JANUARY 2014 – NOVEMBER 2014
JANUARY 2014 – NOVEMBER 2014
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HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Am I ready for Christmas? In regards to socialising and entering the festive spirit …. ABSOLUTELY!
But in regards to actually being set with all the Christmas shopping done, the Christmas cards sent and the store cupboards stocked….NOT A CHANCE IN HELL! Already I am doing press for 2015. The diary is full for the next twelve months. I’ve kind of leapfrogged Christmas so far and my head is fully in The Humans tour 2015 and the new album.
I will be forced into the Christmas spirit once everyone else goes away on their holidays. My Christmas will be a frugal one this year as I’m the guarantor for The Humans tour and the album, both very costly processes. Anyway Christmas isn’t about the spending. It’s about seeing friends I haven’t had a chance to see for months on end. Christmas is good company, good food and friendship. That said I like to spoil my husband rotten.
I managed to get over to France in November for the first time in 14 months and I found a tiny wooden trinket box in thrift shop that was dated between 1799 & 1800, the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic wars. The French have no interest in stuff like this, so it’s relatively easy to find. My hubby will love it. That’s the best part of crimble the joy of finding him gifts he’d never have expected.
So if my head is buried in 2015 already, what do I intend to do for Christmas itself?
Well Christmas Day for us is no different to any one elses……..we eat and eat and eat. My favourite treat being to sit in bed Christmas morning with Robert surrounded by our wrapped pressies and as he opens them I eat a packet of liquorice allsorts and a packet of marshmallows! That for me is my Christmas……. HEAVEN. Even though Robert guzzles them while my back is turned and starts opening my presents when his are all opened…..WAR!
Well Christmas Day for us is no different to any one elses……..we eat and eat and eat. My favourite treat being to sit in bed Christmas morning with Robert surrounded by our wrapped pressies and as he opens them I eat a packet of liquorice allsorts and a packet of marshmallows! That for me is my Christmas……. HEAVEN. Even though Robert guzzles them while my back is turned and starts opening my presents when his are all opened…..WAR!
I am doing something Christmas week I’d never expected to hear myself say……I’m taking Robert to the panto in Birmingham! He can’t wait. Really my husband is a super cool dude until you put him in a panto audience and all of a sudden he wants a “light up” fairy wand and flashing reindeer ears……. he is such a kid at heart. For the past two weeks all he is talking about is going to the panto!
Obviously (as you will probably know or realise by now) I am not appearing in a pantomime this year. In fact I am not sure I ever will again AND though I believe in saying NEVER SAY NEVER, I think I want my Decembers to be with my hubby who isn’t getting any younger and who I want to enjoy the festive season with…….oh and by the way I am not getting any younger either!
Our Christmas lunch is always a feast. We allow ourselves no boundaries when eating and as both of us are pudding addicts we will eat at least two to three different types of desserts. Living on a busy high street a lot of our friends are traders and they are mostly exhausted come Christmas Day, so the ones who have no family and intend to spend the day alone watching DVDs come to us for lunch……..for three hours then we send them home completely rat arsed!
What are my hopes over Christmas? Above all the safety and happiness of all those in my life and all those around me. I am still in complete shock over the car prang I had in October, where the event happened so quickly. It has completely re-set my mind about driving and how safe we are in our cars and the effect we can have on other people.
I have no regrets about my past but if I could take any split second back and re-set events the car prang would be the only one I’d wish to re-write out of happening.
Other hopes for Christmas? Peace in all its meanings from peace of mind, to silent peace. Where has silence gone? As for the more common meaning of peace I’m starting to believe in my lifetime it might never be seen. We seem to be entering a future similar to Bladerunner where the machine, the logo and the news stations rule the world……..where has the simplicity of just “being” gone? Oh for the silent joy of just watching a river flow by……without hearing “candy crush” being played on the next river bank.
What a fantastic year 2014 has been.
The concerts have allowed me to travel the UK and parts of the USA meeting fans new and old and also sharpening my performance skills. It has been a growing year and 2015 promises to be the same with more shows, more demands and more music…I wonder if there will be more acting?
At the beginning of November I managed to get to my home in France having only spent three nights there since buying it in September 2013. This had been planned for almost a year. Having never holidayed alone with my sister it was quite an experience. Very quickly I realised she is more hyper than me!
Neither of us sleeps well, so we’d both surface by 4am. I usually do all my office and creative work in these early hours but my sister likes to walk, and walk, and walk and walk. I swear I wore a pair of trainers out. One day we walked to Monte Carlo AND walked to Italy. (I live in the middle of both in Menton).
This was exhilarating and challenging as I am still building my strength up from the virus two years ago, but I did it. My sister is a tough person. When my parents were alive and my sister was still in nursing her nickname was “Butcher Willcox”, a name one could use back then without connotations of murder. She is resilient and takes no shit. Her last job was to man the NHS TERRORIST RESPONSE TEAM for the London 2012 Olympics. My sister can be terribly bossy, even when there is a language barrier.
I took her to see Monaco, purely because the place is an absolute horror, the pigs arse of the monied. It is a hell money has constructed and it just has to be seen. In Menton the French are wonderful, family orientated, welcoming people but once in Monaco it is ‘dog eat dog’ and this somewhat shocked my sister even though she has tackled terrorism face on, the arrogance of Monaco caught her off guard………everyone in Monaco is arrogant even those selling sandwiches and I had to get my sister out of the place when she started shouting at the locals for not understand English……..because they choose not to!
It was a great experience. Having lost a year of my sister’s life to her sailing around the world, it was a chance for us to be sisters again. I came away having learned I am the quiet one in this family!
Thank you to everyone for making 2014 so special. Thank you for your support with the shows, it was great to play for you all.
BIG THANK YOU’S to the team…… Chris Wong, Tim Rose, John Humphrey, Andy Doble, Paul Nicholson, Craig Astley, Alan Sawyers, Davie Dreamscape, Kate Way, Colin Hinds and all at ROCK ARTIST MANAGEMENT. It’s been fab.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOTS OF LOVE, TOYAH
This blog should be about how fantastic the new tour is, which it is. AND how wonderful the new set list is…………
which it is but to be honest it has simply been a pig awful month punctuated by wonderful shows that have given me respite from endless problems….MERCURY IN RETROGRADE rides again!
The new show is great. The whole band loves it. We have added three songs from MINX, not an easy album to slot into our repertoire of twisting slightly surreal rock but I love it when ALL IN A RAGE STARTS, then six songs later SOUL PASSING THROUGH SOUL really rocks every one’s shoes off.
The problem with MINX as an album is it is so quintessential 1980s I don’t think it ever fitted into my genre. Even though I was fantastically successful in the 1980s I don’t think I fitted what the 80s has become in retrospect……fast funky keyboards and disco beats….. I was and still am more rock.
MINX is also the first album in my career where an A&R man had as much power over the say of the album as I the artist had and for me this shows, there is no honesty within the concept, it is almost a construct. It took some persuading off Craig Astley to get us to do it, but we have cherry picked the three songs that still allow us to have acid in our bite and heat in our message…….yes…..this tour rocks!
I really must not wish my life away for any reason nor for any length of time but October was a hell hole of a month that I am glad to see the back of. It was that bloody Mercury In Retrograde period which I loathe, where all technology fails and niggly things happen, one after another with endless repercussions.
The whole of 2014 has been similar. Small problems floating around like little Icebergs that just wont be solved with immediate attention……..dragging on, dragging on and dragging on! For most of 2014 the live shows have been my solace. The only escape I have had from the gripes and the constant demands of my time have been when I walk on stage. A place where the magic of creativity does it’s miraculous healing/ bonding/ mass sensory thing…….and the only place in the world where e-mail, telephone calls and mind numbing daily activity cannot invade the space.
There has been something about 2014 that has made it like no other year.
Shoulder to shoulder with wonderful experiences like making the feature film AHHHHHHH, touring in the USA with THE HUMANS and performing career defining shows there has been endless problems off stage, most times nothing serious but a drag to a creative writer and incredibly distracting and time wasting.
