19 April, 2019

TOYAH ON BBC RADIO
HEREFORD & WORCESTER
WITH TAMMY GOODING
9.4.2019



TAMMY: It's time to hear from an artist who's been making music for many decades and has made Worcestershire her home. She's back with a new album called “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. We welcome back Toyah!
TOYAH: (on the phone) It's good to be back! How are you today?
TAMMY: I'm alright. How are you?
TOYAH: I'm really good, I'm having a really good time ( laughs) Everything with the album has had such a positive reaction and I'm 61 this year and I didn't expect this to be happening in my life and it's really good
TAMMY: Aww! That's really lovely. 61 one is in old money - that's fifty now – it's different … When I used to remember my mum being in her forties and now I'm there … it's kind of different

TOYAH: I remember forty was considered middle age when I was a child and I feel fantastic. I'm actually enjoying life now more than ever before. I tell young people I see you've really got this to look forward to. Don't let anybody put it down, this is great!

TAMMY: Your glass is half full and I like that, it's infectious already. The new album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. I love that. Described as revelatory and accomplished. Now the accomplished bit seems about right about someone who's been making music for so many years but the revelatory bit – do tell?

TOYAH: Well, it's an interesting one really. Its a very happy “up” album, it contains a lot of joy within the music. And the lyrics – I'm a lyricist – so are spikey and I like to invert meanings. Songs like “Heal Ourselves”, which is about communities helping themselves to feel stronger and to bond more, I kind of take on the role of protector. You don't expect a woman to do that, even in these days you don't expect a woman to offer protection in a masculine way. 

An in a song like “Bad Man” I'm talking about – we so often put people into cliched images, cliched accusations where actually, deep beneath the skin, they're pussycats. So I like to invert meanings and I like to throw away stereotypes. 

The opening song “Dance In A Hurricane” I could've only have written from the age I am today. It was finished in January, it took a year to write because my co-writer Simon Darlow, who wrote Grace Jones' “Slave To The Rhythm” by the way –

TAMMY: Yes!

TOYAH: - Who I've been writing with in a songwriting partnership for 42 years, wasn't convinced that the four bars he'd written for the intro of the album was actually going to be the biggest song of my life -

TAMMY: Wow!



TOYAH: And it took me a year to explain to him that those four bars are so magical that they have to be the opening song on this album. And we made it happen and I still believe after days and days of radio promo (Tammy laughs) that “Dance In A Hurricane” is the one song I want to be remembered for. 

I couldn't have written it until I became an adult the day I lost my parents. There's something about that dis-connect, where you have to learn to trust the world again that you become a bigger and better person

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: And that's what “Dance In A Hurricane” is about

TAMMY: It's so funny, everything you've just said – because I've got a couple of notes written down here and I'd written on this little scrap of paper that the 15 tracks on the album – looking at life and love and empowerment and wonderment and I'd put here “I guess it's fair to say you couldn't have made this album forty years ago”?

TOYAH: No way. Absolutely no way. I needed to be able to step away from my teenage self that had crushes on everyone, step away from my 30 year old self who was just frustrated with life. I needed to be in a place I'm now and I wanted to reach back through time to younger generations and say “everything will be alright”

TAMMY: I love that. I think we need to hear this song which has also been described as an ode to defiantly walking your own path through life. And it appears to me, as a youngster watching Toyah on Top Of The Pops, my sister kind of trying to be you singing in the hairbrush (Toyah laughs) and kind of having the hair and all of that going on. It seems to me you've always done that and that's what's so kind of inspirational I think about you, as an artist

TOYAH: I find myself, in retrospect, able to say that I'm very lucky no one took an interested in me in the business and what I mean by that none of the megastar management wouldn't be interested in someone like me. 

Therefore I've had complete freedom to choose my path and it meant that I created my own projects and they all did very very well and even today I manage myself, which means I can remain true to myself

TAMMY: Toyah, it's interesting isn't it, because we talked about kind of walking your own path and being yourself and having autonomy. Are you then defiantly walking your own path in 2019? How is life?

TOYAH: Well, it's busy, it's very busy and I would do anything to find a PA at this moment in time (they both laugh) because I do four shows a week and I get home and I live in your area and I'm in the office til six in the morning doing contracts for the band. It's very busy, I run a very successful business, which in being Toyah Willcox. 

I think I'm walking my own path because I do not believe and have never believed that you retire from who and what you love and who and what you are

TAMMY: I can ... yeah, yeah - 



TOYAH: And I will sing as long as I can still hit those top notes and I can walk on stage. So I intend to keep on going as long as I'm still in love with what I do. And I am still in love with what I do

TAMMY: Good

TOYAH: It's a very very lucky place to be, to be in show business and to be in it for 42 years. My husband, who's Robert Fripp, (below, with Toyah) says if you live long enough everyone falls in love with you again. There's definitely been yo-yo moments when it's been a huge struggle and you just keep going!

