1.12.21

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THE NEW ALBUM * POSH POP * IS OUT NOW

Listen to the songs on YOUTUBE and SPOTIFY

18.11.21

TOYAH IN
OK MAGAZINE
ISSUE 1315
22.11.2021

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8.11.21

TOYAH ON
ITV THIS MORNING
WITH PHILIP SCHOFIELD
AND HOLLY WILLOUGHBY
8.11.2021



PHILLIP: She first burst onto the music scene in the 80's. But 40 years on Toyah Willcox is going from punk princess to cabaret queen

HOLLY: She'll be treating fans to a spectacular evening of music, burlesque artists and award winning acrobats as she hits the stage at Proud Embankment

PHILLIP: Here to us all about it is Toyah and it's always lovely to see you

HOLLY: It’s lovely to see you

TOYAH: Good morning!

PHILLIP: So this is Cabaret All Stars, tickets available now. Part of the Proud Embankment, that's their latest show. And you say that this is tasteful but pushes the boundaries?

TOYAH:
It's very glamorous, it is certainly exotic and erotic. Very young performers, very beautiful boys and girls and so highly qualified at what they do. Trained by Cirque du Soleil, trained in Vegas, all from around the world. And they are defying gravity, defying death in some cases.

Some of the acts are so breathtakingly dangerous, but brilliantly done. I would say that the evening is definitely for 18 upwards. But I have not seen anything that I would not want my parents to see if they were around because it's a very friendly venue.

You walk in, it's a beautiful venue, you have a three course meal. You are looked after, the moment you get in, by really gorgeous young girls and fabulous waiters. And the performers is so funny. What they do is so empowering to women.

So you have women with fags in their mouth setting fire to the men. It’s like that, it's so empowering and you come away thinking they've made an incredible social comment about stereotypes. You have your wonderful drag performers, you have kind of gender fluid performers. Everything makes a very beautiful comment about today without preaching, and with great humour and incredible talent. 



PHILLIP: Well, you’ve sold it to me!

TOYAH: And then you get an old bag like me

HOLLY: Oh, stop that!

TOYAH: Singing the hits

PHILLIP: So your role is what?

TOYAH: I'm the MC and because I have a history of dressing up and I also have recent history of undressing on my social media. I'm very much in capturing that. I come out like the the battle ready hard Queen of Rock, kind of waving the flag.

I mean 42 years ago when I had pink hair I couldn't get a bus or a taxi and people were always trying to arrest me. And here I am in a room full of incredibly beautiful young people, hair all colours, covered in tattoos, and they're free to do that today. I find that incredibly emotional.

HOLLY: I bet you do and also for you who is touring constantly, but on your own, solo up there on stage, then be sharing the stage with all these people. It must just feel like a different experience?


TOYAH: It's a very different experience. There's one song I do “I Want To Be Free” with an amazing aerial artist called Katrina and I'm lying on the stage (below) looking up at her. And every time I've performed this song with her, I'm in tears, because she is such an extraordinary performer. She can do things with her body that you think would just break her.


It's beautiful, it's balletic, breathtaking and I do lie there thinking this couldn't have happened when I started in the business. A woman could not have done this. And it's a glorious, glorious feeling. And yes, I am on tour. I went straight from Proud Cabaret on Thursday to play two shows with my band in Halifax and to be back -

HOLLY: I bet that feels good

TOYAH:
Everything is just like embracing everyone and not wanting to let them go. And at the end of my band show on both shows in Halifax, the audience started to hold each other and slow dance with each other. And it's like this incredible celebration of being back.

HOLLY: Yeah, the audience needed it as much as you getting back out there performing, I imagine

TOYAH: Absolutely. Well, performers have to perform - which is why I ended up forming Toyah YouTube channel with my husband. We didn't think it would go viral and that Alice Cooper would be watching and Matt Damon and ZZ Top.

PHILLIP: It was massive!

TOYAH:
It was massive.

PHILLIP: And bonkers! 

 
TOYAH: It’s absolutely bonkers. It's had 40 million people pass through to watch what we do. 

HOLLY: We're just watching some of – (video of Toyah and Robert plays)

TOYAH: Oh, you found one that you could show. That is the very first one we did. When we posted that within five minutes we were getting messages from Australia, from the Philippines, from Hong Kong. People saying thank you -

PHILIP: We should say your husband, Robert - he's one of the world's foremost guitarists and of King Crimson, isn't it? He's an amazing musician and world renowned and there you are, and you say that you started doing that keep him occupied?

TOYAH: To keep him moving. As soon as lockdown started he disappeared into his office and was only coming out to eat and I thought we've got months of this. He's not going to be well. So I started to teach him to dance.

And I posted (a video of) us jiving and it instantly went viral within an hour. And he got very interested in this and the messages that were coming back with “thank you. I'm alone in an apartment. I'm so miserable. And you’re cheering me up” -

PHILLIP:
Well, there's one clip we can’t show. You're performing Metallica's “Enter Sandman” and you've got an see through top on on an exercise bike. We can't show it!


TOYAH: 40 million views … (they all laugh)


HOLLY: Did you realise it was going to have such an effect on people because you can see … everything


TOYAH: I know! I'm an actress so I don't I care about it. When you're on theatre you have to get changed in the wings. If you don't get a dressing room at a gig you just take everything off and say hard luck. If you don't get me a dressing room this is what you get! (Philip laughs) So I'm used to that.

What I didn't realise is when Alice Cooper sent a message, saying that it made him laugh his socks off and then Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin texted me and said that he was laughing his socks off. And then you start seeing people copying what you do.

I shaved my husband's hair before he went on tour to turn him into a road warrior. So I said my husband's going on tour. I need him to leave the house as a road warrior. Then Robbie Williams did, Matt Damon did it. Everyone was doing it!

PHILLIP: Who would’ve thought. I just love those things that came out of -

HOLLY: Well done -

PHILLIP: Just brilliant. Right then, tickets for Cabaret All Stars are available now. Sounds like a hell of a night.


TOYAH: It's a big hug and it's phenomenal. It’s Vegas in London.

PHILLIP: Beautiful. Thank you.

HOLLY: Thank you very much.

You can watch the interview here HERE


4.11.21

TOYAH ON
BBC RADIO SCOTLAND
WITH BILLY SLOAN
30.10.2021



BILLY: Toyah Willcox has made her career as a successful singer and actress, and one of her first big breaks on the big screen was when she appeared alongside Phil Daniels and Sting in the film “Quadrophenia”. So was she a fan of the 1973 album first, before being cast as “Monkey” and the movie version of Pete Townshend’s mod rock opera?

TOYAH: I was a fan of The Who. I've always been a fan of The Who. I didn't know “Quadrophenia” until I received the script from the production team. And then of course this opened up The Who for me even more, and the extraordinary writing abilities and talents of Pete Townshend. So I've always been attracted to Roger Daltrey’s voice, to the power, to the mod movement and the sheer the finesse of what The Who created has always been very attractive to me.

Unfortunately, my career started at a time in punk where punk was opposed to what The Who created, but the energy of “My Generation”  and all those songs was pure punk. And suddenly I found myself in “Quadrophenia” as an actress, and I was having to hide the fact that I was a punk rocker. But I always respected and love The Who because they were the original punks.

BILLY: How did you actually get the part?


TOYAH: Franc Roddam, the director, asked me to get John Lydon – Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols through a screen test for the part of “Jimmy”. So I went along to John Lydon’s flat and ran through the scenes and he was absolutely astonishing. Firstly, he was a gentleman, he was an absolute treat to be with. There was none of that kind of persona of Johnny Rotten. He worked incredibly hard. He knew his lines. Then he and I went to Shepperton Studios where we shot our screen tests. I was playing “Steph”, he was playing “Jimmy”.

