CHRIS MARTIN: You're joining us again for “My Absolute 80s”. I'm stoked beyond belief to say that Toyah is my guest this week. Toyah, welcome

TOYAH: Thank you so much. It's really good to be here

CHRIS: Is this a kimono you're wearing? It’s beautiful!

TOYAH: It is really beautiful. I bought it about four years ago. I used to live in Menton on the border of France and Italy. It was on a street stall and it was so out of place four years ago and now it's totally in fashion. I'm really glad I have it

CHRIS: Lovely silky green floral thing. You look absolutely fantastic. This show in front of us ... If you're joining us for the first time on "Absolute 80s" every song you hear - Toyah picked them. Every single one for the next hour

This is the joy of the show for me,
getting a glimpse inside our favourite artist's musical tastes and also to talk about their lives in the 80s. Toyah, shall we begin with song number one? I'm going go for the rather chipper Depeche Mode. “Just Can't Get Enough”. It is a party starter, isn't it?

TOYAH: It is a party starter but the thing about Depeche Mode is they always have quite a serious angle within their songs and within their videos. They're so amazing live. I've only ever watched DVDs of them live. I've never managed to get to see them actually live

I have so much respect for everything they've done, especially in the 80s. They were one of the first bands to hire their own stadiums and play in America. They didn't think anyone would come and the whole of America came. That really was the beginning of their megastardom. So I adore everything about Depeche Mode

DEPECHE MODE Just Can't Get Enough

CHRIS: That was back in 1981. What's going on in your head? Where does that take you back to?

TOYAH: Well, I ruled the world in 1981. The most successful female singer of the year and in 1982, because of that, I won Best Female Singer at what was the Brit Awards back then. It was an incredible year for me. All my dreams came true. I had my first Top Of The Pops

I was touring pretty much non-stop. I can remember doing a performance on Top Of The Pops, which always went out live, and having a little prop plane waiting at a private airport. Flying over to Belgium and doing a TV the next day and flying back

It was a remarkable time and it was a very different time. Culturally and technically. We didn't have mobile stones. We relied on everything working on dates being set in the calendar and just turning up. There was no way of taking a plane over to Munich to do a show that we could check in on the way. We just arrived there. We did these enormous festivals and came back. It was very exciting. Very, very young. We were full of energy. We ruled the world

I love the stories of Live Aid where they had the countdown clocks - obviously there was so many acts to get through quickly. Everyone had to be regimented. “Don't start “Bat Out Of Hell” with three minutes to go whatever you do”

I beg for those countdown clocks because even on festivals today, they say "you've only got 45 minutes, you've got to be off". And if they haven't put a countdown clock on the stage you can't look at your watch while singing to 30 000 people. It's rude (Martin laughs). We rely so much on basic things

CHRIS: I wonder if you could just go on the mic and say "anyone got the time? I have no idea where we are right now"

Oh, I've done that! (Martin laughs) I often work with backing bands I've never worked with before. You run onstage. Everyone has learned your arrangements. You go, this is a “Echo Beach!” and they start playing “It’s A Mystery” and you think oh, my God! What setlist are they using?! I had that three weeks ago. I had to turn to the bass player and say "could you tell me what song you're doing next?" It does happen!

CHRIS: Oh, my goodness me! OK, song number two. Let's stay in the early part of the decade. I'm enjoying this a lot already. Duran Duran, "The Reflex"

Whooo (excited)


CHRIS: Duran Duran. Were they one of those bands that you looked at their style and went "it doesn't matter what you release. You just look amazing. You're going to be successful"?

We're all Birmingham people. I had a show called “Look! Here!” at Pebble Mill and gave Duran Duran their first TV appearance. I was a presenter on this show and became a very famous singer while I still had this series. So I gave Duran Duran their first TV appearance with “Planet Earth”. They were bloody beautiful back then! They were just so stunningly beautiful

But what none of us realised was they would take the leap from, what was the normal number one circuit in rock, your Hammersmith Apollo's, all of those big theatres - they would take the leap into stadiums. They did it and they just have never looked back and they deserve every moment of success. They're great songwriters, they are a really good team. That team has stayed together. And they're lovely people

CHRIS: Next song we are up to Liverpool, Echo and The Bunnymen. Have you got particularly fond memories of the band or of Liverpool itself?