TAMMY: You seem – in spite of your fame and success, it certainly hasn't gone to your head – very grounded, and live in Worcestershire and I'm kind of just wondering if you get that double take in where you live or have the locals just accepted you as one of their own? I did see a thing on TV, an antiques programme, that was looking in your house and I was like “I'd die for a house like that!” 

It's just lovely and all of your paraphernalia around the house, fabulous! How is life living in Worcestershire with your husband, you're both very famous …

TOYAH: We absolutely love it and there seems to be an invisible rule. We live on the High Street between two shops, I mean we couldn't be more visible but I think the community has made an invisible rule to let us have a normal life. 

And our life is very normal. I shop in the local shops, I'm passionate about keeping the High Street alive. It's a very special market town that we live in -

TAMMY: It's lovely, yeah -

TOYAH: And yeah, people recognise us but they don't make it impossible for us to have a normal life

TAMMY: Oh, that's really nice

TOYAH: My husband Robert and I have this conversation – we have it regularly, but we only had it two days ago – I'm now turning 61, he's now turning 73 -

TAMMY: Wow!



TOYAH: We really love where we are. We feel that – it's obviously our home, we've been there for 17 years, but we feel that out of everything we do – and we both tour the world constantly, we want to go back to where we live. 

We feel going back is where we should be. So there's none of this feeling "oh, let's do LA, let's do New York, lets do Paris". We belong where we live and that's a lovely feeling

TAMMY: Isn't that great … Let's talk about another track on the album. How about “Sensational”. What's that about?

TOYAH: Oh, “Sensational”! I'm very passionate that we tell our children that they are beautiful and unique -

TAMMY: Awww …

TOYAH: And we live in a time when social media … it's so lacking in intelligence and imagination to be critical. Negativity is easy, that's why it flows. I think it takes a strong person to complement another. You come across young girls who have no confidence but you also come across boys who've no confidence and I've seen more eating disorders for example in boys than I have in girls. 

We should all have a right to tell someone, even if we know them or don't know them, that they are remarkable. I'm always going up to someone saying “my God you look fantastic!” because I appreciate the making the effort

TAMMY: Isn't that lovely -

TOYAH: “Sensational” is talking to the audience saying you are sensational! Don't let anyone tell you any other way! You are – the fact that we're all here – we should be grateful for it and respect it

TAMMY: Do you know, the essence of Toyah – we should bottle it and all take a sip every day. I love that!

TOYAH: I would just like a percentage of that (Tammy laughs)

TAMMY: She is a business woman after all! (both laughs) Toyah, we need to reminiscence a little bit because you grew up – is it in King's Heath in Birmingham?

TOYAH: I certainly did

TAMMY: Not far from where I grew up in the 60's, the 70's. Interesting time politically and socially. What were your aspirations and what was the young Toyah like? What did you want to do?

TOYAH: My aspirations – I wanted to be the biggest rock star in the world (Tammy laughs) and the biggest actress in the world

TAMMY: Oh well, there you go!

TOYAH: Yeah, my aspirations weren't normal (they both laugh) I knew as soon as I could walk what I wanted to do. I was a show-off



TAMMY: That's amazing, isn't it?

TOYAH: It's been very frustrating to live with that amount of ambition. Very frustrating

TAMMY: Interestingly I did read a story and you can correct me if I'm wrong, because there's loads of rubbish out there … At school, didn't you set off an alarm clock during a visit to the school by a certain PM?

TOYAH: I did. Just imagine doing this today. Margaret Thatcher was the Minister of Education I think about '72. She came to my very posh all girl school to talk about the future of education to the pupils, to the parents and the teachers and me just being an absolute wally (Tammy laughs) … 

I took five alarm clocks into the school very early and set them to go off under the stage (Tammy laughs) at two minute intervals. She was working to time, she hit that stage at 3 pm, exactly at the time as the alarm clocks were set to go off and she didn't bat an eyelid and everyone knew it was me

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: The irony of that – in '81 and I'm talking about 9 years later, my office - and I was the biggest female singer in Europe at this time, my office was across the road from her home -

TAMMY: Oh my word …

TOYAH: So every day I went to my office and I looked at number 4 Flood Street, Chelsea, where she lived and I thought “I wonder if she knows?”

TAMMY: My! That's such a brilliant story! I absolutely love that! I love it! Because of course we know that you've always written songs that they kind of challenge and inspire and about being true to yourself . “I Want To Be Free” - I remember seeing that and thinking it's awesome, I love that! 