Then I didn't hear another thing and I was making a movie with Katharine Hepburn at Lee Electrics in Wembley and the production office and “Quadrophenia” was next door. So I walked around the outside of the building and saw Franc Roddam in his office and I banged on the window, and I said “Frank, give me a part because I did this favour for you. Give me a part”. John Lydon by the way didn't get the role of “Jimmy” because no one would insure the film if he was in it because of his reputation in the Sex Pistols.

But I knew that Franc Roddam hadn't cast the role of “Monkey” and he called me in and Phil Daniels was in the office at the time with him and Franc said if I could perform the party scene with Phil Daniels, he'd consider me for “Monkey”. We did the scene there and then and I got the job.

BILLY: What kind of person was "Monkey"?


TOYAH: “Monkey” for me was the girl with the golden heart that didn't make good. “Monkey” was a drug dealer because she worked in a chemist and she was just slowly taking all the pills and selling them to her friends. And she wanted to be loved and she wanted to be the number one girl but of course she wasn't, “Steph” was the number one fantasy girl for every male in the film. And we all know who this character “Monkey” is. She's the one that is that girl in the gang, but it's the one with the golden heart.

BILLY: And there's a real ensemble cast because Leslie Ash (as "Steph"), as you mentioned earlier, there's also Sting as the “Ace Face.” The cast also included people like a very young Ray Winston, Michael Elphick, who was "Jimmy's" father, Kate Williams, who was "Jimmy's" mother, Timothy Spall. And of course, Phil Daniels. And it's not hard to almost imagine anybody else playing “Jimmy Cooper” other than Phil, isn't it?

TOYAH: Oh, Phil Daniels was absolutely perfect for the role. It's the most ultimate character I think he's ever created. He was so astonishing and breathtaking. And even today, as acting has evolved into a more naturalistic form, Phil Daniels was ahead of game. Its perfection and that's why the film is still as powerful as it is today.

And looking back with hindsight now, I think Phil deserved more accolades. He deserved more nominations. But the film wasn't critically well received at the time of its release. And then the audience took it in their hearts and the audience, a generation after generation, the audience has returned to “Quadrophenia”, making it an absolute classic of its time.

BILLY: The story of “Quadrophenia” is set in London and Brighton in 1964. And you had to be so accurate, recreating that time period in terms of the clothes and the haircuts and the locations and the scooters. How was that done?



TOYAH: Franc Roddam was a documentary maker before making “Quadrophenia”, an award winning documentary maker and he wanted “Quadrophenia” to feel like a documentary. So he encouraged us to go out and socialise with people who had lived through the mod movement and still had the lifestyle within their lives. So we were going out at weekends and partying with people who've been mods, with people who have been rockers, and they did not hold back on the culture. They really immersed us in it.

Also, we were in dance studios in Covent Garden for three hours a day learning the dance movements, which we enjoyed so much, because as I’ve discovered with all great musicians around the world, Sting - great musician, great songwriter - can not tell his left foot from his right foot. Boy, did we have so much fun with that! This beautiful "Adonis" who we spent so much time with couldn’t dance, and we were just drawing focus to it all the time. Wonderful, wonderful man.

Other things that we did, we had to learn to ride scooters, we had to learn how to repair scooters, how it is to fall off a scooter. We needed to know all of this. We needed to know the dangers that surrounded us as well as the joys that surrounded us. And we immersed ourselves in this for about three months before principal shooting started.

The incredible thing about the principal first stage shoot - we were shooting the riot scenes first and talk about a baptism of fire. We were in Brighton with 5000 extras shooting riot scenes (below) for 20 hour days. And that really bonded us as actors, because we had to protect each other, look out for each other, find food, find water, find toilets. I mean it was extraordinary. And then we made the rest of the movie, by which time we were a family. And we've remained family. We are one of the closest knit teams I have ever known in the whole of my career. And we remain that way.


BILLY: One of the other real pivotal scenes in the movie is the dancehall scene where Jimmy is trying to impress “Steph” and he jumps up onto the balcony and then leaps off into the crowd. That must have been an incredible scene to be involved in. Was it?

TOYAH: Yeah, I think we shot those in Southall, North London somewhere. It was really wonderful to do and Phil Daniels was completely committed to doing that jump. I mean it must have hurt like hell. I think the first jump he did was into boxes. I don't think there was a stunt person involved. I'm absolutely sure Phil Daniels did the jump in the dance hall sequence himself. It was incredibly good fun because we got to show off our dance prowess.

I was dancing mainly with the actor Phil Davies, who I just absolutely adore. It was lovely because within that sequence, all the characters were able to develop and signal to the audience who and what we were by the style of their dancing, which you don't normally get the chance to do in films and the mod dances were just gloriously precise. So all of us got a chance to shine in that sequence.

BILLY: During the production of the movie there was some sad news when we learned that Keith Moon had passed away. What impact did that have on both the actors and the film production?

TOYAH: All of the actors were looking forward to meeting Keith Moon. All of us we just couldn't wait. This man was a legend. He was a bad boy, a great drummer. He had attitude. He was everything all of us wanted to be. But the week before we started principal photography, he died.

So when I first met The Who and I was in a room with The Who, with the producers, with the rest of the cast for the first time - it was literally the day after Keith Moon died. And the decision was made that the film was going to continue. They did think about discontinuing the film.

And thank goodness it was kind of made in his honour and in his memory. But we were all brokenhearted that we were never going to get to meet this legend. And I think he would have been on site every day enjoying all of us and we'd have been enjoying him. And it was a huge loss. That potential was a massive, massive loss.


BILLY: You spoke earlier about the lasting affection for “Quadrophenia”. 42 years on - what do you think the legacy is of both the movie and the album?

TOYAH: I think the movie is an astonishing film and an astonishing achievement made with no compromise, with great heart. And I think young people who feel diswoned by society will always find themselves and their story in that movie. And that's incredibly important, especially at a time like this where young people have lost a year of their lives. I think the legacy of the music is great music never goes away.

Heritage music and music that was there first, that broke the mould first, that inspired many generations of musicians to come, is the music that will remain constant and “Quadrophenia” will remain constant. It's one of those albums along with my husband's album “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, with Sting’s and The Police albums - they're constant so “Quadrophenia” is up there with the greats.

BILLY: We're asking everybody who takes part in the programme to choose their favourite Who track and naturally you have gone for a song from “Quadrophenia”. Which one is it and why?


TOYAH: My favourite Who song is “Rain On Me” because of the actual passion. It's about a young soul facing the future, just wanting their own place in the world. There's anger in it. There's hope, there's determination and it's an absolutely beautiful composition musically. And that is the song that I would choose.

2.11.21

TOYAH IN
METRO 60 SECONDS
2.11.2021


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22.10.21

TOYAH ON
BBC RADIO 2
WITH RYLAN CLARK - NEAL
23.10.2021

RYLAN: I've got an absolute icon on the show  - it's the one and only Toyah! Hello gorgeous!

TOYAH: Hello wonderful! How are you?!

RYLAN: I'm really good. Toyah, do you know what, this is why you're such a legend - tell everyone where you are currently?

TOYAH: I am in the middle of the Atlantic on the "Britannia" doing shows because I open in Proud Cabaret (below) on the 4th of November at the Embassy Theatre (London). So we're running material on this ship so that when we open on the 4th I'm up and running on all cylinders

RYLAN: You're living your Jane McDonald life at moment aren't you?