It started on New Year’s day when I was called about a burst pipe in a property I have in Canterbury. There’s nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about a burst pipe in winter…but the call came after I’d been at the property the day before and into my property management office (and no one told me there was a leak) and I was now training for SPLASH in Southend and being distracted from what is a highly dangerous sport.
The way I define 2014 is it has been punctuated by small irritating incidence that could have all been avoided if communications where clearer, on time and accurate.
With the burst pipe event I discovered very quickly the insurance broker I used for that property (a specialised insurance was needed for an unusual property) lied about the insurance to me. They actually LIED to get my custom. So when push came to shove I wasn’t covered………….so you go from dealing with a leak, to dealing with a dishonest contract to dealing with removing all your custom from a company you believe specialised in insurance…….all because of a leaking pipe.
The year has continued to be defined by small events that have either grown into big problems or been so miss-handled by others that they have dragged on. I admit I have a problem with attachment. I don’t like anything latching on to me and sticking. This goes for problems with 6 degrees of separation. That cloying feeling sets in like treacle seeping up your nose into your sinus cavities…cripes I should have been a nun, or a hermit, or an astronaut or plain invisible.
If the year has been like this for me it very likely has been like it for everyone…..I bet. Is the universe doing this or have our lives become so invaded with technology that where once we all encountered two, maybe three forms of breakdown a year we now encounter it daily?
Add to this the sadness and inevitability of people you know passing away and what do you have………….a kind of whirlpool of confused thoughts and emotions.
I didn’t know Lynda Bellingham personally, but I had worked with her in the past on a few occasions. She always struck me as stylish, confident and very dignified. So when she announced her decision to stop her chemo and let nature do its thing I felt great admiration and support for her. We need people to lead the way on this. Thus when she passed I felt grief for her close friends and family. But in a way I saw Lynda as a conqueror. She achieved her wish, autonomy in the face of terminal illness.
Alvin Stardust was a shock.
I’ve worked with him on many occasions and over the decades I had grown to feel enormous respect for him. He was a fabulous musician and taught me a lot about the art of entertaining, something he was a master at. He could create a crowd out of no-where, master a crowd and send them home happy they had seen improvisation at its best….he was extraordinary and unless you had seen him in the flesh you’d never have know he had this quality.
Then four days ago, a wonderful friend passed away and shocked my world to the core. It had already been a bad week. A taxi driver in Glasgow decided to take me to meet his friends without my consent, at midnight, after a show, it was very frightening even though well intended, an hour later I finally made it to my hotel. Bunny was having a surgery that might finish him off. I had a car prang that happened in slow traffic but I wish to hell it hadn’t as it affected a young family who I have been worried sick about since and totalled my husband’s car. Then just before the start of the show in Howden I get the news of a close friend passing.
October and 2014 can disappear up the A— H— of a dwarf star tomorrow and it wouldn’t be soon enough.
SO. I intend to see this year out with the passion I give every show. Giving it 110per cent and thanking my lucky stars that at the age of 56 I am still rocking and with a prayer in my heart that in 2015 I can be left alone to get on with it, to write THE HUMANS 4 in peace and to look forward to the huge amount of shows already booked in 2015…..and to the release of AHHHHHHH which I hope will cause the controversy and stir it deserves.
From the bottom of my heart I say to 2014 BUGGER OFF, I am now getting on with 2015 ahead of time.
Don’t miss the last four shows of the tour, it is a goody and it is very different.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
HURRAY THE TOUR STARTS THIS MONTH! WOW! WHAT A MONTH SEPTEMBER HAS BEEN.
I always knew September would be special after a call from Kate Bush’s PA in August inviting me to see BEFORE THE DAWN. Then after I was to fly to Philadelphia to meet up with the KING CRIMSON tour…….that’s a lot to look forward to.
Firstly I had three acoustic shows to complete and they were great. Norwich, Stroud and Totnes were rammed to the rafters and brilliant! My tour management phoned me (from their holiday in Gran Caneria) and said “Have you seen the reviews! Because if you haven’t you should!”
There is something about the acoustic show that is working that is beyond our planning. I think it’s because the acoustic guitars just ooze joy and the songs are heard in a different light. There are subtleties and depths that are possible to experience without drums dictating the volume. Yet there is boundless energy coming from the three of us…….it’s lovely!
Before seeing Kate I went to see Lenny Henry’s opening night at The Birmingham Rep “Rudy’s Rare Records”. Sitting with the director Paulette Randall the nostalgia of my teenage years came back to me. This is a play about a record shop in Birmingham. I used to go into it as a teenager. The goodhearted, spirited drive and humour of my home city poured out over the audience. Lenny Henry was brilliant, his character being the most grounded, sensible one on stage gave a new perspective to the Lenny Henry we used to see on TV in the 70s. Lenny has blossomed in his maturity.
Then the next day after numerous TV meetings I get to see Kate at Hammersmith Apollo. I knew it was going to be life changing. Having loved everything she has written but not being able to guess what I was going to see on stage.
Firstly her voice was magnificent, powerful when needed and subtle when chosen. The whole experience was perfect. It wasn’t just Kate who was spellbinding, the band where sublime, the directing, the events, the music………..it was perfect! I had tears in my eyes from the moment everyone walked on stage until the end. AND part of this exceptional experience was the attention of the audience……no one took pictures, no one filmed……everyone listened and it made the event completely different to any other.
Having been invited backstage after the show, not something that comes naturally to me as I know how tired people can get after a show, I was reassured Kate is a night owl and she wanted to say hello. In the green room were the team who put ECHO BEACH together for me in 1987. The production team where Kate’s team, which I had forgotten!
It was almost overwhelming to see Kate after such an incredible performance. She wrapped her arms around me and kissed my face. We had a bit of catching up to do, the last time I saw her son Bertie he was 6 years old now he is a man. Agreeing to see her after the “madness has ended” I left on cloud nine and didn’t come off it until over the following week I told every member of KING CRIMSON how bloody fantastic it was!
The next day I flew to Philadelphia and joined the KING CRIMSON tour. Hubby and I had been apart for 6 weeks and when I got to the hotel the tour manager sent me up in the lift not knowing I need a room key to work the lift, so six rides up and down in the lift later I bump into Bill Rieflin and we eventually found Robert. Then we all went out to supper.
The next day I saw the band. My thoughts partly were on “how will this entertain after Kate Bush?”
I needn’t have worried. This was the best incarnation KING CRIMSON I have ever seen. It was like an unstoppable machine with so much colour, energy and VA VA VOOM I was laughing from beginning to end. The humour in their complexity was genius. Sheer genius!
I had a blissful week with my two soul mates. Robert, Bill and I consider ourselves family. We happily stick together like glue and Robert had the most fun I have ever seen him have whilst on the road! Robert loves to embarrass me at every opportunity especially in public. This started immediately when I overheard him and Bill ask a security guard in a chemist “my wife is looking for the arse beauty department,” when these moments happen I run and hide, pretending not to know my companions but Robert always finds me and starts breaking wind very audibly whist following me around the shop.
Bill is no different, except he doesn’t break wind. Instead he just refuses to keep to the rules.
Every afternoon Bill and I would walk for two hours. This is part of Bill’s ongoing recuperation after an awful health scare three years ago. In Philadelphia we walked six miles before one show, which concerned me he’d be too tired for the evening but he was fine. When we reached the ART MUSEUM Bill decided that if he was only going in for a few minutes he wasn’t buying a ticket and he walked straight into the building telling the security so…….and he got away with it.
In Boston, Bill was more interested in the shops and wanted to see the Chanel store. Upon entering Bill was not shy about asking the staff to give him a tour. So there was Bill in his scruffy tour clothes and me in my Sunday best being shown the entire collection. I am convinced the staff believed he was a designer and I was his PA.
