14 April, 2019


 "Sensational" plays

DAVIE WHITE: That's “Sensational” from the new album – well, I say new album, actually it's a re-working of the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. Toyah's with us today. How are you?

TOYAH: (on the phone) I'm really good. It's kind of confusing that you have to say it's a re-working because for the majority of people who only remember me from the 1980's this is actually a brand new album. 

The music for this album started to be written in 2007 when “Sensational” - the latest single - was picked up by Weight Watchers for their campaign so the audience will be aware of the music but they won't know it was me. And then my writing partner and I, Simon Darlow - wrote “Slave To The Rhythm” for Grace Jones -

DAVID: Great track -

TOYAH: - So he's a very good songwriter. We carried on writing until we had an album's worth and we kept feeding it to the fans. So my fans who come to all of the shows are aware of this project. I turned 60 on May the 18th last year and the fans voted me number 1 in the download chart and I was unsigned. 

And it was madness because if I was signed I could've got radio play and everything so we spent 12 months getting signed to a label and we've added five brand new tracks. So there is a journey for this album but if you like the album it's a brand new album, the journey doesn't matter!

DAVID: (laughs) Exactly! Well, it kind of is and isn't because like you said you've got five new tracks on there anyway, haven't you?

TOYAH: And you're playing all new tracks today?

DAVID: Yes, I am indeed. “Sensational” - is it a new version of “Sensational” then?

TOYAH: What we've done with the whole album is we've added live drums, live bass and re-mixed and re-mastered so it's a very fresh sparkly sound

DAVID: Does it sound fresh to you because it is 11 years old essentially?

TOYAH: I would not use the word fresh – I think it's classic.

DAVID: Hmm ...

TOYAH: I think this is the best album of my career and “Dance In The Hurricne” is the one song I want to be remembered for

DAVID: Really?!

TOYAH: Absolutely

DAVID: I know we have artists on all the time and they say “my latest album is the best thing I've ever done” but do you genuinely believe that? Think about all the big singles -

TOYAH: Would I lie to you?

DAVID: Yes! Think of all the big singles you've had though, Toyah, seriously

TOYAH: Well, I definitely believe that living in the present is the healthiest way to live so I'm happiest now and I'm more content now but there is something about this album that it works as a whole. It's joyous, it's rebellious, it says to people that life is a journey and it's a good journey. 

And I want to say to everyone out there under the age of 60 that 60 is great and no one will ever tell you that but it's great. You have real fun. My generation, the punk generation, forgot to grow old (David laughs) and we still want live music, we still want to party and we still want to have our say

DAVID: 60 is the new 40, Toyah

TOYAH: No, 60 is the new teens

DAVID: Oh, is it really, is that what it is? (laughs)

TOYAH: C'mon, let's be extreme here (David laughs)

DAVID: Were you worried when you had the big zero birthday?

TOYAH: No, I wasn't. I've always – from 50 onwards I've really been proud of my age. 60 has always been a bit baffling because I feel more like a 20 year old than ever before but what was so lovely about turning sixty is you've been through a lot. All of us, when he hit 60, we've been through a lot and suddenly the reward for that starts landing in your lap. 

And what I mean by that is you've got life experience and I think it adds to your confidence, you've probably been through grief and a lot of this album addresses grief in a very positive way. I believe it makes us the people that we become. And you've just got so much to celebrate. So turning 60 was just a bit strange. I thought my goodness I'm still here, I'm still alive (David laughs) but I'm going to enjoy it

DAVID: Lets play “Sensational” and then we'll talk some more

TOYAH: Thank you

"Dance In The Hurricane" plays

DAVID: That was the song actually that Toyah said she wants to be remembered for - “Dance In The Hurricane”. It's the opening track on the album, you've actually already heard “Sensational”

“It's A Mystery ” plays

DAVID: Toyah Willcox is with us on the show today and she's got a – how do I introduce it Toyah, I'm still stuck!

TOYAH: New album!

DAVID: New album!

TOYAH: New album!

