16 April, 2019

TOYAH ON BBC RADIO DERBY
WITH STEVE JORDAN
28.3.2019



STEVE JORDAN: Good afternoon, Toyah Willcox!

TOYAH: (on the phone) Hello! How are you doing?

STEVE: I'm fine, as bubbly as I expected you to be when I knew that you were going to be on the programme today

TOYAH: Well, thank you! (Steve laughs) I do bubbly very well

STEVE: You see, for me, once again I'm speaking to somebody – I have a lot of your work in my loft in flight cases (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, I think it's time you go up into your loft and you get it all out again

STEVE: I need a record player to be able to do that. Why I've not got one one I've no idea - particularly doing the job I do

TOYAH: Vinyl is just the phenomena of today isn't it - because vinyl is selling more than every other product at the moment

STEVE: It's amazing that there is a generation right now that don't realise that that was the norm

TOYAH: Yes. But mind you if you've got all my vinyl up in your loft you are sitting on a fortune

STEVE: Is that right?

TOYAH: Yes, it's worth so much. One of the picture discs is worth about £500

STEVE: Oh, don't tell me that because I haven't got any picture discs and there would've been a time when I would've thought "shall I pay the extra £1 for a picture disc?" and I thought no, the money from my paper round will only go so far 



TOYAH: Awww! That's so sad! (Steve laughs) Well, you know I'm releasing a vinyl album on the 13th of April - Record Store Day. I have a bright pink limited edition vinyl of my new album coming out. “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”

STEVE: That was absolutely seamless, ten out of ten Toyah, for getting round to that (they both laugh)

TOYAH: I thought I'd better get that in when you still have some money in your pocket

STEVE: I have a copy in front of me now and that crimsony pink that you talk about now – that's such an eye catching album cover. Really good!

TOYAH: It's great, isn't it? The things they can do these days (Steve laughs)

STEVE: I mean it's – colour of course has been one your things down the years, we'll get round to that a little bit later on as I talk to you. But it's been a while but you've been out and about, you're touring, you've been playing live but this album is a labour of love, isn't it, because it's taken quite a while to put together - finally assemble every piece of it

TOYAH: Well, it kind of came together by accident. There's only two people on the album, myself an my co-writer Simon Darlow (below, with Toyah). People might not know Simon's name but he wrote “Slave To The Rhythm” for Grace Jones. So Simon and have been writing together, we're a songwriting team and we started writing when I was 19 and he was 17. 

So that was 1977 and about ten years ago we decided to start to write together again to see what would happen and our publishers just were over the moon. They said what we were delivering was just some of the best stuff they've ever heard. 

So my latest single “Sensational” was one of the first songs to be written and that was picked up by Weight Watchers, so people will have heard that but they don't know what is was but that was the campaign song for Weight Watchers TV campaign about five years ago

STEVE: Ah!

TOYAH: So this album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” has had a ten year journey and its been a phenomenal journey. Most of the songs have been in movies, the last song on the album “Our Hearts Still Beat” was the end song of a film called “In Extremis”. All of the songs have been used in a London musical called “Crime And Punishment”, which was out four years ago. 

And the fans – last year on my 60th birthday May the 18th – downloaded me to number one in the charts and the unprecedented thing about this is I was an unsigned artist

STEVE: Oh wow!



TOYAH: And for me to be able to talk to you now, to have radio play I need to become a signed artist and Demon Records picked up on this and this is now an official release and to show how in demand it is - when they announced it two weeks ago I went to number one across the board in all the download charts. 

So that's the chart that happens when it's not even a physical release. The physical release of the double CD is on the 12th of April and then this wonderful bright pink limited edition vinyl is the 13th of April

STEVE: That's actually staggering – I'm actually taken aback (laughs)

TOYAH: Well, so am I. We didn't expect it. I can not tell you how surprised we were. It was announced exactly two weeks ago and the record company within an hour were contacting me saying "we are utterly gobsmacked you are number one in every chart." And that's the download release

STEVE: You're not even properly released yet

TOYAH: Yes

STEVE: So how have your musical tastes changed down the years then, because obviously people of my age will remember you as I described you earlier on, very bubbly, very smiley but in a way a rebellious singer with kind of rebellious songs. Has age calmed you down?

TOYAH: No. I think my generation is always the punk generation, we're always rebels. We're the generation that forgot to grow old. But you asked me how have my musical tastes have changed and I'd actually say that they've kind of regressed. I'm so heavily appreciative of the Rolling Stones, of The Doors, of Tim Buckley, of Velvet Underground, Lou Reed. 

Probably more so now than ever before and in retrospect you realise what incredible songwriters these people were. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is probably my all time favourite album and it's taken to get today to see the mastery of those performers and those writers. So I'm probably very retrograde in my taste more so than ever before

STEVE: Funny you should say that, I'm like you, Simon & Garfunkel are one of those as well that at the time I just did not appreciate what is was that I was playing and there's another one, I had to rediscover “Rumours” (By Fleetwood Mac) all for myself because a friend played to me when I was 19, my dad played to me when I was about 7,8,9 and I didn't really take it in. You listen to it again when you've grown a little and ah, it's completely different! 



TOYAH: Yeah. It's phenomenal and I think when you're a bit older you just understand the journey they had to make to get that music out and it just makes it such a complete picture. Back in the 70's artists really were artists, they lived the life and they were almost in self-destruct mode. 

There's so many incredible stories about making this music from marriage breakups to relationship breakups to the band hating each other so much they can't even travel on the same plane and it just adds such a depth to the music

STEVE: I think the next part of the programme you're really going to enjoy because I'm going to play one of the songs you would like me to me play from this new album of yours

TOYAH: Oh, yes please!

