05 May, 2019


Recorded at the Ravenshead Village Hall, Ravenshead, Nottingham

ALEX BELFIELD: Toyah Willcox, how are you?

TOYAH: I'm really good, thank you

ALEX: You look amazing and you sound better than ever. I just stood here for twenty minutes watching you soundcheck for a gig tonight and my God! What a voice! I mean it's operatic, isn't it?

TOYAH: Well, I trained in opera from about the age of 14 right through to 18. German opera. I keep catching myself talking German although my German isn't great. But that really helped me. And if anything it's hard to get it out of the voice because when I have to do the big notes at the end of songs that's when I kick the opera in

I have a real ambition to be in an opera one day and I never say never and I don't think doors close. I think one day it might happen. But if I did go into an opera it would have to be really modern and really extreme. Because I am a rock singer

ALEX: You're a singer, you're an actress, you're a personality, you're a star at heart. What do you want to be?

TOYAH: It's a really good question because I have to work - psychologically I have to work. If the phone isn't ringing or I'm not creating something I don't really exist. I just sit there … blank. So I always create projects and by creating projects other things come in. I mean last year I was playing Queen Elizabeth the First in the stage version of “Jubilee” which was a complete surprise. But also it featured my music. 

This year we've got “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” coming out. It's gone beyond on what we thought would happen. In the pre-order chart it went number one across the board. It's out on April the 12th and fingers crossed we'll get a chart position with that. But it's just been great – in the last two days I've done 50 radio interviews and people are loving the music. 

So you ask what I am? This year I'm dominantly a singer but I'm also doing a movie. I've got a great movie coming up in June. So I just keep on filling that diary and see what happens! (Alex laughs) 

Tonight we're doing an acoustic show and I like to think that the acoustic is helping me to become a better musician and a singer because when you only have two guitars and three voices you've really got to be spot on. 

And it's taught me so much doing this show. We've done it now for five years. We go into lovely little places. This is a village hall near Nottingham, completely sold out. We could've done a week here but it will be magical. We know that because it's up close and it's very personal

ALEX: It seems like you were born to be on stage. When we look back to your childhood that's sort of in a congress in a way because you were so shy and so bullied and really to stand up on stage today must be a huge strain still or is it a second home?

TOYAH: The acoustic I love and I know it's going to be good. It's just a magical show. We even had a stage invasion in Otley last week (Alex laughs) There's just something about this show. I think people are so close they go a bit bonkers. 

Arenas – we do the festivals so we do experience the large audiences, you know, between 30 and 60 000 and I'm more frightened for those than I will be tonight. Part of it is that it's so special. You feel the energy. There is a definite change in atmosphere when you've got that amount people in front of you. I find it overwhelming. 

I did a guest appearance in Glastonbury three years ago and I felt as if my feet needed to be nailed to the ground. I just felt as if though I was levitating off the ground. There was quarter of a million people on site and it's just radically different to anything I've ever experienced. So I'm a little bit sensitive to the audience. I'd say I'm more scared in the arenas than I am at the acoustic

ALEX: You've got that great thing though like Cliff, Cilla and all these people - that you have a legendary status -

TOYAH: You think?

ALEX: That we only need your first name -

TOYAH: (laughs) I'm Toyah – yeah. I think it's very nice that people are saying that I have legendary status. I think it's because of my age (laughs)

ALEX: You've nothing to prove, you're working harder than you've ever worked. It must be thrilling and liberating in a way to know what we know what we're going to get. It's a guaranteed cheque when we come and see you - that you're going to deliver?

TOYAH: I do deliver because the audience comes first. I don't think I've gone beyond that point where I have nothing to prove. As an actress I've got everything to prove and I'm still learning. The new album I think is a beautiful album and it's so exclusively me that I think I want people to hear it and go “yes, Toyah's being Toyah” and that suits me down to the ground. 

But there's always something to prove. Time moves on. Nothing is fixed. And I think only your Hendrix and your Bowie and your John Lennons have that "nothing to prove" music that is their legacy. I'm not quite there yet. I'm trying my damnedest but I'm not quite there yet 

ALEX: I listened to this entire CD all the way through and there were two songs that stood out. And what's remarkable about this double album is that it's so eclectic and one minute we've got these beautiful ballads and the next minute we've got you at your height where you're doing these sort of outrageous songs and playing on the sort of big ballad stuff and the rock stuff.

And then there's two songs which are wonderful which are “Heal Ourselves” and also “Sensational” - which is literally sensational. I don't think you've ever sounded better! Congratulations on this. It's so beautifully produced

TOYAH: Thank you. I write with my co-partner Simon Darlow. I've been writing with him since I was 18 and he was 17. He's worked on many of my big albums as well. We have a very psychic relationship. Put us in a room and things just happen. He picks up a guitar, he hits the piano and we come up with something like “Sensational” in two minutes. 

“Heal Ourselves” came about because at the time it was written we were really conscious about artist's responsibility towards being positive in the the world when the world is completely bloody crazy and we wanted to write something that really completely connected the artist to the audience so that became “Heal Ourselves"

ALEX: You were ahead of your time, weren't you? I mean I look at what you did as a child and you were an artist, let's face it when you walked through the streets of Birmingham. People had never seen anything like it. Was that some sort of divine intervention or was it you being you or was it influence because let's face it it's very easy to fit in the crowd – it's very difficult to deliberately stand out?

