Read Toyah's blog on the Official Page HERE
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
The Fripp/cox’s had one of our best Christmases ever. I hope you did too.
Robert was home from a very successful tour and in a party mood. (as party as Fripp gets, he will never hang from a chandelier like some of us). I finished all work that required me to travel by the 15th December and the two of us set about catching up with all our friends we haven’t seen for months.
This was the first Christmas we both had without feeling loss and absence over parents being gone and loved ones not being with us any more.
I think 2016 was such a shocker for losing people it has made the two of us value every moment. Seeing our friends had a new passion of cherishing them in the moment, they became super valued and we are grateful for having them in our lives. A favourite moment of mine was making Simon Darlow two monster margaritas….. and I mean MONSTER….. Simon being the hardened musician he is took this in his stride but the evidence was there as Robert and I walked him and his wife to their lodgings and his knees were buckling.
Perhaps not a socially responsible thing to do to a friend but he was having a great time and he wasn’t alone……Robert was by his side as a drinking buddy, having abstained for 4 months on the road, making sure Darlow didn’t feel lonesome.
If you can’t indulge at Christmas life might get too hard. I’ve made a few people cry this Christmas…in a nice way.
Last year I discovered a wonderful artist called BRIDGET STEEL-JESSOP. She was exhibiting at my local gallery and I immediately asked to buy her small but brilliant collection but it had sold within 4 minutes of the show opening.
Bridget has become a friend and a person I very much admire, she discovered her talent whilst working with teenagers who showed destructive and suicidal tendencies. She has an understanding and empathy that I love.
Bridget works in micro-stitching. It takes her about 3 months to complete a piece and I commissioned her to sew the ordinance survey map of WITCHAMPTON where Robert and I lived and got married. Not a small job by any means, as she has to select what has visual value and what needs to be left out.
It is a beautiful image. When Robert opened it on Boxing Day (we were too busy to open pressies on Christmas Day) he burst into tears. As did my sister, who was staying with us with her hubby, when she opened a piece by Bridget of a map of the world charting her CLIPPER RACE in 2012. This one took Bridget 4 months to complete!
My sister’s husband Frank is to me a living saint. He is one of the world’s leading lights in child epilepsy and he works beyond his human capacity to look after his patients, never wanting anything in return and never expecting gifts. He loves music and when he can he plays Spanish guitar.
Last year he saw my small home studio set up in my office with keyboards/microphones and computers and he was enamoured by it.
So we bought him his first keyboard set up. He said to my sister that now he is 75, he needs to find time to write and compose….. it’s never too late!
All in all it was lovely Christmas….. Frippy gave me so many books I need more book shelves…. my collection on the history of film/fashion and jewellery is becoming quite comprehensive. This year I hope to have my first suite of jewellery ready for sale. This will be necklace, earrings and bracelet.
I’ve been designing with LUKE GOLDSMITH for two years now but Luke being a small business with only two men at the workbenches has to prioritise his demand for wedding rings over the spring and summer months.
This leads to one of my intentions for 2017 and the future. For the past two years I have been clearing my living space, you may have read about this before. If I have an item I haven’t used for five years and it doesn’t inspire/ fit the person I have become physically and mentally/ install joy/ insight then I don’t need it and I should allow others to have access to these things.
It has taken two years to clear items I need to move on from……two years…..that’s how much “stuff” I had and non of it defined who and what I am today.
So the idea for 2017 onwards is to live a “creative life”. Remaining a working singer /writer /actress /musician, I aim to design “pop up” pieces that are not constrained in their creation by any corporate pressure. A painting. A piece of jewellery, an outfit.
Being dyslexic I am moved more by image than anything else. I wake every morning with ideas popping up in my head that I forget to act on…..I am going to try and act on them. Some people have a natural talent with technique (my husband is one) to execute these random but wonderful thoughts….I don’t,……I have brilliant instinct and will…….. technical skills are something I constantly have to re-learn because of the nature of my brain….. this is my task for 2017.