I needed to get back to the UK to prepare for the autumn shows. I have to say the last two weeks have been more testing than ever before. Having invested in a lot of new technology for my office which would allow me to broadcast and film…..none of it is working. Where I live some major building work down the street has resulted in the fibre optic cable being broken and this has stuffed my plans till all is mended. But I cannot blame that incident alone.
It appears I am toxic to the new world. Technology doesn’t like me. AND I don’t like it presently.
I’m averaging 6 hours a day dealing with technical teams. My hubby says it’s me. Even tills at shops break when I stand next to them. People’s wristwatches break when I stand next to them. Someone somewhere must have a use for this talent to break everything by just standing by it.
The list this month is:
- Chris Wong’s acoustic guitar battery died as soon as he walked on stage in Stroud and when he reloaded from a completely new box…every battery in the box was dead. Every sensor in my car has had to be replaced.
- The same with Roberts’s car if I drive it….kaput!
- My vacuum cleaner….burst into flames
- My mobile phone………again……this one’s a new one!
- My computers…at home….and in london. 2 of them!
- Robert’s computers…..2 of them!
- The TV
- My camera
- My iPad
- AND my favourite……..fans cameras…..I secretly enjoy that one, tee hee. (forgive me. I just smile as their camera batteries mysteriously die when they try and take a picture of me)
Really I’d totally understand it if I got banned from places of importance…hospitals, police stations, fire stations…….STEP AWAY FROM THE FIRE ENGINE WE NEED IT.
God I lament the simplicity of just sitting down and creatively writing for 8 hours and then at the end of the day opening the post and making phone calls.
GET ME ON THE ROAD WITH THE BAND AND OUT OF HERE!
We are doing quite a different set list. THE MINX tracks sound awesome!
There is a tour countdown now live here at this site too… keep your eyes peeled!
SEE YOU OUT THERE
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
The trailer for the film AHHHHHHHH! Is now ready and Steve Orman came over to play it to Robert. As obscure as this film truly is, quite surprisingly it makes sense. Robert watched the trailer totally absorbed, up till now he had only seen the improvisations Steve and I had done in February.
Having seen the trailer Robert offered Steve 14 hours of improvised music to narrate the film. This has now been added and it is as if AHHHHHHH and The Crimson Projeckt music where made for each other. Now the film truly is crazy and yet makes even more sense! Dare I say it is like Tellytubbies in Mayhem Land.
I have made so many long term commitments this month…..well commitments that are challenging to a comfort loving, slightly lazy Taurian.
It has been a rollercoaster of exhilaration and desperation with new technology being added into my office. The addition of all this equipment to my daily routine has made time dissolve far too quickly, due to my absorption into so many subjects and interests that would normally take four years at university to conquer.
Having kept to my “an hour a day per subject” for the whole of August I found myself committing to yet more life changing skills. Film making and editing. This is because one of my Apple Tutors is a guerrilla filmmaker and he has persuaded me to join his experimental film classes.
I am sensible enough to narrow all this learning down into areas I know I excel at. So the Piano, violin, guitar lessons remain sacred, as does learning computer skills but I do have a serious desire to be totally creatively independent and filmmaking teeters into my future vision of things.
August has been perfect to “just get on with it”, as most of the people who keep me distracted all day go away with their families and don’t want to hear from their artists……Yipeeeee…….no distractions.
But I do feel I have just completed a world tour when it comes to energy spent. I’ve had lessons before. For the past 30 years I have tried to improve my guitar playing, always hitting the same limitations, the same barriers, the same frustrations but this time I am pushing through them because even if I never master the instrument I will come out of this knowing and understanding it far better than ever before.
With the live shows this month the summer adds a special high when it comes to an energised happy audience. There is a kind of hedonism that is reserved especially for the last month of summer. New Quay rocked, the audience and the town was full of music loving revellers walking from venue to venue. Our stage was for some reason extremely slanted, one side higher than the other, almost by a foot, it was like playing on a ship that had been frozen in time mid tilt on a storm wave……..I found myself teetering sideways whenever I was focussing intensely on listening to the band.
At Osfest we played like demons, but yet again, as with Chillfest, we had other artist’s soundmen meddling with our onstage sound. At Osfest the sound man of the artist to follow us actually unplugged the whole of the TOYAH band’s “in-ear” system and de-programmed Wong’s guitar programmes at the same time, during BOOTZ. Luckily the audience stayed with us as BOOTZ went from sounding like an electric track to an acoustic track. We played on and conquered.
It takes incredible inexperience on the offending soundman’s part to do this to an established artist. Not only can it lead to the culprit having they faces rearranged it means their reputation for stupidity proceeds before them for many years to come.
Karma paid us a compliment as most the audience left for the fairground attractions after we left the stage. Which was unfair on the following artist but god knows what their soundman managed to do to them whilst they were actually performing! Falmouth was wild, really wild. Impressively so. Even though I have never been to Ibiza I imagine Falmouth was exactly like Ibiza on a Saturday night. The audience where great. All dresses up and rocking out.
This was a rare occasion as I managed to get my hubby to come with me. And for the first time ever we made it to see the Eden Project. This is a place I want King Crimson to do their only UK show. I have sown the seed. No doubt by Christmas Robert will come back to me and say “I’ve had this idea. I thing King Crimson should play the Eden Project!”
This week I played an acoustic show in Norwich. It was one of those shows that lifted you up and carried you along with it. As if an invisible hand is pulling you along on a journey. I told the audience the story of working with the great Hollywood legend Katherine Hepburn.
Normally I show a clip of the film we did together THE CORN IS GREEN but my computer was playing up (as it usually does when I really really need it) so I could only show pictures.
After the show the management came to me with a leather bound autograph book and said the book was full but there was one area I could fit my signature in………it was under Emlyn Williams’ signature. Emlyn Williams was the great welsh playwright who penned THE CORN IS GREEN. He had worked at the theatre in Norwich, The Maddermarket Theatre, and signed this book alongside his cast.
My god what an honour, I could have wept.
I must go now. Tonight I play Stroud, Up Close And personal. Tonight the Wongoose and I decide the set list for the autumn tour………….that’s a story for next month.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Hello and how are you?
My life has become ever so slightly calmer.
With August here most of my agents and management go on holiday which usually means I get a chance to read/ write/ study…….. until they get bored on the beach and start e-mailing me again.
Whereas all of June I was in “ mercury in retrograde hell”, this last month has been a lot smoother but with the odd bump along the way.
Yesterday my hubby informed me cameras had been installed in our garden which record permanently. I thought nothing of this, we need the cameras as most nights some local kids come over the garden wall to look around but then I realise just how many times I go outside in nothing but my birthday suit, sometimes just pants, sometimes pants and bra……….bending over weeding, scratching buttcheek, picking my nose, eating fruit straight of the tree and spitting stones out…….OMG! So the memory discs have been wiped! Now I am much more “well behaved” in my own garden! (hubby still pees in the flower pots though.)
This has been a wonderful year with all the live shows. Especially the acoustic show which is so much fun……. no drums making my ears bleed….that said the festivals have been great. All the shows in the past four weeks have been heavenly ……. Rotherham Stadium, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Victoria Hall Settle and New Quay all utterly wonderful.
But finding unadulterated time to write/study is proving testing. I am studying piano/ violin / guitar, which requires routine and discipline. This is a concerted effort to keep my brain tuned and my body responsive.
I made a decision last month to stop watching any TV that didn’t nourish my soul other than the news channels. Already my life is richer. I am convinced we are all being controlled like “test animals” by the constant barrage of banality from divisive advertising to mind numbingly boring repetitive themes of crisis and denial in drama and reality TV……. where’s the depiction of the inspirational lives we all lead?
Because August can be relatively quiet in contrast to the rest of the year (September will become a marathon, with bookings for 2015) I have set my days like a college schedule……. one hour per subject……to see if I can follow a strict routine and improve my learning ability…. it goes like this:
1 HOUR : VIOLIN
1 HOUR: KEYBOARD
1 HOUR: GUITAR
1 HOUR: MUSIC THEORY
1 HOUR: SERIOUS READING
1 HOUR: EXERCISE
It may look nuts and it certainly looks repetitive but my day completely disappears just sitting in my office at the computer and I don’t even interact with social media. If I did that too my night would evaporate along with the day.