TOYAH: I tell you what - it is such a privilege. We have so much fun on this boat. The audiences are great, the crew are great. After a year of not being able to do anything this is heaven.


RYLAN: Absolutely, I can imagine. I've never in my life been on a cruise ship but I reckon I'd have a lovely time


TOYAH:
Take your mum. You would both love it!

RYLAN: She'd end up overboard. Trust me, I'll give you two days, she would be straight over the edge.
Obviously you're going to be working at Proud but tell me about the new album?

TOYAH: The new album has been amazing. Lockdown ironically kept artists like me from travelling all the time, which meant that I could get on, write and record "Posh Pop".

It's been phenomenal. It went number one across the board. Written during lockdown. My wonderful husband Robert Fripp is performing on it. And my co-writer is Simon Darlow - he wrote "Slave To The Rhythm" for Grace Jones -

RYLAN: Oh my goodness!

TOYAH: Yeah, I know. We locked ourselves away in a studio and we just came up with this - really the best album of my entire career. I'm 63, it's taken a long time -

RYLAN: You ain't 63! You look 23! Leave it out, Toyah!

TOYAH: I love you!

RYLAN: So "Posh Pop", the new album, tell fans what to expect from it?

TOYAH: I think it's going to be a timeless album and I'm bigging it up, because I really believe in it. It's about us. It's about community, it's about love, and how we contact each other. It's very very up. I want people to dance. Songs like "Space Dance" which is about a spaceman trying to date in outer space - 


RYLAN: Of course it is!

TOYAH: Which is comparison to not being able to date in lockdown -

RYLAN: Tell me about it!

TOYAH: You've got songs like "Levitate", which just lifts you out of your home and into an open space when we weren't allowed to go out. It's a very passionate album. I'm touring it as well so when I'm not in Proud Cabaret I'm doing the "Posh Pop" tour so it's busy busy time, and I'm loving it. I'm making up for losing a year -

RYLAN: Absolutely and it's a proper euphoric album as well. We're going to play "Rhythm In My House" in a minute but it's proper uplifting, this album, and it's exactly what we want from Toyah

TOYAH: It's a big hug. It says that you, me, all of us are the same person. We've been through the same thing, and we value each other even more now. It's a big musical hug.


RYLAN: That's exactly what we want, babe. I'm so thrilled that you're well and living your best life in the middle of the Atlantic. I'm surprised the lines held up actually -

TOYAH: So am I!

RYLAN: Toyah, it's always the biggest pleasure to speak to you. The album "Posh Pop" is out now, go and get it. We love Toyah. We're going to play
"Rhythm In My House" now. Stay safe and stay well and I can't wait to see you on tour!

TOYAH: Thank you so much! Come to Proud Cabaret! You will love it! 


RYLAN: Oh, try and keep me away, Toyah! I'm going to be there - front row!

TOYAH: OK! Thank you so much!

RYLAN: Lots of love, Toyah! Safe travels! Bon voyage!

TOYAH: Bon voyage!
 
TOYAH ON
ROCKONTEURS
WITH GARY KEMP AND GUY PRATT
21.5.2021



TOYAH: Hello!

GARY: Oh hello!

TOYAH: I went to the wrong meeting!

GARY: Really? Who was there?

TOYAH: Nobody. And I was panicking.

GARY: Oh my God, you look fabulous!

TOYAH: I've been filming already.

GARY: Oh my God! It’s ten o’clock in the morning!

GUY: You've clearly come from the future or space or somewhere to give us some great advice, and save the world

TOYAH: Yeah! Stay in bed and don't wait for me.

GARY: I love the fact that you popped into someone else's Zoom

TOYAH: Looking like this!

GARY: I mean straight out of "Doctor Who", yeah.

TOYAH:
Neeno neeno neeno neeno

GUY: It's "Moonbase". "UFO"

TOYAH:
“Space : 1999”. I'm so sorry I'm late, I've been frantically going to every Zoom meeting I have today going “are you Gary Kemp?” (laughs) They’re like "fuck off!"

GARY: “God, you've aged!”

TOYAH: They’re like "what are you talking about?!"

GARY: And on half of them that was actually the code word to get in


GUY: Yeah, “are you Gary Kemp?”

GARY: You are still busy, aren't you? You've kept yourself so busy, lockdown was "you’ve had a good war" as people used to say

TOYAH:
Definitely. It's been a great year and I don't know about you, Gary, but I've been able to think. When you're travelling the whole time, you cannot actually gather your thoughts at any time. And this year, I've done a fabulous album which is out in August, and just managed to get my head together


GUY: The world has also seen a very different side of your husband

TOYAH:
That's the husband I married, and he's a great fan of my physicality - let's say . . . He was very very resistant to the whole idea about a year ago, until we started to get responses from around the world

GARY: When you say he was "resistant to the idea" I'm envisaging him sitting in some sort of artist studio with all his equipment set up, and you're going, “come on, we need to get on social media, dress in the weirdest stuff and do cover versions”

TOYAH: I'll tell you how it started. It wasn't quite like that because we're very normal people, and we don't really have grandiose studios, we go to other people's studios. I sent out a 32 second clip of me teaching him to jive. And you got to remember, this is one of the world's top 40 guitarists, who can play in the most incredible timings -

GARY: Top 10!

TOYAH: And as I taught him to jive I realised he was completely dyspraxic and couldn't tell his left from his right foot. So I put that out, and within an hour, we had about 100,000 replies from Manila. I showed him this, and I said I can't believe this. Most of these replies were saying "thank you for acknowledging that we're here". So we did another one the following week and it was all dance based, and the audience broadened and we suddenly realised that people needed to be acknowledged.

So, here we were in our kitchen just getting on growing our own vegetables, being very vegetarian with our lives, just wishing to be gigging again. And suddenly we had this stream of people that were really being lifted by the normality of our lives. So the thing that really turned it is we live on the river Avon near Stratford, and I said to my husband "would you wear a tutu and dance to Swan Lake?" He was really reluctant -

GARY: (sarcastically) Really?! Really?! (they laugh)

TOYAH: Next day, when we discovered it had hit the front page of the Italian mainstream newspapers he was furious, but he was more furious at the response and the response from the critics was how dare you behave like this in your mansion when people are suffering? So we we published the land plan of where we live, which proves that we're on a High Street with a chemist one side and a bank the other, and we said "could you explain where the mansion is, please?". We're normal people.

GARY: Suddenly the Italian drones are flying over your house -

TOYAH: We haven’t had that yet, but I think our normality and the creative ideas has been a winning recipe, and my husband has now completely embraced it, he's a different man. And I like to think that I've helped him rediscover who he was when he was about 16 or 17

GARY:
There is a level of artiness about what you do. There's an irony, there's a creative thing - it's witty but it's clever at the same time, and it's sort of suits who you were right from the start. With your theatre and that punk you were growing up


TOYAH: I don't think I could be anything different. I don't think there's any kind of female refinement in me whatsoever. This is who I am and what I am. We discovered today that our last video has got a ban on it, it's got a parental care on it, and we've been having huge discussions of where we overtipped the mark

GUY:
That’s because you’re pretty much naked in it, Toyah

TOYAH: Actually I am wearing a top -

GARY: Are you?! I looked at it last night -

GUY:
That’s what it is!


