13 April, 2019

TOYAH ON BBC RADIO GUERNSEY
WITH JOHN RANDALL
27.3.2019


JOHN RANDALL: We're going to be talking to the very lovely Paula Willcox very very shortly. Toyah! Sorry – I'm talking to somebody else! Toyah Willcox, who I've met before actually. I met Toyah on a … (somebody says something in the background) Oh OK! Thank you! She's here already! I was just about to ... Toyah! I was just about to play your track!

TOYAH (on the phone): I don't know who you mean – I'm Paula.

JOHN: You're Paula? Well, I'll call you Toyah if that's alright? (they both laugh) We have met actually, once. You were over in Guernsey and we were on a boat over to Sark -

TOYAH: That was just the most beautiful day! Oh, I love Sark!

JOHN: I know! What a great place

TOYAH: I think about it often – it was just so lovely

JOHN: Are you going to be coming back over?

TOYAH: Yeah, if I can find the time I would but it's so busy! I just adore all those islands. Am I allowed to say Jersey?

JOHN: You can say Jersey! No, it's fine, I love Jersey!

TOYAH: I absolutely adore being there. So special

JOHN: With the islands - they are so special and today there's not a cloud in the sky, it's blue sky -

TOYAH: Yeah yeah yeah ... (sarcastically)

JOHN: Rubbing it in now, aren't I? (they both laugh) Now in case you're wondering, celebrity – well, well and truly a celebrity guest in the 80's, 80's sensation, a new album out - “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. Tell me about it?



TOYAH: Well, it's been out there by the fans really. I was sixty last year on May the 18th and my fans downloaded me to number 1. The unusual thing about that is that I was at that time an unsigned artist. That led to me to having a record deal and re-imagining the album because it's been around for about ten years. 

Wrote five new songs for it. And it's now out and two weeks ago the fans did it again – they put me at number 1 across the board in the pre-order album charts. So they're determined they want this product

JOHN: I'm going to be playing - is it “Sensational”, Toyah?

TOYAH: Yes, it's “Sensational”, you are correct!

JOHN: I'm going to do that and I've also got anther one – I'm going to play two! Why not? It's the BBC – I can do what I like! You burst into the scene loud and proud in the 80's with things like “I Want To Be Free” and “It's A Mystery”. Are you still performing these tracks – are you touring and doing things like that? Mixing them in with the new one?

TOYAH: Yeah - are you kidding me?! For the last twenty years I've done about 150 shows every year …

JOHN: So why aren't you playing this show in Guernsey?

TOYAH: Well, you do need a promoter to say they will put it on and find the venue and sell the tickets. Believe it or not I can't do that as well. But I would be there at a drop of a pin because I just absolutely adore playing there are the audiences are always brilliant

JOHN: We've got a venue, trust me. We have a big venue -

TOYAH: Is that your sports hall?

JOHN: It is

TOYAH: I like that place. It's a great place to play

JOHN: I suppose -

TOYAH: Well, look, wait a minute – just put it out there. Invite me. We will come.

JOHN: And Alderney, another great island that would take you as well. It would be just great to get you over here. Again, why did you sort of decide to re-work the album?

TOYAH: Because simply the fans put it in the download charts and it just proved that it needed to be out there. And when we were signed to Demon Music - which was six months ago – they gave us a budget which meant we could put real drums on, we could re-mix it, we could go back in the studio and write five new tracks. So it just made it all possible because up until that point I had done everything myself. 

There's only two people on this album, it's myself and my long-term writing partner Simon Darlow, who wrote “Slave To The Rhythm” for Grace Jones so he's a really serious songwriter, and he plays all the instruments. We have had the time of our lives doing the album. It's a joyous album, it's empowering, it's about the audience, it's performed to the audience. And like all 80's artists, or artists who started in that era, we write our songs for stadiums



JOHN: And the tracks they explore sort of life, love, loss and wonderment, don't they?

TOYAH: And they could've only been written from the perspective of where I am today. “Dance In The Hurricane”, which is the song I want to be remembered for out of everything I have ever done, opens the album. I could've only written from learning to trust life again after the loss of my parents. 

And this is something that we all go through and it's something that we need to be told it's something that makes us who we are today. It made me an adult and it's not a bad thing 

JOHN: I lost my mother three years ago actually -

TOYAH: I'm very sorry to hear it ...

JOHN: Yeah …

TOYAH: You learn to live with the void. You learn about it. And this song is empowering people and saying that you learn to live with it and you become a better person

JOHN: Is there any sort of input from Robert in this? Mr Fripp?

TOYAH: No (John laughs) ... I have to say that because sadly everyone in the world thinks that because I'm married to Robert Fripp I can't do a thing without him leading me by a lead and a collar around my neck -

JOHN: Girlpower! C'mon! Thats it!

TOYAH: So (not impressed) ... The album is written completely by Simon and myself and the intro, which is Robert narrating the intro to “Hurricane” - I wrote. I have to state that because people will really think he's playing on the album, wrote the album and I'm doing it all for him. I'm afraid my relationship with anyone isn't like that so …

JOHN: Now, you didn't see much of each other in the early years of the marriage. How did you cope with that?

TOYAH: Fabulous! (laughs) Brilliant! I've had the time of my life!

JOHN: You speak by phone! (they both laugh)

TOYAH: Well, you know, people can survive being apart so it was great

JOHN: How did you get into the music business?

TOYAH: I was invited to join the National Theatre when I was 18 years old by a very brilliant German superstar who was called Maximilian Schell, and he was directing at the National Theatre. He saw me in a half an hour play on BBC2 and he invited me to join the National and go into the cast of a play called “Tales From The Vienna Woods”. 