My ONE HOUR theory is that “to address a learning desire we need to add it as a discipline into our lives so the brain knows you intend to use it!)
Often I am asked if I have regrets. This is one of my most loathed questions in the world because basically journalists are asking you to not only define yourself by regrets but also to go down in living memory as a person of regrets which to me is a pile of bollocks. But I will admit I do feel regret that I didn’t learn an instrument when I was a child, because I am constantly frustrated that I cannot play anything. Chris Wong (my guitarist and MD) has expressed he’d prefer me not to know too much about the rules of music because I come out with extraordinary ideas that haven’t been cancelled out by too much knowledge of the rulebooks but all the same I have a strong desire to delve into the mystery of music. So for August I am testing my discipline to see if I can stick to learning whilst the telephone is quiet.
One rare event that takes a lot of time up is if a promoter decides to re-schedule a concert. We try under all circumstances to not let this happen within 6 months of a show date. All shows are booked almost a year ahead of time.
I, as the named artist take all liability for my musicians income in the event of a show not happening which is incentive not to allow promoters to do this. So this year we have had one show that needed re-scheduling. (this is lucky in some ways as sometimes it can be more).
I totally understand how bad this is for any ticket buyers. Craig Astley, myself and RAM Management run around like headless chickens trying to calm and solve everyone’s needs but I do need to express that when a promoter does this they almost never take into account the effect on the musicians and the audience, leaving the prevailing shitstorm for the artist to sort out.
So with York on the 24th July, a few days before the show, the promoter decided to re-schedule which left me needing to pay full performance fees to the musicians, Craig Astley chasing the audience and trying to inform ticket buyers (Craig doesn’t work for free, so all web promotion, all secretarial work has been paid for) and my management trying to organise refunds that really the promoter should be dealing with as myself and the venue wanted the show to happen. All I can say is thank god these events are rare, ………apart from being a few thousand down in costs what really irked me about this, as well as letting my audience down, is I lost a weeks creative time just sorting it out.
So apologies to all effected by this……we are onto it and it will be sorted!
Recently I was shopping for a new make up bag (I get through these quite quickly) when I came across a bag with a picture of my mother, when she was 18, on it.
I was in total shock. My mother was a professional dancer from the age of 12 till she was 19. The photo of her was taken in Weston Super Mare where she was appearing in a show with Max Wall the comedian. Mum’s face has been photoshopped onto a collage of other girls. I suppose the original photo is now out of copyright. But it has made me think I don’t want this happening to my image in 70 years time, I need to look at controls on this after my death!
If you follow me on twitter you will have seen I had an accident at home, which put me in A&E. I am totally OK now but the timing of the accident was close to comedy in its unveiling. My home is very old, parts of it are over 500 yrs old and the piping close to 100 years old. Well I was in my hubby’s shower room, a room I rarely go in….. it is a boys room when part of the piping collapsed on me, bringing down about 2 or 3 kilos of solid iron on my right arm and crushing it….it hurt! AND I was in the process of leaving the house to buy a violin! The metal crushed my bow arm. Bloody typical! So off to A&E where it appears the bone is bruised but no brake.
I can only say thank goodness this didn’t happen to Robert, as his arm is far more precious than mine, also it didn’t happen to Bill Rieflin who had been staying with us, who again, his arm is more precious than mine!Right……time to put the ONE HOUR theory to the test …………
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXXXXXXXX
HELLO THERE AND WOW!
I apologise for the late arrival of this web blog……..it has been very very busy.
Not only have I been full time on the film AHHHHHHHHH but I’ve had concerts too plus the phone keeps ringing with work for 2015. Non stop!
Since the 7th June Mercury has been in retrograde. It was retrograde until the 1st July but it still causes chaos right up until the 14th July.
As a result this is the fourth draft of my web letter because I just couldn’t stop groaning about the way I hate this period so intensely.
It seems to bring the “dumb arse” out in people for example…..I’ve narrowed my Mercury retrograde gripes down to a top 10:
1. why does my husbands driver call me before I go on stage to tell me he cant pick him up from the airport……call my f—— husband. I am not his secretary!
2. A builder calls to say I haven’t paid him an invoice from 6 months ago…..so I scan the invoice, the photocopy of the cheque, the proof he cashed the cheque and I get this reply…….”thank you, I didn’t do my accounting so didn’t know it had been paid, you have now done my accounting for me.”
3. Why do people send me photos of their children…if I wanted a family I would have had my own. I own up….i am family phobic.
4. There’s a 6 foot tall police man who hides behind a tree on the Chelsea Embankment with a speed lazer gun catching out everyone who genuinely believes it’s a 40mph limit when it is actually a 30mph limit even though there isnt one speed indication on this stretch of road…….GGGRRRRR….F—— GGGRRRRRR
5. First I curb my back tyre and have to buy a brand new one …….then the new one explodes on the M1 when I am doing 50mph in roadworks.
6. I wait 2 hours, on the M1, in the dark, for the RAC to come and help me.
7. So I borrow my husbands car and his sat nav has a nervous brake down and my mobile decides to die just when I am lost in Manchester!
8. Why does the local radio station call my mobile 6 times a day when I haven’t answered their calls for over 8 years?
9. Why do I sign TV contracts “WILLCOX” and the titles always say WILCOX………any idiot can look up Wikipedia!
10. Why did the sound crew at Chillfest line check the microphones for the other bands through my entire set?
Believe me I could write pages on the gripes of the last 6 weeks. Mercury makes communication, technology and the world challenging.
So it’s 5am and I am asking myself this……” you hate people moaning, so why are you intending to send a moaning blog out…..cut the crap.”
So……..lets start as I intend to finish………
UG! UG! UG!
I have now finished filming AHHHHHH!
The making of the film has been enjoyable if somewhat strenuous. My larynx has had a major work out with all that ape-ing around.
For the actors to know where we where in a scene we had to rehearse each shot in English then we would film that scene in ape language.
It was surprisingly exhausting improvising into imaginary language……..but FUN!
Julian Rhind-Tutt who plays my younger mate told me when he was ten his father bought him my first three albums and he used to lock himself away in his bedroom just staring at the covers. Then when he was eleven he was allowed to see me at Hammersmith Odeon in 1982 which he described as “life changing”…..well we were performing The Changelling at that show!
It was uplifting to hear from various members of the film team that I was their first “artist” of interest when they were younger. Our make-up supervisor said I was the reason she went into make up. Steve Orman’s (writer/director/film editor and general good egg) first time on stage was during a school trip to the theatre, when he came up to join me on stage, at the opening of act two in the TAMING OF THE SHREW, which I was touring nation wide in 1990……..he actually joined me for the banqueting scene and never forgot it, always intending to work with me in the future. The show was at the Malvern Theatre at the time.
I cant tell you too much about AHHHHHHH because the creator Steve Oram dislikes advanced information going out. So the moment will come when the film is finished and people will see it……Then we will talk about it.
It is possibly one of the most outrageous things I have done since Jubilee!
My sister arrived home on her birthday. The 12th July from sailing around the world. I haven’t seen her yet, my schedule is too manic but we are throwing a party for her at the end of the month. My sister holds my remaining family together, as I am hopeless at being in contact with anyone, so is my brother…..so now my sister is home I am looking forward to family get “togethers”.
In the past 11 months I have talked to my brother three times. We are close but we never get involved in dross so conversations can last all of one sentence “How are you” ….”Great. How are you?” …..”Great.”……”OK….See you then.”
We have one very common personality trait……we are unsentimental.
The concerts in the last 6 weeks have been fab. Isle Of Man was wonderful. Peel was one of the most beautiful places in the British Isles. It also has an ice cream parlour to challenge the one in Menton, France. I am an ice cream addict! We returned from our “sell out” show feeling as though we had had a good holiday.
