ON THE SuperDeluxeEdition SOFA
MARCH 2019

PAUL SINCLAIR: First of all thanks for coming. I guess the first place to start is you relationship and your collaboration because I know it goes back quite a long way, doesn't it?

TOYAH: 42 years

PAUL: OK, so how did you first get together and how did you start working together?

SIMON: I had a manager at the time, which was the same as Toyah's. This is in the 70s it has to be said and he said "I'm managing this girl who's going to be huge, you should come along and meet her" so he put us together

TOYAH: I went along to Richmond Road in Putney to this flat above a piano shop. We instantly got on. The thing about Simon - not only is he very talented, he's actually a really decent human being -

SIMON: Ha ha

TOYAH: And in the music business that can be quite an unusual experience. So we became friends, we wrote our first song together -

SIMON: “Sky Lullaby” -

TOYAH: Truly appalling -

SIMON: It was rubbish, yeah -

TOYAH: (laughs) But then time took us apart from each other and we got together again for "The Changeling" (Toyah in the studio during "The Changeling" sessions, below) We needed a keyboard player on "The Changeling", which was produced by Steve Lillywhite in '82

Simon walked in again and we've never been apart since because you were involved with "Love Is The Law" (1983) W
e've just been writing together – solidly – for about 35 years

And it's always dead easy, just happens instantly. It's always just fun. The whole thing is kind of vaguely funny. We just walk in, sit down and do something

TOYAH: It's like a psychic connection and it always has been. Simon can just hit D on the keyboard and I'm singing away and then we've got the song. Sometimes it comes in two minutes, sometimes we allow it to take six months - 

SIMON: And then we chip away at it -

TOYAH: How many years? (laughs) It's 35 years -

SIMON: Quite a long time actually, yeah. We were both fairly busy doing other things, it has to be said but it was worth it. We just trust each other is the bottom line, I think

PAUL: Simon, are you a multi-intrumentalist? 

SIMON: Yeah, I play keyboards, guitars, cello. A bit of drums although I'm not really a drummer but with modern technology you can get away with playing a bar and make it sound like you can play drums. It's quite OK. Anything that's plugged I can basically make a noise with

PAUL: And one of the things my audience will be very interested in – you worked with Trevor Horn, didn't you?

SIMON: I did. I was very fortunate. I met Trevor Horn when I was 18 in a keyboard store in Denmark Street and he'd just split up with Geoff Downes and The Buggles. He said "what keyboards to you use?" and I explained and he said "have you got any songs?"

I played him my little demo tape and his wife at the time, Jill Sinclair, who's sadly no longer with us, phoned and said we think you've got something and we'd like you to join The Buggles, briefly, which I did, for the 2nd album. They gave me a publishing deal with perfect songs and it just turned my life upside down, basically, in an instant

PAUL: And you ended up co-writing "Slave To The Rhythm", which obviously became that crazy album?

SIMON: Yeah, that's right. Bruce Woolley and I wrote the original song, which was because Trevor phoned and said "we need a follow up to Frankie Goes To Hollywood to “Relax” ". So we wrote that and Holly (Johnson, the singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood) came down and said he wanted to change the words but we didn't fancy it at the time (chuckles) So Bruce and I started to record it and then after that Trevor rang up and said "I want Grace to do it". Grace Jones seemed to fit as a concept ...

PAUL: Getting onto the album then. That title – obviously it's got the King Crimson reference but was that your idea?

SIMON: It was. I kind of said it as joke, really. I just thought it would be very funny and Robert thought so too so …

TOYAH: Well, it just massages his ego, doesn't it? (Simon laughs)

SIMON: It seems highly appropriate really. She is "The Queen"

I have nothing to say about it really. The title doesn't bother me. I'm an incredibly independent female and I'm incredibly feminist so it took a bit of wedging the door open to get that one through. But it's fine

PAUL: And of course this album came out in 2008 originally?