STEVE: So which one can I play, Toyah?

TOYAH: Well, “Dance In The Hurricane” is being reviewed as the best song of my life. It's quite long, it has an intro with my husband Robert Fripp on it, which I wrote, he's not playing on the album, he has nothing to do with the album but he's the narrator that opens the album. 

It's a very personal song to me because while we were making the album I lost my parents and I feel you really grow up at that point but the song is about the fact that I believe we are still utterly connected to everyone in our lives no matter whether they're here or not

STEVE: From the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” this is “Dance In The Hurricane” from my guest today, Toyah Willcox

“Dance In The Hurricane” plays

STEVE: You mentioned earlier this amazing shocking pink crimson cover that you have to go with your album, which is, like I said, such an impressive album cover. You have of course been known down the years to be colourful and one of the things I didn't even need to look up, because I remembered from the back of mind, was your appearance on the Kenny Everett Show (below) many years go, where computer trickery got them to change your hair colour and Kenny couldn't keep up with what colour it was

TOYAH: I loved doing that show



STEVE: It looked one of those programmes where they get the camera crew laughing always - got me as a kid and I realised there's no studio audience but he's making his friends in the room laugh, this is great!

TOYAH: It was astonishing because I think things like that only happened in a America up until that point but Kenny was a very serious guy. You didn't really joke off camera. When he was setting up and rehearsing is was all very very natural, very normal but then the mayhem started as soon as the cameras rolled and everyone in the room would be hysterics

STEVE: And another BBC programme that I know you were really desperate as a youngster to get on and then finally did - was Top Of The Pops

TOYAH: Oh, heaven!

STEVE: The UK's premiere chart show. Can you remember -

TOYAH: Yeah!

STEVE: - The day you realised you're going to be on and then what actually happened that day?

TOYAH: It was with “It's A Mystery” and I really thought this song would not work. I thought it would be a complete flop. I remember I was lying in the bath in my apartment in Hendon in London about 7 at night and the phone rang. It was the record company and they said you're on Top Of The Pops tomorrow and I just – I was speechless, I was in shock (Steve chuckles) 

Because my family and I watched Top Of The Pops religiously every week and we watched it as a family and it was a very safe happy thing to experience. We never criticised the music, we never criticised the show, the show was part of our family, part of our community and here I was, I was about to go on it. I was overwhelmed with excitement

STEVE: I was in awe of it. Even as someone who is not a performer I wanted to be on it anyway even if I was stood right in the front of the audience

TOYAH: Yeah!

STEVE: I just wanted to be in the studio while it was on. It looked such fun to be a part of

TOYAH: Well, it was a long day. We'd arrive at 10.30 in the morning and we'd rehearse about five times on camera. Then you go to make-up around six, then you rehearse again before it went live on air and it usually went live round 7 or 7.30. Even after a day of solid rehearsals I can remember being utterly terrified in case something went wrong ... but it never did

STEVE: So all that bravado you showed as Toyah, the performer, you still had the nerves behind the make-up and the hair and the clothes?

TOYAH: Yeah, I was on with all these other artists which I was in awe of. I think the first time I was on I was on with Adam Ant, Human League and a few other obviously well known people … Midge Ure … I was so in awe of them I didn't know how to communicate with them. That level of success was very new to me. 

Up until that point I'd had five years of working in movies, doing the pub rock circuit. But you very rarely met famous people. I say that – I'd already made a film with Katherine Hepburn and Sir John Mills and Diana Dors but rock stars? I met very few rock stars until that point. And I was in awe



STEVE: And “Quadrophenia” of course and then – I was at a party once, it was my bosses party, I was at his house and his youngsters were in another room, this is about 22 years ago and all of a sudden this show that they were transfixed by was on and I'm thinking "is that Toyah's voice I can hear?" And it was. It was Teletubbies

TOYAH: That was amazing. I only did two lines -

STEVE: That's right -

TOYAH: “Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies come out to play” and then I closed it with “the sun is setting in the sky, Teletubbies say goodbye”. At the time that was released I was the presenter on BBC Holiday and I can remember being mobbed in Marbella. We couldn't film because parents were telling their children I was on Teletubbies. We just could not go anywhere, we were surrounded by hundreds of kids

STEVE: Gosh!

TOYAH: It's amazing that those two lines caused more hysteria (Steve laughs) in my life than anything else I've ever done

STEVE: That's amazing. Finally, tomorrow night you will be performing in Nottingham -

TOYAH: I know, I am, I can't wait! I'm at – can you remind me …

STEVE: Ravenshead -

TOYAH: And I believe it's the Town Hall. It's my acoustic show, which I do all year round and it's storytelling it's acoustic music. It's all the hits, we are going to be doing songs off the “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” but it's lot of fun. You might think that an acoustic show is quite sedate and tame and it's just storytelling and you can sit there and relax and enjoy … 

Well, in Otley last week we had a stage invasion (Steve laughs) Which took me by surprise. The audience went utterly crazy, they were off their seats, we started improvising the set and we had no security and they all ended up on stage so anything can happen at these shows

STEVE: Wow! And then later on in the summer you'll be at the Rock and Bike Fest, South Normanton?

TOYAH: Yes, that's the band, the full rock band, which is going to be fantastic and then I'm back in Nottingham to play the Rescue Rooms on the 26th of October - is to perform the album "In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” plus the hits

STEVE: And the album is out the 12th of April. Toyah Willcox, thank you for being my guest today on BBC Radio Derby 

TOYAH: Absolute pleasure!

STEVE: It's been such a thrill for me to have you on, thank you so much

TOYAH: Thank you Steve, you're very welcome


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