04 September, 2016


TOYAH ON
BBC RADIO LONDON
WITH GABY ROSLIN

4.9.2016 




GABY ROSLIN: I'm sorry, Toyah, how you're going to feel about this but we could not have you here without playing this. OK? Just let us. ("It's A Mystery" starts to play in the background)
TOYAH: No! (laughs) Stop it, please!
GABY: Yes! Yes! We have to! The whole thing, we're going to run it all the way through!
TOYAH: This is very very old girls (to Catherine and Lizzy Ward, from the band Ward Thomas, who are in the studio with Gaby and Toyah) ! Very old!
After the song:
GABY: (sings) It's a mystery! That's what we used to do. That's what we did when we sang along to you, Toyah. (Belts out) It's a mystery!!!
TOYAH: (laughs) I'm trying to find a picture of me from 1981 for these girls ...
GABY: (To the girls) Because you weren't even thought of let alone born and just make us feel – well, I remember dancing to that at school so it's … Toyah, you have this incredible ability to look incredibly young and to stay grounded from all of those post punk – it was post punk, wasn't it?
TOYAH: Yes, but the thing is experience just moves you on and I've got movies being made, I'm constantly touring. I've got four movies to shoot for the rest of this year. A musical -
GABY: Four movies! Sorry - that's greedy!
TOYAH: Well, it's – I'm not in leads or anything. I'm just kind of really nice character roles ...  (Below: Toyah as "Alice Meynell" (with Gary Shail as "Wilfred Meynell") in costume for "Hound", one of the upcoming films) 




GABY: Four movies!
TOYAH: But it's busy. And I also do four concerts a week so -
GABY: Four concerts a week?!
TOYAH: Yes! I'm playing the 02 Islington on Friday. And then I open for Steve Harley at a festival in Devon on Saturday. And I've written a show called “Up Close And Personal” which is the same line-up as you've got in here today - which I love doing! Just two guitars, three voices and a beatbox. And it's just the best way to sing.
GABY: Goodness me! I didn't realise you were – I mean that's busy!
TOYAH: It's very busy!
GABY: And you're very open about your age and everything. There's no secret -
TOYAH: I'm 58.
GABY: And it's phenomenal. You should do this forever! I'm not being ageist at all and I think that no matter what age you are – if it's what you love doing, do it!
TOYAH: It's not a job, it's your soul breathing. It's just not a job. I wake up every day and it's - I couldn't do anything else. I would rather kind of stick glass in my eyes than not sing and act!
GABY: I know. I'm like that about television. People say “30 years you've been doing it, have you not had enough?” No!
TOYAH: No, of course not! You're made for it.
GABY: No, no, no. So “Crime and Punishment : A Rock Musical”. Now you've written this musical?
TOYAH: I've done the music. 13 songs. Phil Willmott, who is a fabulous director – does a lot of shows in London – he's done the adaptation from the book “Crime And Punishment” and had this bizarre vision of putting my songs in with this really quite bloodthirsty story justifying murder. And my songs just kind of jump right out. 

And for some reason they really really work. I can't put my finger on it because I don't write specific subjects, I write abstract. So “It's A Mystery” with “I Wanna Be Free”, “We Are”. It's about everyone, it's not about a singular person. And to put that into an ensemble company means every member of the company can actually sing a song and it suddenly makes sense in the context of this story.



GABY: How exciting! Is this the first time you've done this?
TOYAH: It's the most perfect job in the world, I'll tell you why ; Phil Willmot emailed me from New York. He said he loved my last album, which is “In The Court Of The Crimson Queen” - which was written five years ago and went into the iTunes rock chart at number 2 -
GABY: Really? Congratulations.
TOYAH: He loves the album so much. He said “can I put it into this story?” I said yes and then more emails came back - “I need 13 songs. Can I use “Anthem”, can I use “Crimson Queen” and will you write some additional stuff?” And it's been a joy. Absolute joy.
GABY: How incredible. Do you have an idea of yourself? Now? Because I've spoken to you, we did – I've interviewed you many times but we did something and I remember six years ago we did something called “Celebrity Fantasy Homes” and at the time you used an expression where you said “I have an idea about myself but I'm an actress, I'm a singer but I'm a ..." – I can't remember exactly what it was but I'm interested - do you have an idea about yourself?
TOYAH: All I want is a creative life. I don't like being sucked into the mundane. And I do find technology tries to dominate people through being mundane. And I want to get up every day and be creative. I don't want to get up and be stuck to a computer or forced into buying something or told I shouldn't be what I am.
GABY: Is that the punk in you?
TOYAH: Yeah, I think it is. I'm very anarchic against technology. And of course we can all use technology but we must never get to the point where technology uses us. So I want a creative life. I want to be able to think freely, hear my instinctive voice and write the first thing that come into my head without electronic disturbance. So I will always feel like that.

And when I talk about having an idea about myself is that I believe – I'm not being sexist here but especially women because we are so biologically governed that every decade we are a completely different human being but we also have a completely different wisdom. And I'm just not going to lie down and go away and shut up. I'm going to keep using my voice while I still have it.
GABY: As with young people though I'm a great believer - and I know you are as well – with you girls, how old are you?
GIRLS: 22.
TOYAH: Oh bless you! I was that once!
GABY: At 22 you're wanting people to listen. As you said you are in your fifties - you want people to listen, people in their nineties want people to listen, people who are ten want people to listen and I think it is - interestingly through digital – people aren't listening anymore! They're just looking at pictures and texting -
GIRL: Well, I think what you (to Toyah) just said is such a cool quote that we can use technology but we can't let technology use us. Because we are at an age it's scary how much control technology has over us and how much we have to sort of fight that system a little bit and try to … But you see a backlash coming with live shows coming more and more popular and I think it's hopefully going to peak -



TOYAH: I can tell you from experience you girls are safe as houses because your voices are so stunning and unique. Like Stevie Nicks. You're going to be able to work forever and as long as you want to. And I think that will protect you. And sometimes when you're an artist that you don't a have a specific sound then it's a little bit more of a fight. 

