Toyah’s Blog: May 2024

May 1, 2024

HELLO THERE!
I hope all is good for you.

It is only six weeks till the first TOYAH AND ROBERT show. I feel very lucky that this year I’ve already had four live TOYAH shows with the band where we could run most of the material, Frippy has yet to play but he is gearing up.

Both Robert and I still experience a level of “stage nerves” in everything we do. Mine manifest in the run up to shows, the anxiety of relying on cars and roads,  the amount of time waiting to go on stage. The result is like a pressure cooker needing release. No matter what the performance is, whether singing, acting or keynote speaking the waiting is a major challenge of maintaining focus and holding energy.

The moment I walk on stage thankfully there is incredible clarity, the one thing I fear losing while waiting, it’s like a camera lens pulling focus and everything becomes brilliantly clear.

Dear Robert on the other hand is already having “touring nightmares”.

Having been married to him for 38yrs I am very aware of his nightmares starting about 6 months before he is due to play. Last night he found himself, in his dream world, in rehearsals with Led Zeppelin, except none of the original members where in the band anymore and they walked off with his guitar, leaving him to make his own way to America and then once in America his van disappeared, and he was left on a road side……….Yes Robert has freakish dreams about the one thing he is a genius at and that’s playing guitar.

But for me it doesn’t stop at stage nerves, I am eaten alive about small details. Little things silently freak me out. Like am I wearing the right tights, the right dress, is my eye make up too much, is the dress I am wearing showing my waist, is my hair in a symmetrical shape, do I look too short…….EATEN ALIVE WITH CONCERN!

After the Vive Le Rock awards Craig Astley was interrogated by me over every photographic detail! Poor Man. No matter how much time and effort I put in ….there is always doubts.

VIVE LE ROCK very kindly awarded me THE ICON AWARD last month. It was a stunning evening. A hugely important event in my life. To be recognised in the music industry by the industry is very special to me.

Saffron presented my award reminding me that years earlier I presented her with her Icon award. It was great to see her, she was on top form, looking stunning and very excited about her new single to be released soon.

When we are together a lot of our conversations are about how many women are on the bill at various festivals, something we keep an eye on, also the balance of visibility. With Saffron REPUBLICA are achieving a lot of Sync deals this year….this is placement of music in TV, Film and other areas of visibility (also one of my main focus points this year, because with the industry focussing on top tear artists playing stadiums and AI becoming prominent in the context of writing, sync deals are vital for artists to keep their music and originality in front of existing and potentially new audiences).

Vive Le Rock Awards 2024. Photo: Louise Phillips. All rights reserved.

After talking to her I was hugely grateful I have the amount of festivals I have this year. It is a challenging year for everyone. People are stretched and yet music must be kept live and present on all levels, not just the very large venues.

It was rammed back stage at VLR, Sham 69’s tour manager very kindly offered me his hotel room to get changed in because the O2 Islington doesn’t have much back stage space but I thought I’d be fine hanging out in the stair well. Saffron and I did a lot of photo and promo for the event backstage. The brilliant Beki Bondage was with us too. I’ve had a chance to reconnect with her work recently and I bloody love what she does, her singing and guitar work are an inspiration.

Kirk Brandon was there too. Kirk used to hang out and rehearse at Mayhem, the warehouse I lived in. It was fantastic to see him, it has been decades since I last had a chance to talk to him, he hasn’t changed at all, still an incredibly sweet and sensitive human being. I love his work.

It quickly dawned on me I was the only person there dressed in high intensity colour……everyone was in black.

It’s funny how small things trouble me. In the car I had all my stage costumes, it would have been better for me to have been in one of them. I love the dress I wore that night but maybe it was a little too “festival” for this event.

If I could have found a mirror and a space to put my thinks I’d have approached the evening differently. My hair, My image, My persona, My focus…..this is why I need my pre-show head space, it’s all part of the preparation. No matter what, I am pretty adamant my focus is never diverted in the run up. Whether it’s a stage play, filming a movie, working with the band.

