JOEL KRUTT: Welcome Toyah Willcox. Welcome to WHUS, Storrs, Connecticut, pushing the envelope. What do you think of Connecticut so far?

TOYAH: I’ve been here for half an hour. I was driven here, it’s very pretty and it has lots of trees, thank goodness, having driven from New York Connecticut is paradise

JOEL: Compared to it’s a little different. A lot people who are listening may not be real familiar of who you are. They may just be starting to hear about who you are

TOYAH: Yeah, that’s understandable

JOEL: Your background, way back, late 70’s you starred in - you’ve had two career paths, maybe they were the same career path just -

TOYAH: No, they’re dual. Acting and singing very separate careers. Whenever I tried to merge them I think it’s been pretty catastrophic (snorts)

JOEL: When did that happen?

TOYAH: I was in the West End in London doing cabaret, playing "Sally Bowles" in "Cabaret" (below) and even though it was a success I didn’t feel it was what I was supposed to be doing. I prefer to keep both things very separate

JOEL: So no musical theatre particularly?

TOYAH: If I do musical theatre it will be when I’ve written my own musical projects, put it that way. Rather than this kind of traditional form of musical theatre. Music for me is … well, start at the beginning - music to me is the truest language we have on this planet. It’s the purest language

Therefore it’s very special to me. If I’m doing music it must represent what I am trying to say and I don’t mean that self-centeredly, I mean that more as a woman and talking from the universal body of the woman. So I don’t really want to bugger round with that language - am I allowed to say that?

JOEL: Sure

TOYAH: Oh, good. It’s my religion. Music is my religion

JOEL: It’s funny, that was something I picked as I was looking through lyrics and looking through themes, identity as a woman was very clear. In different ways - sometimes self-depreciating almost, sometimes humorous kind of way, sometimes very straight forward

TOYAH: That’s our roleplay. I think women are brought up to be kind of self–depreciating, stuff like that. What I’m looking for is to find a true female voice that isn’t formed on male opinions. I have to stress that doesn’t come from a woman who wants to alienate men, it comes from a woman who wants to complement a man and wants to be in harmony with men. I truly believe harmony is black and white, it’s left and right. They’re two different worlds, they’re two completely different opinions

I think a lot of women in rock music are being what the men expect of them. What I’ve done in my life I’ve always done what is not expected of me and it causes a lot of friction and a lot of trouble. But I think the glory of being a woman is that you are feminine and that femininity should be cosseted and you should be proud of it. It shouldn’t be roleplay

JOEL: Do you think that has anything to do with … problems with critics, with not being able to get over here and get your music played in the USA?

TOYAH: No, that’s bad management. I’ve had three managers in my careers. They’ve all worked on certain levels and been pretty disastrous on other levels. That is my mistake because I chose them, it’s my responsibility. All the time I was suppose to come here, politics got in the way. Let’s face it, I’ve made 13 albums, most of them gold if not platinum, why haven’t I been over here before?

That’s a political problem - I don’t personally think it’s got to do with creativity whatsoever because when people do come across my work they’re open minded and really take to it and understand it and identify with it so I view the reason of me not getting over here as fate perhaps not dealing me the right blow

I now feel as an artist I’m ready to be over here. I’m ready not to compromise. Ten years ago I was compromising everything and being a very unhappy woman so I think fate has actually been kind to me, in a backward sort of way

JOEL: What was the first album that was released over here?

TOYAH: I’ve got no idea …

JOEL: The only two that I know about are “Prostitute” from three years ago …


TOYAH: I think everything I’ve done has been on import …

JOEL: Right, somebody’s been able to get it from someplace


JOEL: But domestically released?

TOYAH: It must be “Prostitute”. They had a problem with it because of the name alone! (laughs)

JOEL: I was going to say - if politics were a problem and things they’d want to present you with for first time in the United States, first album - what do you have? Prostitute!

TOYAH: (laughs) Hey, let’s make life hard!

JOEL: It’s so easy to start with, yeah!

TOYAH: Yeah but the big irony there is, take the title away and you’ve got a very pure clean album

JOEL: It’s a fascinating album, it uses a lot of high tech things in a very human way

TOYAH: Yeah but let’s look at censorship. The only thing they’re censoring on that album is the title because everything on it - there’s no perverse sexual attitude on it, none of lyrics refer to bad sex to violence or anything. They refer to inner nature, they’re introspective. It’s just such a healthy album. The reason I gave it that title is because historically women are given a tough time, women are second class citizens

OK, they can raise children, they can raise a family, they can hold a family together but then can be beaten up, they can be murdered, they can represented as sex objects in the media world. But boy, they can’t voice their opinion, can they? (laughs) I think “Prostitute” is that kind of opinion. Here we are, let us voice it. We have incredible spiritual depth, let us explore it, let us live in a spiritual world. “Prostitute” is perhaps a little bit angry about those restrictions that been put upon us

JOEL: Any particular tracks on that you’re particularly akin to as the whole thing?

