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JULIE: She’s a New Wave icon, an accomplished actress, an author, a speaker and a reality show star and of course a fabulous musician with 13 Top 40 singles in UK as well as 20 albums in her long career

She’s getting ready to start a tour called “From Sheep Farming to Anthem” to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her album “Anthem”. Please welcome Toyah Willcox. Hello, Toyah!

TOYAH: (On the phone) Hello, Julie! How are you?

JULIE: I’m fine! How are you today?

TOYAH: I’m really good! Here in England we’re still feeling really good about the royal wedding. The weather’s been fantastic so it’s quite a feelgood country at the moment

JULIE: Oh, that’s good! You watched it, didn’t you? It sounds like you really enjoyed it?

TOYAH: I spent seven hours watching! (laughs) I’m not usually a royal watcher but this was so special

JULIE: Did you have a gathering or did you watch it by yourself?

TOYAH: No, funnily enough I didn’t have a gathering. It was one the first days off I’ve had this year so I just stayed in bed

JULIE: Well, that’s the way to do it! Stay in bed and have a little breakfast or whatever …

TOYAH: And watch someone else’s wedding!

JULIE: How did it compare to your own?

TOYAH: It was far grander! My own (below, 16.5.1986) was quite eccentric because my husband, who’s Robert Fripp, the guitarist - he’s quite reclusive and I’m very well known in England and someone, a member of the press, cottoned on that we were getting married in secret so when we left the church they were there ready to take a photograph of us and my husband did a runner! He disappeared and I didn’t see him again till the reception!

JULIE: So you did your ceremony and he vanished?

TOYAH: He vanished! So the royal wedding was the perfect romantic - "the prince saves his young girl" - type of wedding. It was just unbelievable

JULIE: Yeah, there are people here that it was like a fairytale to them

TOYAH: Well, even people here who aren’t pro-royal and who are pro-marriage really saw it as something quite special and everyone entered into the spirit of it which I think made it even more magical

JULIE: What did you think of Beatrice’s hat?

TOYAH: I was looking at it this morning and it didn’t bother me at all because everyone in Westminster Abbey had this beautiful kind of English eccentricity about them. They all had quite strange hats on and I thought how wonderful that these new young royal blooded people are slightly eccentric. I thought it was glorious and it didn’t bother me at all. I don’t know Fergie - the mum - at all but I know her sister Jane

I’ve actually worked with Olivia Newton-John and for Jane for a hospital in Australia. They are an eccentric family! So it didn’t surprise at all and I think hats off to Beatrice, excuse the pun! She dared to show that to the world and I don’t think she deserves the ridicule. I actually think she deserves a big pat on the back for being individualistic

JULIA: That’s a good point! Did it remind you of any of the hats you’ve worn over the years?

TOYAH: I didn’t wear hats, I just had big hair!

JULIE: I’ve seen some newer pictures of you where you’ve got like a big headdress?
Oh, well in recent years I’ve had quite big headdresses on but 30 years ago I just had bright pink hair and it was massive! It was bigger than me! (Julie laughs) I’m not a very tall person but my hair would stand up about two feet! So I’m used that kind of expression

JULIE: You’ve always had fabulous hair. Did you cultivate your look already when you were in school still?

TOYAH: Oh, yes! I was your typical rebel in school. Pretty soft by today’s standards but I went to a religious all girl school. It was Church of England school, very strict. We weren’t allowed to talk to boys if we were in school uniform. I started dying my hair when I was about 14

I had blue hair and then I had yellow and green hair, then I moved onto pink, which is far more flattering. But I was doing it at a time when people weren’t really doing that. It was considered so outrageous that taxi’s wouldn’t pick me and take me home, bus drivers wouldn’t let me on the bus. People really had a problem with me

JULIE: So this is really before the onset of punk rock?

TOYAH: Oh, yes. This was about 1974

JULIE: Oh, my goodness!

TOYAH: Very early

JULIE: So you were definitely ahead of your time, ahead of the curve

TOYAH: I was ahead of my time and I was still in my early teens. I was 14 so people just couldn’t get a handle on it at all

JULIE: What did your family think about it?