TOYAH: Yeah, the original format of the album. We've since remastered, added seven new songs

PAUL: When you originally wrote those songs what was the inspiration?  What was going on in your life, how did the album come about? Because it had been a while since you'd actually -

TOYAH: No, it hadn't been a while. I have a band called The Humans in America with Bill Rieflin from R.E.M. I'd already started "We Are The Humans" and "Sugar Rush" with him. That's experimental music but Simon and I were always drawn to each other because we just have this of rock style. And we live so close to each other that it became ridiculous that we weren't writing all the time. We're literally 30 miles apart

So it started with a song called "Latex Messiah" and that came really quickly. At that period I was touring a show called "Vampires Rock", which was about classic rock and me having to wear a lot of PVC and have vampire teeth. So it was ingrained that we should be using that kind of cultural reference of these rock backgrounds that we both have

It came so easily. I remember taking "Latex Messiah" back home and Robert heard it and he said "that's the best song I've ever heard". And he became so passionate about the whole project -

SIMON: He did, yeah -

TOYAH: But after that the rest of the songs happened really quickly. We had a lot fun over one summer and they just kind of ... bang bang bang bang -

PAUL: There's quite a lot of variety. It's not all rock because you've got some acoustic ballads like "Heal Ourselves" etc. Was it important to have a bit of variety in terms of the songs?

SIMON: I thought if you're going to do an album then try and make it into a shape rather than just a random collection of songs. We did think about the way the tempos went and what lead into the next. It became quite a story lyrically from your point of view and it told lots of aspects of your life. Which makes sense so it gave it a shape -

TOYAH: We sit a room and we see what happens and the room never lets us down. So usually you go to the piano or to the guitar and I say keep that, keep that, move onto this, move onto this and we cut and paste biologically, organically within the room. Then I take the track away, do the first draft of the lyric, come back and sing it to Simon and then we chip away at it

That whole thing about light and shade within the style of the songs . . . Once you've done a rock song you don't really want to backtrack and do another rock song. You want to push forward and try moving it into a different genre so that's how those different elements and those cultural influences keep coming back into the music

SIMON: The albums we grew up listening to - there were many more journeys originally and the creativity of the 70s artists was just fantastic. You'd sit and listen to a whole album as opposed to listening to half a stream for 12 seconds on an iPhone. It was a very different world. I used to love lying on the floor and just listening to these little journeys and taking in the songs -

TOYAH: The 70s was just amazing! Lyrically I'm always trying to invert things as well. "Heal Ourselves" came at a time when there was so much hatred. With all the stories - we're always fed bad news the whole time. No one ever prints good news. It doesn't make money, it doesn't terrify people

Then "Bad Man" came out of the extraordinary amount of men I know who were demonised by divorce. I thought well, these aren't bad men and they're being crippled through the divorce laws. When we wrote "Bad Man" both Simon and I agreed that we wanted to write something that gave the man the pedestal back

A lot of the time when we're writing these things we're both in tears because we're quite passionate about the subject matter. But I'm always trying to invert the lyric and tip it

How much do you think about commerciality and whether you might have a hit or radio play of a certain song? Is that in your mind at all when you're -

TOYAH: Commerciality! I go to sleep with commerciality in my mind! But what does a hit mean? I think as long as you're creative that's all that matters

SIMON: Trevor Horn taught me a lot. He was all about focus and getting things as clean and clear as possible. I like the idea that people would like it. You write because you want to write and stuff comes out but once it's out then I subscribe to the school of trying to make it as focused and accessible as possible. If that's commerciality I guess that's commerciality

TOYAH: And also, it's my energy as well, isn't it? I'm not a ballad singer, I'm never ever going to be like Mariah Carey or Celine Dion. What I do is high energy rock. I think the commerciality sits very well within the persona of Toyah and that's what we end up with. We've never really tried to subdue that. There's no point trying to make me super mature

SIMON: The clothes have to fit the artist (Toyah laughs)

PAUL: When you first released the album did it get a full release or did it struggle to find an audience?