To bring these ideas into fruition as I feel they are part of who I am trying to find. Just simple pieces that allow creative thoughts to flow and bring something into the world…simple as that.
This exercise has completely changed my living pattern. Suddenly I have no time to watch TV, or to read magazines…….. life has become busier because somehow I have revealed the holes in my life I need to fill with a substance I had no idea was missing because of constant outside distractions.
These holes need filling with ‘physical-izing’ my thoughts. Developing an independent/individual/mindful/problem solving mind; with constant learning; relationship building, pushing my own boundaries and frustrations slowly forward to bring something into the world.
Oh and to have confidence in what pops up in my head too. A good example of this development in my adult life is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
THE WALK OF STARS in Birmingham on December 11th was a wonderful event. Jasper Carrot and WestSide BID pulled out all the stops to make the day as special as possible.
I was nervous. I always am to some extent. It helped to have band members Colin Hinds, Tim Rose and Mike Nicholls there with me. As I walked on stage I could see Frippy on the front row along with my brother Kim and a fabulous contingent of lifelong friends as well as a lot of fans.
It was like appearing on THIS IS YOUR LIFE, as virtually all my life was represented in the audience. We performed Greg Lake’s I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS. I don’t think I have ever performed this live and as Robert’s original King Crimson band member had just passed away it felt appropriate to perform the song.
It wasn’t easy, I had to dig my nails into the palm of my hand to control the tears but I think it sounded fantastic……people haven’t stopped talking about it.
POP QUIZ was a SCREAM! Imagine putting 6 old friends, who have all had extraordinary careers, into a studio together……we gossiped and gossiped and gossiped. I can just about remember doing the original Pop Quiz. We pop stars were and are competitive!
Re-making it in December was no different. The silent concentration before the question, the rushing gushing speeding of the heart if you knew the answer….even if you don’t know the answer, your hand was rushing to get to the buzzer asap……something bursts from you that you didn’t know you had and that was an incredible will to win against your friends, come what may.
I really hope it returns as a full series. The simple innocence of it, in light of today’s style of TV with its true connection to musical facts is sorely needed in the world of entertainment. And it features people who have had long careers….what’s bad about that! Presently I am painting A FIVE FOOT HARE for the Cirencester Hare Festival.
I am loving it! I love my hare so much I want to keep him, but he will eventually be sold to raise money for the area, after being exhibited over the summer. More on this when he is finished.
I WISH YOU A FANTASTIC 2017.
Change is still in the air as we face Brexit and much much more.
Let it all be for the better.
BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE HEARD
LOTS OF LOVE
In the past few weeks I have been travelling a lot with Mr Fripp. Our first port of call was Seattle to see Bill Reiflin and make plans for 2017. Following a sabbatical, Bill is back to work with King Crimson and once there is a break from that band he is back with THE HUMANS. King Crimson record their version of the HUMANS “GET IN YOUR CAR” in June this year, in Seattle, Bill is producing which means it’s going to be SUPER COOL.
This is for a single release either autumn 2017 or into 2018. America was very tense. We arrived three days before Trump’s inauguration. I have never known the atmosphere to be quite so apparent, every one twitching. Seattle is not Trump territory and the city was gearing up to support the WOMEN’S MARCH on the 21st Jan.
The day before the march many, many undercover police where on the streets…. Not being so undercover….they were so obvious they outnumbered the good citizens of Washington state. It all remained friendly, but it was a different America. The Women’s March was special. Hundreds of thousands travelled to be on the march. All our Seattle chums, Bill, Frankie, Kirsten, Karen (THE HUMANS official photographer) and many more marched all day. Robert and I supporting, observing and catching up with them through out the day.
Did we actually march? No, we had to be careful, we both rely heavily on access to the USA for our creative work and as it was I was pulled over at passport control and asked why I travel there so much and ….”is your name Mexican?” Really? My name is after a Texan town called TOYAH!!!!!!
