|Rock On, Toyah
difficult to pin down Toyah Willcox shes
a singer, actress and writer. She tells Steve
Pratt variety is the spice of life and why she
doesnt mind replaying her old hits in the
The ever-busy Toyah Willcox will be giving the
audience exactly what it wants when she plays an
open-air concert in South Shields, during South
Tyneside Summer Festival next month.
She doesnt intend turning her back on the
music that made her famous. Witness her touring
last year in the Hear And Now shows with other
Eighties artists, playing castles, arenas and
Her North-East appearance is one of a number of
gigs in England over the summer, when shell
also be travelling to Seattle for recording
Its much more civilised now. You get
a dressing room for starters, she says, of
outdoor gigs. I like doing open-air events.
Theyre always lovely, theres a
happening factor that goes with the open air.
This whole thing is about nostalgia. I
respect were doing songs and music people
will know and love. And theres always a new
young audience out there enjoying the whole
Theres a lot of energy in the air. We
did Ascot to 27,000 people in thunder and rain. I
was sliding across the stage. You go on in all
weathers. I use a bigger band for the outdoors
and always choose music that will get the
audience up and dancing.
The open air shows arent really about
the artist being indulgent. Theyre about
the artist sharing their love of music with the
So Ill be doing all my hits and the songs I
can be difficult to pin down Toyah one of
those people you feel you can refer to by just
one name and people will know instantly who you
mean as her career choices have been many
and varied. They stretch from her punk beginnings
to the present day, when she makes choices
ranging from pantomime, to raunchy TV drama
Secret Diary Of A Call Girl.
diary for 2009 takes in touring dates in theatre
show Vampires Rock, a British-funded feature
film, an album with her band The Humans, and
featuring in a psychic therapy special on the
are additions to a list that include 15 top 40
singles, four gold and platinum albums, ten films
and more than 30 stage plays. Shes also
found time to write two bestsellers her
autobiography, Living Out Loud, and Diary Of A
Face Lift, documenting plastic surgery in the
world of showbusiness.
acknowledges this might confuse people.
music has been a bit schizophrenic in England. Im
still very much a rock singer related to the
Eighties, but I have new projects going on that
allow me to be a very different artist, she
Im a rock chick thats had a lot of
good experiences in rock n roll and I
have a big voice.
older shes 51 doesnt
mean giving up music. She would if her voice wasnt
great, but womens voices can get better in
their 50s, she says. So, at the moment Im
planning to keep going for the next ten years,
but if it ever got to the point where it wasnt
pleasing for the audience... her voice
tails off as if its something she cant
think everything is fresh because I bounce around
from one project to another like a ball.
a very varied life and that keeps me completely
enthusiastic. I dont really have the time
to get bored. Its always been very, very
my early career I had the kind of management that
said, you cant do that and you cant
be seen. Life is about enjoying yourself
and having as many experiences as possible.
manage myself now, which means I can do anything
I want at any time. I dont surround myself
might find it surprising that she played
with The Humans, her band with Bil Rieflin from
REM at the request of the president of
Estonia, in May. That resulted from reading one
of her husbands emails. Its one way
of finding work because, as hes King
Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, the
correspondence is rewarding. The invitation was
to him to go to Estonia, but he wasnt keen,
so Toyah accepted She still loves what she does.
I get a buzz out of having something new to
do with my voice because the voice is changing
constantly. Because its got deeper, it
means I can write and explore my register Ive
never written in before.
England, that doesnt have much of a career
prospect because people want me to sing like the
Toyah theyve known for 30 years. But in
other places I can step away from that.