MARTYN LEE: It’s Absolute 80’s, it’s Martyn Lee here at the Rewind Festival joined by 80’s pop royalty, Toyah, thank you! (Toyah laughs) Thank you for spending the time with us!

TOYAH: Thank you!

MARTYN: My first question was going to be about your costume but you’ve answered that one, wow!

TOYAH: Yes, well, this is all original. I’m on the road at the moment. I’ve been on the road since February touring an album called “Anthem”.


TOYAH: Which in 1981 went triple platinum. And this is all original costumes. On the road I do about 6 to 7 costume changes during the show wearing original costumes. So back in the 1980’s I had all the hair, I had all the kind of weird outfits and stuff like that and kept it all.

MARTYN: May I touch it? (goes to feel the fabric and Toyah pretends to shy away) Is it – the costume, Toyah! C’mon! This is (touches the hairpiece (below)) – wow! Yes, that is perfect retro clothing.

TOYAH: It’s very very retro.

MARTYN: Have you been wearing this when you’ve been performing in the last 30 years or has it been in some sort of storage?

TOYAH: It’s all been storage – I only started wearing this this year because look at it! It has a contemporary feel.

MARTYN: It’s beautiful.

TOYAH: It’s beautiful but also you could imagine this on the John Galliano catwalk before he left the job. I just thought it works. It’s come round full circle, it works again. If I wore this in the 90’s I would’ve been booed off stage but somehow in 2011 people want it.

MARTYN: Well look, we’re at Rewind where the crowd here are in costumes - they’re going to love you coming out looking like this!
TOYAH: Yeah and what I thought was rather clever, I’m not in day-glo. Coz a lot of the audience are in day-glo which is mid 90’s.

MARTYN: You’ve got the sunnies, the day-glo sunnies.

TOYAH: I’m in early 1980’s - it’s very specific, it changed each year.

MARTYN: Now look, was this in your wardrobe or was it in some sort of lock-up you had to go to “now - what do I wear?”

TOYAH: I have a costume room in my house.

MARTYN: Fabulous!

TOYAH: Everything I’ve ever worn I keep. So I have a whole room with a few hundred costumes in.

MARTY: You had to hand pick just a few for the tour?

TOYAH: Yeah, well, when you imagine I play mainly rock clubs and I’m getting changed on the side of the stage (Martyn laughs) and I want to protect the costumes so I can’t really take everything on the road with me but I take enough to give people a really good show.

MARTYN: You are the busiest 80’s pop queen around. You’re still working as hard as ever before … you did the "Let’s Dance thing for Comic Relief" (below)?

TOYAH: Yes, gosh I did! I forgot about that!

MARTYN: You’re doing some more "Children In Need" stuff?

TOYAH: I just finished filming for "Children In Need". I’ve done "On The Antiques Trail" with Tony Blackburn, an hour special for "Children In Need". I was rubbish on it – Tony cheated all the way through it.

MARTYN: I would expect nothing less of Tony!

TOYAH: So that’s coming out in November. And I’ve been on the road the whole year. Doing festivals and doing the what I call the "Sheep Farming To Anthem" show, the first three albums. It’s been fantastic!

MARTYN: What’s it been like going back – playing those songs that existed once a time in your life and you’re rediscovering them almost in a way?

TOYAH: I do rediscover them because at the time I was writing them and performing them originally there was a lot of pressure.

MARTYN: Because you used to write very quickly? You had like a couple of hours – "right, I’ve got to write a song!"

TOYAH: We had two hours to get the song ready for the afternoon recording session and we had to have a new album every six months. I mean that is a ridiculous pressure! So I never really got time to appreciate what I was doing but now I can cherry pick from about 21 albums and I’m really really enjoying it.

And I’m singing songs that – I mean for instance “I Want To Be Free”, if you listen to the lyrics of that it’s completely reflecting what’s happened in the last month! I just think of my goodness, have we gone a full circle or am I writing about something that was due to happen!? It’s just so weird, so ironic. Lot of the lyrics have content in that have become more and more relevant as time’s gone on.

MARTYN: So you discover when you pick those songs you want to do on your tour - because the first time round there must’ve been outside pressures to "you’ve got to write hit records for the radio, you’ve got to perform these ones". Now you must be freer to go "I want to this and I want that, I want to pick these songs from my catalogue"?

TOYAH: Oh absolutely! I can pick any song I want to do. My main priority is that the audience gets songs that they know and love. The songs are really really good. The show has a beginning, a middle and an end like a film, like a story. So that the audience are taken on a journey and I do that visually with costumes as well. That’s really important to me.

But as a writer I enjoy writing now more than ever before. I’ve just got a single coming out with Paul Masterson called “Fallen”. Now Paul has written for Kylie, he’s worked with Prodigy, he’s worked basically work with everyone. 

And I wrote this song while I was in Seattle filming a documentary last month. We recorded with Progidy’s engineers about a month ago and it’s going out next week. And it is good, it’s really good. I enjoyed every minute of that, I didn’t have any sense of pressure whatsoever.

MARTYN: Is it one of those records that you can kind of make in your own home almost – a lot of musicians have facilities now -

TOYAH: I’ve written my last three albums on GarageBand on my computer.

MARTYN: Isn’t that amazing!?

TOYAH: I end up in a studio with musicians and a producer but all my writing I do on my laptop.

MARTYN: You’ve got Mac open, your GarageBand on? Wow! So you sound like you probably embrace the new technology. Are you Tweeting – are you on Facebook and all that?

TOYAH: I love new the technology. I own my own record company, I have two record labels actually. I have "Willow" with my co-writer Simon Darlow and I have "Vertical Species" which is my own personal record company. I run "Toyah Willcox.Ltd" which is multi-media. 

I have my own website "toyahwillcox.com", two L’s in Willcox … you’ll get some rap star in America (Martyn laughs) and I Twitter, "Toyah Willcox Official", I have "toyahwillcox TV" on Youtube. It’s fabulous!

MARTYN: You are multi – you are blogging as well, you –

TOYAH: I do blog, yes. But I absolutely love it! I have completely cleared out of my path everyone who goes to lunch on my name which I’ve never ever liked people doing.

MARTYN: Well, you are on the stage very soon so we’ll let you go. Have an amazing time. This (points to the outfit) is fabulous.

TOYAH: Thank you very much!

MARTYN: Thanks for talking to Absolute 80’s.

TOYAH: And hello to everyone at Absolute 80’s. Absolute pleasure!

You can watch the video of the interview HERE


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