I managed to get Robert to come with me to Guernsey a couple of weeks ago to join Chris Tarrant for his charity cricket match on Herm Island. WOW what a beautiful place. I am planning on going back without my phone and without my computer so I can just escape this manic world of technology and actually read a book! Robert, who is usually anti-social, had the time of his life……hopefully he is mellowing with age.
I have to accept life is so manic the only time I get any space is on stage……..I never thought I’d ever say that!
The only time I escape the phone is whilst singing……singing has become my solace……now that’s a great place to be!
Right……..there’s numerous TV’s to prepare for this week, plus ROCK CHOIR and the summer shows….no rest for the wicked!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Thank you for all your well wishes for little WillyFred the wonder bunny. He is the oldest bunny I have ever had. White rabbits tend to live for 6 years but WillyFred is now in his 8th year.
He took a turn for the worse on the 10th May. I was away touring and Robert called to say he didn’t know what to do as WF had become like a rag doll. The only thing to do was to get him to Diane The Rabbit Whisperer. Diane held bunny for 24 hours, through the night!……because she thought he was on his way to bunny heaven…….then three days later he suddenly perked up and ever since he has been a brand new bunny.
It might have been a diabetic episode as he used to eat too many sweet treats. Now he is on a diet that Gwyneth Paltrow would approve of. Simple greens, hey and grass pellets. This is his diet for life. He is off all medication too and he is leaping around the house like a spring bunny, if somewhat sugar starved!
Finally I am over my hayfever, well at least I am for now. It is disruptive when you are a singer. For me I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs for the high notes needed in THUNDER, also I needed to cough all the time. The shows in May were all wonderful….perhaps a little wet!
On stage in Plymouth at Volksfest I had to have a cup of tea on stage to try and stop my coughing. As soon as I walked on stage in the huge event field my eyes started streaming, my nose was streaming, I needed to cough and I was sneezing……ridiculous. Now, four weeks later, my top notes are back and my lungs can fill with air again.
The weather in May was biblical. Just as we were about to sound check in Crick there was a hail storm like no other I have seen in my life, it left about 2 inches of hail stones on the already sodden ground and the noise of the hail hitting the tent was louder than the PA. We all thought the event would have to be cancelled and thank goodness it wasn’t as it was utterly brilliant. The show rocked…..and it was an acoustic show to boot!
So many people turned up they had to open up the sides of the tent because they couldn’t fit everyone in, then the organizers closed the entrances to the site with SOLD OUT signs, as people kept on coming, fabulous.
May was also extra special for me because I have laid all but one ghost to rest. Last year after a virus my ability to walk was effected for about 5 months. This happened when I was on tour with Hormonal Houswives. In April and May this year I managed to visit quite a lot of those towns on that tour and walk them. It affected me greatly last year to not be able to explore but now I’ve managed to re-visit many of the towns and walk them from top to bottom. I feel I have put the ghost of 2013 behind me.
My heart sang as I walked Durham on May 11th. I love this town so much. My main aim this day was to pray at the shrine to St.Cuthbert, in the magnificent cathedral, for little Willy Fred to get through his illness, also for one of my greatest friends and influences to be cancer free after 3yrs of fighting the disease. I must have frightened off sightseers on this Sunday as I sat there with tears rolling down my face, but I always head to this shrine when someone needs divine intervention.
We live in a small world, as I left my hotel in Durham my next-door neighbor from Worcester was waiting for a taxi……we just looked at each other and burst out laughing!
Robert and I spent our birthdays and wedding anniversary in Seattle with Bill Rieflin and his wife Frankie. Robert and Bill were touring the west coast the following week so both were a little preoccupied with arranging their equipment and travel but we managed to have a great week. For me when I had time on my own I walked the city. My ambition on this trip was to walk 5th avenue from beginning to end, then 1st avenue the same. These avenues are miles long!
My head floods with ideas in this city and I always have to rush back to base and write them all down. This is how most of the lyrics to The Humans Strange Tales came about.
Also I never feel alone in Seattle. People constantly stop me to say they like my style! (This happens in France too). People just stop me and say how great my clothes are and they really “dig” my appearance…….at first I thought this was a one off event but when it happened everywhere I walked, especially in this city, I thought it might be because the British high street does dresses so well.
The Humans will be playing the UK in the last two weeks of April 2015. We start writing our fourth album in December this year and we will record over the summer of 2015 in Seattle.
Here’s a little warning to you…..Mercury is in Retrograde from the 7th June until the end of the month. I HATE MERCURY IN RETROGRADE!!!!!!!!!
It means mis-communication and electrical failures for three weeks……….and I am reliant on everything electrical and mechanical when performing.
Even my everyday household stuff is being affected. Already my Hoover has burst into flames, the electrics have failed in Roberts new car, the electrics have failed in my car, my recording system died whist rehearsing for Bristol Rocks, my office printer has died ………..oh BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!!!! WE HAVE THREE WEEKS OF THIS!
Luckily Steve Oram’s film shoot starts on the 30th June, so fingers crossed all will run smoothly and effortlessly once we get into July for the rest of the shoot.
Steve and I are in regular contact as he sends me test films where he and other cast members have got together and improvised how we are going to deal with the lack of language. He has stripped the language down to the bare minimum of guttural grunts and the way he is shooting the scenes……..all I can say….it makes one hell of a comment about life………I find his idea of there being no language as we know it, very sinister as well as funny. He has struck a great idea here.
Yesterday I talked at SOHOCREATE. This is a new festival about creativity on all levels. Wow! What a fabulous festival. The idea of putting a vast mix of creative people together in an environment where we were able to talk to and with the audience about the creative process was very rewarding. I found everyone has similar blocks, similar experiences and it was good to talk these out openly from so many different perspectives.
Today I play Clacton. The sun is out and it feels like summer.
I wish you a fab June. This is my favourite month of the year!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
HELLO THERE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
April was dominated by AMERICA. Learning THE HUMANS set whilst touring the TOYAH BAND and TOYAH ACOUSTIC was interesting. It taught me to keep my brain cells agile.
I am determined to keep testing myself with learning something new everyday, even if it’s the spelling of a town I pass through whist on my way to a venue, a town I might never visit again or drive through again. It is worth learning all the same.There is value in doing this, my hubby says I am the only person he knows who can drive anywhere in the UK with out sat nav or a map. Come the apocalypse I will know where the towns and cities are. Next I want to learn how to travel by using the position of the sun and the stars.THE HUMANS in the USA was a phenomenal success.
Robert and I flew to San Francisco first. This was a trip planned last July 2013, to meet my sister as her fleet arrived from racing in the Pacific. But bad weather and an injury set them back by 5 days in China, so we never got to see her, instead I left a package behind waiting for her………full of chocolate bars! The picture is my sister in SF diving into the chocolate whilst still on land.
We stayed with Robert’s sister Pat, who only the other week had flown to the UK to see me in Wimbourne. Every morning Robert and I would rise with the dawn and start to learn our sets for the tour and Pat would bring us fantastic fruit/kale/yogurt smoothies.
On arrival in Seattle I joined THE HUMANS who had already had two days rehearsal and programming and within an hour we were running our intended set and it was great, every song made sense and added to the experience. The new material from STRANGE TALES was just the best! It was pure joy to be back together again. I have missed working with Bill Rieflin so much.
At lunch on the Friday, we were in a small backwater of west Seattle when Bill pointed out a Mexican bar he innocently walked into being inquisitive once where he was immediately frog marched out and told never to return…he realised something “bad” was going down.
I then had the weekend off because Bill and Robert needed to rehearse Slow Music with Peter Buck so I set off exploring Seattle on my own.
