9.12.23

 
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PARKINSON, BBC1 October 1981
GET SET FOR SUMMER, BBC1 With Peter Powell July 1982
SOUNDCHECK Issue 1, 1983
HARTY, BBC1 8.3.1983
BBC RADIO ONE With Annie Nightingale and Sting 3.10.1983
TONIGHT WITH JONATHAN ROSS, CHANNEL 4 9.1.1991
BBC1 LIFE AND TIMES With Vanessa Feltz 2000
E4 THE LATE EDITION With Marcus Brigstocke 24.3.2005
CELEBRITY BRIDES UNVEILED 2009
THE DYSPRAXIC HELP 4U PODCAST 10.10.2021
BBC RADIO 2 With Rylan Clark 23.10.2021
BBC RADIO SCOTLAND With Billy Sloan 30.10.2021
METRO 60 SECONDS 2.11.2021
ITV THIS MORNING 8.11.2021
OK MAGAZINE 22.11.2021
MY TIME CAPSULE With Michael Fenton Stevens 24.1.2022
ON RECORD | IN CONVERSATION With Satnam Rana 12.5.2022
METROLAND MAGAZINE @ CHILFEST 2.7.2022
CHOOSE 80s @ CHILFEST 2.7.2022
WOMEN'S HEALTH - BREAKING THE TABOOS 27.7.2022
HOW TO BE 60 With Kaye Adams 29.7.2022 
LOUDER THAN WAR With Nigel Carr 9.8.2022
RETROPOP MAGAZINE August 2022
BBC RADIO 2 BREAKFAST SHOW With Gary Davies 16.8.2022
XS NOIZE PODCAST With Mark Miller 25.8.2022
BBC RADIO SCOTLAND THE AFTERNOON SHOW 7.9. 2022
TOYAH TALKS ANTHEM September 2022
MY 80s PLAYLIST, VIRGIN RADIO 5.5.2023
POP, THE HISTORY MAKERS 8.5.2023
BBC RADIO MANCHESTER 31.5.2023
VECTIS RADIO 18.6.2023
BBC BREAKFAST 21.6.2023
ABSOLUTE 80s 22.6.2023
BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIO 24.6.2023
TOYAH TALKS THE CHANGELING 2023

TOYAH TALKS
THE CHANGELING
IN 2023



From the DVD of The Changeling Reissue 2023

TOYAH: 1981 ended on such a high. It was the ultimate point in our lives at that particular time. It was extraordinary but we were really exhausted. We were exhausted by the sheer amount of people who needed to talk to us, be with us. We needed to do things. I remember in the lead up to Drury Lane the little things like signing 10,000 Christmas cards, and only having a week to do it in and also doing eight to 14 interviews a day and concerts. Dealing with an incredibly cold winter.

I know just before Drury Lane we played Milan, and we were outside. We were in a tent but it was still outside and this was December '81. I can remember the band could not physically feel their hands.

Every band will tell you that when success comes a great deal of pressure comes with it. And you do want to please everyone and not let anyone down and don't let yourself down.

So by the time we did the last number at Drury Lane (below), and we all retired upstairs for a drink at the bar it was a massive release. Well, yeah, I suppose that's a Freudian slip - it was a massive release. But it was also a relief that we were going to have a breather.


The year before, exactly 12 months before, we made “Four From Toyah” with “It’s A Mystery”, “Revelations” and “War Boys” so we didn't have Christmas off. We knew that we were going to have until the New Year off and then we had to start the next album.

We were in a state of elated exhaustion. But also retrospectively looking back we didn't have the luxury of time that we had to write “Anthem” in. The pressure was really, really on. The pressure was on Joel. We were being pushed into new technology with digital recording. We had to explore all of that.

We did know very early in the year that we wanted Steve Lillywhite on the project, because all through touring around Europe, through Germany, all we ever played was Steve Lillywhite’s production music from Peter Gabriel, right through to everything else he was producing at that time. We knew we wanted to work with him but we hadn't got one song written.

So finishing the year with Drury Lane was the happiest time of my life but also we were staring into the abyss because we weren't quite sure what was going to come and what was happening. But one thing we really did know is we wanted to up the age of our audience. There was no pressure on us whatsoever.

We kind of had creative respect, but there was a lot of dynamics going on that made the creative flow very, very difficult. We were having management problems. I can't remember exactly what those problems were - whether it was creative pressure, or just distraction.

But it was a big problem for me and Joel. Halfway through recording “The Changeling” we changed management. We had to. Joel ended up hating the manager. I felt harassed by the management. You've got to remember back then a woman was almost an object. You were pushed around. You were manhandled. I remember going alone into a management meeting and I was told to pack a suitcase. I was never leaving that office and I was never going back home to my boyfriend.

So there were very extreme situations going on. I don't feel that anyone was interfering with the creative process because Joel and I really made a very solid decision that we wanted to be a bit more of an adult band than the audience we won over with “Anthem”. There's also the positivity in that we were going to take that age group with us as they grew older. So we were consciously avoiding pop. That was a decision we both made.

At this time Phil Spalding, the bass player, was very much part of the band. (Keyboardist) Adrian Lee left the band just as we started recording to start his solo work and he met his wife Lorna Wright. Simon Phillips came on board, which was an absolute blessing.

Simon had the airy, creative openness that we were craving so badly, that we’d experienced with “Sheep Farming In Barnet”, with “Blue Meaning” and with “Anthem”. He just brought the joy of youth back into the room.

So I'd say that the pressures we were under when we were doing “The Changeling” were dynamics. There was a huge problem with dynamics around both me and Joel. Joel prewrote most of the music on a four track recorder and he didn't involve me. I can't remember whether this was because I was making a programme called “Dear Heart” for the BBC. I just wasn't available because of the endless interviews.

What I will say we never had that time in a studio, in a rehearsal room with a band, to play the music in. We never had that time. That is a problem with success. So that could have isolated Joel in his creativity, which meant, again, similar to “Anthem” I laid the top lines and the lyric lines over the top of what Joel had written.

So by the time we got into the studio, Joel and Steve Lillywhite (below with Toyah) already had quite a pronounced relationship. I felt really isolated from that relationship. I think Steve Lillywhite wasn't a female producer. That said I think the production he did was absolutely amazing. But it's taken me a good 30 years to address this album and revisit this album - just because I was in a really bad place.

