KEITH: This time last year we were gearing up for her Record Store Day release, a magnificent coloured vinyl edition of "In The Court Of The Crimson Queen". The previous year we had clear vinyl of "Desire". She loves this day!

This year, last Friday we had a box set of 7 CD's of her solo work. Fabulous! And in the spring she's touring with Hazel O'Connor. Busy busy busy for Toyah Willcox! Morning, Toyah!

TOYAH: Hello, Bernie! Lovely to be here with you

BERNIE: You're very supportive of Record Store Day. Anything this year?

TOYAH: There's so much going on (laughs) It's so exciting! "MINX" is coming out on red vinyl (below), "Desire" will be re-released on white vinyl. My two really critically acclaimed solo albums "Prostitute", "Ophelia's Shadow" and "Take The Leap!"

All will be coming  out on vinyl. There's a very big announcement in the summer as well, which I'm not allowed to tell you because that's obviously waiting for July

BERNIE: You were with a great label, with the Demon group, Edsel and those kind of people. They seem to care about the product. Do records mean a lot to you? Do you have an umbilical connection from your childhood to them?

TOYAH: Oh, yes! As a purchaser of singles and albums ... I still have everything I've ever bought. I never got rid of it even when record players no longer existed. I have beautiful first editions of Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones one with the banana on. I've got all of that. Tyrannosaurus Rex. It means a lot to me. As much as owing a beautiful book

BERNIE: If you throw them out you're throwing out your photo album, that's the thing. Because you put on that Tyrannosaurus Rex album and you remember how you were as a girl when you got it, won't you? That's the magic of what you do

Absolutely. And the shows I went to see. I went to see T. Rex at Birmingham Odeon when I was about 13. I saw "Ziggy Stardust" at Coventry live when I was about 14. I can absolutely map my life through my vinyl collection. I think that's why, when punk happened, it was such a powerful medium of getting to know someone by looking at their collection

They weren't only punks, we all had guilty pleasures and mine was Fleetwood Mac. So we'd find these things deposited away behind The Clash albums. We got to know each other through our collections

BERNIE: This box set that's out, the solo work - you wrote the sleeve notes for each album, didn't you? 

TOYAH: Yeah. I think it was very important to do that because I wanted to be able to put my perspective on the albums. Not only why they were made at the time they were made but what they mean to me now. There were stories back then that I wasn't allowed to tell. "Desire", "Prostitute" and "Ophelia" had non-disclosure documents -

BERNIE: Did they?!

TOYAH: Yeah, because I wasn't getting on with my management. But I can now talk about them. On one of the discs I'm being interviewed for 45 minutes. My husband comes in and talks on my behalf to go into what the non-disclosure was about because I'm still not (allowed) to talk about certain areas (Bernie laughs)

The beauty of today is we now know if a woman has had a non-disclose document it's usually to cover up a crime against her and that is what is featured on the box set

BERNIE: What's it like re-visiting the music? Because I guess you don't listen to your music all the time and now when you're putting these things together you have to go back to them, don't you?

TOYAH: "Desire", when I wrote it in 87-88, was a very coherent experimental piece of music that by today's standards would be highly commercial. Two tracks were removed to put cover versions on. "Echo Beach" and "Love's Unkind", which I never agreed to or agreed with.

When I heard the two tracks that were discarded and I thought had been destroyed ... we found them and just I burst into tears. T
hey are the most beautiful pieces of writing. They are so astonishingly ahead of their time. When I listened to "Ophelia's Shadow" again tears just flooded down my face

BERNIE: It takes you back to the battle. It takes you back to what you were going through at the time

TOYAH: Yeah! They were truly pieces of Toyah, the creative artist, and I'm so proud of them. Even "Prostitute", which became my biggest critically acclaimed album, my biggest seller but never knew about it because I never saw a penny for any of those three albums. I listen to them and think I wasn't going off my head down the wrong alley as a creative artist. I was right and it's hugely emotional

BERNIE: "Solo", it's a solo box set. A lot of people may think you've always been solo. That's what you've been but prior to '85 Toyah was a group too, wasn't it?

Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. "Sheep In Farming Barnet", "The Blue Meaning", "Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!", "Anthem", "The Changeling", "Love Is The Law". All huge albums, all went gold or platinum. We were a band called Toyah. The key writer of that music was my guitarist Joel Bogen (on the far left, above, performing in Germany, 1981)

When I signed to CBS to do "MINX" I became a solo artist. The thing about the boxset "Toyah Solo" albums is I now own them and have the copyright on them, which may sound like what does that mean? Well, it means everything to the artist to own their albums

BERNIE: The artwork is amazing. Last year's "Crimson Queen" was off the charts. It's beautiful and so is this box set but then the visual is always a part of your work. Where does that come from? Did you go to art college or were you in the mosh pit watching Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velvet Underground thinking that's what I want to do. Where does that come from?

TOYAH: I grew up with male artists cross-dressing and found it incredibly powerful and liberating to walk away from the restraints of gender law. Alice Cooper, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, even Twisted Sister. They all played with gender and I love that so much. I was exactly the same when I became an artist

The image took me away from the constraints of gender control. I was very much into make-up, clothes, having things made that were one-offs. I was incredibly proud of wearing clothes that no one else had

BERNIE: And this tour "The Electric Ladies of the 80s" ... It seems so obvious (laughs) ... You and Hazel

TOYAH: I know! (laughs)

BERNIE: You've known each other for 40 years, haven't you? (Toyah and Hazel in 1982, below)

TOYAH: Yes. Hazel, myself and Kate Bush were all in the same room together to audition for (the film) "Breaking Glass". That's the first time I met Hazel, in 1978. I've always said that the right person got the job. Hazel is the only actress and composer who could've starred in "Breaking Glass". Kate Bush is the only singer-songwriter who could've written "Hounds Of Love"

I'm the only actress that could've gone onto to do "Quadrophenia". Could've worked with Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn. Who could've written "Anthem", "The Changeling", "Love Is The Law" and move onto the stuff I did

Our places were set in stone the moment we were born. We just honoured and fought for our roles in a creative world. And suddenly - 40 years on - Hazel and I are working together (laughs) 
Why didn't it happen sooner

: Were you rivals? Did you feel you were competing?

TOYAH: The press made us rivals, the record companies made us rivals. On that level we were competing. I think it's an awful place to be as an artist, where you're made to be threatened by other artists' work. Especially the artists who you love as artists. I have always loved Kate Bush, always loved Hazel, loved Siouxsie, Pauline Murray, X Ray Specs, The Slits. I've loved them all but we were made to be rivals

We were made to compete on Top Of The Pops. I think once we hit the new millennium all that fell by the by and we all stuck together as sisters and loved each other's work and honoured each other's work

So what form will the shows take on this tour? Are you going to do separate sets? Are you going come together as well?

TOYAH: We have to do separate sets. I've had 13 Top 40 singles. Hazel's probably had the same

As Prince used to say on stage "I've got too many hits!" and that's the problem, isn't it?

I don't know how he did it. He'd get off stage and go to a nightclub and do another four hours every night (Bernie laughs) Hazel and I will be working together. Hazel has asked to go on first because she's working with Claire and Sarah, her keyboard player and saxophonist. Hazel wants that to very much stand alone. Then my band will come on and do Hazel's hits electronically

Then I come on and I do a set. Hazel joins my set where we're going to do this rather mammoth encore set of shared music. Everyone from Iggy Pop right through to Bob Marley. We want everyone up on their feet,
just crying and having a wonderful time

BERNIE: It's going to sell out so check for availability. Hazel cut David Bowie's hair once. Have you got any famous hairdressing stories you can share, Toyah? (laughs)

TOYAH: I didn't know about that! I'm going to ask her about that (laughs) My hairdresser, a wonderful man called Keith, who owns the legendary hair salon Smile, was Bowie's hair dresser as well. I only found that out recently. If I had known I would've been at their doors going "what was he like!?" (Bernie laughs) Of course I met Bowie because my husband was his guitarist. I never got to know Bowie but I met him quite a few times 

BERNIE: I'm going to let you go because you're going down to the gym. You look fantastic, Toyah, but you want muscles, don't you?

TOYAH: Yeah, I'm in training (Bernie laughs) I'm always in some kind of training. I'm always doing physio. For this tour I want to be really physically strong. I don't get a day off for three weeks on this tour

BERNIE: Very good. "Electric Ladies of The 80s", The Stables, Milton Keynes on April 17th. "Solo" box set is out now. On April 18th an embarrasment of riches on Record Store Day from the fabulous Toyah Willcox! Thank you, Toyah!

TOYAH: Thank you, so pleased to talk to you, Bernie! Have a great day!


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