STEVE JORDAN: Good afternoon, Toyah Willcox!

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

STEVE: I'm fine. You're 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: 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? 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. 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, 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”

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'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: Colour of course has been one your things down the years. It's been a while but you've been out and about, you're touring, you've been playing live. This album is a labour of love though, because it's taken quite a while to put together -

TOYAH: Well, it kind of came together by accident. There's only two people on the album, myself an my co-writer Simon Darlow. 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. 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. Our publishers just were over the moon. They said what we were delivering was just some of the best stuff they've ever heard

My latest single “Sensational” was one of the first songs to be written and that was picked up by Weight Watchers about five years. People will have heard that but they don't know it was me

This album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” has had a ten year 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

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

STEVE: Oh, wow!

TOYAH: For me to be able to talk to you now, to have radio play, I needed to become a signed artist. and Demon Records picked up on this and this is now an official release. 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: 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

And you're not even properly released yet
... Have your musical tastes changed down the years? Because obviously people of my age will remember you as very bubbly, very smiley but in a way a rebellious singer with 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

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. At the time I just did not appreciate certain artists like Fleetwood Mac. You listen to them again when you're older and ah, it's completely different! 

TOYAH: Yeah. It's phenomenal. 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 70s artists really were artists. They lived the life and they were almost in self-destruct mode

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

STEVE: I'm going to play one of the songs from this new album of yours

TOYAH: Oh, yes please!

STEVE: So which shall I play, Toyah?

TOYAH: “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. 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

“Dance In The Hurricane” plays

STEVE: The album has such an amazing impressive shocking pink crimson cover. You have been known to be colourful. I remember your appearance on the Kenny Everett Show, where computer trickery got them to change your hair colour and Kenny (below with Toyah 4.3.1982) couldn't keep up with what colour it was

TOYAH: I loved doing that show

STEVE: It looked like one of those programmes where the camera crew  was always laughing. There's no studio audience - he's making his friends in the room laugh!

It was astonishing because I think things like that only happened in a America up until that point. Kenny was a very serious guy. You didn't really joke off camera

When he was setting up and rehearsing is was all very natural and normal but then the mayhem started as soon as the cameras rolled and everyone in the room would be hysterics

STEVE: Another BBC programme you were really desperate as a youngster to get on and then finally did was Top Of The Pops

TOYAH: Oh, heaven!

STEVE: Can you remember 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 was speechless! I was in shock (Steve chuckles) 

Because my family and I watched Top Of The Pops religiously every week. 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 in the studio while it was on. It looked such fun to be a part of

TOYAH: 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. 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 with Adam Ant, the Human League and a few other obviously well known people like 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'd already made a film with Katharine Hepburn, Sir John Mills and Diana Dors but rock stars? I met very few rock stars until that point

And “Quadrophenia” of course and then "Teletubbies"

TOYAH: That was amazing. I only did two lines. “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's "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.
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 can't wait! I'm at Ravenshead  at the Town Hall. It's my acoustic show, which I do all year round. It's storytelling, it's acoustic music. It's all the hits, and we are going to be doing songs off the “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” as well. It's lot of fun. You might think that an acoustic show is quite sedate and tame and it's just storytelling. 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. 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 full rock band, which is going to be fantastic! Then I'm back in Nottingham to play the Rescue Rooms on the 26th of October. That will be 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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