TOYAH: (amused) What do you mean? I play to sellout audiences! My audience are a live audience. I do four shows a week right through the year. We've had pop-up record shops at every venue so I've been performing these songs since 2007. My audiences just lap them up but my audience is like a club. It's an exclusive club

I'm not mainstream, I'm not accepted mainstream. I manage myself, I don't have a mainstream manager. I don't have a mainstream promoter. I do absolutely everything and I do non-stop sellout shows

I actually think the ethos of my life is the perfection of punk because I've done it all on my own. It's back-breaking and the fans just keep coming, keep coming and keep coming. Last week I did Halifax. I didn't realise I was doing a student union venue. People were begging to get in! Just queues round the block. So these are the people who made the album possible

This is why we got together and we were writing. Because the audiences are there and they're big and they're coming all the time. I'm just dealing with non-stop gig bookings. We would just love someone to scoop us up and say "right, Toyah, you can just get on and sing the songs, I'll do the business for you". So you ask what was the audience in 2007? Exactly the same audience as today. The people that are just outside the venue queuing to get in 

SIMON: I think what's different though is the moment because ten years ago to be an older artist you still couldn't get arrested (?) at radio but now it's a completely different story. I think Toyah as an independent woman really hits the zeitgeist now. There's people that are 60 and 50, whatever, (they) are still young and thinking "hang on a minute, I don't want to be old" and they still listen to the same music and that's just come out

It's in everything, it's in the culture now. So I think timing wise it's a better time to be listened to. You've interviewed loads of bands. There's a moment and it's very interesting -

TOYAH: I think age is concept. OK yeah, physically we get older but this whole concept of everything ebbing away it's just not real to us. I feel just as connected now as I did 40 years ago. There's so much to do and when I'm not doing this with Simon I'm co-producing movies, I have to write things for books all the time

It's not slowing down at all. I think the whole message within this album is you are still you. You don't just fade away. I think that whole concept of just fading away isn't real any more

Can you explain a little bit about the approach to the new edition. It's two CD's, there's some new tracks on there.
You've gone back to every track on the album and you've done some work on it -

SIMON: Yeah, essentially when we did the original album I programmed all the drums so we've got real drums on this, which made a huge difference. Clive Edwards, who's off UFO, played the drums. It's just given the whole thing an energy that it needed that we didn't have the first time around. Lot of the performances are still the same. We've added some keyboards and stuff that weren't there just to widen things out a bit

What was quite amazing to me is when you put the real drums on and a real rhythm section on all those performances game up even more energetically than they did in the originals. The new songs are a collection of various things we've done in the last couple of years

"Dance In The Hurricane", a track we really love is brand new this year. It all sounds fresh to me. In the intervening years I used to listen to it and think this album is still alive and we're just thrilled that we get an opportunity to put it out now 

TOYAH: Things like "Our Hearts Still Beat" – I was in a movie called "In Extremis" and they needed an outro song and "I said I can do it, I can do it!" Simon and I both recently lost our parents - well, you've still got your mum -

SIMON: Yeah, she's still around -

TOYAH: The whole premise of "In Extremis" is losing a child. We went to the studio . . . How many weeks did we spent crying?

SIMON: It was pretty moving, actually -

TOYAH: We could not get a vocal down because we sang it together . . . We were just sobbing for about four weeks -

SIMON: Not because it was that bad, you understand? (chuckles)

TOYAH: No, it was just so raw. "Who Let The Beast Out" . . . I was involved with a musical in London with Scoop Theatre based on "Crime and Punishment" and they used 13 of our songs. They needed an extra song within a week's notice so "Who Let The Beast Out" was for that musical. Everything has come about through request . . .

PAUL: "Dance In The Hurricane" leads the new version of the album. I was very interested in that track, because lyrically, Toyah, you pay tribute to your parents -

TOYAH: That's another song that took a month to record because we're just crying all the way through it. In fact Simon, you kept the very first vocal when I burst into tears on “I held your little soul” . . . I couldn't do it without falling on the floor

My relationship with my parents was not . . . normal. My mother was particularly brutal but I wanted to pay respect to her. That whole thing of her calling from the ether saying it's all going to be OK was really important to me but boy it was hard, wasn't it? (laughs)

SIMON: Yeah. But these are very real things around this age, you start losing your folks. It's something your child self thinks is never going to happen. But it happens and it's moving -

TOYAH: And they're still with you -

SIMON: Yeah, they are -

TOYAH: They're very much with you -

SIMON: You hear them. You do hear their voices. Must give dad a ring and you think oh, you can't actually . . .

