01/06/2021

TOYAH ON
THE EVELYN GLENNIE PODCAST
5.5.2021



EVELYN: Not many individuals can boast having two major careers travelling in tandem with equal impact. Especially with the longevity that each has had and indeed continue to have. And apart from being a fireball of energy and a truly unique person in every sense my guest today is a legend as a musician and a remarkably versatile actress. Generation wise we’ve more or less grown up together but I remember when she exploded onto our TV screens with such creativeness and talent that it felt as though Id’ been catapulted to another planet

Well, actually one of my brothers, who has a very eclectic taste in music was very much entranced by three female pop artists in particular when he was a young lad obviously. But one was Kate Bush, Suzi Quatro and of course Toyah Willcox.

And I have to say that I also shared his sentiments and never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought that I would be sitting here now having this opportunity to chat with one of these legendary ladies. Yes, Toyah Willcox has shown us time and again what listening to yourself and following what you believe in really means

Toyah is used going against the expectations of society and for that and indeed many other reasons I’m really excited to spend this wee while chatting with her. Well, Toyah, it’s kind of an understatement to say that you really inspired me because you really really did and I think what was just so intrigueing, as I was growing up and just seeing you blossom on our screens, is how you brought all of these different art forms together and it just felt right. You know what I mean? There was such an creative sprit there


TOYAH: Thank you very much for saying that and it’s very generous of you to say that. At the time it was quite a battle of my sheer will and determination against an industry that liked people to really be in a compartment. So when I started at the National Theatre at the age of 18 at the end of 1976 I was at the National at a time when actors were not allowed to do voice overs. If you wanted to be taken seriously you wouldn’t dream of doing an advert and some stage actors would not even dream of doing TV drama

There was very much division between every style of acting and music. And I think what I did I knew from a very early age – my mother took me to see The Sound Of Music seven times in three months when I was about 7 years old and I just knew that the two should never be separated and that was the beginning.

And the joy of expressing yourself like a bird in the trees as a songstress and the joy of expressing yourself through movement and acting. For me they very much went together but I also need to add I never felt that I needed to be a stage musical artist. My idea was to have two completely separate careers 

 


EVELYN: It’s so interesting that because, you know, when we’re at school as infants when all of the art form together is so natural. We sing, we dance, we draw, we say things, build stories and put little words together in sentences and so on and all of the expression is this kind of milking pod and it seems extraordinary that that isn’t even cultivated more as we get older but in fact it kind of recedes into this kind of very odd -

TOYAH: I think it’s time and space. I had a phenomenal music teacher and I believe she taught maths as well. She was called Miss Nelson. And I was one of those typical dyslexics at school where I peaked and troughed, peaked and troughed. I kept excelling and being top of the class and then falling right back to behind the class and the time I was eleven I couldn’t peak again within that system

But what Miss Nelson did she realised that I was dyslexic at a time when dyslexia wasn’t recognised within the school system and she realised I had a vast understanding, a natural body understanding of music. So she would push the desks to the side of the walls during everyone’s class and put on Holst's Planet Suite.

And I would just be in the centre of the room dancing furiously in a state of emotional ecstasy because that music was informing me so much of great story and it helped me with my maths and everything so I’ve always had that gift of people recognising that movement for me is a language as much as music is a language

EVELYN: Yeah, that’s interesting because in a way I suppose everything is a language -

TOYAH: Yes

EVELYN: When you think about it. I mean I look out the window now and it’s just tiny little flecks of snow coming down. I mean that’s a language because it informs you it might be a good idea to put a jacket on or a hat on or just watch your footing when you go outside in case you fall flat on your face or something. It’s giving you a message. But it’s interesting in that the planets were used because I suppose – and tell me if I’m wrong … that it wasn’t stated that that is a classical piece of music?

TOYAH: It was classical in my eyes because I grew up with the Beatles, Tommy Steele, I grew up with Tom Jones and the planets to me was this luxurious feast. There was no introduction about it being classical at all. It was just this wonderfully visual piece of music.