TOYAH: My father - being a rebel himself, and a survivor of World War II - he was away for six years in the Navy so he’d seen anything and everything you could possibly see so he was quite accepting

My mother, who was a dancer, who retired to have a family, just couldn’t handle me at all. There was a time when I was sent away to live with a Hindu family, who took me under their wing and looked after me while my mother and I tried to sort our relationship out

They were fantastic. The mother of that family would lecture me and say I wasn’t to influence her daughters. Well, I mean the daughters were already influenced. There is a sense of freedom in England that no tradition can hold onto. Their daughters, who could’ve had arranged marriages, were just beyond saving (laughs). They were out there being worse than me! So it was it a very interesting period for me

JULIE: Were you already pursuing the music thing? Were you writing songs at that point?

TOYAH: I was writing poetry. Most of that poetry went onto an album called “Anthem”. But I’ve never really been a musician. I’m a lyricist primarily. I can sing melodies, I can sing a melody to someone and it can be a good complex melody but I can’t physically play it. So back then I was writing poetry and learning what I loved about a song. But I wasn’t really a musician

JULIE: Who do you consider your musical influences?

TOYAH: Well, back then it was Roxy Music, Alice Cooper - who I think is the sexiest man on the planet!

JULIE: Oh, my goodness!

TOYAH: (laughs) I know! Davie Bowie, huge influence! Bowie kept me sane. The middle glass girl in Birmingham in the early 70s - when really all I was being educated to do was to get married young and have children - was pretty frightening to me

When Bowie came along and he was so descriptive and so expressive it just gave me a sense of vocabulary I couldn’t find on my own. It gave me a lot of strength to just break away and move to London

JULIE: That’s terrific. I know he was a big influence on another singer I’m very fond of – Kate Bush has mentioned him as an influence

TOYAH: Kate comes and visits us here

JULIE: That’s wonderful! I wish you guys would do a project together. That would be phenomenal!

TOYAH: Well, is she asked (laughs) I’d fall through the floor! The thing with Kate is when she works, she works in an insular way with her team. She doesn’t like to be distracted by any other influences

And then we get to hear from her when she’s finished a project because she seeks kind of advice on who the best press are to talk to. Because she’s not a very public person –

JULIE: That’s the impression I get. She has a reputation, at least here, of being one of those people who doesn’t leave the house very much

TOYAH: That is a true representation but she comes to see me in shows and she likes my husband a lot. And she’s incredibly connected with the arts. She loves film and theatre. But she just doesn’t like being photographed so that’s where the privacy is

JULIE: Right. I can understand that. I don’t like being photographed either! Back to David Bowie - he’s another one who is very much ahead of the curve as far the crazy clothes and the crazy hair so that could’ve also been a big influence on you?

TOYAH: Oh, huge influence. The thing with Bowie is he never had a bad day. He never did an outfit where he went "oh, mistake!" Everything he did was a revelation and an epiphany. You’d just look at it and go "woohoo!!!"

You just felt so connected to the future. For me he never made mistakes in the 1970s. It was such a glorious decade for him. You never had to forgive him anything

JULIE: Right. His "Ziggy Stardust" hair is not dissimilar from a lot of the hair you had? Similar colour –

TOYAH: It is similar except I have better hair! (Julie laughs) It’s been around longer and it’s good healthy hair!

JULIE: In addition to your music you’re an amazingly accomplished actress. Unfortunately a lot of your stuff doesn’t make it here as far as the television and movies and stuff. I saw "Quadrophenia" and I saw you in "The Corn Is Green" with Katharine Hepburn (below)

TOYAH: Oh, my God!

JULIE: Which is fabulous film. Was that a television project?