TOYAH: Well, at that time there was no social media, there were no mobile phones, no one could take pictures of me on the street so in a way that made it very easy to be a strange fish in a large pool. So I was a hair model for a very big department store from the age of 14 because I had remarkable hair and very quickly I started to dye my hair all colours under the rainbow and that gave me a very unique identity at the time. 

I didn't know about punk rock and this was about 1974/5 and then a friend said to me “you should really go and see the Sex Pistols” at Bogart's in Birmingham. That was '75 and I really thought up until that point I was the only punk in the village. I was in a room with 350 kids who were all dying their hair, all making their own clothes. And I thought “where were you?! I'm been so lonely so many years!” And here we all are – the tribe. 

It was a very lucky time for me. From about '75 into '76 right through to about '85 … everything fell in my lap. It was to do with this being unique and being quite strange and not fitting in to the mould. I ended up working with Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn, John Mills, Diana Dors and I had three platinum albums. It was just remarkable, utterly remarkable

ALEX: And what a great time to be alive and working. I don't know if we started today we would have the same stories. There are those type of legends around you can speak of and people take in a breath

TOYAH: I think I would've found a way. If I was in the world today as a teenager I would've been on social media, I would've been on Youtube. I would've found a way. I was a pretty outrageous kid and I've always liked challenging taboos and there's still plenty of taboos to challenge. That's the biggest advice I give to anyone on Youtube. Look at the taboos and break them

ALEX: Help me with what it's like being a woman in 2019? Where are we at now? It must be very difficult because we've got #MeToo and all of that. What would you have thought of that if that was around in the 60's? Does it help or not help?

TOYAH: Oh! If we had #MeToo in the late 70's which is when I kicked in ... oh boy! It was unbelievable being a woman in very much a man's world. Especially doing Northern Working Men's Clubs, especially going even North of the border. I don't want to put these places down because they were great to play and the audiences were fantastic … but you were just groped. The whole time – left, right and centre. Just groped. I think there's even photographs out there where I'm being groped. 

At the time there was no #MeToo, there was no voice for how you felt. What #MeToo has done is given vulnerable women a voice and to point out when these situations have happened. I have felt no need to take part in #MeToo because to be quite honest I just used my fists and there's a few men out there who would happily use #MeToo on me (Alex laughs). I mean I just smashed them in the face. 

I had no qualms about that at all. And there are other singers who are renown for doing that too Today I think it's rather a fantastic time for women because I think women can be sexually very open. They can have multiple partners if they want multiple partners. It was quite hard to do that 30-40 years ago. 

They can be gay, they can be straight, they can choose their gender. I think that is all really healthy. What I would like to see is that that can happen without anyone batting an eyelid. Because really I think it's nobody's business what your sexuality is and what your gender is. I've always kind of fought being seen as a person and I think that is on its way and that's a good thing

ALEX: It is depressing in 2019 as I sit here shocked that you tell me that men would just come and grope you. It's incredible to me as a 39 year old man. I can't imagine a world where that existed but that was the case. 

Was that ever the case with management too and the record companies and the producers around you – did you experience that? Because that's what we're hearing about too that even when you'd left the club you'd still have to face it?

TOYAH: There's some extreme, very one off, on their own things happened … My band really looked after me. I remember getting to Leeds, sometime in 1979, to a club and it was height of the fear of the Yorkshire Ripper. And firstly I arrived at this club and my wonderful lighting man said to me “do not stay here alone. The club owner thinks he has a right to sleep with you. Do not go anywhere – not even the ladies (room) - without one of us escorting you." 

So that was cool. This is what my band did – they looked after me. Then I tried to walk to the B&B and a police car picked me up and they said “you can't be alone” - because of the Yorkshire Ripper, so you know, all of that. So we lived through that. My generation lived through that because no one knew who and what and where the next strike was going to happen. 

As for the casting couch – one very remarkable one was - actually I feel quite proud of - because this director was legendary and it was Russ Meyer of "Valley Of The Vixens" and I was actually sent to an audition for one of his films in the late '70's. 

No idea what I was in for! I arrived at the audition and I was asked to take my top off and I just put two and two together and I said “this ain't for me” and I walked. But that happened in those days! It did happen. In a way I'm really glad I met Russ Meyer because that age – that kind of “Boogie Nights” age of movie making is no more. And I was almost a part of it 

ALEX: How incredible. I wonder where you got that tenacity and confidence from? Was it your parents, was it your family? Where did you did find that from within you where other girls may have felt forced to do what ever he wanted of them - you had the tenacity to stand up and walk out. Most people wouldn't be that brave …

TOYAH: No, it was just no problem walking out on that one! It was just -

ALEX: That's extraordinary. Some women may not have made that choice which they could've regretted forever. You had that within you. I wonder where that comes from?

TOYAH: Well, some women would've wanted that job. I just didn't want that job. It wasn't hard to walk out on that one. For me I think knowing that I was not tall, not particularly feminine – that I had to just be individualistic and I knew that was how I was going to survive. Which kind of made me very bombastic and full of bravado. 