There were other things going on. My brother was one of the very few Harrier fighter pilots ever to have successfully be trained. The Falkland war broke out and the whole of my family were having sleepless nights that he was going to be called up. That affected me very, very badly.

So there's all these dynamics going on, that weren't friendly dynamics, within 1982. So, I wasn't going to war, I wasn't sending a son to war, but the energy caused by Thatcher and the Falklands War was destroying lives.

Joel and I really wanted to write something quite deep and wanted to avoid pop and in retrospect, I think that year really needed the lightness of pop. But what we did do, I think, is a really substantial body of work at that time.

In the writing process of “The Changeling” I didn't gel immediately with what Joel was writing. Joel wanted to make the songs much more complex. He comes from a background of loving jazz, and being very accomplished in that field. I came from a background of learning on my feet through punk and musical development was a lot harder for me. I'm a top line writer. I'm a lyricist. I hear melodies in my head but it doesn't mean I hear the complexities of key relationships and all of that.

Joel was presenting me with songs that really demanded a lot more from me as a writer. Because of that you've got the blessing of growing and broadening in the process, but it's also a painful process. So with things like “Castaways” he went back to what is almost a similar structure to “IEYA”, where the verses alternate being longer than the one before.

With “Castaways” every verse was longer than the one before. So when I was writing that lyric I had to have a continuity of story to justify that verse being two bars longer. So that's much more demanding.

When I sat down to write “Anthem” I was being slimmed down by the industry. I was actively on diet pills to be below a certain weight for Top Of The Pops every week. I would take my diet pill and write the lyric. I'd be in absolute 7th heaven because the whole of that thing that the amphetamine was carrying me along. By the time we got to “The Changeling” I had to move from my heart as a writer into my head.

I'm always creative through movement, because movement unlocks my creativity purely on a very basic level. It makes my synapses work as a dyslexic. I was having to use a kind of academic part of my brain that has always been underdeveloped because of dyslexia, and it made it a lot harder for me.

But looking back when you look at the imagery and the depth of the lyrics and the journey Joel took musically, I actually think this is one of the most substantial albums of my career because of that difficulty and that stretching. I suppose people do it. They'll run the extra kilometre when they're training. They'll lift that extra weight when they're training. For me I had to go beyond my comfort zone in a big way.

The history of 1982 affected the writing very, very deeply. Looking back, you can just see it all. The need for escapism, with things like “Castaways”. The examining of druid culture in “The Druids”. “The Angel & Me”, the examining of my own sanity under this pressure.

It was a very deep, dark year of, I think, my generation, who always expected a Cold War, suddenly seeing a real physical war. None of us wanted it and none of us relished or enjoyed these people fighting over this island. It was just ridiculous. It affected everything.

I don't voice myself through politics, I voice myself through emotions. That's what came out in my writing - deeply emotional things. With “Creepy Room” I think what it was about was the absolute anger I was feeling of the industry and almost the opinion of other artists of being unsupportive at a time that wasn't very politically correct. And me just going “I'm different to you. So fucking what?!”. “Creepy Room” is about allowing the demonic forces in and just being badly behaved as a form of protection.

The decisions at this time were mainly by Joel and myself. We were still the driving force within the whole of the project and how the band went forward. We've always loved Steve Lillywhite’s work because of the journey of the musicianship and the journey of the vocals. When you listen to Peter Gabriel's first two solo albums - which are politically brilliant, but they've also sonically never been bettered.

We felt that Steve Lillywhite would be the right person to put us in front of the original punks we played for in “Sheep Farming” and with the sophistication of “Blue Meaning”. We wanted to bring that audience back into auditorium as it were. We felt that Lillywhite was the only person that could have done this.

What we didn't realise is really how instrumental Peter Gabriel was in his own albums. I know Peter now. My husband, Robert Fripp worked with Peter. Peter is someone that will wipe an entire track. He’ll wipe entire album if it isn't sonically right. He will allow himself to take five years to write an album. We had three weeks to write an album and another three weeks to record it. That put us all under pressure.

Another pressure that added to this is we went digital, which is a far harsher, unforgiving sound than anything we were ever used to. It was harsher for the vocalist. I suppose it's like someone hearing their voice for the first time. They never like what they hear. Suddenly, with digital you have this hard edge sound, which I found very uninspiring. I found it brutal. It was brutalist in everything that we put to the digital machine.

There was also another problem that every time I was near it, it would break. I have this strange thing about me. I break watches, I break phones, apps will just go crazy when I'm near them. These machines - I got banned from being in that corner of the studio.

So I would have to walk into the studio, circumnavigate around the master desk and just stay as far away from the recording material as I could. The people who built the track system said that I have some magnetic relationship. This used to happen near the 24 track as well, that if I went too close it would blank the tape.

So I just had to stay away, which was really alienating. People were firstly seeing me as someone who has stay at the far side of the room, and secondly is the artist. So it's very bizarre to be banished from your own creative processes. Another technical thing that I found quite difficult in the very beginning was we were recording at the Roundhouse studios. There's one huge main studio, then a narrow corridor, down about six steps and then you're in this big live room.

So in the beginning, I had to stay in the live room to not break the recording system. So I was having to communicate through the class and eventually they'd let me into the room when we had enough tracks down. So all of that kind of alienation really ate at me as a creative process and having not had the live rehearsal room process to play the tracks in. I was genuinely struggling on this album as a singer.

What the technology affected for me was I couldn't experiment the way we did on the other previous albums. The previous albums had so much joyous experimentation. “Let's try this backing vocal. Let’s try this sound.” We just didn't dare do it. We were eating up so much time with breakdowns in the studio. Going back to “Anthem” what (the producer) Nick Tauber would do was give us, in the headphones, the fully produced track.

So you've got this rich, beautiful event coming into your ears. What we had with “The Changeling” was harsh, brittle, almost painful to listen to. It was the raw sound.

So if I wanted to try something with the backing vocal ... it just fell flat. It never lifted. There was very little experience on “The Changeling” album when I listened to something. That lifting, that emotional lifting of the spirit just held you up. In fact, as an experience of performing that album, I've only ever felt that lifting in this millennium when we've actually performed it live.

