HOST: The new album on Safari Record called "The Blue Meaning". That’s “IEYA” by my next quest on Alternatives, Toyah

TOYAH: Hello

HOST: Toyah Willcox, hello. I've got to say Toyah is such an unlikely christian name but it’s for real?

TOYAH: Yeah, it’s my real name. It’s Red Indian. A lot of people think it’s Russian but it isn’t. I found out the other day it’s Red Indian and even Willcox is my real name. People don’t believe that either!

HOST: It’s an amazing combination. Toyah, you are in yourself an amazing combination of talents because you are a lady who is a … if I say punk I will almost certainly get an argument -

TOYAH: Get your head smashed in! (laughs)

HOST: Right, exactly! A new wave vocalist -


HOST: A Shakespearian actress -


HOST: Currently appearing in Derek Jarman’s film "The Tempest" playing "Miranda" (below)
TOYAH: Yeah. Well, I love both and if I didn’t do both I’d go insane with boredom. I like having all my time taken up. I like being totally confused and exhausted. I just love it

HOST: Looking at the film, playing "Miranda" in "The Tempest" - a modern version of The Tempest -

TOYAH: I don’t think it’s a modern version. I think it’s how it should me done. I hate it when I see “this is a punk version”. That’s a load of
codswallop. It’s an incredibly respectful version of "The Tempest"
HOST: Because  you were trained as an actress?

TOYAH: Sort of. You can’t train an actress. I was thought how to talk nicely and how to behave myself. But acting comes naturally - I believe anyway. I like mimicking other people. Most of my characters are from people I see at gigs, believe it or not

HOST: So who’s "Miranda" based on?

TOYAH: (laughs) That does come a lot from me. I’ve never played Shakespeare so I had to dig that character out from totally unused material. I wanted that character to come across as how I truly believed a Shakespeare female should be played

I just wanted to add some originality to "Miranda". I didn’t want to play her how she should be played traditionally. So I just sort of thought, right, that kid's been taken away from high breeding, shoved on an island with bare necessities

I wanted to make her very tribal with her instincts and having her instincts to the fore rather than an education suffocating her natural instincts

HOST: So basically gut reaction?

TOYAH: Yeah, totally. But in a way I wanted to have a naïve beauty around her as it were. A total cat like instinct of being naïve and knowing what she wanted but having a taste for beauty and luxury

HOST: You started out in Birmingham?


HOST: (does a Brummie accent) In Birmingham (Toyah laughs) at drama school. You went into television very quickly?

TOYAH: Yes. Lucky lucky break

HOST: Was this "Glitter"?

TOYAH: Yes, the whole of my career has been very lucky. I was spotted in Birmingham by this director who said “do you want to do a lead part in a play?” and of course I said “Yes, yes, yes”. I ended up singing in it as well and helping write two songs that I sung in it. That sort of started it off for me

I ended up at the National Theatre for nine months after that. That was really it, acting wise. Once you’ve been at the National you can drop that name anywhere and get work. And I got into films after the National

HOST: You did a film with Derek, “Jubilee” (as "Mad", above)?

TOYAH: Yes. I consider it the first punk musical movie. I know there’s a lot coming up now but I think Derek Jarman started all that and I’m very proud of being in "Jubilee". I’m very proud of working with Jarman on that movie

Because I think it’s more than a punk movie. I think there’s a lot of intelligent statements in it. But very quickly coming true much to anyone’s fear, all these riots are coming true

HOST: And also riots - "Quadrophenia" have got a few -

TOYAH: Oh, yes. I enjoyed "Quadrophenia" because that was using people that were real Mods because they love the Mod movement –

HOST: But second generation Mods?

TOYAH: Yes! I found them fascinating. The main bunch were a gang called The York Scooter Club. They’d been Mods for the past two years and they loved the music, they lived on their scooters, they had their own religion, everything. They were getting arrested every night after filming in drunken brawls. They were real characters and I studied them completely

HOST: But hang on a minute … is that the sort of thing you want to get across to general public? The idea that it is fabulous to get arrested every night and -

TOYAH: No! No, I don’t want to get arrested! I admire other people for it though!

HOST: (baffled) Why?!

TOYAH: It takes guts! I don’t want to spend a night in a police cell. I don’t want to spend the morning with a hangover. I just admire these guys who are out of work and enjoying life. I admire people who can enjoy life and not have hang-ups

HOST: Even though their lack of hang-ups are causing a lot of problems for rest of society who are in work?

TOYAH: No, they weren’t causing problems for society. They were giving policemen work and they were righting out a few greasers that were trying to mug people on the street

HOST: I’m not going to get into this - (Toyah laughs)

TOYAH: That’s what police are employed for, isn’t it?

HOST: Hopefully not only. Let us move to the music? You say you can’t teach acting. What about the music - did you study music? Did you learn music or is that something that just came from inside Ms Willcox?

TOYAH: No, music has been a sort of naïve ambition that I never thought I’d achieve because whenever I got up at school and tried to sing in front of people I used collapse on the floor with nerves. "Glitter" opened that up because I was shoved in front of these cameras, in front of a microphone and I knew I had to sing. I couldn’t back out of it as frightened as I was

It was just something that I desperately wanted to do so I got it together! At the National Theatre I met Joel Bogen who’s the lead guitarist. I said "look, I’ve got these songs, I want to put them down on tape and I cannot play an instrument but I have the actual vocals in my head and a tune in my head

And that’s how we did it. From then on I stuck with Bogen and we formed the band. It’s something I wanted to progress in a visual form as well as musical from. I’ve always believed that with music

You shouldn’t just get out on stage and stand there and sing and perform. You might as well listen to an LP if that’s what you want. I just believe that it should be all visual. It should be another from of entertainment

HOST: So you’re combining your talent as an actress?

TOYAH: Sort of. Not too consciously. I hate pretentious theatre rock. All this exploding stuff. I’d rather be the person that explodes! The person that lights up in a neon light. I’d rather it came from me than the special effects behind backstage, pulling the detonator as it were

HOST: You are part of a media image … part of the pseudo-punk thing, new wave - whatever you want to call it. Is that really you? (silence) Are you really happy with orange and cerise hair and the whole -

TOYAH: Yeah! Believe me I would not go through hell if I didn’t like doing it. The music business especially. I wouldn’t go through having my clothes ripped off on stage or little boys trying to pull your hair out if I didn’t like it

I do it because I believe in it. It’s progressing onto when I’m a 30 year old woman. It’s progressing to what I want to do when I’m thirty and I need to do it now

HOST: What do you want to do when you’re 30?

TOYAH: I want to do things more behind the scenes. I want to create images. I want to put down in a solid form. The images in my songs. I want to try directing, things like that. I don’t believe in directing until you’ve experienced what you’re going to be directing. I always have ambitions that are so far ahead and out of my reach that I have to keep going

My main ambition is to get of this planet and I know I never will till the day die. So it that keeps me going because there’s always the possibility. I don’t want to be content. I think contentment and being happy with what you’re doing means you’re not going to progress

HOST: Toyah Willcox, thank you very much for joining us

TOYAH: Thank you



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