GARY: I thought it was just bodypaint

TOYAH:
It’s both. We've had this massive discussion today that people have the right to complain, and we respect that. But part of me really loves the fact that at 63 I've done that


GUY:
You're still doing it, you're still turning suburbia upside down. (Toyah cackles, they all laugh) You were doing all at the same time. I love the idea that you were doing the National Theatre, and being so punk. I've got something, and this is only from Wikipedia, it's not deep research, but that you lived in a warehouse where you slept in a secondhand French coffin (above). I mean that is the most punk thing I've ever heard in my life!


TOYAH:
It was very punk, but you've got to remember, Iggy Pop rehearsed in my warehouse, Steve Strange held parties that went on for four days -

GARY:
Toyah, I played in your warehouse. Spandau Ballet did their 3rd gig at that warehouse


TOYAH:
I know, and I didn't want to bring it up in case you had any kind of feeling of regret about it

GUY: What kind of regret? What would he regret? Is there anythng in specific?


GARY: No no no! I’ll tell you my story in a bit. Go on Toyah


TOYAH: Okay, this warehouse was huge. It was about half the size of a football pitch, and it didn't have a bathroom and it had one toilet. That was it. And we would have about 1000 people in there at any one time. It was not glamorous at all. And yes, I had a fibreglass coffin that was used by ambulances, because obviously at the warehouse was a morgue and a funeral director -

GARY:
Of course!


TOYAH:
I have admitted that we built most of the warehouse from climbing over the wall of this particular funeral director and stealing the wood for the coffins. They were lovely people, they became great friends, but I don't think they knew the extent of how much wood we took from them, and they gave me an unused coffin that became my bed

GUY: Where is this warehouse?

TOYAH: It’s gone now

GARY: Battersea, wasn’t it?

TOYAH: It was part of the Queenstown Road railway warehouses and there was protests when they took it down for development, that this was the “Mayhem”, where Iggy Pop rehearsed "The Passanger". John Cale rehearse there. Hazel O'Connor formulated the music to “Breaking Glass” there. So there were protests when they took the warehouse down

GARY: Just go back a bit. How did you end up having a warehouse?

TOYAH:
I had just left the National Theatre, and I was forming my first band, and I met a wonderful man, I think he was called Keith Hudson - I'm very bad on surnames. He traced the warehouse and he got me involved and we were creating it as an art centre. Eve, Ada, Ant's kind of secret wife, was living with us as well, and a wonderful NME journalist, and we were a lovely, lovely group of people who very quickly attracted the kind of art scene that didn't want censorship and didn't want council censorship on the amount of people that could go into a building.

We were completely underground, and when Iggy Pop rehearsed The Stooges, or whatever his band was at that time, in our warehouse no one could find where the noise was coming from, because no one knew the existence of the warehouse, they couldn't locate it. So in Battersea for about two months all you could hear was Iggy Pop rehearsing for his tour, and no one could locate where the sound was coming from

GUY:
Is that around the time that Bowie was working with him?


TOYAH:
Bowie was there as well

GUY: Did he come down to the studio?


TOYAH:
He did, but I was on a movie, so I only got to see these people really at the end of the shooting day, I think I was either on I was on (Derek Jarman's) “The Tempest” (above), “Quartermass” “Quadrophenia”. I can't quite remember but yeah, they were all there

GARY:
I want to trace who this girl / woman is that becomes that person who is at the centre of an avant-garde art in London at that period. But before that I have to say my memory of playing at “Mayhem”, which is the warehouse, was Chris Sullivan, the Welsh guy, he was very good friends with us, one of the Blitz Kids. I think it was his party that we were going to be playing. The evening was called “Crash Course For The Ravers”. I remember seeing the art flyer. And when we went there - there was no stage, was there?


TOYAH:
You were there in the early days - we did build a stage

GARY: So we were set up on the floor, and there was so many people there, there were New Romantics, it was skinheads, teds, punks, and the queue going up the stairs was ridiculous. You couldn't move in there. We then start to play and I remember this skinhead was standing about seven inches in front of me. Looking me right in the face. There was condensation dripping off the ceiling onto my amp and my guitar. I mean it was a mad mad experience and then the police came, and they were getting people out. It was just crazy crazy night . . .


TOYAH: You're right, Gary. This was an incredibly dangerous place for you to have been (they laugh)

GARY:
I don't think there are any photographs, which is a shame. I don’t think anyone could take a picture, they couldn’t get their cameras up


TOYAH:
There was no light. If people were there today and they had their phones, they'd be lighting the whole venue from their telephones, it was a remarkably underground experience

GUY:
What you just said - that makes the whole idea of an underground (scene) impossible because everything you do would be documented, recorded and sent out and everyone would see it and so the exclusivity is gone


TOYAH:
Absolutely and we had wonderful people there and I think on the night you were playing Gary, I remember seeing the kind of embryonic Boy George walking in

GARY: Yeah, George would have been there, absolutely. Melissa Caplan who did
-

TOYAH:
She did all of the clothes. Just literally in the room above me is my costume store with all of her clothes

GARY: She designed some stuff for us over the years. She was a Blitz Kid. I think she's a photographer now. And she went to Saint Martin’s (School of Art) and she was doing fashion design. I've got rid of all my stuff. I'm not as clever as you, I didn't keep anything, but my brother did find a Melissa Caplin outfit the other day and he tried to put it on it. There was so many pieces and panels and sections. There was a a bib. It was absolutely insane! He could not work it out. It needed to come with instructions.

TOYAH: What I love about Melissa's designs were they were modest for a woman to wear because she designed for Bananarama as well - she designed with a kind of exhibitionist modesty. Every part of you was covered yet you were covered in these glorious hand paintings that she put onto the cloth and these multi layers that were almost tribalistic. I absolutely adored it. I called her designs for the "urban tribesmen", because they said so much about world culture, yet at the same time you weren't selling your body in any way

GUY: How did found yourself there, Toyah? I mean you were very young


TOYAH: Mayhem? (above, on the steps to the warehouse)

GUY: Yeah. You come from, from Birmingham, right?

TOYAH: Yeah, I was spotted in Birmingham. I was very well known for being the weird kid who made her own clothes and dyed her hair. I was a hair model from the age of 14. So my hair was starting to be dyed around 1974 and it really was a bit of a shock for the centre of Birmingham. Some directors heard about me, the Bicat brothers. One writes music, one writes plays and they they found me

GARY:
Yeah because Nick did music for Philip Ridley's film “The Reflecting Skin”. And Philip wrote “The Krays”. I didn't know that.


TOYAH:
They cast me, after a series of auditions, for a two hander with Phil Daniels, who I later made “Quadrophenia” with. So when this half an hour play
called “Glitter” went out on BBC Two, Maximilian Schell, the German superstar film star was directing at the National Theatre. He was directing Kate Nelligan in Christopher Hampton’s “Tales From The Vienna Woods,” and they couldn't find a young actress to play a character called “Emma”.

I got a phone call the next day and within two days I had relocated to London and was at the National Theatre. I never looked back because the thing about the National Theatre is it connects you to everyone. Everyone who has a dream is in that theatre. I found my first songwriting partner Joel Bogen that way and we advertised through NME for musicians and we just started digging, digging, digging, digging and writing, writing, writing until we got signed

GUY:
I toured with Joel, I did a tour with him


TOYAH: Which band?

GUY: The Lover Speaks supporting the Eurythmics back I the day

TOYAH: Oh my God! How amazing!

GARY: Every single podcast we do Toyah, there is a band that he's played with (Guy chuckles)

TOYAH:
Wow! That must be wonderful because the Eurhythmics were just so -

GUY: It was brilliant. It was a great fun tour and it was all the arenas. We were doing like half an hour, and Joel was fantastic. Great fun, I loved it.