TOYAH: It was by Lorelei productions in 1978. Katharine Hepburn and Geroge Cukor, the director, came over to England with Lorelei because they wanted to make "The Corn Is Green", which is a Welsh classic play, in Wales. They were looking for two new young stars, a boy and a girl. I auditioned with about 2000 young girls

Katharine Hepburn took to me immediately when I did the first audition. I wore a wig because I was working at England’s National Theatre and even though I was a punk rocker with bright red hair and having just been in a seminal punk movie with Derek Jarman called “Jubilee”, I wore a wig that made me look like a normal everyday person

So when I went to meet Katharine Hepburn the first time I wore this wig and she just took to me and I was called back the next day. I went back the next day without the wig. When George Cukor opened the door to me he asked me if I’d like to take my hat off! I said "it’s not my hat, it’s my hair!" (Julie laughs) 

He had this kind of look of “oh, what have I done!?” He took me to the lounge where Katharine Hepburn was on the sofa and he said "can you believe this girl’s hair, Katharine?" Katharine got up and ran her hands and fingers through my hair and she just said "I wish I could’ve done that when I was your age!"

We had these great conversations. When she started out in theatre in Washington DC she had terrible reviews about her manliness and her angular features and her discordant voice. Those reviews came at a time when her mother always used to come and see her in productions and the mother wanted her to leave the business. And it really badly affected Katharine Hepburn so her to meet someone like me, who was always challenging establishment - we got on like a house on fire!

JULIE: That’s terrific

TOYAH: I adored her

JULIE: Did you and Katharine Hepburn become buddies?

TOYAH: I wouldn’t say we became buddies. We were working together every single day for about six weeks. In that time we did eat together, we talked a lot, she’d always invite me to her dressing room in the morning when my make-up had been done and hers was being done. We’d just sit down and talk about what life was like for me as a young girl being a singer and what it was like for her as a young girl

I wouldn’t say that we were buddies because she was exactly like Kate Bush – phenomenally private. So once the filming had finished I never met her again. But she very kindly wrote about me rather brilliantly in two of her biographies, her autobiographies. So I kind of made an impression there, I suppose

JULIE: Do you find that a lot of people didn’t take your acting seriously back then?

TOYAH: No, it was the opposite because I was nominated for awards and I was nominated for best newcomer awards –

JULIE: So they didn’t take the music seriously?

TOYAH: They didn’t take the music seriously. Then suddenly - it was 1978 when I was working with Katharine Hepburn - and at that point I was the bright new young acting star being nominated for everything. Then four years later I suddenly was commanding audiences - well, my largest audience was 12 million!

JULIE: For a concert?

TOYAH: It was a live BBC broadcast concert on Christmas Eve 1981. So even though people always found me strange - the only comparison really is Lady Gaga - I commanded such huge audiences it made people take note, I suppose

JULIE: And it wasn’t similar to a lot of the music that was around back then except for the punk rock, which back then was never really accepted. Probably more so in England than over here. It was probably still more fringe over there – certainly that early on, so I think a lot of people didn’t quite get what you were doing

With the wonderful fabulous outfits and the music, that wasn’t necessarily always sing along or a dance kind of thing, it was much more artistic than that?

TOYAH: Well, they did get it because I was nominated the best singer in 1982 (below, The British Rock And Pop Awards,
The Lyceum, London 8.2.1982)

JULIE: Oh, that’s terrific!

TOYAH: Oh, yeah. I won a lot of awards. I was huge!

JULIE: I know that you are huge. I really don’t have a clear view of that because I grew up in the States

TOYAH: Well, there you go, yeah

JULIE: Yeah. Speaking of Lady Gaga – what do you think about her?

TOYAH: I think she’s amazing. Firstly she’s a great songwriter, she has a great voice. It’s so wonderful to see someone who is so fully fledged – the singer songwriter, musician. I’m a huge of fan of people like Tori Amos, and obviously Kate Bush and PJ Harvey and Goldfrapp

But for me what is so exceptional about Lady Gaga is you’ve got someone on a par with Elton John, who is just completely beautifully formed in her talent. I really enjoy everything she does

JULIE: That’s terrific. What do you think of the outfits?

