Whines And Spirits
Robin Smith gets a taste of vintage Toyah
Down in Toyah's recording studio something evil
The place is haunted by a man who sits in the
corner and Toyah says that he's even punched her. People in the studio
often feel something brushing against them and the ghost leaves tapes scattered
all over the place.
"This studio is on the site of a plague pit,"
says Toyah, "after the London plague they dug mass graves because there
were so many victims. But I don't think the young man is from those times,
his dress is too modern. Perhaps he's a dead musician."
Toyah's no stranger to the supernatural. Throughout
her life she's dabbled with the spirit world and she has a collection of
old manuscripts on black magic at home. A session with a ouija board brought
"I told the Devil to go and stuff himself," she
says. "The glass we were using leapt into the air and shattered. It scarred
"A palm reader told me that I'm going to die when
I'm 73, but I'm determined to live until I'm 90."
Just as well too, because Toyah likes to pack
as much into her life as she possibly can. This week she's been working
20 hours a day in the studio on the tapes of her live album Warrior Rock
and she's beginning promotion work on her single Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard).
On top of all that, she's planning to conquer America and write material
for a new studio album which she should start in January.
"Sometimes I cry because the pressure is so great,"
says Toyah, "I also scream if I can't get the things I want.
"The Changeling album was very depressing, because
although I was doing very well, my life was very traumatic. I had to tell
my old manager to push off, because he was trying to come between my boyfriend
Tom and me.
"The album was very autobiographical and in years
to come I think it will become quite a landmark in my career. The next
album will have less fantasy and more sound experiments. I hope every album
I do pisses over the last one. I'm digging solid foundations.
"My current single is a cry against manipulation.
People who try to get hold of you and sit on you and change you. That's
something I hate.
"It's also about motivation. I know a lot of unemployed
kids are fans of mine and when they come to see me, I tell them to be proud
and take life in both hands."
Toyah's quick to point out that although she has
a bit of brass to rub together today, she's had more than her fair share
"People didn't use to allow me on buses or in
shops because of the colour of my hair," she says, "During the punk era
I was so desperate that I used to go into film companies and offer to show
them all the good places in London where they could take interesting shots.
I didn't want to sit in front of a television set all day. I'm a champion
of the fight against boredom."
Toyah's doing her bit to ease unemployment, by
recruiting young fashion designers to work on a range
of clothes she's promoting. Toyah hopes to open
a shop in London's Covent Garden, she might also do some deals with department
"It's a hobby really," she says, " I often think
that off-the-peg clothes look good but they're really shoddy quality when
you come to wear them. My clothes won't be like that. I want to sell outrageous
day clothes of good quality. But I don't want to give too much away, other
people might steal my ideas."
How about Toyah dolls where you pull a string
and they sing It's A Mystery or something like that?
"Well, yes. I'm working on unusual things. I want
to do interesting and unusual jewellery as well with decent jewellery kits
All this has resulted in Toyah being labelled
as a pretty hard nosed business woman, willing to sell her
soul for commercial gain.
"A lot of people who write bad things about me
are people who don't know me atall," she says, "All I can say is that at
the end of the day I listen to my fans. That's where my heart is.
"We actually put microphones in the audience when
we recorded the live album at Hammersmith so that they could really be
heard. What's the point of doing a live album if you don't get the atmosphere
created by the fans?
nd as a further tribute to the people who made
her what she is today. Toyah plans to bring out a book of fan letters.
"Some of the fans are really crazy," she says,
"One fan writes me 50 page letters."
More serious, are the requests Toyah receives
from the parents of incurably ill kids for momentoes and messages.
"There was a 14 year old boy and he had two weeks
to live," she says, "I try to help but the emotion of going into a hospital
ward is too much for me.
"When it's my turn I want to be like one of those
old people who know that the time is right to die.
"I don't believe it all ends when you die. I've
been here before but I've never been a woman. I've always been re-incarnated
as an artistic man. My boyfriend's family are all clairvoyants and we can
sit down and discuss this sensibly.
"I would like to be a man again. I feel I could
achieve so much more if I was a man. Men are allowed to be alone so much
more than women."
Toyah's ideal people are the Masai warriors who
live on the plains of Africa and she's fascinated by various forms of tribal
"Their society isn't boring like ours," she says,
"The boys all go out and kill a wild boar to prove they're men. Throughout
their lives the Masai have a sense of purpose and a sense of unity with
Toyah likes the Masai so much that she'd like
to use a group of them in the video for her single.
"Something like having a group of tribesmen dancing
in a shopping centre to contrast the two cultures." she says.
"But all those beautiful black bodies would really
show me up. I'm not physically perfect and my legs are put together in
a funny way."
Oh I don't know, Toyah's looking pretty trim today
and she's lost a bit of weight.
"Put it down to overwork," she says, "Not only
am I constantly working in the studio but I'm decorating my house as well.
I don't want decorators in, I'm too artistic for that. I like doing it
myself with Tom.
"No, I don't think I'm ready for marriage and
settling down with two kids by the fireside at the moment. But if I ever
did get married, I'd never break it's laws which are sacred. I don't like
promiscuity, I've always thrown groupies out of the dressing room."
A national newspaper offered Toyah a handsome
sum to tell her life story, but she turned the offer down.
"The money would have kept me going for a few
years, but they were after scandalous sex stuff and I didn't want to write
my story that way." she says.
"I've also been approached to do shots for porn
magazines and films but I've turned them down. I did one shot revealing
my breast. I honestly did that as a joke but the photographer sold it everywhere.
I've never used him again.
"I think that if I did anything more like that,
it would betray my boyfriend. I don't want to hurt anybody.
"I think I'll write my life story down when I'm
60, when I've done a lot more and I'm more fulfilled. I think I'm definitely
one of those people who improves with age."
Record Mirror, 1982