You feel that the arrangement of “Castaways” and the build actually lifts you as a performer. “Angel & Me” lifts you as a performer. “The Packt” - I mean my God (what it's like) to perform that live! I've only experienced that emotional lift in the live performance. Never in the studio. It was very strange.

In 1981 the band dynamic was beautiful. Everyone in that band was family. Adrian Lee, Phil Spalding, Nigel Glockler (drums), Joel. We were just so happy. Nigel Glockler got approached by Saxon and Joel and I feel that the management were not supportive. The management were gearing me up to become a front solo singer and we were no longer a band.

Adrian Lee I think had to make a really difficult decision to move forward as an independent artist, an individual artist, who could also produce. I think the management weren't supportive to him and he just broke free.

Also, Joel writing everything pre the album musically on a four track and not really inviting the others in to contribute to the music. It was like “this is what I want, this is what it is”. It meant the others felt even more like a backing band. What saved our morale, I think, was the arrival of Simon Phillips, who arrived with a great big open heart.

He was a beautiful replacement for Nigel Glockler because Simon had this vast array of equipment, vast array of creative ideas. He lifted life into the demo tracks and we could see how they were going to work live. I've never ever been 100% comfortable in the studio anyway. I feel music when I'm performing live, but Simon Phillips made those tracks work.

Having guest players on the album was really uplifting and exciting because they brought in outside influences. There was a feeling within the mixing room, which didn't feel like Abbey Road. It didn't feel like Marquee Studios. It didn't feel like the Battle Studios. It felt like a dead room and that is what studios are. They're dead rooms. I need ambience. I need natural reverberation.

So when guests players came in, like Andy Clark and The Haircut 100 boys on brass, they brought in outside life. This is the album also that reconnected me to Simon Darlow, who I started as a songwriter with and have been writing songs with ever since and will continue in that partnership. The outside people brought in very necessary outside positivity at that time.

I was able to undergo vocal training during that album because I wanted to expand my abilities as a performer. I studied opera at school so opera wasn't new to me, but the training of the voice was so it didn't get destroyed while touring, because it's very common for singers to just give over 100% per night and not have anything for the next night. So it was really important to train. I think what it would have done is anchored me down to the beat and I always used to sing across rhythms and sing across beats.

I mean for goodness sake if you look at “Victims Of The Riddle” and you look at “Sheep Farming In Barnet” I'm not keeping basic timing. I'm just moving with how I am emotionally moved. With “The Changeling” and also working with Adrian Lee, because Adrian Lee started to anchor me down on “Anthem” and with “Thunder In The Mountains” - I was starting to place myself as a singer within the structured bars and the vocal training really helped me do that. It helped me have confidence in my singing.

But I have to say while singing on “The Changeling” what I was working to in the cans was impossible for me. It just was impossible. I can't remember who the engineer was but up until that point I was working with engineers who understood what a singer needed. I wasn't getting it through the cans so I ended up singing as best I could from memory from rehearsing in the morning. It’s as simple as that and that can happen. It happened to me on “Desire” as well.

I never got what I needed in the cans to amount to what the finished track would sound like. So it's working to kind of basic sound structures. A really great singer, who knows the song really well, could sing just to the drumbeat. But I was singing to new material I'd never performed live so I needed more information. It was just challenging.

Going back to “Anthem” that was an album that inspired quite a few European writers. There was a book that came out, a French writer and it's called “The Fury”. He dedicated it to me and to the lyrics of “Jungles Of Jupiter.” So there was always a lot of interest in what I was writing with filmic people. Films constantly are going into development that never get made. So I wouldn't say I was writing for a horror film or writing ever for stage production. I was writing what the music inspired in me and made me feel.

So let's look at “The Packt”, which is the most perfect song for a horror film. It's a very dramatic piece of music that I was presented with. Very structured that completely made me see in my head good against evil. The battle of oneself within oneself, voices in the head and the battle of being a woman in this industry. So within “The Packt” there's this story going on of the devil killing femininity.

The evening it was written I was in a health farm. I locked myself away to do the lyric writing so that I could just be away from my home environment, which was not good at that time. There was a massive storm going on. It was about nine at night and doors were blowing open. At one point the windows actually blew open. The storm was that bad. It was a spooky room. That kind of lent to the information and the colour and the imagery within “Angel & Me” and “The Packt”.

I have no idea why only one single came out because the album sold really really well. It was about this time that Joel and I felt that we were receiving disinformation. It could also be about this time that (the record label) Safari was moving into First Night Records which was all about Western musicals.

I think we just weren't a priority anymore. It's very, very strange, that time, because we had to find new management and then eventually, I think two years later, we left Safari and I went with CBS Portrait. It was just a difficult year. It was a difficult year for everyone.

When you look at the album single wise, I'm not sure what could have been another single off that album. “Brave New World” was actually a very brave choice because it's a very adult song when you look at the history of my singles. It's a very grown up song. It’s beautiful. My goodness when we play it live today the audience go crazy. “Castaways” could possibly have been a single. “Run Wild, Run Free” could have been a single. It would have been very brave to release “Angel & Me”.

I just don't think the team who promoted the album and the record label understood the album. It went on to inspire many, many new bands. Joel’s sounds on that album - you can hear the influence in U2. You can hear the influence in other bands that followed it. It's a very inspirational album. I think it was at a time and people didn't know what to do with it.

Creating the imagery for the single artwork was really great fun. I loved it. I was in a good, creative, ongoing relationship with (hairdresser) Robert Lobetta, who created the hair. We wanted to move away from the pink hair pictures and the crop hair pictures. We wanted to go in a far more extreme image environment.

We brought in Carolyn Cowan, who was a watercolour artist but also a makeup artist. She came up with this idea from having heard the track and me telling her it's about breaking away and starting again and it’s all about new beginnings and trusting the future so the future can come and find you.

She had this idea of my face being the sky and putting clouds on and painting birds on. She did that as an actual watercolorist. She did it in real time. It took 12 hours. We didn't shoot until late in the afternoon. So Robert Lobetta created the hair, Carolyn Cowan created the face and we shot it, I think, literally in an hour.