Mars – you can express Holst's Mars so beautifully and then you get Neptune and then you get Jupiter. They’re so poetic, they’re incredible and I recognised that above everyone else in the class. And Miss Nelson realised that she was unlocking a potential in me that was about to be lost once I went into the senior school

And that was quite tragic because it did get lost and I didn’t find that in myself again until I heard Marc Bolan and David Bowie and suddenly had these incredibly visual artists who were so out on a limb musically that it beckoned me in a like Pied Piper.

I was stimulated and interested and fascinated and that really helped me with the will to be myself because I was considered to be an oddball who didn’t quite fit in the mould of every other woman in the room. So when artists like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Marc Bolan, even early Roxy Music came along I thought well, that’s where I belong

EVELYN: That’s interesting, isn’t really, because an awful lot about this is of course listening to yourself. I mean having that sort inner – it’s not just a gut feeling … it’s truly listening to every fibre of your body as to what it is that makes you you. And I think going back to seeing you on the television as a young person this was really quite explosive.

And for me as a percussion player, where it’s still quite male dominated and certainly was growing up, and the fact that you in a way, sexually, you see yourself a girl, a boy, a man, a woman, just everything, whatever needs to be expressed - you allow this freedom to come out of your very very being and people are quite protective about that because they’re worried about how other people might view it 

 

 


TOYAH: Oh, didn’t have to worry about that at all. I was always the joker in the pact and that was fine. I always astonished people and going back to school days I really wanted singing lessons so I took up opera and my wonderful voice teacher Miss Cullum, who passed away very early on in my teens – she taught me Tosca, Die Liebe, I sang in German and you’ve got to bear in mind this was the dyslexic in the school (laughs)

EVELYN: Incredible

TOYAH: But that was the last time I stood still to sing. And I realised that within rock the pulse of four four timing or even the waltz of three four timing is so in my body that I find it impossible to stand still when I sing and I so admire people who can be still in their body because I rarely am and you talked about this explosion of movement. Well, a part of that is me keeping time

EVELYN:
Hmm. It’s fascinating that because in a way I find in my own situation that I can move, I think fairly naturally when I have sticks or mallets in my hand but if you ask me to move and remove those items I wouldn’t just really know what to do with myself, with my body and how to really move. But you just seem to have this … the air, the space, the acoustic is your prop in a way

TOYAH: I want to flag a story that isn’t about me but it is about lockdown. My husband Robert Fripp of the band King Crimson - supposedly the inventor of prog rock. I taught him to dance in lockdown and this is a man who can play guitar eleven notes a second in timings like 18/7.

He can not dance. He doesn’t know his left from his right (Evelyn chuckles) Take the guitar out of his hands and he is not a musician. I think this proved to me above all that absolutely everyone can learn to play something if they know how their brain has been wired and how your brain can sabotage you

And this leads onto the fact that in the last seven weeks I’ve picked up a guitar for the first time in my life and started playing it because I found a teacher who can see how my brain has been wired to sabotage my hands. I think this is how I view dyslexia, we’ve been wired to sabotage ourselves and we can find a way around it.

Getting back to this whole thing about movement and filling the air, filling the space … I find it very very strange when people are still and it doesn’t match the drama of the music. For me music is so enormously expressive and takes us beyond our natural language that I’m surprised people arent’t doing acrobatics when they listen to music (they both laugh)

EVELYN: It’s funny you say that because I remember as a music student in London we were asked to give a recital and we were informed as how to walk on stage, how to smile so do not show your teeth, just sort of curve your lips a little bit and then take a bow but it had to be at a certain angle and a certain speed and then go to your instrument.

We were all so worried about this walk on and the bow and the smile and in fact it was quite a relief to just sit down at our instrument or stand up and play something because suddenly we were free so a teacher then couldn’t really say you must play like this or that

You’re suddenly free with your instrument and then you could be yourself but it was interesting in a way you had these clones lined up walking on at the same speed, smiling in a same manner and completely nervous and completely unnatural in a way so what you’re saying is fascinating.

But I suppose it goes back – I mean the very fact that you can remember your teachers names and for them to realise how important it is that we’ve all got this story to tell and what is the story? What is another pupil’s story? And so on

 

 


TOYAH: I’d like to pick up on what you’ve just said about being taught to walk on stage because I find it impossible to walk on stage in front of an audience and not be affected by the audience. Every audience is utterly unique. They breathe differently, they sound different, they respond differently.