TOYAH: Well, you know this is a really interesting one because as a woman of 53 I can see that she doesn’t need the outfits. Her character is so strong. When I was her age I didn’t believe in myself enough to not have pink hair and not dress outrageously

So as someone who’s twice her age looking at this remarkable talent I actually slightly prefer it when she dresses down a bit. But that’s purely because I see this exceptional human being. I think her outfits are great when they are those beautiful kind of science fiction moulded plastics. They’re my favourite, I love them

JULIE: Not so much the meat?

TOYAH: No, I didn’t get the meat one at all to be honest but I don’t think anyone did in England! (they both laugh)

JULIE: She is certainly huge over here. Is she that huge in England right now?

TOYAH: Massive! Everyone talks about Lady Gaga every day!

JULIE: Yeah, she’s a spectacle, that’s for sure. What else do you listen to? Well, you said you like Goldfrapp?

TOYAH: Love Goldfrapp. I’ve loved them since … is it (the album) "Felt Mountain"? (2000) The voice is just so extraordinary and again a beautiful writing technique. So a big, big fan. I mainly listen to women like Goldfrapp, Kate Bush. Is Tori Amos a big name in America?

JULIE: Yes, she is. She’s quite a big name. She has a huge excessive following

TOYAH: I’m pleased because I think she’s great. The critics here give her a really spiteful time. But that gives me strength because they give me spiteful time too!

JULIE: Do you think part of that is because she’s American? An ex-patriot?

TOYAH: That’s just racist, no one would stand up for that. I don’t know what it is. She just presses men’s buttons over here probably because she speaks out politically about women and has very strong opinions about politics which I think always riles men over here. A woman with a mind, what do you do with that? They prefer their women to be servile and horizontal

JULIE: She gets a bad rap from the men around here too

TOYAH: Does she?! Oh my God, I’m so surprised!

JULIE: It’s more women and gay men who love Tori –

TOYAH: Well, they’re the best!

JULIE: Do you have a similar experience there?

TOYAH: Yeah. I’m just writing a lyric now for a guy called Paul Masterson, who works with Boy George, so I’m totally in tune with my gay following!

JULIE: That’s great. Back to the acting thing. I read that you’re a big "Doctor Who" fan?

TOYAH: Huge "Doctor Who" fan! At one point KD Lang and myself were up to play the first female "Dr Who". That was the late 1980s, early 1990s

JULIE: I can’t picture KD Lang! (laughs)

I know! It’s an interesting one, isn’t it! I think she could do it brilliantly. But it didn’t happen and I remain eternally optimistic that one day I might get to be in this brilliant series

It’s huge over here and it always has been huge. When I was a child I used hide behind the sofa and watch it, extreme feelings of terror running through me. I was so scared of it. But now I just think it’s really magnificent

JULIE: It would be wonderful to get you a little guest starring shot –

TOYAH: Oh, I don’t want a little guest starring! I want the big job! I want to be the "Doctor!"

JULIE: That would be fabulous, definitely. It’s time for a woman to be "Doctor Who". I’m a “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl” fan and it was so lovely to see you appear on that show as her mum (above). Are there any more “Call Girl” appearances coming up?

TOYAH: I did the first series and then in the second series the family were in the first episode and then it went very young. It’s as if the executives said they only want people under 30 in the programme so the family do not appear again. In the second series it’s quite a funny scene (I'm in), it’s a nightmare scene but they’ve finished filming here now as well

JULIE: The current series has pretty much just started here and they gave her a teenage girl to hang around with. It’s like she’s too old now

TOYAH: Yeah, that’s when the family started to disappear. I was in on the readings for that series. You all sit around a table with the cast and you read through each episode and I was there when the young girl was introduced. You could see the writing on the wall! (laughs) "Right, OK, anyone over 30 can leave the room now" (laughs)

JULIE: (laughs) It’s such a shame. It’s very much that way here in the US too and you always hope that other countries would be a little more accepting

TOYAH: Well, the BBC here has had a lot of public arguments about the fact that they tend to get rid of women over 40. There’s been a lot of criticism and I think they’re trying to make a huge effort to reinstate women from each decade. They’re more interesting. I don’t watch anything if there is no one from my age group in it. I’m not interested. I think the BBC is trying to address it

JULIE: Right. Well, there is an older female character, I can’t remember her name, on "Dr Who", who has a lot of scenes. She’s semi his love interest I think

TOYAH: It’s not his –

JULIE: No, not his companion, there’s Alex (Ed. Kingston) something or other –

TOYAH: Oh, she’s wonderful!