DAVID: New album! OK! “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”, new album which is available. You've heard the lead single from it, “Sensational”. We are going to talk about the old stuff a bit later on because we have to because I grew up with your stuff, early 80's and I remember watching you on late night TV but we might not go down that road today, Toyah ... (they both laugh)

TOYAH: That sounds so obscene ... (they both howl with laughter)

DAVID: Aaah! Anyway (Toyah laughs) ... We were talking about age earlier – you seem to be Benjamin Buttoning. You seem to be getting younger, the more pictures I see of you?

TOYAH: Well, I do work hard at it and it's very important in the career that I have that I have the energy and the optimism to do what I do. So yes, I have a very strict diet, non wheat, non dairy, I drink five litres a water a day which can be very anti-social, you know you can't sit on the bus for more than half an hour (David laughs) 

I don't really do late nights in the way of partying. I'm usually driving overnight from concert to concert. I really protect myself from things that cause stress so I have a healthy lifestyle

DAVID: Do you work out a lot or does the whole concert and the fact that you're on tour all the time – does that take it out of you?

TOYAH: 90 minutes on stage sorts me out

DAVID: You're still really active as far as playing shows go, aren't you?

TOYAH: Yeah, I do four shows a week, most weeks


TOYAH: The first part of the week is the acoustic show, which for me is quite a gentle fun experience and it's usually to a seated audience and then the band plays over the weekend and that's just a different beast. That's still very high energy and I play right through from my punk era to present day

DAVID: And you've got a big tour coming up this year to support the album?

TOYAH: Well, I'm on the road now, we're culminating with six shows that are “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” but we're working that material into the show now because we want to get to October and November and just be absolutely blindingly good at what we do (David laughs)

DAVID: Are you still very visual because when you first came out there was a lot of make-up and all that sort of stuff. Image was very important to you. Is that still the case?

TOYAH: Yeah, I think the artwork for “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” is the best artwork I've ever done and the video to “Sensational” - which you can access on Youtube, is absolutely beautiful and it's traditional Toyah. There's a definite image there

DAVID: Is this the new one ... it starts with you playing football, doesn't it?

TOYAH: That's it. We shot that a while ago and the whole premise of the song is telling children they inherit the earth. They inherit what we leave behind. And to be honest the Michael Jackson documentaries came out and I said no, we've got to put this in a different context - it has to be us sharing time and knowledge with the child so we put the football sequence in. 

And then I was happy with the video because we started the video with me just kind of face to face with the child saying “we are invincible” and I thought this is not the right time for that kind of shot. So the football has actually broadened out into how we can share and communicate through a game with a child an then we pass the knowledge on and that's what the orb is about. In the video we're holding a shining orb and that's the future

DAVID: I'm watching it right now. You seem to be wearing a tree ...

TOYAH: Yes, it's the fallen crown


TOYAH: So when you look at the tradition of the crown it's worn on the head and then you do have the tradition of the crown of thorns. The idea of what I'm wearing in the video is it's all twigs around my shoulders and we've called it the fallen crown. The meaning of that is if you live your life on a pedestal you can never become you. 

All you're dealing with is a need for attention and living up to expectation. You need to come off the pedestal thus I perform most of the video on my knees and that is when you become you, when you face reality

DAVID: There's some nice scenes with the three of you around the piano playing guitar

TOYAH: I love those scenes. The little boy is my co-writer's son, he's called Joe. He'd never been on camera before and we very much wanted a child in the video because this is so much about giving confidence and strength to children and his son said "I'd like to do it." He was brilliant!

DAVID: He's getting into it!

TOYAH: On the first take – he didn't know the song – we did one take and he's already learned the chorus. Such a brilliant boy!

DAVID: You're on tour throughout the year. Do you do festivals still?

TOYAH: Yeah, we've got a lot of festivals and they keep coming in. I was doing a radio interview before lunch and a promoter texted and offered me a festival live on air! (both laugh) It's gone crazy! It's really good. I've got a festival in Bali, I've got Belgium, Switzerland came in two days ago, I've got the Let's Rock festivals, I've got the Rewinds which I'm hosting. It's very very busy

DAVID: Let's talk about some of the older stuff for a moment because you mentioned Rewind. Are you an artist that embraces the older material as well, I take it?

