12 April, 2019

TOYAH ON BBC RADIO LONDON
WITH JO GOOD
12.4.2019


JO GOOD: Toyah - I've just literally poured out my heart to Toyah, we've been talking about my flat, we've been talking about me having my phone on (Toyah laughs) The producer's come in an said "why is it not on silent?" But you understand don't you -

TOYAH: It was me calling you  -

JO: She came in and she went "it was me calling you". Let me just give you ... well,  she needs no background but let me just read this: “In 2008 Toyah released the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” and now she's back! She is re-releasing the album with 5 additional new tracks." 

She has obviously had a career spanning music, songwriting, acting, producing, writing. Later in the year she's going to be back on tour. She'll be coming in the Islington Academy in October. I know her also as an actress, I've interviewed her on stage in Chichester, I've interviewed you everywhere to be quite honest -

TOYAH: Yeah -

JO: And you are always ahead of the game! I was just talking about social media – are you a big social media fan?

TOYAH: I have all the social media outlets and I provide the content but I employ someone, who I met when he was 4 years old, a Toyah fan, who was considered to be my youngest fan – he's now just hit 40 and he now manages my archive, my social media, he's even the executor of my will. 

He knows more about me than I do and he runs all my social media for me because I don't have management. I manage everything which is exhausting and very time-consuming. So I need that person that can do and keep an eye on the social media. Otherwise I just couldn't get things done-

JO: But do you totally trust him then if you've known him all those years because you know – trust is everything, isn't it?

TOYAH: I write to him very week and I say “did I ever write this song?” and he says “yeah yeah yeah” and he sends it (to) me. He actually knows more about me than I could possibly know. So I can go to him and say “I think I did this in '78?” “No no no, you did it in 1980” He just puts everything right

JO: What a gift -

TOYAH: It is a phenomenal gift -

JO: Did you always manage yourself or did you use to have managers? 



TOYAH: I've managed myself since 1990 and my life turned around in 1990 and I think it's this thing that only you know yourself. And up until that point I was living off £30 a week and having huge success. The minute I started managing myself I acquired wealth and was able to start investing in property and stuff like that. 

But it changed my life around in every way because I had to be responsible for myself. It's not ideal because at the moment I'm going through a huge resurgence and I'm finding that I really need to be an artist - not a manager! But I can't just find that person who's willing to work – really 20 hours a day which what I do. It's a very busy time -

JO: And also who has all the knowledge -

TOYAH: Yes -

JO: You know, all the history in their head of what you do and what you can do and when you're available and what you've done in the past. It's so essential isn't it – so to plug someone new into your life ... But I don't know, Toyah – you look good on it. Whatever you're doing - you really good on it.

TOYAH: Thank you very much!

JO: So you're re-releasing the album with 6 new tracks – is that right?

TOYAH: Yes, the album has only been available to my fans and I do right round the year four shows a week. This is how I keep my voice in tip top condition so we are actually touring now. And the fans have always had access to this new music. And then about four years ago a London musical called “Crime and Punishment” based on Dostoyevsky's play came out at the Scoop Theatre at Tower Bridge and they used all the music of this album. 

So this album has had a life but it's not had what I call a public rock'n'roll life. So on my birthday, on my 60th birthday on May the 18th last year my fans - who are very aware of what I do because I play in front of 100 000 people or more a year – downloaded me to number one in the charts last year. And I was an unsigned artist and I couldn't get radio play because I was unsigned and there I was at number one ... 



JO: Power to the people -

TOYAH: Yeah! Power to the people. We very luckily got a record deal. That allowed us to put live drums, live bass, re-record certain aspects of it, write five new songs and re-release it. And really it's a brand new release because only the chosen few knew about it. But it's had an incredible life already. Some of these songs have been movies, “Sensational” - which you just played, was the theme song for Weight Watchers campaign for quite a while so it's had a life but it now deserves a big audience -

JO: And “Crime and Punishment” - did they ... did you offer it to them or did they ask you?

TOYAH: Phil Willmott, the writer of this incredible script – it was one of the best adaptations I've ever read – just wrote to me and said "I want all the music on this to be your music". And for some strange reason everything I've ever written fitted into the story. And he made it fit so beautifully and it was a joy to see this. I was in tears to see the music been given such respect and it worked and then it promoted the album yet again. 