So you've got to kind of kick harder and for me, because I act and sing and I'm very very short and I have a lisp – I've always had to be kind of dominant in who I am and stick my ground.
GABY: You're also very open. The press like to talk about all sorts of parts of your life which we're not going to go into because it's your choice but you've spoken very honestly about your childhood. You were born with scoliosis? Was it scoliosis?
TOYAH: Yeah and hip dysplasia. Yes, so -
GABY: And a foot, you had a – all sorts of things that you had to battle!
TOYAH: Well, thanks to technology I have an awful lot of titanium in me and I have a normal life -
GABY: Do you beep?
TOYAH: Sorry? Do I?
GABY: Do you beep?
TOYAH: Oh I do, I set every alarm (off) (both laugh)
GABY: But you had loads of operations as a child?
TOYAH: Still do.
GABY: Oh, you still have to -
TOYAH: Well, because science is moving along all the time so I won't gross people out but I've got quite a lot of titanium – they replaced my hips and put sockets in and only about … when I was working with you last, you remember - I couldn't walk?
GABY: Yes, you couldn't.
TOYAH: It's all been done.
GABY: Oh fantastic! Congratulations!
TOYAH: And this year, which is six years later, it's the first year I've been able to wear high heels again. So it's all been great.
GABY: So you've got new hips?
TOYAH: Yeah.
GABY: Did you have them both at the same time?
TOYAH: No. I had a complete replacement on my right side because there was just nothing there, I was born with that and the technology, thanks to the Olympics was developed for the runners so I got a call from the specialist saying "we can now do what we need to do to you". Came to London, did all the work on me. I was in the same hospital as world renowned cricketers. And they rebuilt me and it's just fantastic.
GABY: Wow! Do you – is that another part that makes you feel like jumping out of bed every day?



TOYAH: Yeah. Not in pain anymore. So yeah, it's fantastic.
GABY: So I can see where your – now, "fight" is … people have a negative connotation with that, if you don't mind I'm going to use it in a positive way – I can see where your fight comes from?
TOYAH: I suppose what it is – I just don't give up. I'm tenacious. Really tenacious. And I voice my opinion when I come across ageism, sexism or something like that but I'm not an angry person.
GABY: No, you're not. That's why I said I'm using it in a positive way. You fight for the right.
TOYAH: Fight for the right! I'm still a punk! (both laugh)
GABY: You are. I think once a punk always a punk though. I really do. I think there's something in … I was never a punk as you can probably tell! But all the people I know who were - it's still there. That fight in them.
TOYAH: I have to say – a memory has just come back. When we were walking down the street in Twickenham filming - you stopped the traffic. I have never seen so many men hanging out of car windows.
GABY: No, she's -
TOYAH: It was glorious!
GABY: Ignore what she's saying! Ignore what she's saying!
TOYAH: Head turner! Traffic stopper!
GABY: Let's turn this back to you! (Toyah laughs) So “Crime And Punishment : A Rock Musical”. All these venues in London now. Isn't it fantastic!? 




TOYAH: Well, we've got the Free Festival. This is The London Free Festival and they're also celebrating Russian culture this summer so The Scoop Theatre is the most beautiful 800 seater open air theatre -
GABY: Oh, goodness!
TOYAH: By the City Hall right next to Tower Bridge. The show is on at 8 pm every day except Monday and Tuesday. It's completely free, you just turn up.
GABY: You're kidding me?!
TOYAH: No, it's fantastic! And it's on till the 25th of September. And I've seen it three times now and I'm not ringing my own bell but I sit there and weep. The cast are so mind blowing. They've got a future future mega star called Alec Porter (below with Toyah), who's 21 years old, girls. He is so beautiful that girls want their picture taken with him afterwards. But he came up to me on the first day I went to rehearsals and he said "you held me when I was six years old."
GABY: What?!
TOYAH: Yeah, I held him when he was a baby. And the other “what?!” about it – I've only ever held five babies in my life and I worked out that Alec Porter was number four. I've not held many babies.
GABY: OK. There's so many questions! But that's a personal choice or your friends have said "no, don't trust her! She's the punk! She might drop the baby!" (Toyah laughs)




TOYAH: But the cast are utterly mind blowing and they are – every night they just give it 150% -
GABY: Do you know what's so wonderful? Last night – I did the lottery on Saturday night and we were all bemoaning the cost of tickets because there is a show in town that I'm desperate to go and see, and my kids want to go and see it, it's the Harry Potter. But you go to two shows and it's £200 so if we're going to go the four of us – it's £800. I haven't got £800 to just suddenly spend on a night out at the theatre!
TOYAH: That's astonishing! Come to The Scoop. “Crime And Punishment”.
GABY: Come to The Scoop! A free show in London. Can you give us the address where it is in London – I've got it if you don't know it? (Toyah laughs)
TOYAH: It's More London, Southbank, right bang next to Tower Bridge on the south side, obviously. But it's More London.
GABY: More London. It's actually The Scoop, London Bridge City, SE1 2DB if anybody wants to go to that and go onto the website to find out more. Toyah, always lovely to see you. Thank you so much, really inspirational to hear what you have to say.
TOYAH: Thank you. 



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