TOYAH: Another problem with it is, especially for radio play, it’s an conceptual album

JOEL: Right, it doesn’t have a straight cuts in it

TOYAH: It tells a story. But there’s particular moments like the title track which I love. “Ghosts Of The Universe” I love. The way I made it, I got this drummer Steve Sidelnyk and I said “I want 38 bars per four, then I want you to go 6 80” or something really obscure and then I edited it all together and improvised the vocals on top and put lots of sampled music on. I actually play guitar on it but my guitar playing leaves a lot to be desired … Just build a 3D sound picture through experimentation

JOEL: Originally back in the late 70s and early 80s you didn’t write your own music?

TOYAH: I beg your pardon!?

JOEL: OK, I’m sorry!

TOYAH: What I am basically is a lyricist and I do all the melody lines and the arrangements. But I always work with other musicians. "Prostitute" was the first time I didn’t work other musicians, I worked with a drummer and did all the writing

JOEL: Sorry …

TOYAH: No, don’t be sorry! Don’t be sorry

JOEL: And you have a new album -

TOYAH: “Ophelia’s Shadow” or the “Sunday” project?

JOEL: Let’s do “Ophelia’s Shadow” as we’re talking about your solo work first

TOYAH: Now, “Ophelia’s Shadow” to me … I utterly love it. To me it’s the height of commercialism. Everyone is saying it’s part of “Prostitute” which I don’t understand

JOEL: Doesn’t really sound like that all!

TOYAH: No, it doesn’t to me either. But in England they’re saying “oh, this is the follow up to “Prostitute”, is this is part of a trilogy” What trilogy? I’m not aware of this trilogy. So I think people just have to stick things in compartments

JOEL: I felt the tone of it sounded probably more like Sunday All Over The World because some to the guitarists on there, some of the tone …

TOYAH: Yeah, it’s a guitar album, it’s an introspective album again. I’m getting close to the female voice that my instincts are telling me is in me somewhere. As a lyricist it’s a very lyrical, poetic album. I wanted to work with guitarists, especially stick players because the stick instrument and the voice just go together brilliantly. The difference between “Ophelia” and Sunday is that in Sunday there's 4 equal individuals, “Ophelia” is governed by me. That gives it a very different atmosphere

JOEL: Do you find on some of the pieces … there’s actually spoken word verses, like “The Woman Who Had An Affair With Herself” starts out with an actual -

TOYAH: Quote

JOEL: - right. Where does your acting background … is that one of those places where -

TOYAH: I think where “Prostitute” comes in relationship here is “Prostitute” is based on the five minutes before I go stage, where you get an announcement “this is your five minute call to the stage, please, everybody” and it’s in that moment that the fear grasps you and you realise you are alive, because you feel you’re just about to be executed. You’re so aware of your body

With the quotation from "Hamlet" on “Ophelia’s Shadow” - Shakespeare’s brilliant irony was that when the plays were written, boys played the women’s roles, women weren’t allowed to play them. And when women were allowed to play them, they were prostitutes, they were social defectives. Makes me so angry! (laughs) British history! I took that quote because it’s Hamlet having wooed "Ophelia", he then denies his love and she goes mad and droned herself so it’s

"Get thee to a nunnery, you make me mad, you listen you amble, God gives you one face you wear another, you create masks.”

Come on, don’t we all create masks, Shakespeare? My "Ophelia" doesn’t basically drown herself, she uses the medium and metaphor of water to fulfill herself. Where as in "Hamlet" "Ophelia" takes her life in the water. So for me that’s the most powerful imagery on the whole album. I think the only cross-over with acting is I do work with imagery rather than from intellect and I use metaphors a lot

JOEL: That was one thing I had in my notes, which I’m not paying too much attention to (Toyah laughs), there’s no “ohh baby baby” songs. If people are considering that pop music ... it’s a far throw from what regular radio consumption is

TOYAH: I don’t know the role of “oh baby baby” lyrics, I don’t -

JOEL: That’s good!