I just knew I haven't got the feminine card to play. If I could go back into the heavens when I was being conceived and I could choose the body – believe me I would've chosen a supermodel body because I think they have an easier life. I got this body and I just decided that I had to be very tomboyish – which I am – but I knew that was my way of surviving

ALEX: I don't think you can see you as the rest of the world sees you. A) you are a sex symbol – my father for instance (Toyah cracks up laughing) thinks you're delicious. I mean as you sit here you look stunning and beautiful. 

I don't know why you constantly in interviews always say that you were fat and ugly as a child and not pretty and all of that. You know you are now, right? I mean what have you got to prove today?

TOYAH: Back then I was three stone heavier. You know, today there is nothing wrong with that – back then in the movie industry and the music industry … as soon as I signed on a label I had to loose that weigh. I was complicit. It was absolutely fine, I didn't mind at all. 

I kind of lost it when filming “Quadrophenia” because we were on so many amphetamines to get through that film! (they both laugh) All of us were popping pills like … aarrghh! It was a fabulous experience! But … back then it was expected of you. I had a dietician, he weighed me weekly. I was weighed before I did Top Of The Pops. 

I was complicit, it was absolutely fine. It was the every day and what you've got to remember is I had songs to write, I had scripts to learn, I had venues to get to. We were permanently in front of the cameras. On one day I could do a photo session, five interviews and a two and half hour show. It was just full on. The creativity meant more to me back then and there was no sense back then of eating clean, eating healthy. You were going to live for ever. 

Everyone felt they were going to live forever. If you told someone that you needed to eat clean to have longevity you'd go “nah, that's just rubbish” so we were just eating what ever we could get our hands on and it wasn't much in those days. Vegetarianism was a hard thing to follow in those days. I can remember getting to Manchester on a Sunday and finding nowhere to eat.  You could just about get a bag of chips and that was it. 

So those kind of things back then you didn't consider. All you considered was the speed and the competitiveness of getting an album finished, getting the best tour on the road and then starting all over again 

ALEX: You've achieved so much in your career. I mean when I read down the list of 24 albums and 40 shows you've appeared in, over 30 films. I mean it's a remarkable legacy you're leaving for the world to enjoy. 

Has it been fun? It seems to me you've had one of the most blessed careers. You've always been in work, you've always been relevant and it's always been good stuff and that's the trickiest thing, isn't it? We can all work but is it good stuff?

TOYAH: It's the only life I know. I couldn't be any other way and I don't feel I've actually arrived yet. I can only put this is perspective and this is a direct quote from Lulu on Radio 2. Someone asked her a similar question and she said “I'm hoping to be discovered” and you know that's what it feels like! (Alex laughs) I totally agree! 

I don't feel I've arrived yet, I'm not known as a film star. I have lovely cameo roles in films and I work in films. I also help co-produce and finance for films which I love. I'm very passionate about all of that. 

Funny enough – you ask me … that you know, everyone knows who I am and I'm legendary … I only feel now, and about to turn 61, that I'm arriving. And I think that's thanks to my writing partnership with Simon Darlow because I think “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” - if it was my swan song I am very happy with it. 

There's songs on there I'm just so proud of like “Dance In The Hurricane”, “Heal Ourselves”, “Legacy”, “21st Century Super Sister”. I am really really proud of those songs so I think I'm only arriving now. And it's kinda good because I'm not sure how long I can keep doing it for!

ALEX: Are we going to sit down in another ten years at 71 and you're going to say the same thing? I mean at what point are you going to give yourself a break and look down on your CV? Just Wikipedia yourself? I mean there's a lot going on there, you must be at least proud even if you don't think you've arrived?

TOYAH: I'm very proud of surviving (Alex laughs) I am definitely a survivor and I've survived with very very little support. I've done virtually all of this myself with my musicians. I manage myself because I can't find a manager, I cant find a PA. No one wants the lifestyle I have!

And let me put this in perspective – it's in the office from 8 in the morning til about 4 in the afternoon, drive to the venue, do a gig, drive home, back in the office til 4 in the morning. That's the schedule. No one wants to be a part of that. I kind of have to find people with an equal amount of insomnia that I have. It's hard … it's hard. But it's wonderful 

ALEX: People forget that show business – and you have to run a business to make it a show. I mean that's what you've done all of your career, haven't you? You've had to be the person fighting forward because if not you're quickly forgotten

TOYAH: Yeah, I agree with everything you've just said. Also I think a lot of artists don't realise that if you're not on top of the business side that's when problems come in. It's as easy as that. You just have to keep an eye on everything and I do admit that most business people are slightly scared of me because I pick things up very quickly (Alex laughs) “Excuse me, what's that in the contract? Excuse me!” 

ALEX: Are you less feisty now than you were in 1975 for example?

TOYAH: I'm more intelligent than I was in 1975 –

ALEX: More diplomatic you mean? (laughs)

TOYAH: I don't fly off the handle as quickly as I used to and I'm really good at negotiating. I even have other agents and other artists phone me up and say “could you negotiate this?” And I go “C'mon! Grow a pair!” (Alex laughs)

ALEX: It is a tough world to survive. I wonder – turning 60 … what did that mean to you? I mean was it personally thrilling that you made it to sixty (Toyah laughs) and you look the way you do? Was it professionally – did it matter to you? Was it a big sort of date last year?