I have songs that have been with me for forty years and those songs have changed those people’s lives but also I constantly write and in the last two years I’ve added new songs to my sets and one is a song called "Dance In The Hurricane", which I wrote with my co-writer Simon Darlow two years ago about losing our parents but still being connected to our parents

I now open with that song and when I walk on stage I hear grown men shout appreciation that this song has allowed them to feel grief and to feel the joy of connection and to be able to express that even though they are men. I experience the audience so intensely that I play songs in my set so the audience will give me some energy.

What I mean by that is when you’re on stage for an hour and a half performing with the energy that I do, and I’m now 62, there are moments where I have to take a breath in that hour and a half and there are moments when I know the audience will pay back. And what I mean by that is that if I play "Hurricane" or a song called "Sensational", which is doing very well at the moment, or "It’s A Mystery", the audience will, like battery, pay me back. They fill me up again

EVELYN: Hmm. It’s absolutely fascinating because in a way so many times we are often asked what would you like an audience to feel or do you pay attention to the audience or – they are so much a part of a performance. You’ve just said it so eloquently. It’s such an important lesson in a way, the audience gives that live energy 

 


 

TOYAH: And you must see it and feel it when you’re doing these huge drums (Evelyn chuckles) and I don’t mean this in a patronising way – you are stunningly beautiful and when you play these huge drums … I mean the audience must be in  ecstasy!

EVELYN: Well, I find that during this whole year not giving any live performances whatsoever has obviously changed what I’m focusing on or the dynamic of what I do. But I’ve not had that feeling that I want to give performances virtually because I really need people. I really need to smell, touch, use every sense possible because they will change the interpretation.

And as you say things happen in that performance, even if you have an imagined audience, even if you’re in the privacy of your own four walls and you’re imagining of being in an outdoor venue or in a theatre or in a studio or wherever it might be … still you can’t get all of your senses in gear than when you’re absolutely right there with them


TOYAH: I never feel more alive than when I’m in front of an audience and when I’m taking those breaths and when I’m pitching that note … I think some people call it yoga (Evelyn chuckles) or mediation but for me performance is that time when I’m honouring my body through every sense

EVELYN: That’s a great way of putting it, that respect that you have of your own machine because your own body has to function in order for you to give and then to receive in a way. And I just wonder during the past year, because everything has really changed for us all, have you noticed any differences in the mechanics of your body from a creative point of view? Do you know what I mean?

TOYAH: Yes, I do and it’s a wonderful question. When we first went into lockdown Aprill 2020 I spent 3 weeks praying. I live on the river Avon and I go down to the river six in the morning, sometimes earlier, and I would pray for about three hours because we didn’t know the nature of beast. Then when we hit the second lockdown I was far more prepared and I started writing an album I’m about to finish in the next two months called "Posh Pop".

It’s been a phenomenally creative time and this past year because I’ve not been doing contracts and not travelling eight hours a day and doing two hours shows I’ve had this time to rediscover my original creativity. To go back why I did this in the first place and this came from a lot of contemplation, from the fact that I’m 62 and time is finite

Using this as an opportunity to what I think is going to be one of most phenomenal times of my life and all our lives is when we conquer this and we’re out of lockdown. I think we are going to be running a marathon as performers so in the lockdown not only have I been doing my album, I’ve been doing artwork, I’ve also been broadcasting via facebook and Youtube and I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to do an online concert

But what I’ve done is I’ve created Toyah At Home on Saturdays, which is about my history for the die-hard fans, Toyah and Robert Agony Aunts which is phenomenally important and we started that because I was dealing with a promoter, a male promoter, who had a history of attempting suicide and I feel men need to be heard with an unconditional voice. They so often have to ultra tough and kind of ultra achievers.

And with Agony Aunts, which I do with my husband, we’re taking questions from men, women, them, they, us, all genders and we try and address from our point of view a new way of these people seeing themselves in a hope that it fights off any thoughts of suicide. And then our Sunday Lunches are pure fun!

EVELYN: Brilliant!