And lyrically it celebrates an idea of being an individual, be the person you want to be and don't let someone else write your rules. I don't get the sense of people wanting to be individuals any more. People want to be the same

TOYAH: (sighs) We're in the world of impersonators. It's terrifying. Individuality is so important. If we don't have individuality we don't have culture to a certain extent. I think one of the most important messages in the album and in the song "Sensational" is that you have a right to be individual. You are beautiful no matter what age, what body shape, whether you are an ideal of beauty or the ideal of what the world calls ugly – you're still absolutely effing sensational! 

The whole idea of this album is we are unique! We are miraculous! We're floating on a rock in the middle of universe we don't know. We are utterly miraculous. And that individuality is so important in the album. Of giving of voice to those who feel they're voiceless and invisible

PAUL: How hard was it work out a new running order because you've got these new songs (Simon and Toyah laugh) "Our Hearts Still Beat" is an obvious one to end with. It must've been tricky to slot everything in –

SIMON: It was but once it was decided that "Hurricane" should be the thing that opens the first act of "In The Court Of The Crimson Queen" and it made sense. Keep the energy up but don't put all the slow ones at the end was what I had in my head so  . . .

TOYAH: It's also difficult because we've got a song called "Legacy", which we both really love and it's so un-Toyah. We wanted to place it further forward and we thought no, we can't do it -

SIMON: But it's definitely an ending of a side -

TOYAH: It's an phenomenal song! So we had a few problems like that . . .

PAUL: Are you quite excited to be releasing it on vinyl, Toyah?

TOYAH: Yeah. Very excited. I love the fact that we're doing vinyl. It's what I fell in love with music as a child but also the whole imagery. We've been working on really specific imagery that's tied together right through the whole of the project. So we're excited that people are going to get a piece of vinyl that is spectacularly good looking. So that's very exciting

Vinyl sounds deeper, it's richer, it's got so much more to it. And knowing then that that the double CD is coming and that's going to be quite a fantasy journey. I think we've got a 23 page booklet in it so passionately involved with that. We're very happy

SIMON: It's great

PAUL: And the artwork has been updated, hasn't it?

TOYAH: More than updated. It's completely new. We shot the video yesterday

SIMON: Yeah, it's looking good

TOYAH: And it's surprisingly beautiful coming from two old farts

SIMON: Make-up took a long time though

TOYAH: I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised

PAUL: Will this be the last Toyah album because there's a lot of conversation about do albums even have a place in the world? Sheryl Crow came out recently and said she's probably not going to bother making another album because she can't find the people who've got the attention span to sit and listen to a whole album -

That's such an intelligent comment. Because she's right. We've tried taking on board younger people. Our attention span is really good and it's challenging. It's very challenging. I think it's cruel to give up on (albums) that people no longer have that . . .

SIMON: I think these things are cyclical. I think we are dealing with a generation who are engorged with stuff so they stop thinking and there will be a reaction to that. There will be some sort of new punk

Something will happen to them and some of them will wake up and say "I'm not having this any more. I want to do something, start making noise" or renouncing technology so I'm sure it will come back

TOYAH: You ask if this is the last Toyah album? I think you and I will keep writing -

SIMON: I'm sure, yeah

TOYAH: We do an album because we want to do an album. Not because it's financially rewarding. It's an act of communicating with the world. It's something we feel driven to do. Will it be the last album? That I don't know. I think that's a really poignant question. Thanks to technology there's an awful lot of stuff to do these days so are albums going to become something quaint and antiquated? Let's see

PAUL: Did you consider doing a new album because you had four tracks. You were probably half way to creating a whole new record. Did you consider doing that at any point?