Walking on stage and just switching myself on has never been an option for me. I’ve seen people do this brilliantly, from Bowie to Lou Reed,  Lenny Kravitz to Tool. Even Bonnie Langford…….Bonnie is staggering on stage and seconds earlier she is having fun in the wings.

Me…….I have to focus with intensity from lunchtime onwards.

I have some great TOYAH shows over the summer and the set list is really exciting me. There’s going to be some Toyah Classics going in from Neon Womb to Race Thru Space. AND in the T&R shows too, more TOYAH songs are going in the set from POSH POP.

Simon Darlow and I have been in the studio writing and recording a new song for the summer. So far it’s wonderfully dark with a hooky chorus, I am loving the spine tingling quality, Robert is yet to play on it, but he will very soon and we can’t wait to hear what he will add.

The BBC has a new policy, I believe with the government and that is to reduce the amount of flights artists take. So last month I found myself journeying form Birmingham to Glasgow on the train. I have not been alone on a train since 1980. As soon as I walked into Birmingham New Street Station I was baffled. Trains don’t have numbers like flights……..they just have lists and lists of destinations……and I am somewhat dyslexic. This results in my studying things for a LONG TIME. Thankfully many kind people came to my rescue.

My journey involved five tickets from the ticket machine…( thank you to all AVANTI WEST staff who helped me out…)…so much for saving trees! I needed to change at Preston…….luckily I was being recognised a lot and traded selfies for directions to necessary platforms……..again THANK YOU TO ALL AVENTI WEST staff who helped me out!

In Glasgow I was with Kimberly Wyatt of the Pussy Cat Dolls, Richard Blackwood and DJ Jam. Luckily Richard was dressed head to toe in white and drawing a lot of attention to his magnificent frame and from that point on he became our leader. I can’t say what we were doing in Glasgow, but gratefully we caught the train back together…….and the stories I was hearing! When did show biz become so cruel? All three of these people have been affected by some form of psychological abuse at the hands of some pretty eyewatering mega star names.

I found myself back at Birmingham New Street station last week. This time I was the Keynote Speaker for the Engineers and Maintenance team of UK Motorways.  Having found the car park in this Si-Fi metropolis I then had to find my way out……..really……for F—- Sake. I’ve lived here on and off my entire life. Luckily two women recognised me so I took advantage and told them I was completely lost and where was New St………even they were confused by the layout.

Eventually I made it to the Burlington Hotel for soundcheck. Last Christmas I talked to a division of this company, and it was pretty lively, the average age is around 30, so I was fully prepped for this event. Stories of hold-ups while on tour, of singing to presidents in far off countries, KGB members coming to shows in Uxbridge and singing to the SAS in the rainforests of Belize. It was a fantastic evening and for once I didn’t fret about what I was wearing…….I got it completely right! AND I HAPPILY ADD….the balance between award winners was almost 50/50, so many women engineers were winning awards. It was thrilling.


My dear friend Keith Wainwright passed away last month. It has affected me a lot.

Both Keith and Derek Jarman were huge in my life and it’s hard not to see this as a loss of a friend but also a loss of greater times.

Keith has always been so kind to me. Never judged me, never mocked me, never gossiped behind my back. Never been indiscrete. In fact, all through the 80s and 90s he was in charge of Bowie’s hair, and he never once told me nor Robert. Keith was a good and great person.

I remember him shaving my head for the movie JUBILEE. I was terrified, it was so radical, yet he won my complete trust.

 

One of my funniest memories of him was in 1987, he was my stylist on the video shoot for ECHO BEACH. We had a problem with my boobs falling out of the jacket I was wearing, and Keith reached for the gaffer tape and taped ‘em up! We were crying with laughter and credit to Keith he never ever made me feel uncomfortable in any way. He is not only someone I will miss in my life forever but also the kind of friend I will miss forever.  God those times were BRILLIANT.

RIGHT! I am off to rehearse songs for this year’s shows. Play guitar and write some new material……..
This year I have time to write, all the setting up of T&R is done…..I can be creative at source again.

YIPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

AND ITS OUR BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARY TOO. Have a fabulous May.

BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD.
LOVE TOYAH
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