TOYAH: I don’t know their substance or what role they play in peoples lives

JOEL: I think here they may well mean more than in other places for some reason, it’s a very cultural thing

TOYAH: Love is the most dangerous thing you can experience, you’re so vulnerable, your’re dangerous in love, at least I am! I’m so vulnerable I could break, I’m fighting to keep my sanity, I’m fighting to protect myself because love is a dangerous medium. To have “oh baby baby I love you” is like saying … it’s just banal. You’re looking in the face of sticking a needle in your veins, you’re looking down the barrel of a gun, you’re about to jump in front of that train or out of that building

That’s what love means to me, it’s potentially the most dangerous thing we have to face. If we don’t face it responsibility, we destroy it or we destroy ourselves. So therefore I approach my lyric writing with that form of responsibility and mentality that it must be explored and it must be articulated in a way that treats your fellows listeners in a way that they’ve got more than one brain cell (laughs)

JOEL: Good for you! I appreciate that personally. You wrote the lyrics for the Sunday All Over The World album ("Kneeling At The Shrine", 1991) as well


JOEL: Some of the themes, those same themes show up there as well. It’s interesting to hear Robert Fripp's music with different lyrics because the lyrics he’s had in the past have (Toyah laughs) never really approached any of those topics nor women at all really …

TOYAH: What’s interesting for me is the roles, sexual roles that our generation has programmed into us. Robert has been through the 1960s when there was sexual freedom and my time is ten years later where we were starting to clamp down a bit. So Robert’s perception of women as far as I’m conserned is that they give free love

My perception of women is that we don’t want children and if we do have children, we’re going to go to work and we’re going have a career and we’re not going to be sexually exploited. Robert and I came together and in love instantly but we’re such opposites and we’ve such problems relating to each other

I think our conflicts have made us very creative together. The conflicts come out in the lyrics. I won’t do his washing, I will not cook for him. He won’t tolerate this in me and it makes for fascinating conversations. And yet we’re so utterly in love and we can’t be separated

JOEL: It’s nice to be able to see past all the little stuff

TOYAH: Yeah! But the lyrics are the sexual conflict that we experience with each other because I’m madly possessive and madly angry and he is a bit more free wheeling than that and just thinks I’m an absolute lunatic. Those images for me, the image of the witch being burned in “Strange Girls” ... I was watching a program on English TV about the folklore of the werewolf and I thought my husband’s a werewolf, he tempts me in and says “hey little girl, I’ll protect you” when really that is a metaphor for the ball and chain in the man's wrist and ankles

I thought back to times in history when any woman who stepped out of line was either called a witch or a hag and got burned and the lyrics for “Strange Girls” came very quickly (laughs). Or the emotional intent was inside me

JOEL: Straight into that “If I Were A Man” - I thought that was interesting balance of the two ideas

TOYAH: "If I Were A Aan" was a hard one for me to accept on the album because I love the song and it’s just a bit too judgmental for me. I’ve learned over the past year that being judgmental is not a way of being creative. So that song represents in me something that is old hat. Yet men seem to like it and it is just saying if I was a man would you trust me? Simple as that

JOEL: How did the songs come together in this project?

TOYAH: We all met up in a rehearsal room and improvised

JOEL: Just put bits to together that worked … ?

TOYAH: Yep. I would usually go at the end of the day and write lyrics in the morning and come in the next day and say “hey, I’ve got this idea for this, let’s try that.” It was a true democracy without a hierarchy. We’ve all got quite extreme experiences in music so we call ourselves instructors rather than “I’ve got more experience in music therefore you do what I tell you.” We accept each other’s criticism honorably

JOEL: Going back a few years ago, in the 1987 interview you made a reference to - and this may well be what you’re doing now - of being called FrippFripp. Is that the logical extension?

TOYAH: The original Sunday All Over The World band was called FrippFripp because it was Mr and Mrs Fripp and we were touring Europe and the posters were saying “Robert Fripp” everywhere, they didn’t refer to a band and then some would say “Robert Fripp and Toyah Willcox”, and this just narked us because we really are a band

If you take one of the members away, one of the vital supports, it’s like a crutch is missing. You fall over. The way the music is structured, it four equal parts. So we thought we had to get ourselves a band name and it became Sunday All Over The World

JOEL: Did that come from the song or?

TOYAH: Yeah, came from the song. I wanted to call ourselves Strange Girls but they were a bit worried about that (both laugh)

JOEL: What do you call the band for short? Just Sunday?

TOYAH: Usually it’s initials SA … W

JOEL: If you can think of them (both say the initials at the same time and laugh) Yeah I can’t do them either! In terms of you TV and stage work, do we ever get to see any of it over here?

