Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard) is not just
a successful Toyah single; it's something of a personal anthem, too, the
lyrics pretty well summing up her attitude to life. It's about having a
confident, positive attitude; about having motivation; about not being
manipulated. And it's an attitude she's keen to get over to her fans: "A
lot of unemployed kids are fans of mine, and when they come to see me,
I tell them to be proud and to take life in both hands."
Toyah is certainly very much in charge of her
own life. Some time ago she dispensed with her manager, and now looks after
her own affairs. "I'm managing myself, and it's hell. I never realised
how much managers do, but I'm happy because now I can organise everything.
I am terribly organised, but it's me who does that, nobody else."
When Toyah found that her knowledge of law and accountancy was lacking,
she set about learning, with the help of teach-yourself tapes.
She has great confidence in her own abilities,
and likes to pack as many things as possible into her schedule. She'll
happily go without sleep if she's enjoying working on a project, and that
could be any one of a number of things: writing songs, writing music, recording,
planning her stage shows, making videos and doing promotional work. She's
also keen to design make up, jewellery and clothes that mirror her great
sense of style: "I want to sell outrageous day clothes of good quality."
And then, of course, there's her acting career.
Toyah Willcox left school with just a music O level, and went to Birmingham
Old Rep Drama School. After only a few months she got a part opposite Noel
Edmonds in a TV play, Glitter, then went on to act with the National
Theatre and to appear in films like Jubilee and Quadrophenia.
In 1978 she formed a band, and in just a couple
of years had collected single and album hits and been voted top female
singer in numerous pop polls. She'd also acted as a chat show hostess,
and headlined tours in Britain and Europe.
Toyah really comes alive onstage. Her gigs are
nothing short of real events, combining her powerful songs, dancing and
stage sets. "I listen to my fans," she says. "That's where my heart is,
It's great getting feedback off an audience."
When she recorded her live album Warrior Rock
at the climax of her 1982 summer tour, Toyah had microphones in the audience
to capture the atmosphere: "What's the point of doing a live album if you
don't get the atmosphere created by the fans?"
So what of the future? Toyah has plans for more
writing, singing, recording, acting - oh, and she plans to conquer America,
too. "I think I'll write down my life story when I'm sixty, 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." That life story should make interesting
reading, for under that mop of colour-of-the-week hair there's one talented
Did You Know... that Toyah once formed a band
with Adam Ant and his ex-wife Eve Goddard? The band was called The Maneaters,
and Adam and Toyah planned to write the music, but they split after a row:
"Our egos just went bang."
Is Toyah her real name?... "Yes it is. There's
a town in Texas called Toyah (it means 'water' in Indian). The neighbouring
town is Willcox, so that must be where my mum got it from - it was definitely
her who named me."
Radio Annual, 1983