People wanted to have it and they wanted to get hold of it. Now they've got this beautiful double CD that was released today on one of the biggest download sites ever and you can get in one of the biggest kind of internet shopping sites – I don't want to be commercial on a BBC station. And tomorrow is International Record Day (sic, it's Record Store Day) and you can get the vinyl version of it in independent record shops -

JO: Don't you just love that?

TOYAH: I do love it -

JO: So how - what's the most recent track on it that you've written?

TOYAH: “Dance In The Hurricane” was finished in January and that's the opening track. It's a very passionate track to me because it's about surviving grief. I wanted to write the whole album from where I am at this age. You know, I don't want to be pretending to be thirty, I don't want to be pretending to be twenty. I'm a magnificent 60, going on 61 year old at the moment and my life has been rich and I want to write about that. 

And “Dance In The Hurricane” is very much about trusting the world again, trusting life again, trusting love again after grief and for me, while I writing this album, both my parents passed away and my co-writer Simon Darlow's father passed away and there were many times over the past ten years we stood in front of the microphone just crying. Because we wanted to express that depth of feeling. And “Dance In The Hurricane” is probably one the most positive affirmations about how we continue to love life and we honour the people that brought us into the world by loving life. So for me it's a really important song. 



JO: Gosh, I'm just listening to you because like me you're child free, aren't you?

TOYAH: Yes!

JO: And we've been banging on about "Fleabag" (a TV series on BBC3 in the UK) – have you watched "Fleabag" at all?

TOYAH: No, I don't get time -

JO: She says this line - when her mother dies she just says “what do I do with all this love?”

TOYAH: Yes!

JO: And I just thought oh my God! What an extraordinary line to write and she's a lot younger than you and I, Toyah, she's like in her thirties probably and I just thought how do you know that at that age? I guess you do though? Grief is grief isn't it?

TOYAH: It's a such an important thing in our lives. It's not something to be swept under the carpet, it's there for a reason. I had someone in tears with me two days ago because you know, living with this loss, and I say to people you learn to live with the void being present. There's this void but you learn to live with it and it enriches you in a very strange way and it is what do you do with this love? 

For me the biggest things was I never got on with my parents the way most people do but I really loved them and they really loved me but it was a very dysfunctional relationship and the one things I miss most is I want to pick up the phone and tell them what I'm doing

JO: Of course. The first person you call, isn't it -

TOYAH: Yeah -

JO: “Hey look what I've achieved” Whatever, you can show off to your parents, can't you? We're the generation where there was a generation gap and you were a wild child so there must've been a generation gap there -

TOYAH: Huge!

JO: They must've been scratching their heads over what their daughter was getting up to? Weren't they?

TOYAH: Yeah, my mother used to be a regular caller at the Samaritans (a UK telephone helpline) -

JO: Really?

TOYAH: I only learned this in my 20's when one of the Samaritans contacted me! (laughs) I don't think they should've but they said “your mother is beside herself. We tried to help her but you've really got to help her too!” She just couldn't handle me at all because I was uncontrollable

JO: So right up to this year then - the tracks for that reason that you've added -

TOYAH: Yeah -

JO: When you say you do four shows a week - what do you mean by that?



TOYAH: OK. I don't want to do a big block tour. It's so necessary for me to go on stage and have my top notes. About eight years ago I re-trained my voice with a voice coach from The Royal Shakespeare Company and it gave me back my full octave range so I'm known as a really big singer. If I'm doing three months of back to back shows I'm not going to have those top notes. 

So I have three days of vocal rest a week. So what I tend to do, the pattern of work I do is Thursdays and Fridays I do my acoustic "Up Close and Personal" show which goes on in art centres. Saturday and Sunday the big rock band show that goes into big rock venues or festivals. That allows me to work at 150% which is what I want

JO: I think you're amazing that you just sorted that out! Who's your band now?

TOYAH: OK. My band have been with me for at least 15 years, my MD is Chris Wong (below, on the left), who tolerates me and my work ethic - which really does put most people on their back (Jo laughs) I have Colin Hinds in the band who's in China Crisis, Andy Doble, my keyboard player (below, on the right), Mike Nichols my bass player and John Humprey on drums. 