JULIE: Yes, she’s on the show

TOYAH: She’s extraordinary! She as a person in real life can speak five languages and has diploma in ancient Greek. She’s just remarkable!

JULIE: And you’ve also done a lot of reality television?

TOYAH: Well, in England reality television is all there is to do! (laughs) I mean it’s ludicrous over here! Every other program is a reality program!

JULIE: It’s the same here and unfortunately it’s killing scripted television. You did “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!”?

TOYAH: Yeah, did that in 2003

JULIE: That’s a while ago. Where did they stick you?

TOYAH: We were in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the rain forest

JULIE: Did you enjoy it?

TOYAH: I can’t say I enjoyed it but it's one hell of a life experience. You were genuinely locked in the jungle. Do you have an American version of this?

JULIE: We did, I don’t think we do anymore but did for a while

TOYAH: They genuinely lock you in the jungle and starve you. So it’s quite an phenomenal experience

JULIE: It’s "Celebrity Survivor" –

TOYAH: "Celebrity Survivor". 17 million viewers in Great Britain so it’s big big show. It was absolutely fine, I have no regrets about doing it and I don’t feel it was life changing but it was exceptional

JULIE: Do you consider yourself an outdoor girl?

TOYAH: Yes, I am an outdoor girl, definitely. Bearing in mind that I’ve lived for 25 years with an indoor husband!

JULIE: (laughs) Somebody has to go out!

TOYAH: He is really reluctant to go out and if it’s raining he won’t even get out of bed. I love being outdoors

JULIE: If you hide in bed every time it rains in Britain, you’re not going to be out much! (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, that’s true!

JULIE: You mentioned Olivia Newton John, another woman I’ve been listening to my entire life. You did a walk to Beijing with her? ("Great Walk To Beijing", April 2008)

TOYAH: Yeah. That was four years ago. We were flown out of Beijing. There was Olivia Newton-John, Dannii Minogue and Jane Ferguson, who’s Princess Fergie’s sister. She was the main organiser. We were walking to raise money to build a cancer hospital in Australia

It was phenomenal. It was a great experience to go into the Mongolian desert, where the wall starts and just be walking desert day after day, day after day. The wall at that point is only mud and straw, it’s not a massive brick wall that you can see from outer space. It was a fabulous experience

JULIE: So it was basically a walk along the wall?

TOYAH: The idea was a walk along the wall but the wall was so big. We only had two weeks to do it in so we flew. We had five flights along the wall, right into deep China. Right up to old Tibet. As you probably know Olivia Newton-John is a Buddhist so we asked permission to be able to pray in some of the old Buddhist sights

The Chinese were incredibly friendly and hospitable and they allowed us to pray. They could’ve stopped us but they took and showed us Buddhist caves and things like that. They were fabulous to us

JULIE: Sounds like such an exciting experience. You never stop, do you? (laughs)

TOYAH: I don’t stop because life is short and as you get older time goes quicker, it speeds up! I’ve no interest in stopping, I don’t feel I’ve arrived anywhere. I have a permanent feeling of "well, if that was the journey, I don’t think I’ve arrived! What shall I do next?" It’s quite an odd feeling so it spurs me on

JULIE: Do you ever go on holiday?

TOYAH: No, I don’t but will next week. It’s my 25th wedding anniversary, it’s my husbands birthday –

JULIE: And your birthday-

TOYAH: And for the last six months we’ve been nursing my mother who has cancer and we’re having a week off. A week of respite. I have a home in France, we’re going there and the telephone will be turned off

JULIE: That’s wonderful. A little second honey moon action I guess?