TOYAH: Yeah. I tell you the biggest surprise – and it's been twelve months of surprises – on my 60th birthday my audience downloaded me to number one in the charts and that's what's kicked off all of this. 

That led to Demon Music signing us on a contract, which is the first time I've been signed to a label in about 40 years. And then it's lead to adding the five new songs on “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” and it's going at the speed of light! So sixty so far – and I've only got one month left being sixty – has been one of the best years of my life

ALEX: I asked Ken Dodd if he'd ever retire when he was 89 and he said “well, what's the point? You only retire to stop doing what you don't want to do - to do what you do want to do and I'm doing what I want to do - if you know what I'm trying to say?” Are you doing what you want to do?

TOYAH: Yes. I am doing what I want to do. Did you know that Ken Dodd had a clause in all his contracts that he couldn't go on beyond midnight?

ALEX: Well, he never listened to it though. He paid the fine!

TOYAH: He used to go on til six in the morning! (Alex laughs) That's more energy than I've got!

ALEX: It's inspiring though – that old school ethic. He wanted to put on a show and he wouldn't get off stage until he felt he'd done that

TOYAH: It's absolutely remarkable – that dedication to his audience. They knew they were in for the night. I think they used to bring pillows and picnic hampers

ALEX: It was great! Of all the people you've worked with – give me a couple that were a thrill for you?

TOYAH: I've ran away from David Bowie twice because I just couldn't handle his presence. The first time was when he was appearing at the Milton Keynes Bowl. I think that was about 1983 and Phil Daniels and I – Phil Daniels of “Quadrophenia” - were backstage and we sneaked on stage and we were sitting on the runway going up to the stage and Bowie walked off stage and came and sat right next to us and Phil was going (mouths silently) and I was going “oh my God, oh my God!” (Alex laughs) and we ran! We ran! 

And the next time was Bowie approached my husband Robert Fripp and I at an event at the hotel Intercontinental on Park Lane, about 1986 and Bowie came up and asked Robert to join Tin Machine. And I stood there and I just “... ah ...” (looks lovesick) and just backed out of the room. I just couldn't take it! The guy was just … his ego not his ego, his aura was so immense it just went into yours! It was breathtaking

ALEX: Have you put your finger on what that is – what do these people do that I don't do?

TOYAH: I don't know but there's some very special people out there. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are a little like that as well

ALEX: Or is it just your mind putting onto them what your thinking about them? Are they doing anything?

TOYAH: No, some people have incredible power. Laurence Olivier (above with Toyah) had that and Katherine Hepburn had that. Sting in a way has it but when we made “Quadrophenia” with him we were all in his hotel room learning the harmonies to “Roxanne”. He was incredibly encompassing, he was very kind good man. 

But some people just have this aura that just blows you away! I had to sit with Zack Efron for an interview once. Gorgeous boy! Absolutely gorgeous but I could just feel the aura pushing me out of the picture … (Alex laughs)

ALEX: And then of course when we look back on all the work you've done and the beautiful stuff you've done on stage. Is there anything like that pin focus still? Can recording a CD compare with standing on stage performing it live?

TOYAH: Every time I do a recording I expect it to be the best thing I've ever done. And every time I walk on stage I expect it to be the best show I've ever done. That has never changed. Do the do compare? Yes. Recording a CD you always think about the connections it's going to create. Therefore you're thinking and hoping and expecting that that is going to connect you to a future. It's always been the same, its never been any different

ALEX: You're a remarkable talent, you've got a stunning voice and audiences never cease to be amazed by you. I love the new album. “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” is just wonderful and as I say “Sensational” is truly one of the greatest songs I've heard in a very very long time. Your voice is so precious. Be less hard on yourself. 

You seem to judge yourself more harshly than we do. We think your delicious (Toyah laughs) and we think you're incredibly talented and we think you've done quite enough. Nothing to achieve, it's already great. Stop pushing!

TOYAH: Ooh! I don't know about that. You have to push to a certain extent to do certain things. Especially to get in the big movies. You'd be amazed how hard you have to push to do that. I don't think I'll never give up hope on all of these ambitions

ALEX: You know you're an inspiration, especially to young women. I mean if you look at what you've done and how you've done it – against all the odds really … If you look at your background and your beginning and your own perception of yourself. It's an extraordinary achievement. You know that, right?

TOYAH: I am very conscious how important it is to give young women and even just young people – a positive message. My generation did have it easy in comparison to today. We could buy houses, we could buy cars. I feel very very responsible and conscious of the fact that we have to give people hope. 

And that's kind of a big message within “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”, especially within “Sensational”. That the world is yours, it just needs to be slightly reorganised and you're going to be the people to do it 

ALEX: Shall we bother talking about Brexit?

TOYAH: It's a mess that can't be solved! It just can't be solved! (Alex laughs) You know who ever gets that chalice is going to be poisoned. It just can't -

ALEX: If there is one woman who can sort it out it's you!

TOYAH: No, really … I'm clueless! I'm clueless! (Alex laughs) I don't know how they're going to do it -

ALEX: What about a Prime Minister? You'd make 
a marvellous job ...

