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Leicester Mercury: Toyah Interview – ‘My Voice is Fantastic’

November 17th, 2019

Toyah was interviewed in the print edition of Friday’s Leicester Mercury. Here’s the full article:

Let’s Rock: The Winter Retro Tour is heading to Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham and among the line-up are 80s headliners Toyah and Dr and the Medics. Helen Barnes caught up with both of them

With a career spanning more than 40 years, 61-year-old Toyah Willcox is making the most of her voice being in “fantastic” form.

What’s so great about Let’s Rock? It’s one of those fantastic events where it’s a real party atmosphere – because every song you get, everyone knows. The audience can dance and sing along – it’s about them and their memories too. I think 80s music has a real narrative to it, a story to it, and people identify their lives with it. I think all of that brings an audience together – and let’s not forget it’s Christmas!

Will you be singing any Christmas songs yourself? Absolutely! We are all doing our hits and then doing Christmas songs, so the finale will be a big Christmas finale where we will all be on stage together. It’s really very exciting, as the line-up is stunning – which is why I love doing them. You’re always working with people you admire and have followed for 40 years.

Who are your favourite 80s artists then? Well, I love Talk Talk and Depeche Mode too – I absolutely adore their music still and find it very uplifting. It has transcended the decade. I’ve also just been travelling around the world with Marc Almond and he is so much fun. Every song in his set is groundbreaking because at the time his music came out, the world was changing but hadn’t yet changed. Marc is one of the people that changed the world and music is just fabulous – I always stay behind to watch his sets when we are working together!

What’s the best thing you’ve discovered since turning 60? I think there’s an independence that comes with your 60s. I’m starting to just clear my life of of everything that’s niggly and doesn’t work – and that’s usually to do with bureaucracy. I am clearing my desk of the unnecessary, without any form of guilt and just looking for things that are fulfilling. I think when you hit your 60s and realise that you’ve done your best, that’s all that matters.

Which has been your favourite hair colour over the years? The only colour available back then was a vegetable dye called Crazy Colour – today the colours are much more sophisticated. I think I just loved the orange and cerise pink together; It was so vibrant that no matter how you felt, as soon as you looked in the mirror, it was like a cup of coffee!

Have you had any hair disasters? Early on, in the punk days, my hair was crimson red, and I remember standing at a bus stop; There was a deluge and I was without an umbrella. People were just staring at me with concern on their faces. It really didn’t look good – it looked like I’d been attacked.

You’ve done tons of TV presenting, what are you more confortable doing these days – presenting, acting or singing? At the moment my voice is fantastic, so I’m honouring that and this year I’ve done a hell of a lot of concerts and next year is fully booked, but I will only do that whilst I feel I can be 100 percent. I feel grateful that here I am at 61 and I can do it. Work for me is 99 percent of who I am. I’ve never felt like a home bird or a family orientated person, so it’s all incredibly important to me.

What have you got planned for next year? Well, eight re-releases of my album – I have a very good relationship with my record company, and I have a box set coming out. I’m touring with Hazel O’Connor and then doing all the Let’s Rocks, so it’s a very busy year.

As a mummy of young children, I heard you daily on Teletubbies! How did that come about? I am friends with the creator and she just asked me to come in and read the start and end, ast the narrator. It literally took me about 30 seconds to do, but “Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies some out to play” and “The sun is setting in the sky, the Teletubbies say goodbye” are probably the most famous two lines I have ever said, in the history of entertainment!

My eldest shares the same birthday as you, May 18th. On that day, this year he was blowing out eight candles and eating a football themed cake. What were you doing? Well, I have a home in France, and I was there with my husband. We’re right by the sea so we were probably eating sea bass, caught that morning, with some wonderful French vegetables. I’m a bit of a sensible eater. To completely contradict what I’ve just said, we would have gone and had ice cream after – and lots of it!

Your name is unusual – I have never come across another Toyah. Did you come across any others when growing up? No, not at all. I think you will find that the Toyahs that exist are all younger than me, so named after me. It has now become quite popular.

You’ve spoken before about your childhood and being bullied. Were you ever tempted to get back in touch with them once you became famous? A lot have been in touch with me. I did have one quite serious connection from someone who abused me at school and wrote to me – she was so distressed by what she did to me that she had been in therapy all her life. She asked if I could forgive her and I said I never even think about it. It may have formed who I am, but I don’t give it any thought. I live in the present. I’m a pretty tough cookie and even though I hated every minute of school, I’m a survivor.

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