TOYAH: Ah! We need it! It’s been a long hard slog so I’m looking forward to it

JULIE: After 25 years people are still saying it will never last, right?

TOYAH: Yeah, everyone’s still cynical!

JULIE: That’s so funny. It is a very unusual pairing, but why would you say that it’s not going to last. It’s cruel! And obviously it has stood the test of time

TOYAH: For me, as you say, the test of time is there and if people want to be cynical then that says more about them than it says about my relationship. So I tend to just ignore those kind of people anyway. They’ll move onto someone else to be spiteful to. I just don’t give them much time

JULIE: Right. I find very interesting that you were very big in England and Robert is very big here. Have you ever played in US at all?

TOYAH: No, I’m playing in September

JULIE: Is that the House of Blues gig?

TOYAH: Possibly, yes, there is that as well. My band The Humans (above, live in London 2011) are about to sign a contract with a record company based in New York

JULIE: Oh, wonderful!

TOYAH: I’m not allowed to say who it is yet. We will be touring in September

JULIE: Through the US?

TOYAH: East and West coast

JULIE: That’s wonderful! Maybe we can actually have you come in while you’re here?

TOYAH: It would be a pleasure!

JULIE: Awesome. It’s well overdue for you to play here –

TOYAH: Well, it’s about 30 years overdue!

JULIE: Yeah! You don’t have commercial name recognition but you do have huge following here -

TOYAH: Well, if I have only you it’s worth coming over!

JULIE: (laughs) I had mentioned you on Twitter and people I guess were doing searches on your name and found you and started listening to my show so there you are! People here who are very committed and who have been listening nearly as long as I have

TOYAH: Well, that’s fantastic because hopefully around September/October I’ll come over and do the Toyah concerts which is the first three albums

JULIE: Oh, wow! That’s wonderful!

TOYAH: And then we’ll do The Humans concerts as well. The Humans is myself, Bill Rieflin who’s been drumming in R.E.M for the last 7 years but he is a multi-instrumentalist so in The Humans he plays bass and keyboards

So basically The Humans is three people, there’s Chris Wong on bass, Bill on everything and me on vocals. We are going to come and tour our new album which is called "Sugar Rush"

JULIE: Right. And Robert is on the new album as well, right?

TOYAH: Robert is on the new album but Robert doesn’t tour anymore

JULIE: He doesn’t tour but he did play not too long ago in downtown New York, I think, just by himself?

TOYAH: Yes, doing “Soundscapes”. That was his last ever live appearance

JULIE: Really? You don’t think he’s ever going to do it again?

TOYAH: I’ve heard this about every two years (Julie laughs) in the last 25 years

JULIE: So he’s like The Rolling Stones – he has retired every couple of years?

TOYAH: Well, with The Humans he liked what we were doing so he turned up at the studio and joined in. So as long as you don’t hem him in and corner him and trap him he gets involved

JULIE: It needs to be his idea?

TOYAH: Yes. With us playing in America ... say we go down a storm ... he’ll be there!

JULIE: Right. You were in Estonia when you put that band together?

TOYAH: Yes, the President of Estonia phoned up Robert and asked Robert to play at his birthday party four years ago and Robert said no (Julie laughs) So I phoned up the embassy and said I’ll put a band together and write the music especially for the President and they said yes

They flew myself, Bill Rieflin and Chris Wong out to Estonia a week before the actual performances. We wrote 45 minutes of material, ended up touring Estonia to sold out venues and performed a private performance for the President. He loved it so much that we then flew straight to Seattle and recorded it all in Seattle. And released the album dedicated to Estonia

JULIE: How did you end up recording that in Seattle?

TOYAH: Because Bill lives in Seattle

JULIE: Oh, I see, OK. You've still got quite a following overseas. Do the "Angels and Demons" still hang around outside your shows?

TOYAH: The "Angels and Demons" have turned up at my last four shows because I’m performing those critical first three albums. So I was playing a venue in Birmingham, which is in the middle of England –

JULIE: And your home, right?