TOYAH: Oh good, good.

GARY: So you spoke about it as though it was because you had good hair that you became successful but how did you grow up and what made you this person that is so unique and different. Outspoken, punkish, arty. What was your background?

TOYAH: My background is Birmingham, all girls school. I was brought up believing that I wasn't great breeding stock. At my school if you weren't academic, they just didn't bother to push you. And I can remember the headmistress saying to my parents “don't worry, she'll have wonderful children”. That was like a scene from the “Alien” film for me. I just thought no, that's not for me. I ompletely rebelled and started running away from home. The school was  too scared to, I think, to expel me because it was a fee paying school.

Eventually this outward rebellion, which was me saying don’t tell me what I'm going to be - I'll make that decision, just started to signal to people that I was someone different. I was just being me, and I think there was a great naivety about everything I did back then, and a great deal of trust. When I ended up at the National Theatre they protected me very much because they realise that I virtually had no boundaries.

And when I started working with Derek Jarman, I was still at the National Theatre, and Derek realised I had no boundaries, and he built boundaries around me, and I really respect him for that. So when you ask where do I come from, I think to put it down into one sentence, I come from a background of no hope. And I believe that is what my audience see in me that I broke the barriers of no hope.


GUY: Which is the whole ethos of punk, isn't it? The whole idea of creating a future, which is the brilliant thing - creating a fantastic future from being told there isn't one

TOYAH:
There's always a future, there's always a solution. That's my message. Even today I'm asked by mothers to talk to daughters very briefly, you do it through these celebrity video avenues but they say “please can you just tell my daughter that there's a future". This is really important. Nothing is defined, everything is fluid and you can solve problems and I think life is about problem solving, about finding the path you want to take.

GARY: Your mother (Barbara, below with Toyah in 2011) was a dancer, wasn't she?

TOYAH:
Yeah, a staggeringly beautiful woman. We just shot a video where I'm holding a picture of her and the video is for a song on the new album which is about grief - believe it or not it's a dance song. She was so breathtakingly beautiful, and was a dancer from the age of 12. She got her first stage reviews at 12. She was living through World War Two, she was very traumatised by it. She was touring from 12 til she met my father at the age of 18, and she was opening for Max Wall -

GARY: Wow! We love Max Wall!

TOYAH:
My father could never get close to her because my mother had a chaperone. I've since found out why my mother was chaperoned. ancestry.com contacted me last Christmas and they asked to meet me face to face. They had to meet me because now lots of newspaper clippings are available for the mass public to discover anything in their history. They discovered something that they felt I needed to be in a room with counsellors before I found out -

GARY: Whoa!

TOYAH:
I didn't get on with my mum, we've fought like a cat and a mouse. We were chalk and cheese. They sat me down and they told me what happened to my mother, and I went home and wrote this song. My mother experienced something no human being should ever experience. It's beyond abuse, it's beyond. I'm not allowed to talk about it because contractually there's a documentary about it. All the pieces fell together on December the 3rd last year when Ancestry told me what happened to her. Basically she witnessed something, and because of her age she could not be the witness, and it saved a murderer’s life and it destroyed her. It utterly destroyed her, and she never returned from this experience, and in turn she psychologically really tried to destroy me.

She was a remarkable woman and when my father died I found her in the house cleaning when the ambulance took him to A&E. And I said "Mum, this is going to be your last moment to see dad". And I forced her into the car and took her to the resuscitation room. I saw my mother become who she was supposed to be in that moment because she resisted it for the whole of her life. I had two years with her before she died and she became the most remarkable human being I've ever known. In that two years you could see her life, the timing of her life, accelerating into that moment, and she caught up with herself and became who she should be.

I feel kind of rested in my being, that when she passed she was able to move on. When I found out this story I phoned the whole remaining family and I said "you're not going to believe this, it's utterly unbelievable" and suddenly my brother, sister and nephew understood why this woman was the most destructive force in our lives


GARY:
That must’ve been extraordinary for you because you grew having a very difficult relationship with your mum. That made you the woman that you have been for years and years and years



TOYAH: Definitely

GARY: Does that now make you look back and think "if I had known the truth I may have gone on a very different path"?


TOYAH: Absolutely! My mother needed therapy. She needed love, support, to be heard, to be seen. And she needed help. And none of us saw that.

GARY: Just go back into your theatre world. You worked with Phil Daniels, who's a good mate of mine and I that’s how grew up. I went to
Anna Scher (Children's Theatre)

TOYAH:
Did you?! Oh wow!

GARY:
The first band I was ever in was with Phil Daniels. There is a clip on YouTube of me and Phil singing when we're like 15 years old on a programme called “You Must Be Joking?”.


TOYAH: Yeah. Did you always play a pub called The Green Man?

GARY: Oh my word! Yes! Where was that? Well, this is later. Phil was in a band called Renoir, which I wasn't in and they played the Old Red Lion. If Guy does his “I played bass for that” -


GUY: I did actually get asked to join The Cross, Phil Daniels’ band which I wasn't interested in so yeah - you carry on (laughs)

GARY:
Phil was really an important part my life, introducing me to certain bands and music and then in the very early days people like Peter-Hugo Daley. It was the first time I ever jammed in a room, with Phil and Peter when I was about 12 of whatever it was


TOYAH: How wonderful!

GARY: I went to
Anna Scher and I could have gone off and just become an actor. I remember leaving at 16 and saying to Anna “no, I want to go into music, that's going to be my thing". I suppose we have to get into how you ended up in “Quadrophenia” because -


TOYAH: I will try and abbreviate it. Franc Roddam (above with Toyah and Leslie Ash in 2019), the director who up until that point had made award winning documentaries, was brought in by The Who’s management to take Bill
Curbishley's script, which Bill wrote from Peter Townsend's “Quadrophenia”, as the story of Bill's life, and brought Franc Roddam in to put it into camera. It’s a nitty gritty story, it's fabulous.

Franc Roddam wanted to direct “Quadrophenia” like a documentary and I think he successfully did that. Franc approached me to get Johnny Rotten - John Lydon of the Sex Pistols through a screen test at Shepperton Studios. So I met up with Johnny Rotten. We rehearsed two scenes. In the screen tests I was playing "Steph" and Johnny Rotten was playing what was to become “Jimmy”, Phil Daniels’ role

GARY: I never knew that. Did you know that, Guy? That Johnny Rotten -


GUY: I knew that had he been approached, I don't know how far it had got

TOYAH: Yes, and Johnny Rotten was absolutely breathtakingly great, I loved working with him. He was a charming gentleman, and even when we were rehearsing in his kitchen off the King's Road I think the whole of The Slits were unconscious on the floor in the lounge outside (Guy laughs). Johnny was just so absorbing and a wonderful, wonderful man and on camera he was breathtaking.

And the story evolved, because I never heard another thing since. I wasn't offered a job, and I never heard from Franc Roddam. The story evolved - the insurers and financiers would not be involved with the movie if Johnny Rotten was in it. When Franc Roddam told Johnny Rotten this his reply was, and I won't swear but he was swearing, Johnny Rotten says (does a nasal voice) “I don't want to play Pete Townsend anyway. It's a crap life”. It was just a brilliant response. So by this time I was making a movie with Katharine Hepburn and it's directed by George Cukor -

GARY: Wow! Sorry! Whoa whoa whoa! This is fantastic!

TOYAH: I did an audition where I was sent along to meet Katharine Hepburn and George Cukor, which you know - as actors we do auditions all the time. But when I turned up their apartment to Eaton Square in London I wore my National Theatre wig, which was brown, natural brown hair because underneath my hair was bright red. And I got the job.