For me Seattle isn’t like any other place in the USA. In comparison I found the meandering, loud mouth street attitude of the San Francisco people really eye-opening and headache inducing. It’s as if they cannot walk at a normal pace in a straight line without shouting audibly over the traffic. Whereas in Seattle there is a silence, people move more directly and never invade your space with noise. I think this is why I love to go there to write, there is so much mystery it opens up my mind to fantasy and possibility. There is water wherever you look and it really takes you back to how it must have felt living there 500 years ago as a tribal community. AND now it is this space age automaton with down and outs on every corner who probably all have university degrees and people silently maneuvering from building to building… I could people watch all day!
By Sunday I was pretty bloody nervous…OK I was crawling up the wall! I can’t remember butterflies in the stomach quite so bad. We all arrived at the TRIPLE DOOR to set up at the same time. There were going to be 9 musicians on stage during the night.
The venue was just perfect, a 1930s cabaret venue with dinning tables and waitress service. Both nights in Seattle were sold out which added to the excitement. People had flown in from all over the place to see not only Slow Music but THE HUMANS and myself too. Fans waited outside with their entire collection of TOYAH albums to be signed, with bunches of flowers and gifts. It was very moving.
It was slightly nerve-wracking back stage as the only women performer, not only was I trying to get changed discreetly in a quiet corner but I was also trying to do so without famous musicians walking in on me. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) innocently walked into the room whilst I was “sans” dress…I ran away and said to Peter Buck “ there’s a strange man in my room and he’s asking for you!”
This was THE HUMANS first live performance in three years. We walked on stage and what I experienced was thrilling. The audience totally flipped from the first number onwards…they loved the concept of bass driven songs. By the third song GET IN YOUR CAR we were surfing the tidal wave of knowing this was “happening”. Standing ovations, cheers, rounds of applause after tricky vocals such as PSYCHOPATH filled our ears. It was pure joy!
We had great audiences every night and a lot of fabulous musicians came to watch……Death Cab For Cutie, Pearl Jam, REM members……all being keen supporters of THE HUMANS where there to cheer us on. It was JUST GREAT!
As with all things fun the time flew by and no sooner had we arrived than we were back at the airport and returning home. A new experience has started to happen to me and I cannot fathom why. People are mistaking me for a child. I am sure I am not that small, and I am certain I am not shrinking…..in fact the opposite.
At Seattle airport security, a man waved me over to the x-ray machine with “ come here little girl! That’s a pretty summer dress you have on!”
I could hear Robert hooting with laughter behind me. As I have a hip replacement, when travelling in the USA I have to produce a card to declare I have metal in my body. On holding this up to the security man he said “ and what do we have here?”
“My hip replacement identity card.”
Stunned silence. Followed by a red face…his. Some people must have really bad eyesight because I have the face and the body of a middle aged women!
Now back in England it is great to be gigging through a very busy summer.In fact for the next 5 months it will be non stop. There are festivals, concerts, films and TV. It is fast becoming a blur, but a very enjoyable one!
See you out there.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
HELLO AND BOO!
I am intrigued to read my husband’s diary blogs on dgmlive.com where he regularly tells stories that I wait for him in the dark recesses of our home during the early hours to JUMP OUT at him, to scare him witless. What he never mentions is he does it to me too.
I mention this as he is getting Face book comments that I might give him a heart attack…HE MIGHT GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK! It is a revelation to read about how he perceives me with his public voice. Yes there is a LOT of practical joking in the Fripp household but it isn’t one sided.
Oh woe is little me. The times I come back from buying our lunch to have him leap out of a room or corridor to scare me… so no wonder I hide in the dark of his shower in the morning waiting for him to sleepily step inside, put the light on and find me there smiling at him inanely.
These episodes get so competitive, so heated we occasionally have to call a truce to gather out wit and sanity…….then a friend comes to stay……and that’s when the Fripps become a team…. working together to jump out at innocent and unwitting acquaintances…. FABULOUS.
6 years ago I had a conversation with Michel Faber about his book UNDER THE SKIN, for me one of the most powerful modern literary works in the world. Film 4 held the film rights and I mentioned my ambition to play the lead protagonist Isserley. At this time Faber believed Isserley would be created through computer generated imagery which kind of made sense as she is an alien with dog-like appearance who tries to disguise herself as human.
Last week I managed to see the finished film starring Scarlett Johansson. Even though I found the film utterly brilliant, Scarlett included, along with her innocent co-stars, this film doesn’t capture the stark genius of Faber’s writing. The film is a very separate entity, which instead, for me, captures the brilliance, warmth, vulnerability of Glaswegian men! Most of whom were filmed secretly according to the press.
This month has allowed me to read my first book in almost a year. Reading is a necessity for me; my brain turns to flab without it. As proven when I took part in Celebrity Pointless last month where I shamefully answer the first question with such inaccurate stupidity I came away determined to find time to read.
I can always tell when I am talking to someone who reads books and someone who doesn’t. Book readers have a different relationship to speech and language, it’s nothing to do with intelligence even though books obviously tune the reader into a different world thus freeing their imagination, it has more to do with how a book reader thinks before they talk, the pacing, the considering, the awareness of consequence……they are different to say a teenager who interacts with the world of gaming. When I stop reading books my speech speeds up and I open my mouth without thinking basic common sense through!
For Valentines Day Hubby gave me Detmar Blow’s account of his marriage to Isabella Blow, stylist for Tatler and Vogue, called BLOW BY BLOW.
I don’t think I ever met Isabella but all my friends knew her well, so I often heard about her extraordinary behaviour at parties, she was prone to boob flashing and I heard about her legendary expenditure on photo shoots. My friend and neighbour is the head of Conde Nast in the UK and he often received quite incredible credit card bills after one of Isabella’s shoots, but that said everyone I know loved her and valued her.
On the 4th June I am giving a talk with my best friend Helen David of ENGLISH ECCENTRICS for SOHO CREATE FESTIVAL and Helen was very close to Isabella.
I always imagined this exotic bird of paradise would have been the happiest soul in the world, effortlessly gliding from one adventure to another but reading her story filled me with horror. She appeared to inhabit a cruel, uncaring world which sent her off kilter, a world where incredibly successful people used her and turned their backs on her. The one beacon of light who stuck with her through thick and thin was Bryan ferry, and for that fact his first wife Lucy Ferry too.
On reading the book I was shocked that our paths appeared to cross repeatedly and unnoticed for about 25 years. We knew exactly the same people, we lived in the same areas and privately, but to a much MUCH lesser extent, I experienced her same frustrations within my creative world.
When I sat down to start reading the book I couldn’t put it down. I read it from beginning to end with out a gap. Once finished I called Robert, who was in Mexico and listed all the synchronicities. The question being “how on earth did we never meet this person?” We lived streets away in London, socialised with the same people and knew the same people out of London too!
Isabella attempted suicide several times in different locations, once near Chiswick and Ealing, by jumping off an elevation and surviving, another time in her car on the A417 and finally by drinking weed killer at her home near Gloucester. Every location was within reach of one of my homes. Reading the book made me wish I could have sat down and talked to her about the plain fact that anyone who lives in the world of showbusiness and fashion has had their boundaries severely tested and there is no greater sign of success than riding above the “shit storm” no matter how mad, crazy, bewildered and cast adrift it can make you feel.
On the phone to Robert in Mexico I thanked him for being my guiding light when things got to tough and he reminded me that I have been his guiding light through his shit storms too. Life is much saner now we are older and that’s how I like it!
The shows so far this year have been great. Fabulous audiences and the band are playing at their best, we are all enjoying the new material, it is naughty, rocky and fun!
My suitcase is packed and I am about to leave for San Francisco where I am supposed to see my sister arrive on one her legs for the ROUND THE WORLD CLIPPER RACE, but her boat has been held up by 5 days because of weather and crew injury, so I will miss her!
I know she will need a huge amount of chocolate to keep her going, there is another 4 months before she finishes back in London, so I will leave a package of chocolate and hair conditioner for her as I have to be in Seattle to promote THE HUMANS: STRANGE TALES by the 9th April!!!!!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
It is thrilling to see the response to HUMANS 3. Thank you everyone who has downloaded the “STRANGE TALES” album which entered Amazon’s Rock Chart at 26 today!