TOYAH: Well, I would not be here today if it wasn't for that older material and a phenomena started around 2002. I was appearing in a play at the Soho Theatre and I literally got a fax delivered to my dressing room saying would you consider playing Wembley and I thought is this a joke? Would I consider it? (David laughs) I'd pay to do it! And that was the very first 1980's line-up tour and I haven't looked back since. 

People have very valuable memories to this music but also thanks to Youtube young people are discovering the music and making it their own and they're finding the music very relevant to today. They don't look on it as ancient, they're looking on it as something they love today. So I do not have a problem playing my hits 

DAVID: And not only that, the vinyl revival has helped all of that because people are now searching original vinyl

TOYAH: The vinyl revival has saved the record company industry. It's a phenomena. We had to pre-order the factory to do the vinyl of “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” last November. We had to book the factory because the backlog of vinyl needed is so vast. People want it. And you say people are now seeking out the original vinyl and it's become very very pricey

DAVID: I had the original 12” of “Thunder In The Mountains” ...

TOYAH: Have you still got it?

DAVID: I haven't, no

TOYAH: You've let go of about £500 there

DAVID: Thanks for that Toyah! That's really made me feel good (both laugh) I can't believe it! Best I can do is play it so can I play it now? Just to make me feel a little bit better?

TOYAH: Yeah! Go for it!

"Thunder In The Mountains" plays

DAVID: Toyah is with us. When was “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” first – 2008 wasn't it when it came out initially?

TOYAH: Yeah, we made it available to the fans track by track on download. Some of the songs like “21st Century Super Sister” was the outro song for a film I starred in called “The Power Of Three”, “Our Hearts Still Beat” was an outro for a film called “In Extremis”, which I cameo in, and then the whole original album, ten tracks was used for musical in London called “Crime And Punishment” four years ago

DAVID: Is “Latex Messiah” coming out again because that was the first song you released after a huge gap, wasn't it? 

TOYAH: It will only come out when the first three singles have had their lives so the first three singles are “Sensational”, “Dance In The Hurricane” and “Telepathic Lover” and if we are still going strong after that, Latex will come out again 

DAVID: Do you think – how serious are your fans?

TOYAH: I don't know. You have to ask them. You could try googling that question, I don't think I can answer it (David laughs)

DAVID: You must have some seriously addicted fans though, haven't you?

TOYAH: Well, I cross the board in age groups because of the acoustic show which sells out around the world which is a story telling show. It's just two acoustic guitars and me. It's so popular. It does tend to turn into a bit of a riot – we had a stage invasion in York the other day (David laughs)

DAVID: An acoustic show?

TOYAH: Yeah! (Davis laughs) I think I'm grasping many generations which is absolutely perfect and that really broadens my audience appeal so there are a few really loyal people out there

DAVID: What do you prefer? Do you prefer to rock out?

TOYAH: I need to do both. The acoustic for me at my age is a very comfortable show. It's a big sing, I'm singing for 90 minutes in two acts. I just love it because harmonically you really discover the songs because they're laid bare. The band is just essential, it's absolutely essential and I learn so much by doing both shows and I'm still learning. I think you never arrive so I'm never going to drop one or the other

DAVID: When you look at releasing albums like you're doing now – are you looking at chart position or is that – do you leave that to the artists that are up and coming now?

TOYAH: Well, it's very interesting because this album has actually shocked everyone who's involved. When it was announced three weeks ago, the pre-order charts I went to number one across the board and that happened within a couple of hours and that kind of shocked me! We weren't expecting that and the vinyl I think sold out in an hour. 

So because the pre-order was so good it's pretty likely I'm going to have a chart placing on April the 12th when the double CD comes out and then the vinyl is out on the 13th of April. It's just taken us by surprise (David laughs) I've walked backwards into success!

DAVID: Yeah! (laughs) How are you going to feel about that then?