All the big hits that were in the charts, “It's A Mystery”, “Thunder In The Mountains” and so on. Where did young Toyah get that confidence and that courage to stand up and be counted?

TOYAH: I think punk rock. Simple as that. I knew – because I'm not physically exceptional – I'm barely five foot tall and I wanted to be in an industry where you had people like Cher, ABBA, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, you know these beautiful tall elegant women. Feminine graceful women … Well, I am none of that! I was very independent image wise from the age of 14. 

I was a hair model in a big department store in Birmingham, did the big hair shows around the country, had coloured hair right before punk and I knew I was going to have to be different to be noticed. But I didn't have confidence and then I discovered punk and punk was very accepting of women. 

It really was the only movement that I know that if you were a strong person it didn't matter what person you were, you were welcome and you had a place on the stage. So I think punk gave me my confidence



TAMMY: That's amazing. And in terms of your career it isn't all about the singing because there's acting too. You were at Birmingham Rep School for a little while because my brother was there and his claim to fame was “I was at Rep School with Toyah”. But you're not acting now are you, you're doing this, that and the other, you know -

TOYAH: I loved that school! It was very rinky dink and I absolutely loved it, it was my happiest time. We were in a real theatre and for me to be in something that's real – (rather than) if you're on a film set or a TV studio – you absorb it and I loved being at the Old Rep Theatre. 

That gave me a lot of confidence, I was probably the least talented there but I was the most driven. I can't express how important it is to have drive. I think it was this whole thing – I think I was used to being mocked by my family and not being taken seriously. It just made me so determined to succeed

TAMMY: Wow! I love that. And loads of films including “Quadrophenia”, loads of stage plays and books and the music. If you look back down the road leading you to where you are now – would you change anything, would you have done anything differently, Toyah?

TOYAH: Oh, that is such a good question! I would've acted on my moments of inspiration rather than thinking that they would always be available and what I mean by that you do have bursts of insight that are definitely meant to be acted on. 

They're a lovely experience, you feel alive from head to toe and I always thought “Oh, I'll put that down later” Never! Never! You act on it in that moment, it's there for a reason. And I would've studied harder at school. I wasted 14 years of my life

TAMMY: Wow. OK. It's fascinating talking to do because I get an air of philosophy about you. I don't necessarily mean religion but there is something about you that just, you know, is deep and it's considered



TOYAH: Well, absolutely. I think part of that is we have the length of life we have for a reason. I just do not feel this is it, I never have. I live in an incredibly haunted house -

TAMMY: Oh, is it?! Ooh!

TOYAH: People who refuse to believe have said they will never go in hat house again -

TAMMY: God …

TOYAH: So I just feel this is all part of a greater thing

TAMMY: Hmm. Yeah, I think you're right as well. Talking of home, you know, we have two magnificent musicians living in one house … Is there any chance that the neighbours, as mush as they're being very cool about you being there and all of that – do they ever hear you having a little jam in the living room? No … or? (laughs) I'd love to live on your street – can you imagine!

TOYAH: Boy, you've opened a can of worms there! (laughs)

TAMMY: Oh, have I? (laughs)

TOYAH: I'm studying music at the moment and I have a wonderful teacher called Chris Long, who the community will know because he's always doing concerts, a keyboard player. He's teaching me music theory and keyboards. He insists that I practice with somebody jamming along with me and I asked Robert to jam along with me and Robert was so unhelpful and so ungiving. 

You've got to bear in mind I believe my husband and I are slightly on the spectrum of autism and Asperger's. We don't compromise with each other. He felt I was not playing to the metronome and he refused to play any more with me 
TAMMY: Oh no!

TOYAH: So yeah, you might be able to hear us arguing about playing together (Tammy laughs) but actually playing together … no! 



TAMMY: (laughs) “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” is the new album from Toyah. You are touring – do you still get that buzz from being on the road all these years on?

TOYAH: You mean the terror? Yeah, I do! (Tammy laughs) It's what I do. I've never done anything else. It's part of me. Yes, I do get nervous but I would be more nervous if I wasn't doing it, so there you go. For the next track – I think it should be “Telepathic Lover” which is great one to rock out to

TAMMY: What's that about?

TOYAH: It's about being apart from the one you love and dreaming them into the room

TAMMY: Whoa! Love that! If only that was possible!

TOYAH: Well, yeah, my God - nothing would get done

TAMMY: (laughs) And on that note – you can see Toyah at loads of festivals across the summer. The Mill in Birmingham on the 18th of October. Have a look at the website because all the stuff is there and you get your hands on this brilliant album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”. Toyah, it's been a joy! Thank you!

TOYAH: Thank you so much, Tammy and it's good to talk to you and I can't wait to come home!


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