TOYAH: No, I wouldn't. Really. I don't have that knowledge (Alex laughs) And I'm not good at being criticised and having negativity thrown at you 24 hours a day -

ALEX: You can't win either way at this point, can you?

TOYAH: You can't win either way. No.

ALEX: Toyah, thank you so much for your time. You're such a legend and a star. Have a wonderful evening. Thank you for your time

TOYAH: Thank you Alex, good to meet you

You can watch the interview here

03 May, 2019


The whole gig at The Church in Dundee 26.4.2019 is now available to watch on our Youtube channel as individual songs or in full here

Download the songs as HQ MP3's here (including one 1h 15 min MP3 - the whole gig) 

(Thanks to Tich) 

Visit our LIVE DOWNLOADS archive (1976-2019) here

28 April, 2019


PHIL MARRIOTT: Toyah Willcox! Fantastic to see you!

TOYAH: Hey! Good to see you too!

PHIL: How are you?

TOYAH: I'm really good, thank you

PHIL: Now, we've got the album which you've just put on the table. I have to say gorgeous because of the colours of this …

TOYAH: It's very crimson. It's “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. We started writing it ten years ago and we slowly drip-fed it to the fas as we toured constantly. So what happened – the only way I can explain is because if people know nothing about me … I was 60 on May the 18th last year and the fans downloaded me to number one in the charts and it was really quite extraordinary because I'm an unsigned artist. 

So this meant that people suddenly pricked up their ears and went oh! And we got offered a recording contract and we said we want to make this “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” how we originally wanted it to be but with a bit of a budget. 

So we added drums, we added bass, remixed and remastered and we added five new tracks. So this album has already had an extraordinary life. It was only available to the fans but virtually every track on the album has been in the musical version of “Crime And Punishment” -

PHIL: Yeah, I saw that -

TOYAH: Did you?

PHIL: It was great -

TOYAH: Oh, thank you. At the Scoop Theatre four years ago. And some of the tracks have been in movies so we've now had the chance thanks to a record deal to group it together, repackage it, so I'd say to anyone out there who knows nothing about me this is actually a sparkly new album

PHIL: Yeah, because you've got a lot of new tracks on there as well

TOYAH: Five new tracks -

PHIL: Yeah. What I love about it though, particularly, it seems really current still even though it was recorded the first time around over ten years ago but there's some tracks on there which seem almost like a reaction to what's going on politically in the UK and the US. I just want to read through some of these titles. There's “Hyperventilate”, there's “Heal Ourselves”, “Bad Man” -

TOYAH: Well, we sat down to relisten to the album about six months ago and we thought this is not a bad album. It still, like you said, feels very current. Simon Darlow, my co-writer and I - and by the way Simon plays everything on the album – we thought this deserves a worldwide commercial release. Let's go with it, let's add some fairy dust and the new tracks and just treat it as a new release. 

So because of the history of time to write and complete it it is commenting on things that have been going on for many many years. When we started writing this there was plenty of unrest in the world, there's was plenty of things going on far away in other countries that none of us want to have happening. 

So “Heal Ourselves” was about community, sisterhood, brotherhood, sticking together, not allowing the media to make enemies of ourselves. And ironically “Bad Man” is about the fact we are so quick to label someone with the label of "bad man" rather than see why they behave in such a way or their circumstance or how they feel they have to act when they're in public and it actually says "I see though you, I see through you like glass. I see your heart"

PHIL: You mentioned Simon Darlow, who your loyal fans will of course know from back in the 80's. You worked together with him on “Love Is The Law” 1983 and then again on "Minx" in '85 -

TOYAH: He said to me the other day – and I have no memory of this – I was the first person to sing “Slave To The Rhythm”. I was with him when he wrote it -

PHIL: Oh yes, because he co-wrote it -

TOYAH: Yeah, for Grace Jones. I have no memory of that at all that I was actually the singer that he tested it out on-

PHIL: Amazing! Do you find that a lot of that is a blur - your career in the 80's -

TOYAH: Everything's a blur now!

PHIL: It's kind of whizzed on so quickly -

TOYAH: The thing is I try to make today relevant. I think it's really important to be present and accept who and what you are in the present. So I think the reason the past is a blur I'm always focusing on what I do today and seizing opportunities to do with the future so the past doesn't really get a look in that much -

PHIL: You're not one to look back, you just want to concentrate on what's coming up?

TOYAH: Yeah, even when I do the big 80's festivals I try to give that in the moment. So if I'm doing “I Want To Be Free”, “Thunder In The Mountains”, “It's A Mystery”, “Good Morning Universe”, all those hits – I try to give them in a relevant way today

PHIL: Because we know you've touched on the anniversaries of your previous albums - “The Changeling”, you did the anniversaries for those, you've got the 35th anniversary of "Minx" (below) coming up -

TOYAH: Oh, really? Thank you

PHIL: In like two years, what is it – it was ' 85 -

TOYAH: We're asking the record company to give that back to me at the moment. A lot record companies own stuff that they're not active with and we believe as artists it's our human right to ask for it back -

PHIL: Yeah, it's you work isn't it?