TOYAH: And I create those with sound because you’ve got two people locked in the same house with one hell of a history. My husband and me. So guitar and voice. And I secretly introduce into those a lot of colour because I believe the colours we live with are as equally vibrant and vibratitive – if there is such a word – as my favourite note which is A, my favourite chord which is E. I mean these colours all have musical sounds and I try and bring them all together in these 90 second films

EVELYN: They’re absolutely brilliant I have to say, they really are, and I think what’s astonishing is the chemistry where you can be in a very familiar place, such as your kitchen, but yet the chemistry was keeping this kind of artistic integrity - but yet there’s a real twinkle with it, you know, is quite fascinating and I think it’s really inspiring. Really inspiring.

It’s interesting when you mention about the colour and so on because quite often we think of musical sounds as particular colours. I don’t personally do that myself or I don’t recognise such a pink which is what you’re wearing now, with a particular -


TOYAH: This is a blue topaz (her ring, below), it’s on me all the time and that is a D Major for me 



EVELYN: Interesting. That is so beautiful actually

TOYAH:
And the pink … I’m in the studio after being with you and the pink is I’m going to be writing lyrcis and re-sing as we write. So my co-writer and I, Simon Darlow, we go into the studio with nothing. He stands at the keyboard or a guitar, I’m at the mike and line by line, word by word we build a song. And then the following day we record it in full. It’s a beautiful way to work but the reason I’m in the bright cerise pink is it energises through the eyes, it energises my thought processes

EVELYN: And when you said earlier that you go to the river and you sit by the river and you pray for three hours give or take ... so what does this mean? What is the process of this? Do you literally sit there or?

TOYAH: Oh yeah (laughs) The three hours was purely exclusive to that first lockdown. There was a lot of time in that first lockdown. The most important thing for me when I it by the river is to tune into nature. We have Kingfishers, we’ve got swans, ducks, we’ve even got Cormorants, we have owls, we have birds of prey and we have the most enormous fish. Mink. We’ve even got an otter.

And I just sit there and observe and observe and eventually I’m in a place where I can just be me and I can allow my thoughts to move freely. I always have a notepad and a pen with me because, you know this – ideas come up in the most inconvenient places

And I tend to do an awful lot of writing that I then discard, I leave it for a couple of weeks and I revisit that notepad and think "oh, my goodness, I can use that, that’s incredible". During the year we have lost a lot of people and it’s not been to Covid and I’ve lost two major musicians on my life, my band. Not Covid, they all were pre-suffering cancer so a lot my thoughts have been how can I honour their lives, how can I honour what they taught me, how can I honour working with them?

And one of them is just to be super dedicated to who and what I have been for the last forty years and to be very pure to that. So when I sit by the riverbank I try and not be the needy egotistical Toyah Willcox that the agents get. I just try and be something that can be ultra creative that can honour everything that’s been and gone. If that makes sense?

EVELYN: It makes total sense, Toyah. It’s just so brilliantly put and that’s a really inspiring thought for all of us to think about. I mean the conversation about losing people that are close to you and this whole year where so many families have experienced loss and experienced a landscape they were simply not expecting and the fact that we can all put almost a date on when that happened. You know what I mean? It’s quite extraordinary as opposed to it being a certain period, but a natural date last March that lives really did change. But it has allowed us to open up our emotions, to listen to each other, the story of our next door neighbour is important

TOYAH: Yes. People need to be seen, heard and be acknowledged. And that’s what a community does and ironically we’re having to function in a new way as a community. But people still need to be seen, heard and be listened to. It’s been very very challenging and so many of us have been affected so dramatically by loss but also loss of income and then with you and I, in our industry, everyone from the roadies through to the sound technicians, light technicians, the performers, the venues, everyone has lost their identity through their job and I think music and sound and communication has never been more important

Which is why I’m very very happy to do these films and also to register their reaction and how people react to them. One that Robert and I did that was actually serious was "Heroes", which Robert was the original guitarist on with Bowie, and we did this to celebrate the VE Day and at the very end we held up notes saying we love you Dame Vera Lynn, we love you Captain Tom Moore and it was just us seeing and acknowledging and saying thank you to these amazing generations. And I would say the last year has helped us see we’re made of generations. Not just teens and twenty year olds. We’ve all had remarkable lives and we all have stories to tell 



 

EVELYN: Hmm … That’s so true. There has been a kind of real acknowledgement and listening and opening up to our older generations for sure. I mean obviously Sir Captain Tom has been an extraordinary example of that but so many others. And funnily enough in my own situation I haven’t actually seen my mum for over a year now -

TOYAH:
Oh!