I wanted some extra shots. I wanted something that kind of broke the mould of just having head and shoulders. So I said “can we go outside and just improvise with the camera and just mess all this up? So that it's not so precious and not so pristine.”

So we found an alleyway and we found all this rubbish that hadn't been collected. We threw it in a pile and I just dived into this pile of rubbish as if I'd been thrown away and discarded. The whole physical idea of this was I was a doll and the doll had been discarded. The child had grown up and didn't want this doll anymore and threw it away.

That's how we got the back cover. The day was just fabulous. It was so wonderful to kind of recreate and go through all of that process. We were a really good team.

But by the time the single came out, “Brave New World”, we knew the concept of the album and obviously “The Changeling”. Not fitting in, not being accepted, being an outsider, which is very much the entire theme of the whole album. Standing outside of the opinion of others and living by their received opinion.

It's part of the punk ideal of standing outside, but it's also - I found as a woman, and as a woman who didn't look like a supermodel - I was constantly on the end of received opinion and mockery. So “The Changeling” is like saying “well ... you think I don't have value, but the changeling has greater knowledge than you.”

So it was me just being really defiant. When it came to creating the idea of the video I wanted to really play on the concept of this. We had to shoot on Hastings beach about seven in the morning so my makeup went on at midnight, because we did what's called a 24 hour shoot.

We put the makeup on in the studio in Wandsworth, then we drove to Hastings. The idea was that I had to walk backwards into the sea so that film could be reversed so it looked as though I was coming out of the sea completely dry to give my character otherworldliness.

We then had to drive really fast to get to the studio in Wandsworth to shoot that really short sequence of me walking across two islands, across water and I'm surrounded by white rabbits because we only had Battersea Power Station for one hour. So the crew had to be a double crew that went ahead. So we have one crew in the studio and the second crew was setting up at Battersea Power Station.

I wanted to be seen riding on this very large white horse even though I had no riding lessons. I think I've only ever been on a horse once before and I just had to brave it. I couldn't say “I need a bit of time on this horse”. So the horse hadn't been fed and they put the horse box with the hay in about 500 yards away and it just bolted so the camera had to keep up with me.

By the end of that sequence I'm actually shouting into camera “how do I stop this!?” Get me off his fucking horse! I'm out of control! I don't know what to do!” And then we went back to the studio and finished off the cityscape shots. So it's a long day but it is a fantastic video.

(The photographer) Bob Carlos Clarke was a huge inspiration to me. His work was dark, it was experimental. It had depth of field like no other depth of field. He also would hand tint and I just really liked that he could probably take me into a different space. He was complex to work with. He always felt very pressured by life and let's face it, he ended his own life.

So he was complex to work with but utterly brilliant. I said to him I wanted to be the outcast within the cover. I've been outcast, I've been banished from the society thus the castle in the background. I just want to be the rebel outside of everybody else's lives.

So he came up with the concept of sitting on the rock. We also arranged together having the horns made and I think (make-up artist) Pru Walters might have come in for the body painting on this. I don't think it was Carolyn. We just set about making it happen. It was one of the worst days of my life because he did something to me that I think in today's society you wouldn't do to anyone.

When I arrived he took me into a room with his book collection and said "have a look at this". It was a book on everyone who'd been beheaded by the guillotine and it was a before and after book.

In that moment I died. I'm an empath. I tune into people. I experience what they experience. And in that moment I died. It took me years to come back from that moment. We then went and shot the cover and I was in a very bad place. No one could understand. There's there was no one I could tell. There was no one in my life I could talk to and I was haunted by this for a very long time.

So as usual I get up, brush myself off and I'm a survivor and I get on with my life. But I would easily say that was the worst day of my life and we had to move on from there. It just took a long time to get back from where that imagery put me.

The title for me came from the discovery of folklore and within folklore what a changeling is. A changing was a child that was swapped in the cradle. The fairy folk would go into a home and take a baby and swap it for one of their kind. A changeling. That just really related to everything I felt about life.

I had a very difficult relationship with my mother. She very famously within our family, when I was born - and I was conceived and born in the same bed at home - she said to the midwife “this is not my child”. And she would tell people “this is not my child.”

It wasn't until I actually became successful in 1980 that she accepted me as a human being. So “The Changeling” came from how I was brought up. I had a mother who had me exorcised when I was 14. She had me put in religious education when I was 14.

She thought, because I was never christened, that I was possessed and she was just absolutely convinced that there was something very wrong with me. That's where the title comes from (laughs)

I had no strength of conviction of what was coming out. I think it was a very masculine environment. I had no one I could talk to. There was no empaths on that album. I certainly didn't talk to Simon Phillips even though he was a great friend. I put all the onus on myself that I was in a bad place. I had conviction in what I was writing as a lyricist. But my confidence was eroded by lack of positive feedback.

When Simon Darlow came into the studio, it was just a ray of sunshine. Because he came in knowing me and knowing how I work as a writer and how I work as a singer and that was really gorgeous. But what I will say is yes, I was in a dark place. I don't have happy memories of that album but it is a bloody astonishing album and I think Steve Lillywhite did an incredible job.

But you have to remember things were happening to me. During this time the isolation was tremendous. I was told to come in at 5.30 one day to put a vocal on and Joel (above with Toyah) and Steve Lillywhite didn't arrive until about seven. They’d been out to dinner with their girlfriends and hadn't told me.

I was just sitting, waiting in an empty studio. It was emotionally a very, very difficult time. There were dynamics going on that I couldn't articulate or understand. But I'm a fighter and not a loser. So it just made me a stronger person.

I do look at “The Changeling” very, very differently. It's still a very painful album to visit. It's like when I wrote The Humans’ “Sugar Rush”. My father had just passed away and all the grief is in this very brilliant album. But it takes me right back there. With “The Changeling“ performing it and listening to it takes me right back there.

The bridge that has bridged me to this body of work are my fans and what it means to my fans. You cannot ignore the fans opinions because they live something from your life experience and they give it a new interpretation. So I just know that this album is incredibly important to my loyal fans who have stayed with me for 45 years and that is why I respect this.

The extraordinary thing about touring this album in 1982 was the effect it was having on live audiences. So even though it was a difficult album to make and I was living terrified of losing my brother to the Falkland war … the live shows were iridescently brilliant. We had Simon Phillips on drums. The pedigree that brought to this band was amazing, but to actually have the dynamics of a song like “Angel & Me” and the audience loving that song.