TOYAH: It's my work, it's my identity so we are actually focusing on "Minx" and trying to get it back which means I could do an awful lot with it

PHIL: Oh my God, yeah. Because you've had a lot of problems with Safari Records – that was the label you were signed to right back in the 70's -

TOYAH: Yeah … When you say problems I think basically at the moment I'm being ghosted by them because I won't go away. Yes … It's just one of those things. It's a phenomenally successful back catalogue so I want to nurture it and mother it

PHIL: It's really your roots, isn't it?

TOYAH: It's my roots and I think “Sheep Farming In Barnet” is such an important album. “Blue Meaning” - really important album. They're so original, they're so quirky and they still sound fresh. They really deserve their place with the younger generations. 

The beauty of Youtube and performing to such young people – to me anyone under 30 is really young – is that they're yet to discover this music and I think they're really going to like it. So I'm very active with all of that

PHIL: And a lot of those songs are quite dark as well – I think a lot of young people would resonate -

TOYAH: They're wonderfully dark -

PHIL: How does it feel when you perform those old songs?

TOYAH: I love it!

PHIL: Do you get kind of taken back when you were singing them the first time around?

TOYAH: Some of them are prophetic so when I'm singing “Neon Womb” my mother was still alive but when I wrote it I was aware of the future so there's little things like that. The same with “Race Through Space”. 

They're all about the grief before the grief actually was there in the world and it's a common theme in “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. It's how grief makes us better people. It makes us stronger, it makes our love stronger, makes our hearts stronger because you have to reach out further to find those you love. So for me that's a very powerful message

PHIL: And proving again that you always want to look forward as well

TOYAH: Oh, yeah

PHIL: Seeing the future – with your songs, with your songwriting -

TOYAH: I find that quite a romantic thing to do. For me the future is a bed of roses

PHIL: Because you've always written songs in the past maybe inspired your dreams. Is that still the case now or do you get your songs inspired by what's going on in the real life? 

TOYAH: Yeah, sometimes I have really amazing dreams that are so tangible that I think that was not a dream, that was something else – that was a lesson. So I always take those particularly seriously. At the moment I'm dreaming a lot about tidal waves -

PHIL: Ooh …

TOYAH: And they're in the most bizarre places. I live on the river Avon and I keep dreaming about tidal waves coming down the river Avon -

PHIL: Terrifying …

TOYAH: Well, my husband says that it's actually being wrapped up in a spiritual experience, that water is our connected spirituality as mankind and I think that's a nice way to look at it. We do flood a lot there and when we flood its very cold water so I'm kind of keeping the positive and the negative on equal balance -

PHIL: The Yin and Yang -

TOYAH: But to answer your question – I take dreams quite seriously because I've learned that sometimes they're telling you something that you need to be aware of

PHIL: Well, that's it, dreams are I suppose a link to reality - it's bouncing back off reality …

TOYAH: In some cultures dreams are believed to be the real work we do. I often wonder why on earth do we sleep so much of our lives … Well, go and ask some native Aboriginal in Australia – they'll tell you that's when you do your real work

PHIL: Ooh sleep, I love sleep, I could go to sleep right now

TOYAH: I hate sleep! I would do anything to pop a pill and never sleep again

PHIL: Do you still suffer from insomnia -

TOYAH: It's terrible! And people get so annoyed with me because I'm pinging out emails all hours of the night. I only achieve deep sleep between seven and ten in the morning

PHIL: It's something that I've experienced more so recently that I've not been able to sleep. Is it the creative brain because you just want to keep producing?

TOYAH: I think those people that can use it creatively are very very lucky. Kate Bush I think does most of her creative writing through the night. I can't be that creative, I can be very functional. I can do all the mundane in the office but to sit down and write a song at 2 in the morning, that's not going to happen with me

PHIL: It's a very small world, Toyah, because the video for “Sensational”, one of the tracks on the album, is directed by Dean Stockings -

TOYAH: Yeah!

PHIL: Your photographer as well. He also works with Boy George and Boy George I seem to remember was in your documentary -

TOYAH: Yes, at Mayhem -

PHIL: Yeah, at Battersea -

TOYAH: Yeah, Boy George very kindly tweeted the link to the video so he's been very supportive

PHIL: Do you see him much now?

TOYAH: We talk more than we see each other because Dean now works for Boy George full time so I get to hear a lot about what both of them are up to. I know Boy George wants to do an album with me – I'm not sure when we can fit it in -

PHIL: Wow!

TOYAH: Boy George wants to write and produce it which would be interesting from my point of view as a writer but I never say never and I think let's see what happens

PHIL: The reason I asked you that question was because I was at Battersea Dog's Home just the other day and that is very close to where you used to live -

TOYAH: I was across the road. They've knocked it down now -

PHIL: Oh, have they?

TOYAH: Yeah, Mayhem's gone -

PHIL: What a shame!

TOYAH: There was a petition to save it and give it a heritage plaque. But no, it's gone, I think it's flats now

PHIL: Because that features in the documentary. Is that something you've seen recently – that documentary?