I don't know the band. I've never met the band or worked or been on the bill with the band. But “The Killing Moon” is an absolute cultural classic. Again, I have so much respect for the longevity of this band. Their audience is totally dedicated and they're winning new audience all the time

Some of my most exciting experiences as a live performer have been at Liverpool. I remember once turning up to do an interview for Radio City and we couldn't get to the station because there were crowds everywhere. I actually wound down my window in the car and I said “we're trying to get to such and such street”, but we can't. What's going on?" and the whole crowd turned around and said “we're waiting for you!” (Chris laughs)

They closed the streets, there was thousands of them. I had to be led by firemen through this crowd into a building, up onto the balcony and I had to go out on the balcony and wave to everyone so that the streets might clear and the traffic could continue to move around Liverpool

ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN The Killing Moon

CHRIS: Toyah was just regaling us with stories of being mobbed in Liverpool. Echo and The Bunnymen. That song - it's an exercise in space, isn't it?

TOYAH: People often talk about the simplicity of the right ingredients. The Rolling Stones has it. Every song that they've ever released is on the surface simplistic but actually it's brilliant. You've only got the necessary ingredients to make a Michelin star meal and “The Killing Moon” is one of those songs

It has everything that is needed and nothing more. But also what is very classic about it is the video. The video is something that helps you remember the song. It's about space and surrealism and it's absolutely perfect

CHRIS: Speaking of space surrealism and a fantastic video - should we go to David Bowie's “Ashes to Ashes” next?

TOYAH: When I first heard this, the sound design of the song is so amazing. And then Bowie was very clever on the video to use the biggest cult people in London at the time, which was Steve Strange and all of the new romantics that were important. Everyone on that video was an absolute trend leader in London at the time

It’s a beautiful video and this is what Bowie was very clever at. The song itself refers back to “Major Tom”, which was his first major hit. (The lyrics) “Ground Control to Major Tom”, (in) “Space Oddity” (1969) It was such a clever link. Clever song. I've been in love with it ever since. It's a song that takes me right back to the 80s more than any other song

DAVID BOWIE Ashes To Ashes

CHRIS: There’s a sort of thread to the songs you’ve chosen. Pop but there's a darkness to them. Tthat is a real sweet spot for me in music where the darkness lies in pop. The minor chords, the threat

There is a brightness too though, to some of your choices. I think this next one is a bit of marketing genius from Prince. It was released about a week and a half before Valentine's Day. Did you know that?

TOYAH: No, I had no idea at all!

CHRIS: “Kiss”. Clever swine!

TOYAH: I believe that he didn't like this song. I believe that he felt it was too obvious. But my theory is that sometimes the most obvious is the cleverest. And as you say this was released just before Valentine's Day

The glorious thing about this song is everyone wants to dance to it. Whether you're a heavy metaller, or you're a new romantic - everyone wants to dance to this song. Prince may have believed it wasn't the best song he ever wrote but it's one of the most memorable he ever wrote

It's just so simple. “All I want is your kiss”. It’s one word, and it even has only one syllable. I'm a lyricist. How do you make a word like kiss work? It's on the downbeat, it's just kiss. It's simple. It's a brilliant piece of songwriting


CHRIS: We’ve talked about what it’s like to be Toyah in respects of presenting and songwriting and the many facets to your life. I have to say your voice has been echoing through my house more than I expected this year. My little boy, who's four, has found “Brum”! (below) (Toyah laughs) I sat down with him thinking I’ve not watched this in years. Wait a minute! They know that voice!

(puts on the narrative voice of “Brum”) “It’s a big day in the city! Brum brum brum!” (Chris laughs) I loved doing that series! It was created by Anne Wood and she went on to create “Teletubbies”. I was the narrator at the top of “Teletubbies” as well. I love doing voiceovers. I enjoy it so much!