Performing “Castaways”, which lifted the whole energy within the auditorium. Performing “The Packt”, which the audience love the sheer storytelling and drama of. The touring was much happier as an experience that year than the making of the album.

Performing the songs live I have utter respect and so much respect for Steve Lillywhite. Nothing has changed my emotional journey while performing them. I'm profoundly uncomfortable with that album. But you've got writers who would have chopped their fingers off writing a book and yet it's their best seller.

I totally understand that within creativity ... creativity doesn't have to be easy as long as the end process has an audience and the end result has an audience. I have utter respect for everything about this time in my life.

25.6.23

TOYAH ON
BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIO
WITH BABS MICHEL
24.6.2023

BABS: Have you thought about going to see Milton Keynes International Festival? If you haven't, I'm going to give you the best reason that you need to go. I have to be still, my 11 year old self, because the first time I saw this absolute queen on Top Of The Pops it just blew my mind. She was singing “It’s A Mystery”. It was 1981, I think, it was miss Toyah Willcox! Welcome to the show, Toyah!

TOYAH: Thank you so much. It was 1981. I remember it well, I think it was March or February

BABS:
When I was watching the television, but just couldn't get over your whole look, your image, your voice, the power in it. It was like nothing else and it was just liberating for a little 10 year old girl watching. "I want to be her. If I can be anything can I be her, please?" What was it like for you?


TOYAH: It was fabulous for me. Going back to 1981 it was unheard of for a female to have brightly coloured hair. It was unheard of to have that absolutely independent image. So when I appeared on the scene on Tops Of The Pops, it had an a groundbreaking effect. Overnight I suddenly was the biggest name in Europe. I just didn't expect it. It changed my life forever

That one appearance on Top Of The Pops meant I couldn't pop down to the newsagents anymore. When I was being driven down High Streets doing radio tours, every window on the High Streets all over the UK had a poster of me, which was extraordinary

BABS: Oh, my goodness. I mean the fact that you have sustained for all of this time, Toyah, being at the top of your game. If people don't realise I want to just play them a little bit of the Isle of Wight Festival last weekend. Just have a listen to this at home

Plays of clip of Toyah and Robert performing “Rebel Yell” 18.6.2023. Watch it HERE



BABS:
Oh, miss Toyah! You have them in the palm of your hand! (Toyah laughs) I watched it and I was just like oh, my God! How is she still so brilliant at this?!

TOYAH:
(laughs) I just loved the Isle of Wight. It was extraordinary. It was really one of the highlights of the year but we're going to have a highlight at Milton Keynes on the 28th of July. We're going to make sure in that beautiful The Stables Spiegeltent that we deliver exactly the same performance for that audience

BABS: I think if people haven't seen you, they've got to come. It's very reasonably priced, £38 mark, which for festivals really good value, especially because you're going to be there. And I've got to ask is Robert playing as well, your husband?


TOYAH: This is a "Toyah and Robert Show"

BABS: Aaah! OK. If people have not seen you and Robert doing “Sunday Lunch” ... it's the best thing ever. Can I say my boyfriend particularly likes you in the gold leaf thing (below) (they both laugh) That was one of his highlights. I want to know how hard that was to do? Toyah  has basically covered her top part in just gold leaf. How it's staying on ... I don't even know!

TOYAH: I'm very good with gold leaf. I do a lot of crafting and I do quite a bit of artwork where I use gold leaf so it's not that hard to keep on. A bit of olive oil and gold leaf does the trick (they both laugh)

BABS: Some of the comments on your “Sunday Lunch” channel are just the best. Some of the men comment on there how lucky they think Robert is … They're amazing those comments and you look amazing! Absolutely amazing!

TOYAH: You're very kind. I turned 65 this year

BABS: No!

TOYAH: I’m just starting to feel ... hmm ... it’s showing now

BABS: (laughs) What?!

TOYAH:
I made the most of lockdown and did these really wacky films while I could (laughs) “Sunday Lunch” has really taken off globally. It’s huge and it's had on YouTube alone over 77 million hits. I think totaling up with Facebook and Tik Tok it goes up to 111 million. It's a very large identity now. We've always presented fun. The idea is that every year is the best year of your life

Robert and I, as a team, really want to do is say that life is a journey and it's a very positive journey. Every year we have is an honour and we try to make it the best year of our lives. My husband is 77, we've both got aches and pains, but we're loving what we do. We love music and we just don't see why we should be any different to who and what we were in the punk movement (they both laugh)




BABS: That's what I love about it. It's so unapologetically fabulous. It's in your face. It's sexy. It's funny. Just the two of you together. Here's the most brilliant straight man to you, isn’t he?

TOYAH: He's stunning. He's a very clever straight man because he steals the scene every time. His little face when I get up to things (Babs is cracking up laughing) I think he's one of the cutest human beings in the world

Sometimes he's just looking at me disapprovingly, which just makes him even more lovable. Other times he's afraid or he's laughing his head off. He just cannot stop being the cutest man in the world 

BABS: Oh, this makes me so happy! You're saying you're giving it the bird (the middle finger) to what people think you should be like, at whatever age. You're saying actually, no, this is who we are. We're going to do this for as long as we can and we do not care. And the numbers don't lie, do they? Because you've really connected with people


TOYAH: I think a lot of people just wanted to see this. I know so many people of my age personally. We don't feel our age and we're not ready to just stop because of our age. So we're challenging the perception of age

If anyone doesn't know who my husband Robert Fripp is he was the guitarist on David Bowie's “Heroes”. He's worked with Brian Eno. He's one of the world's top guitarists. He's produced Peter Gabriel. He worked with Blondie, Talking Heads. He's just worked with everyone in the world and is hugely respected

What we're doing on the "Toyah and Robert Show" is bringing classic, timeless rock into the auditorium. The whole idea is that this is classic rock - the way Beethoven, Mozart, Chekhov did. They're all classics, they don't age, they remain in their space eternally. Tthis is what this show is about

BABS:
There's a little bit of noise about what is this show going be like? Fripp and Willcox. It’s going to have a kind of meatiness about it. When I watched you on the Isle of Wight clip I just went yeah, 100% I'm going to Milton Keynes to watch that! Absolutely!