EVELYN: She went into a care home on Saturday and my brothers who are up in Scotland with her were not allowed to go into the home with her. But what I found now in these 72 hours now that she’s been in the home is that she’s expressing herself quite differently than when she was in the four walls of her own home. And a lot of that is sort of reminiscing of her past because she feels as if she’s entered this other chapter of her life and there’s almost this need for her to think about some of the things which have happened to her in the past. This different environment has somehow created this feeling in her

TOYAH: And she must’ve been born after the war?

EVELYN: Just at the end of the war, during the war -

TOYAH: She would remember rationing -

EVELYN: Definitely -

TOYAH: And she would remember the lack of materials, the lack of clothes. I have this feeling that people that are old enough to remember the war know what this past year has been about

EVELYN: I think that’s really really true and I think it’s interesting when some of that generation have been asked has this past year been more challenging than perhaps during the war and some have said yes, actually because of the isolation and some have said absolutely not, the war years were much more challenging.

We’ve got the technology now to at least connect with people even if it’s not physically feeling someone’s hand or face or giving a hug or whatever but actually can you imagine if we were going through this past year without Zoom, Skype, email, texting, you name it


TOYAH: It wouldn’t be possible. It just wouldn’t be possible. It would be totally inhuman and for your mother making this very very important journey, which really is the next stage of her life … Her to be doing this, I mean, she knows you’re there with her, she knows you’re thinking of her but it’s the physical touch as well and one remembers that is the same for most people around the world at the moment.

For me as a creative writer and as a performer I feel incredible responsibility to try and bring some dialogue and some language to people’s lives through my work that acknowledges that. Acknowledges that incredible human need that we need connecting and we need to remember what human touch is like. I can’t imagine it to be honest

EVELYN: One of the things she mentioned yesterday actually, because she doesn’t understand she has be - being a new resident of the care home - she has to isolate for 14 days and she’s seeing people walking up and down the corridor and wondering why aren’t they coming in to say hello? Well, they’re not allowed to first of all, she’s a very sociable person and she wants to be back home because she knows that family members are allowed to go in. So it is a really interesting dynamic but this is where technology, through the help of the home obviously, can allow at least for her to see people that she recognises

TOYAH: And hopefully the stimulus of music to listen to as well

EVELYN: Absolutely. I mean going back to your journey, the longevity and the relevance of everything you’ve done is really remarkable. Again that’s a form of listening to what’s going on around in the world. What is happening right now as supposed to looking back and thinking that’s how I did things then and that’s what I’m going to try and do now because it happened to be successful then but you always really seem to look forward and be present

 


 

TOYAH: In my world change is incredibly important, I obviously do lots of 80’s festivals and I adore doing them and I have never ever got bored of singing any of the songs that started my career 40 years ago. Again because the audience re-interpret the song back at me but I find that in my world dealing with modern contemporary music you continually have to change. You have to evolve. You have to move on. I don’t like written formulas within popular music so I’m always looking for new sounds, things that inspire me and move me but also the importance of how younger generations review and renew music. It’s always utterly fascinating

And there’s always some movements I will not connect with because it’s just not in me but I think in lockdown there’s been a lot of incredibly inventive new music coming out. I always cite a band called Bring Me The Horizon because they are what I would like to be as a woman! They’re all men but they are what I would like to be! Everything they do breaks the rules and invents a new sound and that for me, even as a 62 year old is what creativity is about

EVELYN: It’s fantastic! I suppose in my own situation being a percussion player you take an instrument and you think ah – how many ways can this be played or what would happen if I popped it on top of this other instrument and how might it resonate and so on. There is this constant exploration and what’s so interesting about you is you do in a way see the world as your springboard of ideas. So you’re looking ahead but you’re also recognising what the younger generation are doing and how they’re consuming things

TOYAH: A part of that is very conscious effort - and really really don’t want to sound pretentious here - is to live a creative life. So for me everything should be approached with the intention of it being a creative experience. Making your breakfast, your lunch, your supper, to snacking to choosing what you want. It should be your creative experience.