TOYAH: I love that documentary. I'd love to own it, I could do a lot with that. It was shot and directed by Graham Moore. I am so grateful because that turned everything around for me. To have an hour long documentary on ITV on a Thursday night, 9 o'clock, prime time. It was phenomenal! Really all he angels were looking after me that day because it was all the music – and this was before “It's A Mystery” -

PHIL: I was going to say this was before you really became successful. I mean you were successful then because you had a loyal fan base -

TOYAH: I was very cult. I was hugely successful as an actress and as a touring artists but I hadn't had nationwide hits. So that documentary – wow! Mind-blowing. You ask if I like it? I love it! (Phil laughs)

PHIL: It was fascinating to watch as well and also I presume that new fans of yours that didn't know you back then or didn't have an insight as to how you started -

TOYAH: They should watch it

PHIL: Yeah!

TOYAH: Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (Watch the documentary here (My googledrive)

PHIL: Have their minds blown how – well, different in some ways but not in others – still the same artist -

TOYAH: It was a really good time. That was a good time for everyone. Everything was possible. I think life was easier for us young 'uns back then and I think that documentary just caught me brilliantly 

PHIL: You are what I think is safe to call a juggernaut in so many ways because I've always thought from the late 70's to now you have this endless energy, a kind of effervescence that you can't control it -

TOYAH: I can't control it -

PHIL: You're bouncing all the over the place. How do you do it?

TOYAH: Yeah. I'd like to control it. I often think if I could just stand still on stage I might be a better artist. I just don't know where it comes from

PHIL: Because you're doing 30 shows this year. Over 30 -

TOYAH: No, I think it's about 58 -

PHIL: Well, there we go -

TOYAH: And it's going up and up and up because we've been doing lots of radio and even last week a promoter contacted me during a live radio show and offered me a festival. The numbers – it's just tick, tick, tick, tick – going up. The energy – when I'm on stage I don't know where it comes from. I don't think I've ever gone on stage without that surge of something coming into me that I can't hold back

PHIL: Do you know what it is? Can you identify what that surge is?

TOYAH: I like to think it's something outside of me rather than a brain condition (laughs)

PHIL: An other-worldly force -

TOYAH: Yeah! I don't know whether it's my pituitary glands or what, I like to think it's an  other-worldly force

PHIL: I wanted to ask about identity because when you were young you resented femininity -

TOYAH: I still do -

PHIL: Being put in a box?

TOYAH: I'm really uncomfortable with being identified as feminine. I always have been. I'm very tomboy, I definitely have a masculine soul. I believe in reincarnation and I'm absolutely certain that I was Attila The Hun or something like that in a past life. I'm so masculine and it's nothing to do with sexuality. It's just to do with attitude. I think we have - all of us - the right to be our individual selves. 

I was very aware from a very young age that I was being made to identify as something for the convenience of others. It's all to do with ticking boxes and filling forms and listing in bureaucracy – on your passport, male or female. I think we're all individuals. 

We have a right to clarify what we need to excel and be our best and I personally believe that we are all here with nothing but potential in our bodies. Part of that potential is identifying, honing down, clarifying who and what you are. I'm so profoundly uncomfortable having to be feminine that it effects me -

PHIL: I know that you worked with some amazing people in “Jubilee”, the theatre show (below) obviously based on the movie that you were in -

TOYAH: Oh my God - I loved it!

PHIL: This is the really exciting thing – the fact that you were playing Queen Elizabeth. You obviously didn't play that role the first time round, you played "Mad" in the movie. I found that a really good connection because it really freshened things up, it made the production really exiting -

TOYAH: It was very clever. Well, Chris Goode was asked by the Manchester Royal Exchange "what would you like to do as a writer/director?" And he said "I want to bring the film “Jubilee” to the stage." The first script I read - and I don't think we veered far away from what I read first - was one of the most outrageous funniest things I have ever had in my hand. It was just so gloriously naughty. 

Chris came to see me to ask me to give advice to the cast. Gender fluid, some were gender neutral, some were transitioning and he said could I give them advice about what it was like to be a punk rocker back then, which was very much gender orientated. I said yeah I'd happily do it and I said "can I be in it?" And he said "I wanted you to ask that!" (Phil laughs) So I just jumped on that. And what a glorious cast!

PHIL: These are people that have such rich life experience, it was perfect for the role, wasn't it?

TOYAH: It was brilliantly cast. Every single person in that play had a message – have a message. They're all activists, they're all sexual politics activists, they're all gender activists, they're political activists and for me being good 40 years older than most of them … I had to learn a new language. 

I had to stop saying "C'mon guys, let's go for lunch." They were they, them, us, it. Words that I would've considered rude 40 years ago to address someone by. So I was continually having to learn to respect what they wanted and I was very happy to do that and at the same time I was going against 60 years of programming

PHIL: So that was a challenge for you as well -

TOYAH: Huge challenge! But one that I loved. I'm very grateful to have met these wonderful people who work very hard. They earn a lot less than I used to earn when I was their age and I really appreciated how they struggled and still had huge hearts and huge ambitions but they were still living in a world that was less just than the world I was in at that age. And I feel very passionately for them and their talent and that they get what they deserve in life and they deserve everything

PHIL: And they've got Derek Jarman's outlook as well

TOYAH: Yeah. And that was very important because Derek - like most men of his persuasion back then ... because he suffered a lot. He suffered a lot of physical violence and verbal violence and he had a really horrible death. And luckily people aren't dying quite like that from the AIDS virus now. 