TOYAH: (laughs) It's a rock show. We call it a "Rock Party". The whole idea is we really want people to feel free to dance, to join in or just listen. We want the audience to identify with the energy and the music that we're presenting. I's a large band. It's three guitarists, including Robert and each guitarist is a world class guitarist so it is a rock show

BABS: Wow! What's not to love? You've got all of that and then you've got you. What other songs are you going to be covering? You’re going to obviously do some of your own songs?



TOYAH:
Yes. We can obviously cherry-pick because there is 50 years of brilliant rock and roll out there. We take people on a journey. We start with quite light-hearted songs like “Thunder In The Mountains”, which is a Toyah song. We do “Echo Beach”, which I put back in the charts in 1985 at n:o 21. We do Blondie, but we also do Black Sabbath and Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Marc Almond

So we really mix it up. What we've found is the way we placed the songs - the audience go crazy because we go from “It's A Mystery” into Black Sabbath. It's the most beautiful juxtaposition. It works and the audience just get it

 
BABS: I think it's going to be an amazing show. I must ask, just in general, when you're not doing all of this and you're not doing “Sunday Lunch”- are you still acting and presenting and just in other stuff? Because you're great at that too

TOYAH: It's been very busy. Ironically, literally two months before the beginning of lockdown I had three movies coming out, which then came out during lockdown. I won best supporting actress for “The Ghost Of Borley Rectory”

In “Give Them Wings” I got the Richard Harris Award for Best Supporting Actress. So it's been very busy. And yes, both Robert and I are presenting. We're in the very beginning of pre-production of our own TV series
 
BABS: Brilliant! Will it be based on “Sunday Lunch” and will the gold be making an appearance? (laughs)

TOYAH: No, it's all about music and the UK

BABS: Oh, OK. Is that coming out later in the year, hopefully?

TOYAH: Oh, gosh no, it won’t be made in time. This is for next year

BABS: OK. It's just been an absolute joy to speak to you. I love “Sunday Lunch”. I've loved you since I was 10 years old

TOYAH: Awww

BABS: And now the fact that you're going to be on my doorstep next month is just brilliant. I can not wait, Toyah! Thank you so much for your time

TOYAH:
Thank you and have a wonderful few weeks in between then and now

BABS: Thank you, Toyah!

TOYAH:
Bye!

LISTEN to the interview HERE

24.6.23

TOYAH ON
ABSOLUTE 80s
WITH CHRIS MARTIN
22.6.2023

CHRIS MARTIN: You're joining us again for “My Absolute 80s”. I'm stoked beyond belief to say that Toyah is my guest this week. Toyah, welcome

TOYAH: Thank you so much. It's really good to be here

CHRIS: Is this a kimono you're wearing? It’s beautiful!

TOYAH: It is really beautiful. I bought it about four years ago. I used to live in Menton on the border of France and Italy. It was on a street stall and it was so out of place four years ago and now it's totally in fashion. I'm really glad I have it

CHRIS: Lovely silky green floral thing. You look absolutely fantastic. This show in front of us ... If you're joining us for the first time on "Absolute 80s" every song you hear - Toyah picked them. Every single one for the next hour

This is the joy of the show for me,
getting a glimpse inside our favourite artist's musical tastes and also to talk about their lives in the 80s. Toyah, shall we begin with song number one? I'm going go for the rather chipper Depeche Mode. “Just Can't Get Enough”. It is a party starter, isn't it?

TOYAH: It is a party starter but the thing about Depeche Mode is they always have quite a serious angle within their songs and within their videos. They're so amazing live. I've only ever watched DVDs of them live. I've never managed to get to see them actually live

I have so much respect for everything they've done, especially in the 80s. They were one of the first bands to hire their own stadiums and play in America. They didn't think anyone would come and the whole of America came. That really was the beginning of their megastardom. So I adore everything about Depeche Mode

DEPECHE MODE Just Can't Get Enough

CHRIS: That was back in 1981. What's going on in your head? Where does that take you back to?


TOYAH: Well, I ruled the world in 1981. The most successful female singer of the year and in 1982, because of that, I won Best Female Singer at what was the Brit Awards back then. It was an incredible year for me. All my dreams came true. I had my first Top Of The Pops

I was touring pretty much non-stop. I can remember doing a performance on Top Of The Pops, which always went out live, and having a little prop plane waiting at a private airport. Flying over to Belgium and doing a TV the next day and flying back

It was a remarkable time and it was a very different time. Culturally and technically. We didn't have mobile stones. We relied on everything working on dates being set in the calendar and just turning up. There was no way of taking a plane over to Munich to do a show that we could check in on the way. We just arrived there. We did these enormous festivals and came back. It was very exciting. Very, very young. We were full of energy. We ruled the world



CHRIS:
I love the stories of Live Aid where they had the countdown clocks - obviously there was so many acts to get through quickly. Everyone had to be regimented. “Don't start “Bat Out Of Hell” with three minutes to go whatever you do”

TOYAH:
I beg for those countdown clocks because even on festivals today, they say "you've only got 45 minutes, you've got to be off". And if they haven't put a countdown clock on the stage you can't look at your watch while singing to 30 000 people. It's rude (Martin laughs). We rely so much on basic things

CHRIS: I wonder if you could just go on the mic and say "anyone got the time? I have no idea where we are right now"


TOYAH:
Oh, I've done that! (Martin laughs) I often work with backing bands I've never worked with before. You run onstage. Everyone has learned your arrangements. You go, this is a “Echo Beach!” and they start playing “It’s A Mystery” and you think oh, my God! What setlist are they using?! I had that three weeks ago. I had to turn to the bass player and say "could you tell me what song you're doing next?" It does happen!

CHRIS: Oh, my goodness me! OK, song number two. Let's stay in the early part of the decade. I'm enjoying this a lot already. Duran Duran, "The Reflex"

TOYAH:
Whooo (excited)

DURAN DURAN The Reflex

CHRIS: Duran Duran. Were they one of those bands that you looked at their style and went "it doesn't matter what you release. You just look amazing. You're going to be successful"?