Where I’m a little odds with things is where the internet chooses lists for you. Viewing lists, listening lists, I’m a little odds with that because I believe that we should all search because part of that searching is our leaning process. But within the house, my husband and I are both Tarureans and what I mean by that is we’re both very happy on the sofa (Evelyn chuckles) We fight that. We fight that a lot and we try to turn everything into a new experience so we don’t repeat ourselves at lunch, we don’t repeat ourselves in conversation

When my husband – he did something the other day, he came in and my head was in the middle of lyric in the kitchen and he said "I’ve done the washing, I’ve hung the washing up" and I actually said to him "I am not interested in the washing" (Evelyn laughs) He was so brilliant, he realised he was interrupting a process. We can do that and it can be quite brutal but I’m determined we have a creative life

And while I remember this, it’s a slight tangent but this is one of my most envious moments of lockdown. Last Saturday I needed to ask him something. He was in his study listening to a piece of classical music. I opened the door and he was in a state of ecstasy listening to this music. And I was jealous! I said to him "I don’t get the time for that listening experience and you haven’t told me what this piece of music is" and bless him, he set a speaker up in my art room, because I do art – that’s been my income in lockdown, and he set a speaker up and hooked me up to his playlist 



 

EVELYN: Awww

TOYAH: It would’ve not happened any other way so listening is so important

EVELYN: It’s so incredible and it’s so important to have this open understanding though in a relationship like this where you can just so completely, utterly and honestly say what the situation is and then build the bridges in order to make it a shared experience

TOYAH: Yes. I mean it can sound really brutal. We did have a sit down moment about for weeks into lockdown and I said to him "I can not have you tell me every time you make a cup of coffee, what your’re doing, I will not survive this." So the water goes in the cup, the coffee goes …

EVELYN: (laughs) He needs to learn sign language so that he can show you and be quiet at the same time


TOYAH: Absolutely!

EVELYN: (laughs) But it’s such an interesting dynamic because you’ve been together for a long long time and that’s sometimes fairly unusual in the entertainment business. It can be very challenging. When you first got together - the dynamics of two extraordinarily creative people … how did this manifest itself? For two such big forces to come together? Yet be completely independent?

TOYAH: Well, in the beginning, for the first 20 years – we’ve been together for 35 years, but the first 20 years we would’ve not survived without the telephone

EVELYN: Aha, OK

TOYAH:
We would’ve just not survived. I insisted I was called twice a day and that’s a reassurance that I’m still in his mind. He was living in America, I was living in the UK. Wasn’t ideal. I was super famous when we got married and then very slowly the marriage evolved into the first five years and the press decided I was the little wife at home and he was the superstar. I found that very difficult and it in fact spurred me on to work even harder and to be even more prolific and more outlandish in my choices of jobs

I was working at the Chichester Theatre, I was touring "Taming Of The Shrew", did "Therese Raquin" (below) at the Nottingham Playhouse, back to the National, making movies and albums. It just made me more determined. Where my husband is phenomenally interesting is his career is based on the first albums he made from 1967 through to 1974 and he is still a worldwide star because of those albums.

My most famous catalogue was recorded between ‘77 and ‘84 and I’ve not had access to that catalogue until a year ago. It airbrushed me musically out of history which meant I had to do as many live concerts, as much TV, as much visibility programming as I could and suddenly a record company got access to the back catalogue and I entered the charts again last December in the Top 40 because of demand. So if your back catalogue is so vital to your career and you don’t have access to it you have to find a way of surviving and that’s what I did



EVELYN: It’s amazing isn’t it and when you’re looking into an artist’s career you’re not always privy obviously to that journey and the back room as it were of that journey but surely this past year the industry has recognised that the artist really must take control of the material that they produce because a lot of musicians and various artists of one sort or another have spent so much of their time, years and years and years specialising playing an instrument or something