TOYAH: It’s my home town and I looked out over the audience and I recognised virtually 80% of the audience

JULIE: Wow! That’s fantastic! Are there some new young ones as well?

TOYAH: There’s a lot of new young ones. For some reason Florence and The Machine, Marina and The Diamonds and quite a few other people recently have named is as an influence and it’s brought in a very very young audience for me

JULIE: That’s terrific. How do you feel about the old material now?

TOYAH: It’s fun but I can see why it’s not mainstream! But it’s really great to perform live, it gives you something to think about. None of it is predictable. I learned to sing within a four bar structure. Until about ten years ago I used to sing cross bars and just improvise so to relearn this material and to perform it as it was is quite demanding in many ways. And the subject matter is quite bleak and gothic so it’s intriguing to perform it now

JULIE: You’re digging out some of your old outfits. Do they still fit?

TOYAH: Yes! They still fit. I’m digging them out for a show in the center of London at the Leicester Square Theatre -

JULIE: Yes, I’m hoping to come out to that one!

TOYAH: For that show I’m going to have full hair, full make up and costume changes -

JULIE: That’s definitely the one I need to see then!

TOYAH: It’s the one to be at

JULIE: Are there any songs from that time or any albums that make you cringe when you hear them now?

TOYAH: “Bird In Flight”, which is probably one of the most popular songs with all of the fans, makes me completely embarrassed

JULIE: That was one of the singles, right?


JULIE: Was it one of the "Four From Toyah" ones or –

TOYAH: No, it was single. I think it was a double A-side with “Tribal Look” about 1979. And it’s probably the worst lyric I’ve ever written!

JULIE: (laughs) So you won’t be doing that one?

TOYAH: Oh, we do it and they go mad!

JULIE: Right! That’s the hit and you’ve got to do it?


JULIE: What was the biggest hit you had in England? Was it "Danced"?

TOYAH: It was a song called “It’s A Mystery” –

JULIE: Oh, yes

TOYAH: Which went gold many times over. That was probably a biggie

JULIE: Just listening to your records not knowing what charted and what didn’t, I always thought that “I Want To Be Free” could’ve been a fabulous hit. Was it?

TOYAH: It was massive
(below, performance on Top Of The Pops 21.5.1981)

JULIE: I do that, that’s the one song of yours I see in karaoke -

TOYAH: Aha! SingStar have just licensed it off me so it’s going in all the karaoke machines 

JULIE: I do that on a regular basis and people are like "I don’t know that song! It’s really cool!"

TOYAH: Oh, brilliant! Well, that song was a huge hit virtually everywhere but America

JULIE: Does it frustrate you to have not really broken here?

TOYAH: Yes and no. I’ve never gone out and spent time and worked the market there. I’ve always been a bit of home bird being mainly based in England. It’s my own fault. Really I would love to be in America acting because I love your drama and I love your films a lot more than I do English stuff

But that’s because your drama is so broad and its spectrum I really think is fabulous. I still have enough energy to bring The Humans out there and make a go of it

JULIE: That’s going to be so exciting and you may hook up with some film people while you’re here. Certainly in LA

TOYAH: I’m going to try! (Julie laughs)

JULIE: I also know you played the Cavern Club (in Liverpool)?

TOYAH: Yes, about two months ago

JULIE: That must’ve been so exciting and there’s a brick with your name on it?

TOYAH: I was so honored because a lot of the time I just get ridiculed the whole time in this country. Partly ridiculed because I’m a household name, which is always a problem with people here. But I arrived at the Cavern and they said "would you come outside with us." These were the organisers

They took me to the Beatles museum where there is a wall of fame and they said "we want to present you with a brick in the wall." It's next to Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant and Robert Fripp. I was just so bowled over! It’s the first time I’ve been shown any respect as a musician in about 30 years! It really moved me and the concert itself was just mind blowing! It was a great day

JULIE: In a place with so much history

TOYAH: Ah! Just brilliant! Brilliant!