We're very much a family. I owe a lot to them because of this whole Brexit thing and people have been very scared about booking shows and I do well up to 60, sometimes a 100 shows a year. I've not been able to give them pay rise so I think they're very loyal to me. And I'm hoping with this year there's a lot going on, it's kind of ascending very quickly. I'm getting rather exited that I might be able to give them a pay rise!

JO: I love your honesty, I love you telling us that. I don't think anyone's ever told me how they manage their band financially -



TOYAH: Well, Brexit -

JO: Well, everything is on hold, isn't it?

TOYAH: It's really crippling but this year people have seem to have lost that fear and it's all coming back. It's really busy, I'm already booked for next year which is fantastic -

JO: When you say that you are your own management because you act as well – is that out now? Are you not -

TOYAH: No, not out at all! I'm go and do a movie in June -

JO: God, of course you do!

TOYAH: Yeah -

JO: And what's that going to be?

TOYAH: I'm not allowed to talk about it!

JO: You're not allowed to talk about it! Tell me if it's British or American?

TOYAH: British

JO: And so how long has it been since you've done a movie?

TOYAH: Ooh, about 12 months.

JO: Gosh!

TOYAH: Yes

JO: Do you – because you are so fit looking as well … Do you get up and practise yoga and everything? Do you workout? Or is your workout on stage?



TOYAH: I don't work out. What I do is slightly controversial – it's basically no wheat, no dairy. I allow myself once a week to have a piece bread or to have a piece of ice-cream. It's controversial in that I keep under my daily allowance of calories which is really important. As woman 2500 calories a day, some people say 2000. Well, I try to keep just below 2000 a day. 

That makes the body work for you. If you go over that you're overloading your digestive system which slowly starts to play havoc with your internal organs. It is controversial. Some people keep well below that, they keep to a 1000 calories a day. I can't function on that, that's starvation. But I'm very very fussy about what I eat but basically it's just eating clean.

JO: Yes. Eating clean. Absolutely. That's what I try to stick to. So many emails, I've only got time to read this. This has come through “Oh my God I love Toyah's appearance on your show. I've been a fan of her music since I saw her wild haired punk aura burst onto Top Of The Pops in the 70's and she starred in my all time favourite movie of all time playing the role of Monkey in “Quadrophenia” alongside Gary Shail who played Spider. This year is the 40th anniversary of that film. Has she got any plans to (go) partying in Brighton?”

TOYAH: Yes! There's a lot a going on in Brighton and Gary Shail is in the controls there. Gary played Spider in “ Quadrophenia”. So Bank Holiday weekend August we're all ascending. Nicky Weller, Paul Weller's sister, has a book launch at The Grand on the Friday. 

Then on the Saturday I'm not sure what is going on but on the Sunday we all ascend on Brighton Pier where Gary Shail has hired the Pier for the day! I dread to think what's going to happen! (laughs) I think it's going to be absolutely magnificent! But all of us have already got together, Leslie Ash, Sting -


 
JO: No!

TOYAH: Yes. Timothy Spall. Everybody in the cast has already got together and shot a documentary for Sky Arts. That is going out in August.

JO: This is an exclusive. Nobody knew that. Because I used to do the breakfast show in Brighton. Quadrophenia Walk, we used to talk about it at least once a week. The gate, you know the gate, the Concorde down on the beach … I don't think they know this is happening, do they?

TOYAH: I think it's getting out, definitely getting out -

JO: Just give us the date then for the party when the 40th Anniversary -

TOYAH: It's the last Bank Holiday in August and it's on the Sunday, might be the 24th or the 25th of August -

JO: You heard it here first! Now, your album which is released today … is out - so go on, tell us where people can find it?

TOYAH: Well, it's “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” - it's available on something that begins with A – am I allowed to say it? ... Amazon -



JO: Yes, go on, say it once!

TOYAH: OK. Amazon.

JO: You said it twice (laughs)

TOYAH: I apologise BBC. That's the double CD. Beautiful artwork. And then the vinyl is available in independent record shops tomorrow. And it's crimson coloured vinyl (above)

JO: And if you want to see Toyah live in London, you can in October, on the 27th in the Islington Academy, that's right isn't it?

TOYAH: Yes, the 02 Academy -

JO: You are extraordinary. Can we please go and have a photograph taken with you?

TOYAH: Yeah!

JO: C'mon lets do it! Thank you.

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