TOYAH:
We're all Birmingham people. I had a show called “Look! Here!” at Pebble Mill and gave Duran Duran their first TV appearance. I was a presenter on this show and became a very famous singer while I still had this series. So I gave Duran Duran their first TV appearance with “Planet Earth”. They were bloody beautiful back then! They were just so stunningly beautiful

But what none of us realised was they would take the leap from, what was the normal number one circuit in rock, your Hammersmith Apollo's, all of those big theatres - they would take the leap into stadiums. They did it and they just have never looked back and they deserve every moment of success. They're great songwriters, they are a really good team. That team has stayed together. And they're lovely people


CHRIS: Next song we are up to Liverpool, Echo and The Bunnymen. Have you got particularly fond memories of the band or of Liverpool itself?


TOYAH:
I don't know the band. I've never met the band or worked or been on the bill with the band. But “The Killing Moon” is an absolute cultural classic. Again, I have so much respect for the longevity of this band. Their audience is totally dedicated and they're winning new audience all the time

Some of my most exciting experiences as a live performer have been at Liverpool. I remember once turning up to do an interview for Radio City and we couldn't get to the station because there were crowds everywhere. I actually wound down my window in the car and I said “we're trying to get to such and such street”, but we can't. What's going on?" and the whole crowd turned around and said “we're waiting for you!” (Chris laughs)

They closed the streets, there was thousands of them. I had to be led by firemen through this crowd into a building, up onto the balcony and I had to go out on the balcony and wave to everyone so that the streets might clear and the traffic could continue to move around Liverpool




ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN The Killing Moon

CHRIS: Toyah was just regaling us with stories of being mobbed in Liverpool. Echo and The Bunnymen. That song - it's an exercise in space, isn't it?

TOYAH: People often talk about the simplicity of the right ingredients. The Rolling Stones has it. Every song that they've ever released is on the surface simplistic but actually it's brilliant. You've only got the necessary ingredients to make a Michelin star meal and “The Killing Moon” is one of those songs

It has everything that is needed and nothing more. But also what is very classic about it is the video. The video is something that helps you remember the song. It's about space and surrealism and it's absolutely perfect

CHRIS: Speaking of space surrealism and a fantastic video - should we go to David Bowie's “Ashes to Ashes” next?


TOYAH: When I first heard this, the sound design of the song is so amazing. And then Bowie was very clever on the video to use the biggest cult people in London at the time, which was Steve Strange and all of the new romantics that were important. Everyone on that video was an absolute trend leader in London at the time

It’s a beautiful video and this is what Bowie was very clever at. The song itself refers back to “Major Tom”, which was his first major hit. (The lyrics) “Ground Control to Major Tom”, (in) “Space Oddity” (1969) It was such a clever link. Clever song. I've been in love with it ever since. It's a song that takes me right back to the 80s more than any other song

DAVID BOWIE Ashes To Ashes

CHRIS: There’s a sort of thread to the songs you’ve chosen. Pop but there's a darkness to them. Tthat is a real sweet spot for me in music where the darkness lies in pop. The minor chords, the threat

There is a brightness too though, to some of your choices. I think this next one is a bit of marketing genius from Prince. It was released about a week and a half before Valentine's Day. Did you know that?


TOYAH: No, I had no idea at all!

CHRIS: “Kiss”. Clever swine!

TOYAH: I believe that he didn't like this song. I believe that he felt it was too obvious. But my theory is that sometimes the most obvious is the cleverest. And as you say this was released just before Valentine's Day

The glorious thing about this song is everyone wants to dance to it. Whether you're a heavy metaller, or you're a new romantic - everyone wants to dance to this song. Prince may have believed it wasn't the best song he ever wrote but it's one of the most memorable he ever wrote

It's just so simple. “All I want is your kiss”. It’s one word, and it even has only one syllable. I'm a lyricist. How do you make a word like kiss work? It's on the downbeat, it's just kiss. It's simple. It's a brilliant piece of songwriting

PRINCE Kiss

CHRIS: We’ve talked about what it’s like to be Toyah in respects of presenting and songwriting and the many facets to your life. I have to say your voice has been echoing through my house more than I expected this year. My little boy, who's four, has found “Brum”! (below) (Toyah laughs) I sat down with him thinking I’ve not watched this in years. Wait a minute! They know that voice!



TOYAH:
(puts on the narrative voice of “Brum”) “It’s a big day in the city! Brum brum brum!” (Chris laughs) I loved doing that series! It was created by Anne Wood and she went on to create “Teletubbies”. I was the narrator at the top of “Teletubbies” as well. I love doing voiceovers. I enjoy it so much!

CHRIS: I enjoy it. I've never had any designs on being an actor in my life. But if someone says "be this type of person, be this character" - you can just have fun in 30 second bursts. Just pretending and playing. It is pure joy, isn't it? It's escapism

TOYAH:
I absolutely adore acting. It's something I could never ever walk away from. I love working with camera and the whole family of a crew. It's very rewarding and very intense, but you lose yourself in it

It's exactly the same experience for me in front of the microphone on stage. It's the only moment where no one can send me an email. No one can phone me. No one can ask me a favour. It's my time and I really love it

CHRIS: As somebody, who was quite young in the 80s, I would love to hear your perspective on George Michael and him going solo after Wham! Obviously artists do this all the time. Did you look at him and think yeah, he's got every ounce of star quality. He cannot be anything other than an enormous success ... or was there any doubt?

TOYAH: It's a very good question because Wham! was a very beautiful boy band with Michael and Andrew. They were fantastic at what they did. I slightly regret that I never appreciated Wham! because I was a punk rocker - but I do now. We were encouraged to take the mickey out of each other. I reviewed Wham! on one of their last gigs for Radio One at Hammersmith Odeon. I was a great show. It was really a beautiful show

Halfway through it the curtains closed and George came out through the curtains and sang “Careless Whisper”. It blew me away. Because at that point you knew he was going to be a world superstar. That was my review. I said “Careless Whisper” is the song that's going to make him a solo artist. As time went on, as the 80s moved into the 90s he started to do the most extraordinary work. But he also started to become very uncomfortable with his fame

I was one of these people that wish that he could have appreciated how unique and how brilliant his songwriting and his voice was. I remember Frank Sinatra doing an open letter to him saying “George, take yourself seriously. You are utterly unique”. And now we don't have him anymore. I'm actually heartbroken because he was just so special

GEORGE MICHAEL Faith

CHRIS: He’s having a great pop career and then just to rock it with an acoustic ... That's just perfect. And looking like that when he did it as well!