The artwork is an actual photo not a constructed artwork. The photographer, Konrad Puddick, was taking pictures of moths when he realised he had an otherworldly “orb” in one of the developed shots. Andy Doble of the TOYAH band sent me the picture saying, “Can you believe this orb!” I fell in love with it because Andy sent the picture as a close up of the orb, the scale of the moth and it’s antennae against the orb are like an insect invasion, that and the added fact insects where here long before us, the humans, makes it perfect for our artwork. There is a digital album booklet for STRANGE TALES now available from my discography.
Bill and I came up with the title over lunch in Seattle last December. We were in a typical American diner and I was explaining how I liked to get up at the crack of dawn and watch the sun rise over Puget Sound and see all the boats come to life and the night people disappear and the market stall holders take over…. so many strange tales. Bill liked this immediately. This is a rare happening. Bill is very hard to please.
In the studio, whilst recording, there was a piece of paper on the wall for album title suggestions. This filled up very quickly with unprintable and very likable titles.
My favourites being “Bill’s face was made for sitting on”, this had the piece of paper torn up and started again to which I added our all time favourite, and I must state here because of my physical history it was accepted I had the experience to suggest this……… “Cripple Disco”, (this came from my history of having to learn to walk again) a title suggestion that had all press people, management and potential record companies screaming NO! NO! NO!
For the entire period in the recording studio this piece of paper filled with obscenities mainly aimed at Bill which he ignored until friends visited and as their eyes naturally moved towards the piece of paper on the wall titled SUGGESTED ALBUM TITLES Bill would dive head first to rip the page from the wall in case gems like…I LIVE IN BILLS UNDERPANTS, BILL: A PRIME REASON TO JUSTIFY CANNABILISM, BILL HALF MAN HALF MELON where spotted by his very credible list of high profile friends.
Great people made this album possible for us, Pearl Jam made the studio available to us and Death Cab For Cutie loaned us their equipment…THANK YOU GUYS!
STRANGE TALES is very close to my heart. It sees a first…I play brushes on Get In Your Car And Drive! Everyone who has heard it says it’s the best work I have ever done musically and as a vocalist.
Apart from the happy memories of writing and recording in Seattle there was a discipline applied to creating this album that I have never experienced in past recording. Because we recorded onto two-inch tape and transferred to digital there was a lot of mathematics involved in how many tracks where available, how to wire up all the equipment and how to place the stereo. There were many occasions when silence fell and we all had to put our heads together and just map out the track listing. On IMPROBABLE THING there are about 20 vocal tracks on the chorus.
Bill Rieflin produces with a fist of iron, he wont let anything slip by the by. If he doesn’t like a lyric then I am sent away to re-write or we address it as a team. Sometimes he realises the original is the best and we return to my original idea, sometimes a completely new approach to a song is born. It is satisfying to be pushed, pulled and pummelled this way; it caused new directions to emerge.
I cannot wait to perform it live!
The TOYAH shows have already started in the UK. TOYAH ACOUSTIC kicked off in Buxton and was a success.
I love performing TOYAH songs acoustically. They sound fresh and contemporary. The lyrics had more meaning and clarity in the sonic space of the two acoustic guitars. In Lytham we had two promoters in who said the songs where excellent and had completely changed their view of me as a songwriter. We had a great offer to be put on quite an amazing bill of artists later in the year.
Many more of these shows are being added into the autumn schedule. It was fun to do and easy on the ear…no drums thundering around my head! It also means Chris Wong sings…Chris hates singing…. so the more he sings the better tee hee. This doesn’t mean less TOYAH shows with the rock band, in fact more of those are going in too. The TOYAH AUTUMN TOUR DATES will be announced later this month. The dates are in and they are good places, big cities!
It was quite a leap going from acoustic Toyah into Electric Toyah. Holmfirth was a wonderful venue, rammed to the rafters. We had a slight emergency with Tim Rose not being available but Mick Nichols stepped in and was fantastic, this meant we had to slightly alter the set list but the show went on and every song was a TOYAH classic. It rocked!
Nuneaton too was incredible, what a wonderful audience. Rammed to the rafters again. Now our bassist emergency is over we will be adding CRIMSON QUEEN songs by Bury St. Edmunds when we have Tim Rose back.
I have a lot of learning to do in March. There’s the HUMANS set to learn and “AAAAHHHHHHH” the film script to learn as we start rehearsals on the 16th March.
This film requires a different technique of acting style. Slightly heightened emotion and accessing hysteria for brief sudden bursts because we are all gibbering like apes rather than speaking English. Also all the characters are very normal but prone to sudden violence……….it’s capturing the normality that will be the challenge!
Last night I was a guest of David Bintley at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I went to see The Prince of the Pagodas where one of the characters was a salamander. The characterization was stunning and gave me a lot of ideas for sudden mood changes in “aaahhhhhhh!”
My husband was away for Valentine’s Day this year so I took the King Crimson boys, who were in the UK rehearsing, out for a hot date. This was a good trade off.
No hubby but three fabulous Americans, Bill Rieflin, Tony Levin and Pat Mastoletto. We trundled off to a Japanese restaurant on Waterford High Street, Hanako. A very modest address but an incredible chef, the food was great. Bill was in heaven. Both Bill and Pat ate my food as well as their own. Our table became a battleground of munching!
Tony Levin spends most of his time touring with Peter Gabriel so the talk across the table was mainly about creativity and private jets. Bill having spent seven years on the road with REM had a lot of private jet stories. All discrete, all matter of fact………… boy how the other half live!
My only experience of a private jet was in 1983 when Sir Laurence Olivier, Greta Saatchi, Roger Rees and myself flew to the Dordoyne to film The Ebony Tower. We were served about four bottles of champagne on the flight before the stewardess told us there was no loo on board…………. when we landed all four of us ran past passport control shouting “Où sont les toilettes s’il vous plait!”
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD!
LOVE TOYAH XXXXXXXXXXX
HELLO THERE……….YIPEEEEEEE IT’S FEBRUARY!
Mr. Bill Rieflin arrived in the UK this week for the start of KING CRIMSON rehearsals. This means I have him on home turf and can make plans for the HUMANS and HUMANS 3.
We have decided to make THE HUMANS’ new album available digitally through iTunes, Amazon etc in time for the USA dates in April. There has been much too-ing and frowing-ing between interested record labels but no commitment to release dates so we want to make the album available to the solid fan base whilst we actually play live.
I am excited about the release as the album is fabulous, one of the best pieces of work I have ever been involved with. Make sure you are signed up to the TOYAH BREAKING THROUGH MAILING LIST for an announcement straight to your inbox fairly soon!
On 19 February it will be the 20th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s passing away. There is a lot going on to celebrate his remarkable talent and his “at the time” unconventional ways. Somerset house has PANDEMONIUM, an exhibition of Derek’s note books and SUPER8 film footage which he constantly shot turning the then waste land of London Docksides into romantic burning pyres.
I remember when I used to hang out with Derek in 1977 through to 1980 his home in Butler’s Wharf stood among ruins of pilled high red brick and broken wooden pallets now you would be lucky to buy a small box like flat there for under one million.
On the 12th February I will be introducing Derek’s wonderful film THE TEMPEST at BFI Southbank, London in which I played MIRANDA. A film I love and have incredibly happy memories of making. A film that gave me a nomination for EVENING STANDARD BEST NEWCOMER.
Last year I was a guest at the BIRMINGHAM BALLET and the artistic director took me aside and said my role in the Tempest has inspired him to choreograph a future project at the ballet………..i was thrilled to say the least.
Like many people in the UK I am determined not let this winter govern my life!
For 55 years I have been on this planet and I still hate winter. Cant stand the ‘all enveloping’ dark, I always sleep with the curtains open, much to my hubby’s annoyance in the hope the room will be lit by moonlight. Can’t stand the wet upon WET! There’s nowt as bad as water on the skin when it’s below freezing. Cant stand the grey grumbling skies
……….gggggggrrrrrrrrrrr YUK! YUK! YUK!