So as soon as that happened I working among actors and musicians and that allowed me to put my first band together and start writing my first material. And I've never looked back. That was 1976. And by 1977 I was touring with the band and writing my original material, and by '78 I was releasing albums



JOHN: We must also point out you're an actress as well, arent' you?

TOYAH: Yeah!

JOHN: You went to the Old Rep Drama school in Birmingham and did some work at BBC's Pebble Mill -

TOYAH: Which was fantastic! BBC Pebble Mill was – it was the equivalent of Soho House today. It was just a party! It was a fantastic place to work! You'd be mixing with people like Warren Clark, other actors like Oliver Tobias. They were just wonderful people there

JOHN: And of course you also had a part in “Quadrophenia”?

TOYAH: Yeah. On the poster. The film is 40 year sold this year

JOHN: Wow!

TOYAH: So lots going on. We made an hour long documentary for Sky Arts. The Who have got a few tricks up their sleeves for later in the year. All the cast have been involved with celebrating the birthday. Even Sting, even Ray Winstone and Timothy Spall. We've all been involved -

JOHN: Timothy Spall was over here not so long ago – brings his boat over every now and then -

TOYAH: Oh, does he? That must be quite a tricky sail? To go through that part of the sea?

JOHN: Yeah, sailing across the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet -

TOYAH: Wow! I'd be a bit scared -

JOHN: Yeah. Listen, how did you sort of keep successfully the singing and the acting careers running side by side?

TOYAH: Well, I've been successful because the major managers and the major labels have no interest in me and that has actually led to my success because it meant that I could be original, I could speak with my true voice, I could develop my own projects and everyone's left me alone. 

And I've kind of walked backwards into success and I brought my audience with me and my audience are very loyal and I think it's been proven by the fact that I do keep charting because they download me. And that's what I put it down to. I think if I was signed to a major and one of these big powerful managers I don't know who and where I'd be today ...



JOHN: No, true. I just noticed down here – you lived in a house called “Mayhem”?

TOYAH: It was a warehouse, yeah

JOHN: Mayhem! Was that one of the ways of describing your life at the time?

TOYAH: Well, it was the name of my company – the production company I released everything through. It's my favourite word. You know we all have favourite words and I thought mayhem was a really beautiful word

JOHN: Yes, it is a nice word. I've just had a text from Mark Gearey, he's one of the guys who sets up the kits for many bands who come over. He says “John, I can put Toyah on Sark Summer Festival on August the 9th - if she wants?”

TOYAH: Hang on hang on, I've got my diary (laughs)

JOHN: Ooooh!

TOYAH: Thank you so much BBC for letting me do business on air! (laughs)

JOHN: Ooooh! (Toyah cackles in the background)

TOYAH: OK! August the 9th – I have my diary here. I can do it because I don't have to be … Yeah, I can do it -

JOHN: You can do it? Right – listen. If you can give my producer a contact number. I will phone you back after 1 o'clock -

TOYAH: We can email you, we've got your email so …

JOHN: Brilliant! And then I'll put you in touch with Mark who puts in all the kit for the Summer Festival in Sark. We've had some amazing gigs over there. I think it's sold out already -

TOYAH: Oh I so want to be there!!!

JOHN: I know you do!!! Mark, you've heard Toyah – she said yes. Where are you playing at the moment, where are you sort of touring?

TOYAH: All over the UK, I've even got Switzerland, Bali, Ireland. People can go on toyahwillcox.com, there's already 50 gigs listed there and they're coming in every day as you just experienced. So I'm on the mainland doing a lot 



JOHN: And you've also - I'm just reading – you've also spoken in the presence of royalty. A speech on disability in front of the Prince of Wales in 1987? (sic, it was 1986)

TOYAH: Princess Diana, yes (above with Toyah 26.10.1986 at the Women Of The Year Lunch, Savoy Hotel, London)

JOHN: Says Prince of Wales on this sheet ...

TOYAH: I think he would've been the last person there because it was The Woman Of The Year -

JOHN: Oh, right!

TOYAH: Yeah. But yeah, I've done a lot for royalty. I used to be on speed dial and I would go into St James' (Palace) and talk on their behalf to many youth clubs and things like that

JOHN: You said yourself at the age of sixty – what are you doing for Toyah time? A bit of R and R? What's your -

TOYAH: There is no Toyah time

JOHN: Is there not?

TOYAH: This is what's so extraordinary. This is the same for my husband Robert Fripp. We are just getting busier and busier. And I think we're making the most of it. We're doing it while we can

JOHN: Is Robert still with King Crimson?

TOYAH: Yes!!!

JOHN: Yay!

TOYAH: Look, I'm not accusing Guernsey of not knowing what is going on but my husband is just playing around the world. He's critically acclaimed, he's about to go to Rio and play to 100 000 people 

JOHN: Wow!

TOYAH: He is busy busy busy

JOHN: Now listen, it's quarter to one, I'm going to play “Sensational” - Toyah. So I will say thank you very very much for staying with me -

TOYAH: Well, thank you for giving me a job!

JOHN: We love Sark, you love Sark, it would be great to get you over there and (Toyah giggles in the background) he's just said “Festival August the 9th if she wants” so there you go!

TOYAH: Done deal!

JOHN: Toyah, thank you for talking to me

TOYAH: It's been a pleasure, thank you so much!

JOHN: Let's play this! (Plays “Sensational”)

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