TOYAH: Well, I find it quietly terrifying because there's a responsibility that goes with it. I had an experience last year when I discovered - I screen tested for something not knowing what it was and I suddenly found out one of he biggest directors in the world watched the screen test and I actually fell on the floor and had a good weep. 

You don't expect things like that to happen when you're 60 years old and it's proven to me that anything can happen. If you hang in there anything can happen

DAVID: You've had quite a varied career if you look at it, not just music, lots of other stuff you've done as well?

TOYAH: Yeah, I like working, I find it very exciting. Ironically I think I'm very lucky that, let's say, one of the big superstar managers has never wanted to take me on because they don't know what to do with me which has left me alone to develop my own ideas and remain true to myself. So in a way my failure to be an international superstar has made it possible for me to be the star I am today. Does that make sense?

DAVID: Kind of, yeah

TOYAH: Those really really big megastars are basically manufactured. They're controlled. And even though they're very brilliant and very talented – they're contained. And nothing's contained me

DAVID: You can do whatever you like because -

TOYAH: Yeah -

DAVID: But even because of that or maybe because of that you still massive hits, you're still going strong, you've had a long career which you're saying maybe you would've not had if you'd been signed by one of the big names?

TOYAH: Well, I mean I would've been happy with either to be honest (David laughs) but I do think the reason I've been able to diversify is because no one has really wanted or bothered to contain the one thing

DAVID: OK. What's the big thing you want to happen in 2019?

TOYAH: Well, it's happening. I want this album to be seen and be heard and touch wood that's going quite well. I have always wanted to be part of a huge franchise of movies and to be able to sustain a character over many movies. 

I think that would've been ideal. I was friends with a wonderful actor called Michael Gough, who was the butler in the Batman films and he loved doing that and he realised the privilege of doing it. If that ever happened to me I'd be over the moon

DAVID: You're going to be in a super hero movie, is that what you're saying?

TOYAH: Well, I doubt I will be - I'm barely 5 feet tall (David laughs) but you know, that kind of thing which only happens to a few … I would absolutely love

DAVID: OK. What character would you play, Toyah?

TOYAH: I think I would make a very good version of Danger Mouse (David laughs)

DAVID: Shall we just hope the album goes well?

TOYAH: Yes! (they both cackle)

DAVID: Let's do that! It's been lovely to have you on the show, thank you ever so much for talking to us today, it's been really nice

TOYAH: A pleasure. And I love it when your voice goes lowwww …

DAVID: (in a really deep voice) Just for you. Are you coming to Cornwall any time soon? 

TOYAH: Well, I'm always hiding out in Newquay. In fact my last three points on my license were from Newquay. Thank you Newquay police!

DAVID: It's got to be the Newberry dipper, surely?

TOYAH: It's the roundabout coming into the main road, they call it a gateway speed thingy so it went from 40 to 30 and it was two in the morning and I was doing … 30 something ... But anyway, let's put that aside (David laughs) I did the speed course. I'm always in Newquay, it's where I go to write and I tweet a lot from Newquay. You can actually help me here -

DAVID: Go on -

TOYAH: There is a development opposite the Headland Hotel. It's called Blue something, a beautiful set of apartments and I know where I want to live, it's on the first floor, overlooking the bay and I've asked who ever lives there now if they'd like to move out and let me move in and had no response (David laughs) so can I say publicly on radio : if you are in that development and you want to sell your apartment could you let me know, please because I want to buy it

DAVID: Finders fee is 1%

TOYAH: That's fine

DAVID: Is that alright with you? 2% ... is fine? (laughs)


DAVID: Next time I see you tweeting from Cornwall I'm going to hassle you to get you in on my show, OK?

TOYAH: Yay! Where are you based?

DAVID: Truro, we're not very far away

TOYAH: OK, that's not too far

DAVID: You can come in. Just don't speed

TOYAH: Really? I thought I wasn't speeding! (David laughs) I wasn't deliberate!

DAVID: Alright, it's been lovely to have you on Toyah, thank you very much and good luck with the new album

TOYAH: Thank you, David, thank you!


Post a Comment

<< Home