I met this lovely elderly American couple who I knew nothing about and I got the job. And the next day I went back without the wig and George Cukor said to me when he saw my red hair do I want to take my hat off? (the guys laugh) When he discovered it was my hair he marched me to Katharine Hepburn and he said “Can you believe this woman's hair is red?!” Katherine stood up, and she just kept running her fingers through my hair and she said (does an American accent) “George, if only I could have been like this when I was her age!”

GARY: You have her DNA on you! (laughs)



TOYAH: Yes. Anyway, I was based at a film studio in Wembley called Lee Electrics, making this movie with Katharine Hepburn. When Franc Roddam moved the production office into the next room I kept turning up, and when Franc locked his door, I'd go around because he was on the ground floor and I'd stand outside the window and say “Franc! Give me a job!” I just shouted through the window I said “Franc! I did you a favour, give me a job!”

I heard off someone that he couldn't cast “Monkey”. He didn't know the kind of woman who should play “Monkey”, and apparently it was Roger Daltrey who said at the time that I was the spitting image of his sister. He loved his sister, his sister passed of cancer, thus the Teenage Cancer Trust. Franc called me in one day when Phil Daniels (above with Toyah, Mark Wingett and Trevor Laird at the 37th Anniversary of "Quadrophenia" reunion in London 19.5.2016) was in the office, and Franc said to me “if you can do this scene from “Quadrophenia” with Phil - the part is yours”. Well of course I'd worked with Phil! I knew Phil! So we did the scene and I got the job but I really had to push for it.

GUY: That is the greatest film about youth culture ever made.

TOYAH: It's absolutely stunning

GUY: It’s utterly timeless. It's fantastic. I've seen my friends kids watch it. It’s the eternal story.

TOYAH:
It's just one of those movies that I think is a cultural great, and it's never going to go away

GUY: I live in Brighton, and whenever anyone comes out I love to show them “Quadrophenia” alley, where Phil shags Leslie, and it's become literally like Abbey Road. They have to repaint it every six months. It's just covered with scooter club badges and Japanese fans come and scrawl their name all over it


TOYAH:
It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

GARY: Wasn't there sort of method style to the approach to the acting, didn’t you have to throw yourself into research?

TOYAH:
Yeah, I loved it. I remember it as being a three month research period but it might only have been a month. We had dancing lessons at that was Pineapple (Dance Studios) in Covent Garden.

GARY: Oh! I know this place! I still have the leg warmers (laughs)

TOYAH: But what was lovely is putting that iconic group of actors together in a room including Sting and teaching us the "Mashed Potato” and all those dances. We adored each other. We were a very bonded group of people, and we had a lovely time and then Franc suggested we should go off and spend our weekends with real mods and rockers, who by this time were a good 12 - 15 years older. And these old mods and rockers loved having us, my God they pushed the boat out! The things we got up to . . . we were having parties, we were trying the drugs -

GARY: Sting wasn’t there, surely?

TOYAH: Sting didn’t go to the parties because at this time The Police were just becoming enormous. And as we all know Sting is a very clean living man, but Sting would be at most of the rehearsals and most of the dance rehearsals. I don't think he braved the parties. I know at one party I ended up on the back of a motorbike with a rocker doing about 80 down a cul de sac, and I was thinking I'm not going to survive this. But again, the whole group of people and I think mainly thanks to Franc Roddam, were incredibly bonded. There was no splits, there was nothing. We were so dedicated to the project.

GARY: I think that's why it's such a good film, because you felt safe amongst each other when you started shooting.

TOYAH:
I’m not sure! We were just like . . .  how can I put it . . . there was a slight hedonism about us


GUY: My first ever band was called Speedball. They were from South End even though I'm a Londoner, and they were a mod revival band, and it was this whole mob revival scene which was a complete cul de sac. I'm annoyed - I should have been down the Blitz with him. (Gary laughs) But that literally came from all these kids who'd had jobs as extras on “Quadrophenia” and they got to learn about mod culture and everyone was "hang on a minute! This is amazing!" And so that's where that whole mod scene sprung up from -

TOYAH: And it's going strong -

GUY: I still live in Brighton, what are you going to do

TOYAH: Leslie Ash, myself and Gary Shail have just made a film called called “To Be Someone”. It's nothing to do with “Quadrophenia” but it's about mod gang culture and it's out in July. Directed by Ray Burdis -

GARY: Who produced “The Krays” -

TOYAH:
Yes. I thought I didn't want to mention it in case it was a different “Krays” because I know he made -

GARY: No, it’s the film he did.


TOYAH:
Brilliant. And the mods that we used when we shot this movie 18 months ago have all grown up in the “Quadrophenia” culture and “Quadrophenia” has made this mod movement very very possible today. And boy do they look gorgeous! They’ve refined it. There's so much colour in the designs and the designs are much more inventive, it's kind of almost like sci-fi mod to me when you look at the chroma key colours of the original 60’s. Today's mods very very brightly peacock coloured and they're all a wonderful, wonderful team of people.

GARY: So how does an actor - because that could have been it for you, you could have just carried on being -


GUY: Just credibility wise to manage to keep both those things going at such a revolutionary time is an extraordinary feat

TOYAH: It was very unusual at the time because firstly the acting world at that time - if you're an actor you could only do stage or you could only do film and you never did adverts and voiceovers -

GARY: We have similar career paths. I know that if you're an actor and a musician the people in the acting world think "well, you don't take it really seriously, do you chum? You're not 100% committed". I think musicians are often badly judged as actors because they feel like we're just messing around -

TOYAH: Or be a celebrity. Celebrity will never be accepted in the acting world -

GARY:
Theatre is the jazz of acting isn't? (they all laugh) I have to say I personally, as an actor, like doing theatre the most. We've got to keep onto the story but what's your preference?


TOYAH: I'm madly, madly in love with film to the point where I'm now getting involved with investing in film studios and looking at that, because I believe if we can't keep British film going where is the uniqueness of British culture? So I'm passionate about movies. I absolutely love it. I always end up inadvertently - when I'm in a movie - helping to produce it, and I do that for free because I want this baby to live and have a life.

So, going back to your question about being an actor 40 years ago . . . My agent when I was playing the Birmingham Odeon about 1981 with the Toyah Band and with Joel, my agent arrived at my parent’s house, because I visited my parents where I came from in Birmingham that night, and she said “you've got to give this up. You have got to give the music up, you are destroying an acting career by doing this”. It was because I turned down a two year contract at the Royal Shakespeare Company because I wanted to keep singing. I said to her “I'm 24. If I don't live this dream now I'll regret it forever”. And she just said “well, you're throwing your life away.”

GUY: This is straight out of a movie (puts on a 30’s movie voice) “but kid! You can’t do it!” (they laugh)

TOYAH: She was American! It was that! (Guy laughs)

GARY:
I get that because as an actor, you're only ever doing other people's dialogue, and you're being told how to perform that pretty much by a director. But what you were achieving as a musician, as a singer, was your own creativity



TOYAH: Gary, I'm very limited by my own creativity as much as I say I live a creative life and I'm creative and I’ll only do something if it allows me a creative force. I'm limited by my creativity because not many people have an unlimited genius so I'm stuck with being Toyah in this life. But I'm insisting that I develop, I grow, and I hone what I do. I'm in a slight juxtaposition, like I actually love it when a director hands me a script and says "learn these lines, keep these lines, develop the character". I love that.