But there isn’t a plan B, there isn’t a plan C, there isn’t a plan D and there’s really very little security there and I think that we do have to recognise that if something is recorded that we have some kind of comeback on that, we do have some kind of reward when it’s being played and used and so on


TOYAH: That’s all a bit of a wasps nest at the moment because of copyright laws being addressed but what I would say is that you will always have contrived artists because the mainstay of record labels is those artists that initially sell over a million items of product very very quickly and then the industry moves onto the next contrived artist. But where we need to protect ourselves and I feel that I have been quite successful in this, all thanks to the internet and thanks to Youtube, and you will know this, Evelyn, that we generationally we mature beautifully as musicians

So I started in my teens, every decade I have improved, every decade I’ve reinvented and every decade I’ve done original creation. And if the big corporate’s aren’t interested in that my audience is. The blessing has been the internet. In this year, this exceptional year the internet has been my weapon of mass destruction against corporate record companies because it proves if you have originality and if you have a genuine talent you have an audience

EVELYN: Absolutely, it’s so fascinating what you‘re saying there and absolutely important for us all to digest that. For me all of the journey that you’ve had there’s always that distinct stamp mark of Toyah. No matter how much reinvention goes in there you keep this core aspect of you and it just goes back to that listening what is right for you, listening to your audience, to people – how they’re interacting with what you do and I suppose to putting yourself into a situation that simply isn’t natural

TOYAH: I totally agree, it’s very hard to do something when it’s not natural to you and I always say to young people - I’m given the opportunity in front of live audiences a lot to address the fact that the first voice that comes into our head is our true instinctive voice and we’re not often encouraged to trust that and I always say trust your instinct

I have lived my life listening to that instinctive voice that is always against the odds of other people’s opinion and I just stand by my instincts and also when someone is telling you to do something and you know it is a mistake and it’s their mistake. Sometimes I would just do it to be very stubborn and just to prove a point

But I always say "look, if I do this you are cutting away the potential of this, if we do this the potential is greater" and if the person still wants to draw the short straw then let them experience it. We all learn by our own mistakes but my biggest lesson I can teach anyone is listen to yourself



 

EVELYN: Thank you so much, Toyah, really, it’s been such a pleasure. What I would love to do is, I’m just thinking about your – on a fun note – your Sunday lunches with yourself and Robert and I decided to fish out an instrument that is called a pancake drum -

TOYAH:
Yes!

EVELYN: And I thought maybe you can do something in the kitchen with a pancake drum. Obviously it’s a flat drum. This is actually a Japanese drum called Utsuwa Taiko but I thought maybe you can do a sketch with Robert in your kitchen using a pancake drum or there’s a smaller one here that’s easy to manipulate or could use these wonderful African bowls with beads on them

TOYAH:
Yes!
 

EVELYN: Sometimes people have in their kitchen - you can rattle or play various beats (rattles the instrument)

TOYAH:
Wow!

EVELYN: Or there’s a little small one here (rattles)

TOYAH:
They are beautiful!

EVELYN: So you can play in your kitchen

TOYAH:
Well, yes, I think we’d have to use our pots and pans because those beautiful instruments I would damage! I’m so ham-fisted

EVELYN: There you go! They’re there to be creative on

TOYAH:
Fabulous! I’m afraid I’m only capable of four four timing which would be very frustrating if you were to join us

EVELYN:
(laughs) Toyah, thank you so so much for such an enlightening conversation, I really appreciate it


TOYAH:
Thank you! And it’s so wonderful to see you again!

EVELYN: As you can probably tell I’m not a Michael Parkinson or anything like that (laughs)

TOYAH:
You are brilliant!

EVELYN: I’m so used to being interviewed myself that I -

TOYAH:
I interviewed you at the end of the 80’s

EVELYN: Well, I do remember something that we did but I couldn’t remember the exact detail

TOYAH:
You were breathtaking. I think it might’ve been the Science Of Sound for Radio 4. You were the first female percussionist I ever met (Evelyn laughs) it was breathtaking!

EVELYN: That’s so funny!

* * *

You can listen to the podcast here

Watch parts of the podcast here and here

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