JULIE: You say they give you a hard time over there. Do you think that the English are resentful of success?

TOYAH: Success tends to be a problem for people in the long term here. They're just snobby. For instance The Humans played last year in London and Robert was guesting with us. The reviews said that this some of the most exciting stuff they've ever heard and that Robert’s playing at his best and writing at his best. This is The Humans ... Well, I wrote it!

JULIE: They just overlooked you entirely

TOYAH: They just overlook you

JULIE: Oh, my goodness!

TOYAH: And they overlook you deliberately and insult you

JULIE: Do you think a lot of that, even in this day and age, is sexism as well?

TOYAH: Probably a little bit. I mean I don’t think anyone would put their hands up and say "oh yeah - I’m sexist!" It’s just snobbery

JULIE: I know it’s really hard for female musicians. When I first got back to Kate Bush again, the “Kick Inside” album, I think she was 19 when that came out and she of course wrote all the songs. I had a friend of mine say "she didn’t write the songs, David Gilmore and one of those guys wrote the songs." I was like how can you say that?!

TOYAH: I know

JULIE: It’s hard to believe!

TOYAH: But Kate doesn’t get any ridicule, she’s just loved all the time

JULIE: Well, that’s good. I’m sorry that you don’t get that kind of respect. I certainly have a lot of respect for you

TOYAH: I do get it from my fans and that’s all that matters

JULIE: Yeah, it is. I know you’ve got quite a devout presence on Twitter. Are you fan of the social media thing?

TOYAH: You’re going to think I’m awful … I send the messages out, I pre-post them but I don’t do any social networking at all because I wouldn’t be able to write lyrics, I wouldn’t be able to write my books

I have to learn a phenomenal amount of music. I’ve just finished a Beatles compilation album with Chris Neil who is Celine Dion’s producer. I’ve just finished that this week

JULIE: You said you did two songs?

TOYAH: I did two songs solo and guested on another song

JULIE: With Kim Wilde, right?

TOYAH: Yeah, I’m just doing the backing vocals in the end. It’s a finale song on the album. Everyone on the album does the backing vocals in the end. But I couldn't work at the rate I work if I was socially networking. Just can’t do it

JULIE: And you do the occasional blog as well?

TOYAH: I do the blog. I send out the messages, and I help run the site but I can’t communicate with people 24 hours a day. I’m running an office from six in the morning till about 8 at night so I’ve got to be where I’m needed

JULIE: Do you feel it’s a good source of visibility these days?

TOYAH: Twitter is vital. If you want to walk up on the night (to a gig), you need a few hundred people walking up to a venue, you’ve got to be on Twitter and Facebook. That’s where music is happening now

JULIE: Right. Are you at liberty to say which Beatles songs you recorded?

TOYAH: I’m not allowed to say

JULIE: Do you know when that’s going to be coming out?

TOYAH: I hope very soon. It’s a fantastic album! It’s mainly well known singers in Europe but I think it will cross the Atlantic

JULIE: Just the fact that it’s Beatles, really …


JULIE: That gives you an instant market anyway

TOYAH: Absolutely

JULIE: And Kim Wilde is another fabulous English singer who’s had one hit here. She did “You Keep Me Hanging On”

TOYAH: Well, she’s had one hit more than me then! (Julie laughs)

JULIE: Well, maybe your time is coming. When does The Humans album come out?

TOYAH: September

JULIE: September. Oh, my goodness! It’s so far away!

TOYAH: Not that far away in terms of getting a release ready though

JULIE: Right. You’re getting ready to go to Seattle and work on that, right?
TOYAH: I’m in Seattle in two weeks filming a documentary for the Discovery Channel. That gives me chance to get things done with Bill. But it’s all mastered and finished and all ready to go anyway

JULIE: Right. Thank you so much for spending a little time with us. Happy anniversary to you and Robert. Happy birthday to both of you. Thank you so much, Toyah!

TOYAH: That’s a pleasure, Julie

JULIE: Thank you so much

TOYAH: Okey-doke



You can listen to the interview HERE


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