TOYAH: The turning point was on my birthday last year. I was 60 on the May the 18th and the fans put a track called "Telepathic Lover" at number one in the Amazon download chart. We were contacted and told that could not have radio play without an album deal. We now have the album deal and we're giving it back to the fans and we're very happy to do that. We're already itching to write the next album -

SIMON: Yeah, absolutely. But because these songs never got the exposure I felt they should've had those years ago, to actually have a chance to get them out there. They still sound so alive to me that it made sense to do that and add the bits that we got since. It can take rather a long time to make records (laughs) By the time you've got twelve or ten good new songs -

TOYAH: I think it also takes a long time -

SIMON: When you're 70 -

TOYAH: When you're virtually the head of PRS (rights management for musical works) as well -

SIMON: There are other distractions -

TOYAH: There's huge distractions, yeah . . .

PAUL: What are your plans for the next year? You've got the new record coming out, you're always touring. Are you doing anything special?

TOYAH: Yeah, I've got two tours this year. The first tour kicks off in Scotland in April. I think we have almost 130 dates in this year so it's very busy. Then we round it off with the autumn dates at the end of October. And then I think there might be quite a big announcement for December but that's jumping the gun a bit

PAUL: I'm fascinated by your career because you always have two things on the go. You've had he acting and the music. How has that worked for you?

TOYAH: I have four movies about to be green-lit and if they all happen together I'm up shit creek. I'm also co-producing a movie about the albino community in Africa so that's taking up quite a lot of time connecting things together. It's going to be an interesting year

PAUL: Where does all this energy come from because you always seem to be involved in so many things. What stops you from putting your feet up?

I'm not interested in putting my feet up. I love my work. I've always loved my work and I've been very much married to the work. I feel passionate as a woman. The kind of thing of saying "hello, I'm still here". It's unbelievable working as a woman in this industry. It's still happily sexist and misogynist

It's still going on. But it's what I do, it's what I've always intended to do. I am a performer and I love doing it. If I put my foot up I'd see that as not only as failure but as rejection as well. It's just not what I'm going to do 

PAUL: It's interesting what you're saying about the industry. Film, music, TV and all the rest of it. Have they been any different in terms of how you're treated as a woman?

TOYAH: Hugely different! I can give you two examples and they're both extreme. I was sent by my first agent, who was slightly dodgy, a male agent, to audition for Russ Meyer's "Vixens 2". I was 18 years old and had no idea that it was a soft porn movie. I turned up for the meeting and wondered why I was asked to take my top off. I walked out of that one

So that was the beginning of my career and I stuck by those principles. I didn't sleep with directors, I didn't sleep on the casting couch. I just thought no! This is wrong. Within two years I was working with Katharine Hepburn. A Hollywood icon who loved me as a woman and I loved her as a woman. And no one had to do anything that we didn't want to do

Then after that I ended up in "Quadrophenia". Let's just jump forward 40 years to today where actually I'm embraced by an industry that sees me as someone of quality, someone of talent and understands that I have a burning will to make films I love and to make music I love

That is the difference 40 years makes. But it also really helps being older today. I actually think it's beneficial because no one treats you the way that an 18 year old girl was treated 40 years ago in auditions 

PAUL: I read a comment where you said you had a desire for fame, you wanted to be famous. What advice would you give to young women today? It isn't looked upon as a positive thing anymore, wanting fame for fame's sake -

TOYAH: It's about celebrity now. I would say to young people be true to yourself because we all have something utterly unique in ourselves. Don't be an imitator or an impersonator. Find your uniqueness

Also live a creative life and realise when you're picking that phone up and pouting at it and tweeting it . . . you're an imitator. We have to create a culture of the future and that can only be done by knowing who you are as an individual. Would you agree?

SIMON: I think I would actually. It's all about having something to say. Not everybody has something to say and a lot of people are quite happy to just ago along with the ebb and flow of life. But the sort of false celebrity has created this state which is vacuous and it's meaningless and that's why so many people are freaking out online because they don't really have anything to say 

You see them on the tube, people pouting . . . I'm on the tube and you think God! With the eye brows and all that stuff . . . anyway. Don't get me started about that! But in real terms, you have to have something to say -

TOYAH: When you look at the rise of bands like 1975. What they're doing is phenomenal. Their videos are staggering! And then you go back to the grunge period of the 90s . . . No one would dream of being vacuous!