TOYAH: You’ve seen television over here, there was a film I did with Greta Sacchi and Laurence Olivier and Roger Rees called "The Ebony Tower" (above). That was shown over here twice. I did a film with Lorimar productions with Katharine Hepburn and George Cukor directing called "The Corn Is Green" that’s shown over here many times

But they’re very diverse film projects because I’ve got the art films I’ve done with Derek Jarman like "The Tempest" and "Jubilee" so I think unless you really want to see me you don’t notice I’m in these things. I did The Who film "Quadrophenia". I intend to do more films, I haven’t closed the door on that. But you can’t predict and you can’t plan with films

JOEL: Whenever opportunity comes that will benefit something that you want to do …

TOYAH: Yeah, what I’ve started to do in England now as a writer I’m writing a one woman show about Janis Joplin, which I start this year called “Strangers On Earth”. And Doris Lessing, touch wood, has given me permission - because she keeps withdrawing her permission for me to do “Memoirs Of A Survivor” as a one woman show

Both of these will have video and TV rights. I’m writing a film script which is a big project, a very big project and generally artistic reaction in England is this is my main work. That’s a film project for me to star in. Over the years I’ve realised rather than saying “oh I’m not happy, I’m not offered the right part” perhaps I should write the parts I want to play so I started doing that

JOEL: In relationship to the way music is promoted here, any plans to do any videos to throw on MTV or wherever they’re going to show?

TOYAH: You’ve probably heard this before from my husband - we’ve made both of these albums, well, “Ophelia”, “Prostitute” and Sunday All Over The World - were made with no support whatsoever. They were absolutely positively criticised, people were trying to stop us from working together. It’s all politics that are quite relevant because the fact is we felt so strongly that we should work together. The fact that we’re married is
irrelevant - these albums would have been made

We just went ahead and funded them as much as we could ourselves. So as for videos we totally depend on the reaction to these albums so that the next albums we do have a bigger back up. So far the response has been breathtakingly wonderful. We’ve proved ourselves right. Touch wood, again. As for videos we depend of this reaction, for touring we depend on Robert Fripp. I will tour tonight, I will gig in this room if that man will pick his guitar up

I’m ready to do it, he’s the one who’s hard to tie down. He wants to do King Crimson this year and next year. It has to be done, it’s a big project and he needs to get it done and out of his system and it will do him a lot of good. Perhaps after that he’ll tour Sunday

JOEL: That was a little problem with King Crimson - is that band picked out already or -

TOYAH: Well, with Robert what he tends to do is he’ll come to me and say “do you mind if I go and tour in two months time, I can’t tour without your permission” and I know damn well it’s already booked. This is how he works. He knew who the new King Crimson was twelve months ago. We’ll know when the album’s finished. But that makes him very interesting

JOEL: Oh yeah, just the way how people like myself, who followed his career for God knows how long. Being in high school and being able to see that thread and tying it through my own life … that you don’t necessarily see something go away. The Sunday band is excellent having listened to that many times now in preparation for this interview. Wonderful music and -

TOYAH: Very different attitudes in music. For Robert - if I’m repeating what he said, tell me to shut up, but he has three ongoing projects. The League Of Crafty Guitarists, Sunday All Over The World and King Crimson. And he intends neither of them ever to stop. They will always be ongoing

JOEL: I’m glad from a personal standpoint that you’re involved with it because this is something - you would’ve still been in England, your records would’ve still been over there, we would not have much of an opportunity to go and say “who’s Toyah Willcox?”. Granted, for you that may not be the best way to have to -


JOEL: Robert Fripp’s coat tails, which, I don’t mean to be … but there’s lots of people - you say Robert Fripp and they all go … ooohhh … I can appreciate that myself so …

TOYAH: It’s hard and also it’s hard for an audience to accept a married couple. There’s something about married couples that perhaps set young people’s teeth on edge. What we had in England was slightly the John Lennon/Yoko Ono syndrome, The Wife, The King, The Baddie and was blamed for all the negativities

But I just don’t believe that is real. I don’t hang to coat tails and I certainly don’t hold him back in anything he does. I’ve got projects of my own to get on with but the irony here is I’ve been aching an itching to work in America for 14 years. I can only think that great big capital G in the sky has thought that time isn’t right but perhaps it’s right now

JOEL: Well, we’re glad to have you here and we’re almost out of tape here so Toyah Willcox, thank you very much for being with us, this has been fun

TOYAH: Thank you


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