But there's a part of me in the music field that cannot be someone else's puppet, and I've paid the price for that, because my taste, my creativity is off the wall. I would love to be able to go on the road with with Nile Rogers, I would love to be able to tour with Bananarama and have lots of lots of fun. But I built the path that I'm on, and it's a quirky path and I accept that and I live with it but I've limited myself, ironically, by being determined with my own creativity. Creativity is not something that is available to everyone in an equal quality. So I depend on people understanding what I am trying to say and understanding what I do, and accepting it and wanting to see it. There is limitations in that.

GUY: That's why it's very interesting to hear that because what you do have is a rare - naming no names - what is interesting is there's a lot a lot of great musical artists who've tried to act, who are terrible. For the simple reason that they -


GARY: (jokingly) How dare you!

GUY: Yeah – naming no names! No, obviously not you, I wouldn't be saying it would I? But because the idea of taking direction and saying someone else's lines - they can't do it. They have to create their own characters.

TOYAH:
Wow! I went to a very small stage school in Birmingham and I just was taught a very strict discipline. And this was way before anyone knew who I was, I was 14, and the discipline was learn your lines, turn up on time, do what you're told. So I think this is why I did so well with Katharine Hepburn and George Cukor on the movie “The Corn Is Green”. George Cukor discovered James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and directed Judy Garland in “The Star Is Born”. So the three rules, turn up on time, know your lines, and do what you're told. I had that ingrained in me and -

GARY: At
Anna Scher it was "there’s two P's - punctuality and professionalism".

TOYAH: You can not get that out of your system. And if you're making a movie, anything that loses time costs money. And I think I've always appreciated that, and I've just absolutely adored the travelling circus nature of making a movie, because the anchor point that you pivot around is that script, and you just honour it -

GUY: It’s the same family thing as a tour, isn’t it - as being in a band

TOYAH: I find touring quite stressful, partly because as a singer, you're using your voice so much. You're doing the press, you're meeting the fans, you’re doing the show. 40 years ago there were amps on stage which you had to raise your voice over. I always found touring very very stressful.

GUY:
You had that whole early 80’s period and you did two live albums. You were a very powerful big live band and a hell of a band! Simon Phillips, Phil Spalding. And Joel! That’s a posh band!


TOYAH:
And then Nigel Glockler and Adrien Lee. They were a wonderful wonderful band, and very, very creative. I don't know about you, Gary, whether you experienced this, but one of the toughest things I found about that time was the day had 48 hours in it for the singer. So we'd get up at four in the morning, get to the airport, fly to Belgium, do a show for two hours that evening and then at about midnight I was taken to a restaurant. I have not eaten that day and I do three hours press while the band had a meal -

GARY: How you kept your voice through all of that  . . . because it's so nerve racking. I'm really interested in how that music developed though because what you were doing when I walked down into the Blitz in 1978 or whatever Rusty Egan's playing this German synthesised music. It was quite a shock for me, I'd never heard that stuff before. If you listen back to what you're doing and there's obviously elements of Siouxsie that's in there and what ended up being Goth rock. Joy Division. You're using a lot of synthesisers as well. How did this arrive in your life and how did you end up making those records?

TOYAH:
We were very excited about the development of the synthesiser. And we never got into that political argument that the synthesiser was robbing people of work, ie. orchestras. We loved the technology we loved the escapism of the sound  -

GARY: Who were you're listening to?

TOYAH: Kraftwerk. Devo. We were also listening to Pere Ubu, industrial rock. Our influences were very, very broad. Early Human League, Martyn Ware. Just absolutely astonishing. Julian Cope, astonishing. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark broke new territory as well. We loved the synthesiser and I loved how the synthesiser embraced the voice, it kind of hugged the voice for me more than guitar did


GARY: But you were ahead of the game, working with a synthesiser. You were doing it before anyone

TOYAH: I like to think so and I like to think I was ahead of even when Joel (above, behind Toyah, 1982) and I wrote, and when we put our teams together we weren't really listening to the people you think we'd be listening to. I never for one moment - and I mean this respectfully - was inspired by Siouxsie Sioux other than it was rare to have a woman around because there were very few women around then. When we wrote we wrote in a bubble, and we tried to be completely original, and certainly never plagiarise or steal. There was utter respect for the uniqueness of what we did - there was respect for other artists as well. We loved experimentation and we certainly adored the new evolving culture of the keyboard.

GARY: Also, the way you looked and danced. Obviously you knew Melissa, you're hanging out with that lot but I remember your first appearance on “Top Of The Pops” and you just had this extraordinary angular presentation, didn't you?

TOYAH: Melissa Caplan - everything she did was had right angles in it. It was angular. Ironically, the first time I was on “Top Of The Pops” Melissa didn't get the costume to me on time, and I ended up wearing a Willie Brown dress. At the time  he was designing for David Bowie -

GARY: We wore a lot of that stuff

TOYAH: It was absolutely beautiful, and I think the dress was part of my success, because it took the angles away -

GARY: But that dance you did -

TOYAH:
It was very feminine and very Egyptian - probably not politically correct today - because I was culturally influenced by so many cultures outside of the UK

GUY: But but that's not appropriation if you're just doing your own thing. You weren’t avertly Egyptian (laughs)

TOYAH: There was an awful lot of hieroglyphics on my costumes (below). I do think twice now about what I do and how I do it, and I think I can find my own uniqueness without stealing from another culture - put it that way. At the moment I'm stealing from the future (the guys laugh)


GUY:
Yeah, the future called!


GARY: But also you were writing a lot yourself. Was there a problem - one of your hits that you didn't write, it was an early song that was successful?


TOYAH:
I wouldn't say it was a problem. When it was presented to me - it was written by Keith Hale from the Band Blood Donor, who were a synthesiser band. We were very keen in the development of the Toyah sound and the Toyah Band. Keith had this one song called “It's A Mystery” which was effectively about 12 minutes long, with something like a four to 11 minute intro. It was all intro. The record company said can we turn this into a single, they liked it, and Keith and I went into the studio with Nick Tauber I believe, and we turned it into the ABC format of writing so that's verse, bridge, chorus.

I wrote the second verse lyrics, and I really did feel that after having this three year career of being a very strong bombastic female in the music industry, one that never showed any weakness and never showed a kind of flirtatious femininity, that I was actually putting the last nail in the coffin of my singing career.

I did it. I compromised and I did this song, and I still felt incredibly uncomfortable when we were out on tour 1981 March, with the Toyah Band saying two huge student audiences in student union halls "this is my next single, it's “It's A Mystery”. Please forgive me.”

GARY:
But why? I don’t understand why that felt – is it because you compromised?


TOYAH: It was a very revealing, vulnerable, soft, commercial approach to something I'd always resisted and I felt - and a big thing back then was the politics of selling out. We never ever released more than two tracks off an album, if you went to three and four tracks, you were robbing the fans. This whole selling out thing was big back then. What I'm saying about “It's A Mystery” - it caught fire.

As a single it's sold so quickly that Safari Records were having problems booking vinyl into the factories to get the stock into the shops. There was this whole period of seven days where we employed about four people in white vans to go round the record shops, take their broken stock, and they delivered it to the factories so that we could maintain the sales to get "Top Of The Pops" and they did it. That song “It's A Mystery” has made my future possible, and I do recognise that. The only problem I have with it is I'm not recognised as having written on it, so I don't really earn from it.

And I just feel that my creativity and my contribution to it needs to be acknowledged, but I accept that. We live in a world where these things happen and we live in a world where artists claim writing credits and and they haven't written anything, so I do appreciate that

GUY: "Change a word - take a third"


GARY: I’ve never hear that before

GUY: It’s an LA thing


GARY:
I suppose the next question is did you feel always slightly compromised? Did you leave that person who just wanted to be the pure artist behind? Did you let that person go?