But I LOVE the turnaround, when magic flows through everything. I look out the window and see buds on the trees swell, the snowdrops, the crocus push through the tombstone soil and this wonderful feeling of hope and optimism starts to emerge from a frozen heart…………..SPRING IS COMING!
YIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE! That’s how I am feeling now February is here. The world is leaping back to life.
I always keep myself busy through the winter months. This year it was training for SPLASH. The whole process was incredible fun and wonderful terror all merged into one ecstatic ball in the stomach. Funnily I hate water on my skin in the winter months, unless if is piping hot, the sensation for me is not a pleasant one and on some mornings in the pool in South End the weather was a foggy freeze outside and the pool inside didn’t manage to heat to that nice tropical bath temperature one expects.
But I wanted to do well and I knew the only way was commitment so I pushed through my winter whinges and excepted that being wet and cold was part of the joyride….that and constant pain from all the twists and turns the water played with ones body.
You think you would hit the water and glide away but no, hidden forces within the water sometimes ricked the vertebrae of your neck sickeningly back into an unnatural stretch or twisted your spine in a vicious jerk till you thought something had broken…….. dealing with the pain became a bigger issue than the fear of heights…….yet if I were to be asked to do it again……I’D SAY YES!
Now onward into 2014. Two weeks ago my acting agent Michael Hallett sent me this message………….” This sounds MAD! But could be very funny, and ace people involved. Let me know what you think x”.
A script was attached from the comedian/ director/ writer Steve Oram. I saw his last film SIGHTSEERS just recently by coincidence.
I immediately set aside my afternoon, working on TOYAH ACOUSTIC and read Steve’s script “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”.
My jaw hit the floor. It is very, very funny. Very, very violent. Quite brilliantly written but preceded with the instruction “ALL CHARACTERS IN THIS FILM SPEAK LIKE MONKEYS OR IN GIBBERISH SPEAK. WRITTEN DIALOGUE IS JUST TO SHOW INTENDED MEANING. “
WHAT THE? AHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Steve and I have already shot some improvisations, partly on my recommendation, as I have never done anything like this and the results are great……it works! It’s funny!
So I have this to look forward too once I land back in the UK from THE HUMANS West Coast dates.
Now back to formulating TOYAH: ACOUSTIC, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.
This will be a music driven evening with unusual anecdotes and in most venues I will have a screen to use, where I can show short film clips and behind the scenes pics. Chris Wong and Colin Hinds will be on guitar for these shows. Im really looking forward to the “newness” of it all. The three of us filmed two acoustic tracks for Vintage Sessions VINTAGE TV too which will be broadcast later in February too.
Then we kick off the TOYAH BAND 2014 on 21 Feb in Holmfirth………perfect……all dates are on the gigs page.
SO back to my desk……………see you out there! Here comes spring! YIPEEEEEEEEEEEE!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH XXXXXXXX
HELLO THERE AND
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Boy I am a little nervous and very excited. For the past two months I have been learning to high dive with Tom Daley for ITV’s SPLASH!.
I started training whilst on tour with my band and I had to keep quite about it, I hadn’t even told my brother or sister. Tom Daley is a stunning boy in every way. Thoughtful, kind and accepting of all ages, shapes and sizes. He quite literally has taken my breath away in that such a young person could be so centred, strong and yet beautifully warm of heart. Whilst training with my team and I stood next to him on the 7.5metre platform and he suddenly did a dive! The sound was like a gun going off, the strength he exhibited was like none I have ever seen before in my life. He is a great guy and he has me on his side all the way, forever!
My dive is on the 11th January………it will be live! For me it will be as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Terrifying because we only get one chance…..a split second chance….and exhilarating because once I have faced my fear I will be thrilled.
The news I would be doing SPLASH came in the summer and ever since I have been building up my physical strength and working on my inner confidence, not because of the diving itself but because I have a real anxiety about wearing swimwear in front of people!
I look at the newspapers every morning and feel a tinge of terror for all those celebs caught on the beach in their swimwear, even when they look a million dollars, the exposure for me is a tad too far. I find the concept of being judged in swimwear really alien to all my beliefs about what show business is. Well I have really put myself out there now and I have to toughen up about it !
My last real holiday was in the Maldives in 2001! That is how much I don’t like being in a swimsuit! My body confidence is somewhere between “0” to “-10”. It has always been like that. It has nothing to do with weight, I am the same weight as thirty years ago, (not the same shape sadly) it has nothing to do with my age, I felt like this as a child……it is just one of those things we all burden to some extent, a kind of demon on my shoulder.
That said the process of learning to dive has been wonderful….why?….because it has nothing to do with how you look in a swimsuit and everything to do with how you understand your body in freefall……..much more exciting! Really challenging. AND anyway….my swimsuit always comes off the minute I hit the water. I think poor Tom Daley has unwittingly seen my baps on at least two occasions. The producers are so concerned about my “break free cleavage” they have got in a costume designer to rein the blighters in!
It was about 3 weeks ago, whilst training, that I realise my best wont be good enough for this show because the competition is so good. There are some breath taking people taking part, really good high divers so in the last couple of weeks I’ve had to up my game, bite the bullet and fall from heights I’d never choose to fall from ever again, unless there is 5metres of water beneath me!
Am I any good…..well wait and see. For a 55 year old with a hip replacement and who never bothers to diet (because I am a healthy eater so why diet) I look my age in a swimsuit but I can dive…..relatively speaking, to a certain degree but it always hurts.
Pain has been the common topic of discussion among those competing. It is a constant surprise that hitting the water hurts. And I have not been alone when it comes to the “ouch” moment. Every competitor I have trained with has surfaced from a dive with a grimace of pain on their face at least two or three times….. including me. We are hitting the water at 30 miles per hour and if you haven’t positioned properly in the air and not locked your arms forward to break the surface tension of the water then you are …….in TROUBLE! It is like falling onto a hard unforgiving surface.
BUT I LOVE IT! I have never felt so well. Now I am convinced swimming if the cure for all ills.
December has been magical for me. I decided pretty much 11 months ago I would not do a Christmas show this year but instead have a proper Christmas with friends. It started in Seattle, USA with my hubby and fellow HUMAN Bill Rieflin searching the venues of the city to find the right place for THE HUMANS play in April…..we found THE TRIPLE DOOR, which is a perfect. It is a seated 1930’s cabaret venue, so right for the weirdness of our band, we will be doing two nights there. I cant wait.
Bill made sure Robert and I had a fantastic time mostly because neither Robert and I have family near, my sister is sailing around the world participating in the CLIPPER RACE. Bill included us in his family celebrations with his parents, which I loved. I miss my parents so much especially at Christmas so Robert and I had a present opening session with the Rieflin household.
Once back in the UK I returned to focussing on diving. There was a training day either side of Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. This kept me on my toes. I didn’t eat too much over the festive season, instead I WORRIED and WORRIED about how I was going to find the guts to dive higher…….this has been my consuming thought for about 8 weeks now, boy I’d like an extra week training before the 11th Jan but I am not going to get it…..tee hee!
Luckily I have a very busy year to occupy my mind when I don’t want to worry about diving. I am devising the ACOUSTIC TOYAH show and the new TOYAH BAND TOUR, which takes constant thought, there’s a lot to learn once the set lists are chosen and I’m making sure both shows will be lively, warm and fun!
I even have the hard task of deciding to go to CANNES FILM FESTIVAL this year. I’ve been invited because the short film I have appeared in THREE SIDES OF THE COIN has been chosen to show. So I either go to CANNE and be there for my birthday or I head for Seattle where Robert and Bill will be that week………a hard decision indeed!
What are my New Year Resolutions? Live every minute with awe and excitement because awe and excitement exists in every little thing……as well as the big things in life AND be creative in the home, at work and with friends………..
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL….SEE YOU OUT THERE IN 2014