads are, how people can write and respond and comment online. It's still a huge learning curve for me. I feel as if I'm coming to the tip of the tidal wave and learning to surf it. 

So it's a very exciting time. And the whole of my year has live shows booked so we're going to be performing these songs. I'm even being booked into next year so it's going to have a long life

RICHARD: It certainly is. Shall we hear one of the songs from it? The opening single is “Sensational” - which is a good title for a song, isn't it? Really - (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, it's a song of empowerment. It a song that tells people with no confidence that they are miraculous, they are sensational

“Sensational” plays

RICHARD: You've been singing songs of empowerment for ages haven't you, really? That have that sort of oompf to them?

TOYAH: My songs are anthems. My songs are written for the stadiums where you want a lot of people singing with you -

RICHARD: And how does it go when that happens? Because I've seen you at the festivals of course when you do some of the big songs from the past and they'll be singing them back at you - 



TOYAH: Yes! (laughs)

RICHARD: I mean that must be an awesome feeling?

TOYAH: It's amazing! “I Want To Be Free” is always the fun one because they always sing along to everything I do but somehow “I Want To Be Free” has an anarchy to it still so they not only sing along – they shout it along! 

And it's fabulous because I want to remind people of our rebellion because I'm the punk generation. We're the generation that forgot to grow old and still have that element of bravado in us so when I do “I Want To Be Free” I seem to ignite a passion in people and it becomes quite militant -

RICHARD: Does it?

TOYAH: Yeah!

RICHARD: It's good that that happens but what about “It's A Mystery” and things like that? And “Brave New World” … I was thinking -

TOYAH: Well, they're romantic. People sing along to those because there is a romantic connotation in them but there's definitely rebellion in “I Want To Be Free” and another one that always takes me surprise and I have a similar effect with the song “Sensational” - is the song “Good Morning Universe” -

RICHARD: Ah yes, yes -

TOYAH: Because that is a song of inclusion and we open the set with that and the whole audience is dancing and singing it back

RICHARD: It's always good to open with a belter that they know, isn't it? In terms of what you have to put in your set list -

TOYAH: Yeah and one thing that makes me really laugh is they're doing the harmonies and it's lovely because (Richard laughs) it really helps out! You think “oh, thank you, thank you, you're doing the harmonies, it sounds even better!”

RICHARD: I know you're doing a Let's Rock but towards the year you're doing a more sort of focused on this album tour, is that fair? In the autumn time?

TOYAH: Yeah. The autumn dates – we're playing all through the year and we're going to be doing a lot of the “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” songs but the end of the year, October, into November we're doing the Crimson Queen gigs which will be Birmingham, The Mill, The Brook in Southampton, Bristol, which kind of people can travel to from your area -



RICHARD: 20th of October in The Fleece in Bristol, yeah

TOYAH: But we are doing dates throughout the year right up until that point where we're playing the new songs in so I feel the whole year is actually dedicated to the new album

RICHARD: I know sometimes you do sort of more intimate concerts as well where you're sort of a bit more slimmed down, dare I say a more acoustic -

TOYAH: Well, yes, it is called “Up Close And Personal”. I do a lot of those -

RICHARD: So how do the new songs fit into that - bearing in mind this is a whole album, an electric band on the album?

TOYAH: You've got to bear in mind I've got 42 to years of -

RICHARD: Experience! Yeah! (laughs)

TOYAH: - Writing to play. That's about 28 albums. So the acoustic evening kind of starts in the punk movement and works right through to the present day. We play songs that work really well with three voices and two guitars. The show is a huge success, it sells out around the world. 

The new songs actually work very well. When you're playing acoustically it allows you to work with the harmonics, they just stand out better. It's a very satisfying thing to do. We did a small court room in Otley last Saturday and we had a stage invasion (Richard laughs) And it was absolutely hysterical. The three of us on stage in this tiny venue and we had a stage invasion. It has the same energy and the same intention as the band shows

RICHARD: Lovely to talk to you, Toyah!

TOYAH: Thank you so much, Richard!


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