So I think the talent and the brilliance is out there and you just have to search for it. If you look at it through celebrity it's quite hard to find but there are astonishing things going on out there. The talent is there and it's not necessarily about commercialism

PAUL: What do you think of the way the music industry is now because on the face of it there's more opportunity, it's easier to publish your own -

There's huge opportunity!

PAUL: But on the other hand it's harder to make a career selling albums. Is that a bit depressing -

TOYAH: No! This is what we've been doing for decades!

SIMON: I think it's still evolving. Music industry is traditionally very slow to change. Streaming started and they tried to force you to buy CD's. If everyone just got with it everyone would still be paying four or five quid for CD and it would be economically impossible. It had to go through that whole period of change and streaming is just starting to pay - a bit. It's coming up, it's not all the way there but it's certainly up

And again it just comes down to boredom. I think it will be possible to make albums because it will go back to wanting to be a part of something, to listen to a journey rather than just snippets. Hamburgers get boring after a while. It's a quick fix and as I said it's a cyclical thing. So I do think there's great hope for the music business. It just has to adapt and it's slowly starting to get it together

But it has to realise the models have got to be different. You have to include the artist more. The artists can't just be employees which is what they were before. It's a different thing. People are more clued-up these days. They understand what they're doing so they don't want to give 90% of their royalties away. They'd like to keep a bit more, please. It's fair enough so everybody's got to find a new way of doing (it) . . . It's coming. There's some great independents 

TOYAH: And it's immense fun -

SIMON: It is, yeah. It can be -

TOYAH: I think you have to stay on top of the business side. I was saying to Simon driving here that I played Halifax the other day, which was a blinding gig, drove home, worked in the office til 7 in the morning, then drove to Heathrow

It takes dedication and focus and as well as making the albums and selling the albums. You book the shows, you get the musicians to the shows, you feed the musicians, you get them hotels. It's an industry and it's not surface at all

There's incredible depth to this industry. I have never learned so much as working with the really big stars from Katharine Hepburn to Laurence Olivier to Roger Daltrey . . . You see how hard they work and that's the level you don't see. So your social media is up there and then as you go lower down there's this incredible industry of dedication. And it's fun. It's absolutely precious and brilliant and that's why we do it

PAUL: What ambitions do you have left, Toyah? I saw online that you're learning piano at the moment -

TOYAH: I love it! In my rucksack down there is my music theory books (laughs)

PAUL: Tell me why you've started doing that?

TOYAH: I think I have to start of by saying that not only am I severely dyslexic but I'm dyspraxic, which means that as a musician I've never been able to separate my hands. Even getting a message to one hand has been quite remarkably difficult

So I started my piano lessons this year because the one thing I left school with, 45 years ago, was music theory. I have astonishing memory. I'm almost savant with my memory. I can tell you what I wore on this day ten years ago

I have that kind of memory but controlling everything is very difficult. I am now able to play piano, read the music, split my hands and it almost means more to me than all the hit singles! Because every day I sit down at the piano and play and that to me is my greatest achievement to date

I know it sounds really stupid but I wasn't allowed to have piano lessons as a child. I believe that everyone in school should have piano lessons because there is just something about the way you place your thoughts that helps you deal with the every day

PAUL: And just finally to finish off . . . You've got this great back catalogue of music. Do you plan to re-issue the old albums? Create box sets?

TOYAH: Yeah, there's box sets planned for this year. I own half the catalogue now and Simon and I own our stuff so that makes it possible. I think for the early stuff . . . I haven't mentioned this to you but (jokingly) we're going to have to go to the studio and re-record the first four albums

SIMON: OK, we can do that on Tuesday

TOYAH: Which is not a bad thing. Yeah, we'll do it on Tuesday. But yes, there's a lot of plans. Because there's a huge audience out there that want our stuff. Right from 78' to today. I'm very very grateful for that and it makes our lives very fulfilled and fun 

Watch the interview HERE
In The Court Of The Crimson Queen:
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