It's A Mystery

How did Toyah Willcox transform herself from the original Punk Princess to Proud Resident of Pershore? Deirdre Shields finds out.

There is something very endearing about Toyah Willcox. She is one in a long tradition of creative – sometimes downright cussed – free spirits, who mellow into a kind of national treasure with the passing years. Say what you like about Toyah, you could never pigeon-hole her. She is the original wild child Punk Princess, credited with starting the Goth movement, who voiced Teletubbies, champions the National Trust, and is a staunch supporter of her local community in Pershore.

Being Toyah, she challenges the word ‘mellow’. ‘I don’t think I’m mellowing,’ she says, ‘though I do find things that freaked me out in the past don’t bother me anymore. I’m working harder than ever.’ She certainly is. She is about to embark on a spring tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her albums The Changeling, and Warrior Rock. The tour is billed as a treat for ‘Toyah diehards, 1980’s fans, and Goth’rock lovers.’

‘It’s incredibly hectic at the moment,’ says Toyah. ‘We’ve been doing the costumes, the sound, and everyone wants my time. I love the buzz of it all, though.’ Toyah’s audience has evolved over the years, as a new wave of youngsters discover her music. Quite aside from the satisfaction this gives her, Toyah is a clear-eyed businesswoman who keeps a close eye on her property portfolio, runs her own website and Tweets, and does ‘all the quality control’, and she recognises the importance of this. ‘Students are just so valuable,’ she says, ’because they keep the word of mouth going about the albums.’

‘I have a new audience every year,’ she says. ‘It’s very interesting, because 80smusic is brand newto these people. They don’t know the politics; they don’t know Margaret Thatcher; they don’t know mobile phones were the size of shoe boxes – they just like the music, and they’re hearing it with new ears. Their opinions are so refreshing, because they’re hearing it without a history. I find it very intriguing.’

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