But for Derek it was so frightening. When he had HIV and then it developed into AIDS … he was getting death threats, he was getting people wanting to violently take his life as if AIDS wasn't violent enough. So it was a remarkable experience to be with these young people and to be able to share my story with them and them being able to share their present day story with me

PHIL: You mentioned Kate Bush -

TOYAH: Yes -

PHIL: You've always been a fan as have I. You were the first artist I ever saw live in 1982 -


PHIL: It was the “Warrior Rock” show (below)


PHIL: At the Hammersmith – as it was then – The Odeon. Now The Apollo. Kate Bush played there a few years ago -

TOYAH: How long ago was it?

PHIL: I think it was 2014 -


PHIL: Doesn't feel like -

TOYAH: I know I went on the 11th of September. She invited me to come and see it 

PHIL: What an incredible show

TOYAH: Yeah. One of the best things I've ever seen

PHIL: Yeah, yeah

TOYAH: What I loved about it was you really felt nothing but love in the room

PHIL: Yeah

TOYAH: That was extraordinary. When she walked on in that really almost – I think the word is sardonic pace it was - she was just so relaxed! I mean I would run on! But she had everyone follow behind her. It was beautiful, the sound was incredible

PHIL: I've got the hairs on the back of my neck up just remembering it. I was lucky enough to see it twice –

TOYAH: Yeah, her voice was incredible

PHIL: The second time I was upstairs and I kind of saw the whole stage but the first time I was right by the stage and I couldn't walk afterwards. It was a really bizarre thing -

TOYAH: Oh, wow!

PHIL: I couldn't speak, I couldn't walk – I was just dumbfounded

TOYAH: I was just very happy for her. I went backstage after to speak to her and to be with her for a bit. It's funny … she - the success of it didn't seemed to have touched her. She was just Kate and -

PHIL: Very humble -

TOYAH: Incredibly humble. I don't know if you know she used to bring Bertie (Kate's son) to my house before anyone knew Bertie existed. My father used to take them both out on his boat on the river Avon 

PHIL: Oh wow … I loved him in the show as well

TOYAH: He was great. He's a remarkable man, very very intelligent as you'd expect. I'm always blown away about how humble Kate is because she's a goddess!

PHIL: That's what makes her more appealing as an artist I think. There's no ego. Or I suppose you've got to have a certain amount of ego to -

TOYAH: I don't think there is ego. I think she's incredibly clever like that. There's incredible knowledge, very hard work, but I don't think there's ego. But she is very protective of her work

PHIL: Yeah. I know you're a big horror fan as well -

TOYAH: Oh, huge horror fan!

PHIL: I've just seen “Us” - which was quite disturbing

TOYAH: I haven't seen that yet

PHIL: Because a lot of modern films aren't as disturbing as they used to be I don't think

TOYAH: Oh well, you must see “The House That Jack Built” ... Piers Von …

PHIL: Oh, I haven't seen – Lars Von ...

TOYAH: I always get the name wrong. It is genuinely shocking. Matt Dillon is mind-blowing, everyone is mind-blowing in it and what I love about it it's one of the first films I've seen other than “It” - which was enjoyably shocking – this, “The House That Jack Built” is breathtakingly disturbing 

PHIL: More psychological -

TOYAH: It's very real

PHIL: I seem to remember you came on (stage) as part of your tour to the music of "Suspiria"?

TOYAH: Oh yeah, the goblins

PHIL: The goblins yeah and that obviously got remade recently too. Did you see the remake?

TOYAH: It's a parody?

PHIL: It's quite different, it's a lot longer

TOYAH: OK. Well, I think "Suspiria" is a classic. It works, it wasn't broken, don't mend it

PHIL: So what was the last horror you saw? Was it “It”? Or “The House That Jack Built”?

TOYAH: Oh no, I watch horror all the time. "Piewit" (?) or something is on my desk at the moment to watch. You really got me there … Oh, I think the remake “Halloween” was the last one -

PHIL: Oh yeah, that was great, I was so buzzing about that because it's my favourite all time film -

TOYAH: But again it didn't want to offend -

PHIL: I think it was quite sanitized -

TOYAH: Remake was very sanitized

PHIL: Yeah. Are you still scared by stuff now when you watch -

TOYAH: Yes. Anything to do with demonic possession I can't really watch. It's too suggestive for me

PHIL: Yeah. I taps in, doesn't it?

TOYAH: It taps in -

PHIL: The psyche. Listen Toyah, it's been fantastic to see you. I wish you all the best with the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” -

TOYAH: Thank you

PHIL: Gorgeous packaging. I mean it's gatefold – 2 CD


PHIL: Something for the fans

TOYAH: And the vinyl is bright cerise pink

PHIL: For Record Store Day. I think it brings back the excitement of buying music, doesn't it?

TOYAH: Well, vinyl I think is saving the music business at the moment. It's the biggest seller. When we announced the vinyl I went straight to number one in the pre-order charts across the board so it just shows how popular vinyl is

PHIL: There is air punching going on there ...


PHIL: Good to see you Toyah, all the best

TOYAH: Thank you so much, thank you

PHIL: See you soon

You can watch this interview on Youtube here