CHRIS: I enjoy it. I've never had any designs on being an actor in my life. But if someone says "be this type of person, be this character" - you can just have fun in 30 second bursts. Just pretending and playing. It is pure joy, isn't it? It's escapism

I absolutely adore acting. It's something I could never ever walk away from. I love working with camera and the whole family of a crew. It's very rewarding and very intense, but you lose yourself in it

It's exactly the same experience for me in front of the microphone on stage. It's the only moment where no one can send me an email. No one can phone me. No one can ask me a favour. It's my time and I really love it

CHRIS: As somebody, who was quite young in the 80s, I would love to hear your perspective on George Michael and him going solo after Wham! Obviously artists do this all the time. Did you look at him and think yeah, he's got every ounce of star quality. He cannot be anything other than an enormous success ... or was there any doubt?

TOYAH: It's a very good question because Wham! was a very beautiful boy band with Michael and Andrew. They were fantastic at what they did. I slightly regret that I never appreciated Wham! because I was a punk rocker - but I do now. We were encouraged to take the mickey out of each other. I reviewed Wham! on one of their last gigs for Radio One at Hammersmith Odeon. I was a great show. It was really a beautiful show

Halfway through it the curtains closed and George came out through the curtains and sang “Careless Whisper”. It blew me away. Because at that point you knew he was going to be a world superstar. That was my review. I said “Careless Whisper” is the song that's going to make him a solo artist. As time went on, as the 80s moved into the 90s he started to do the most extraordinary work. But he also started to become very uncomfortable with his fame

I was one of these people that wish that he could have appreciated how unique and how brilliant his songwriting and his voice was. I remember Frank Sinatra doing an open letter to him saying “George, take yourself seriously. You are utterly unique”. And now we don't have him anymore. I'm actually heartbroken because he was just so special


CHRIS: He’s having a great pop career and then just to rock it with an acoustic ... That's just perfect. And looking like that when he did it as well!

TOYAH: He’s the most perfect man!

He is. To another front man. I know more than a couple of people who absolutely swoon over Michael Hutchence, INXS

TOYAH: They were kind of the love child of Prince meets Keith Moon (Chris laughs) Everything was based on beat and rhythmic syllables around that beat and the extraordinary beauty of Michael Hutchence. I feel really protective towards his legacy because he is no longer here to talk for himself

But the songs and the band were utterly amazing. And by all accounts he was a beautiful human being. A wonderful human being that came under attack in public life for his extraordinary beauty

There’s a story that Helena Christiansen (his girlfriend at the time) tells about a taxi driver getting out of the taxi and punching his lights out for no reason at all. Now, what you have to remember with really famous beautiful men, they're a threat to every other man on the planet who wants to spread their seed

Michael Hutchence had to stick up for himself the whole time. He did it like a poet. He did it like (John) Keats, he did it with words. I think he's a remarkable human being from history that we must never forget

INXS Need You Tonight

If you've just tuned in and you've thought this music tonight has been absolutely incredible ... well ... you can thank Toyah for every single song choice. Toyah has joined me for "My Absolute 80s" but also taken on - there's some bravery in this, Toyah - taking on Grace Jones', “Slave To The Rhythm” (above) and executing it brilliantly, I must say

Thank you. There is a history to this. My long-term writing partner wrote the original version of “Slave To The Rhythm”. It was then picked up by Trevor Horn and his writing team. Trevor then recorded it with Grace Jones. In between all of that happening, I was the demo singer on the demo that went to Holly Johnson for Frankie Goes To Hollywood to do the song and Holly turned it down

So 40 odd years on Simon Darlow and I were in the studio. We've had massive success with the last album “Posh Pop” and we said let's do “Slave To The Rhythm”. We do realise that we're covering a song that is an absolute classic by Grace Jones and Trevor Horn. We’re fully aware of that, and full of respect for it

Our version is myself, Simon Darlow and the legendary guitarist Robert Fripp, who I'm married to. Robert Fripp has come on board and we've completely reinvented the album “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen”

TOYAH Slave To The Rhythm

CHRIS: Toyah, you've been watching my smile while we've been talking. It has been utter joy doing this with you. Thank you so much. We are finishing up with one final song. A little word on R.E.M’s “The One I Love” to wrap up

TOYAH: I'm very lucky to call R.E.M friends. The drummer Bill Rieflin was a long-time friend of myself and Robert. I've made three albums with him. We used to follow him and R.E.M on the road. They’re great friends, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe. Absolutely gorgeous man. These are people in my heart

R.E.M The One I Love 

LISTEN to the interview HERE


Post a Comment

<< Home