TOYAH:
I don't think I did. I think I fought it all the way and perhaps if I did let it go, I would have had a different career path. And I often blame myself for being strident, bombastic and opinionated. I often think because I didn't go and see other bands at the time I was living in a bubble, and a bit like Guy - should I come down to Blitz? I kept to who I was. But I think now, 40 years on, that is now working in my favour.

GUY:
You've never stopped. I don't know if this was a plan because it has never stopped. It has been a wonderful natural progression for you. You present, you act, you're everywhere. Does that just happen to you because you’re just naturally moving forward?


TOYAH:
I mainly do movies now, and I've got a new album called "Posh Pop” coming out, which I've written with my long term songwriting partner Simon Darlow. This has come from the success of “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen" that charted everywhere two years ago -

GUY: Brilliant title by the way -

GARY:
Yeah -


GUY: We get it! -

TOYAH: “Posh Pop” is me, Simon Darlow (below on the left with Toyah and Robert), my husband's playing on it as a session musician, not as a writer, and we're calling him Bobby Wilcox on it. I have just finished, two days ago, directing and shooting 10 videos for the entire album so it's going to be released as a CD, vinyl album, it will be available for streaming

GARY: That sounds hugely expensive. How did you make that work?

TOYAH:
I did it, I did everything. So the video album I've produced, directed, and financed, we shot and recorded everything in lockdown. And it has that kind of home magic about it, but it also has the recognition of we three artists were in this with you - speaking to the world. And for me, this might be my final album, it might be -


GARY: Why?! No!

GUY: (in a funny theatrical voice) The lady doth protest too much I feel!

TOYAH: And the reason being is I think it's the best career album to date for me. I think it's a beautiful finale. But the only reason I say this is my acting career is really taking off. I am in a movie called “Give Them Wings” which is winning awards for the film and giving me huge critical recognition in the industry even though, like most movies, it's not found its released platform yet. I cannot ignore this. I cannot ignore that really, really iconic people in LA, are contacting me

GARY: Congratulations. I have to say that, for me personally if I'm doing a theatre job, that's all consuming and I don't want to go back to music, this is all I ever want to do. I love hanging out in theatres with other actors and rehearsals and the process. And then of course when I'm back in music, I'm thinking I don't want to go anywhere else! I love music, what am I doing?!

TOYAH:
I have to say, Gary, if I had your music career and the people you work with and I know that you were out with Nick of Pink Floyd - did you see my husband at Pompei?

GARY: It was somewhere else with his League (Of Crafty Guitarists)

TOYAH: If I had your musical career and work with the people you've been able to work with, I'd be far more relaxed in my music career. I've always found that I'm always pushing the ceiling up, pushing the walls out. And to have reward and acceptance is a lovely, lovely thing and looking at your career and the people you've toured the world with I just think wow! I would certainly enjoy that process a lot.

GARY: A lot of our listeners who adore King Crimson I'm sure want to know the story about you guys getting together. I want to hear this. This is sort of the Prog “Hello” magazine. You’ve been together so many years. Did you meet through music?


TOYAH:
We met at the Nordoff Robins Music Therapy function at Intercontinental Hotel, just off Park Lane. (23.6.1983) It was the first time we met, and we met because Princess Michael of Kent (above with Toyah) grabbed my hand, grabbed Robert's hand, pulled us together for a photograph. What I didn't know was that photograph appeared in The Daily Express the next day and they'd edited Robert out of the photograph, and it was just me and Princess Michael of Kent with Robert's hand holding a champagne glass in the photo.

That photo was on my kitchen wall for another three years til I met Robert again at the Nordoff Robbins and Robert asked me to do a charity album for a children's school in Washington. And I said yes, and we were there for a week making the album and he proposed to me. He said "I just know. I know you're my wife". He said "I've been dreaming about this for three weeks, I know you're my wife. Will you marry me?" I said "well, can I get to know you?" We spent nine months of courtship and then we got married. We've been together for 35 years.

GARY: He is a legend, isn’t he? Congratulations.

GUY: When he proposed did he write you an 18 hour Frippertronics looped soundscape? (the guys cackle)

GARY: That’s what they went down the aisle to. They had to walk very slowly!

TOYAH: Actually I think he did do that! (Guy laughs)

GARY: We imagine you live an extraordinary creative arty existence in your house, in your mansion.

TOYAH: I wish!

GARY: Is he always practising?

TOYAH: The problem is if you write music that's in 18 seven timing you have practice every day. Yeah, he's always practising, and with “Posh Pop”, Simon Darlow and I we’d go into the studio, we’d create song, we’d build the song and then we’d get Robert in and we’d tell him the chord sequences and whoomf! He would just would play. Within an hour, he’d done his part.

GARY:
Because it’s four four, that’s why


TOYAH:
It’s four four

GUY: Doesn’t even register to him (laughs)

TOYAH:
He really enjoyed doing it. Is our house creative? It could be more creative -

GUY: Doesn’t sound it

TOYAH:
How can I put this? You can't put Robert in a pub for a happy time. You can't do that to him. People have to come to us, have a nice one on one meal and then go. He's a very solitary creature. I think the astonishing thing about lockdown is he's come out of that shell a bit more  -

GARY: Everyone is now like him.

TOYAH: Yes! I do have to manage his life.

GARY: It's so great talking to you -

GUY: Brilliant, this has been absolutely -

TOYAH: I’m so glad I found you! I was thinking, who am I supposed to be with a 10 o'clock today? My world is so mad. I got a call at one in the morning the night before saying "you start gigging in seven days". And I've been up all night, organising the band (on stage 2018, below) and the gigs and the travel thinking oh my God! I thought I wasn't going to gig this year!

GUY: You do the management as well?

TOYAH:
I do everything!


GARY:
What gigs? Where and how?


TOYAH: I was told that all contracts booked so far this year could not be honoured til the 21st of June. So, about 20 hours ago, one in the morning, I start getting text text text text text text text text “your gigs are on”. I was what?! What?! And they said everything you've moved to 2022 is now back on. And I’m up all night with the band going "how do we get to the Isle of Wight, how do we fly here?" And the thing is the gigs are on, and we cannot book any tickets for travel - I can't get to Scotland. I can't get my band Scotland -

GARY: Are they honoured with social distancing, is that what you mean?

TOYAH:
The inside venues were given the go ahead, that we could go into enclosed venues with Covid ruling. So this is me 20 hours ago, at one in the morning . . . aaarggghhh!!!!! (the guys laugh) My band were going "we can't get the Isle of Wight ferry, it's fully booked. How are we going to get to the next gig?" I couldn't get flights to Scotland because none exist. It's like this huge mess, this chaos of how are we got to get there? We need to honour contracts.

GUY:
It seems a bit unfair being asked to honour contracts. The gig is there but everything between you and the gig isn't


TOYAH:
Guy, these venues are desperate

GUY: Yeah, that’s fair enough. You’re a trooper.

TOYAH:
If they don’t go ahead they’re going to close forever. This is the artists problem at the moment.

GUY: Toyah, this has been so inspiring for me to listen to your passion and enthusiasm, storytelling. I'm honestlly filled with joy after this -

TOYAH: Thank you because most people think I'm bloody mad!

GUY: Well, that too . . . (Toyah laughs) (To Gary) Well, that was absolutely delightful, wasn’t it?

GARY: I'm so warmed with her enthusiasm and passion -

GUY: I can tell