TOYAH: He’s the most perfect man!

CHRIS:
He is. To another front man. I know more than a couple of people who absolutely swoon over Michael Hutchence, INXS

TOYAH: They were kind of the love child of Prince meets Keith Moon (Chris laughs) Everything was based on beat and rhythmic syllables around that beat and the extraordinary beauty of Michael Hutchence. I feel really protective towards his legacy because he is no longer here to talk for himself

But the songs and the band were utterly amazing. And by all accounts he was a beautiful human being. A wonderful human being that came under attack in public life for his extraordinary beauty

There’s a story that Helena Christiansen (his girlfriend at the time) tells about a taxi driver getting out of the taxi and punching his lights out for no reason at all. Now, what you have to remember with really famous beautiful men, they're a threat to every other man on the planet who wants to spread their seed

Michael Hutchence had to stick up for himself the whole time. He did it like a poet. He did it like (John) Keats, he did it with words. I think he's a remarkable human being from history that we must never forget



INXS Need You Tonight

CHRIS:
If you've just tuned in and you've thought this music tonight has been absolutely incredible ... well ... you can thank Toyah for every single song choice. Toyah has joined me for "My Absolute 80s" but also taken on - there's some bravery in this, Toyah - taking on Grace Jones', “Slave To The Rhythm” (above) and executing it brilliantly, I must say

TOYAH:
Thank you. There is a history to this. My long-term writing partner wrote the original version of “Slave To The Rhythm”. It was then picked up by Trevor Horn and his writing team. Trevor then recorded it with Grace Jones. In between all of that happening, I was the demo singer on the demo that went to Holly Johnson for Frankie Goes To Hollywood to do the song and Holly turned it down

So 40 odd years on Simon Darlow and I were in the studio. We've had massive success with the last album “Posh Pop” and we said let's do “Slave To The Rhythm”. We do realise that we're covering a song that is an absolute classic by Grace Jones and Trevor Horn. We’re fully aware of that, and full of respect for it

Our version is myself, Simon Darlow and the legendary guitarist Robert Fripp, who I'm married to. Robert Fripp has come on board and we've completely reinvented the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”

TOYAH Slave To The Rhythm

CHRIS: Toyah, you've been watching my smile while we've been talking. It has been utter joy doing this with you. Thank you so much. We are finishing up with one final song. A little word on R.E.M’s “The One I Love” to wrap up

TOYAH: I'm very lucky to call R.E.M friends. The drummer Bill Rieflin was a long-time friend of myself and Robert. I've made three albums with him. We used to follow him and R.E.M on the road. They’re great friends, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe. Absolutely gorgeous man. These are people in my heart

R.E.M The One I Love 

LISTEN to the interview HERE
TOYAH AND ROBERT ON
VECTIS RADIO
ISLE OF WIGHT

WITH NIK AND KIEREN
18.6.2023

KIEREN THOMSON: We’re in the quite a wet marquee, on Sunday afternoon. Myself and Nick are speaking to the amazing Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp. Good afternoon

TOYAH: Hello! How are you?

KIEREN: I'm very well. How are you?

TOYAH: We're good! We’re pretty high spirited at the moment, which is fantastic

ROBERT: Superb audience. I very much enjoyed playing. I was in the mood to rock out today and I think got the chance to do so

TOYAH:
Yes, we're a guitar band and the audience totally got it, which was lovely. We saw people, who looked as if they travelled from all over the world. Robert is really big in Japan and (to Robert) you didn't see this but I think most of the front row had come from Japan see you (laughs)

ROBERT: Ah!

TOYAH: I get to see these things

ROBERT: You see, I'm really focused on my wife, the playing and the band. Toyah interacts directly with the audience for me. It would distract me from my counting and the next bars. So I listen to my wife afterwards and she tells me whether we went down or not

NIK ATTFIELD: You've always had such an amazing energy on stage. I saw you many years ago and you were such an influence on my young life. I'm so amazed. It's brilliant that you guys are together -


TOYAH: That I can still move! (laughs)

NIK: No, not at all. It's so brilliant that you're still bringing new things musically etc. You performing together came about because of lockdown?

TOYAH: Lockdown was so successful for us with the “Sunday Lunch” brand (on YouTube) Over 111 million people visiting. We're touring
the “Sunday Lunch” in October. We’re playing music that we feel plays us. This is music we grew up with. Music we love

We discovered
through “Sunday Lunch” that the audience loves it too. So we're going out on the road doing classics that really fire us up. We're having as much a party as the audience is

NIK:
Which is amazing, great fun. Do you think if it hadn't been for “Sunday Lunch” you would've ever done this together?




TOYAH: No

ROBERT: I don’t think so, no

NIK: You’ve got one of the most famous marriages in rock and roll. You've been together a long time and had a lot of time apart, I imagine, travelling the world in your separate careers

TOYAH: I think we’d still be having time apart if it wasn't for lockdown. Robert is on the road at least three times a year. I work mainly UK, some parts of Europe but we're never in the same country

NIK: So a great opportunity to bring you together and see that talent together

ROBERT: (shouts) Yeah! Yeah! Did I sound enthusiastic? Yeah!

NIK: Yeah, absolutely!

KIEREN: You're doing “Paranoid”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way". An amazing track “Rebel Yell”


ROBERT: Oh, there’s a few you haven’t heard yet

TOYAH: “Enter Sandman”, "Kashmir”. We didn't have long enough today  

KIEREN: You've got the tour, the opportunity to do a little bit more. You're playing around the UK. You're excited to do that?

TOYAH: Yeah

KIEREN: Maybe less wet?

TOYAH:
Glastonbury next Sunday

KIEREN: In a more wet month

TOYAH: Yeah, but we're in a tent. Then October is the “Sunday Lunch” tour. So we're optimistic

NIK: Thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure to meet you. And we just love you on Vectis Radio


TOYAH: Thank you

ROBERT: Thank you

LISTEN to the interview HERE