We were there for a week and the talk never really detoured from “you know who”…….the elephant on the planet. We are trying to persuade our USA friends to move to the UK and they are sooooo close to saying yes because for the first time in my memory……they are frightened. We only made it back to the UK for a few days.
Myself to play Warrington….what a fabulous show. And thank you Daily Mail…..your extensive photos of my accidental see through top may have done more for my career than gleaning a 5 star review for AAAAAAAAH! in the Daily Telegraph…. the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Hopefully a mere coincidence.
On the Sunday night after the Warrington show I was reading the online news papers and as usual feeling thankful I wasn’t in any of them, because these days newspaper coverage is usually accusatory and then I saw it….. me in the Daily Mail and I thought “oh shit, what have I done!” and when I saw the photos, which I think are quite bloody fabulous I fell on the floor laughing and sent the article to the band headed WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME MY NIPS WHERE VISIBLE….to which Mr. Doble replied ……YOU LOOKED GREAT!
That said I am making sure my costumes are NOT see through for the 80s INVASION TOUR….. I am too old for this kind of exhibitionism. After Warrington I made it over to France. I needed to find out how Brexit is going to effect the Brits out there and as usual no one knows. My home is in Menton, a place I am not ready to leave. It is magical, beautiful and inspiring. I suppose I have three years to wait to see how the French will treat us Brits….. as interlopers or not.
The HARE is near completion. I have loved doing this project. Obsessing over what and how to paint a 3D statue.The subject matter came to me after many many other ideas passed through my mind, a lot of test drawings were made and suddenly I had a totally different idea and followed it. I want it to remind the viewer of the eternal child in us all.
That love transcends the physical and I want it to remind all my friends with cancer that they are never out of mind. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this year. Everything in the calendar is welcome.
The 80’S INVASION will be a scream and over way too soon. I love working with other artists. Seeing how they work and learning about them. We are going to towns and cities that I love…..one of the best things about touring like this is you see a lot in a relatively short amount of time.
This is going to be fun! I hope to see you there.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
On Saturday my HARE was collected ready for the launch of the CIRENCESTER HARE FESTIVAL on the 9th March and I have to say seeing the sculpture go made me tearful.
It has been three months of really fun, satisfying problem solving, learning new skills and using every spare second available to get him finished. I fell completely in love with him.
There is rumour he will be exhibited outside The Cheltenham Everyman Theatre for the next 6 months. After that he will be auctioned to raise money for a children’s charity, which I am very happy about. The web page will keep you posted on this. He is called WHEREVER HE IS SHE WILL FIND HIM AND HOLD HIM IN HER ARMS.
I want to thank Sean Chapman, who was my assistant for 6 valuable days and is accomplished in acrylics, a medium I have virtually never worked with before (I am experienced in water colour). Sean guided me and taught me to be brave with the paints. The particularly scary thing for me was working on a 3D sculpture and finding perspective. I found this a constant challenge, for Sean it was fine, but even he had moments of “no, lets do this again!”
In December I did many drawings for potential designs. Gardens, forests, seasonal visions but they didn’t quite represent what was in my heart and then I thought….well the Hare is looking at the sky…what if someone was looking back at him…..and what if the distance and the improbability of that distance didn’t matter to their relationship….…love transcends everything……then I had it…..A CHILD ON THE MOON! This inspired me to create many mood boards. Stills from feature films, photos of my own hair in the morning, children’s wonderfully miss matched clothing attire, morning mists effecting skylines etc.
Before Christmas I visited a friends alternative Christmas tree exhibition in the church where my parents rest in the graveyard. My friend was raising money for the stained glass window. The window has one of the oldest representations of the Virgin Mary in glass and I was intrigued by the cloak she was wrapped in……. the design on the cloak made it into the child’s dress.
Presently I am on the 80s INVASION TOUR and loving it!
I love my set:
GOOD MORNING UNIVERSE
THUNDER IN THE MOUNTAINS
BRAVE NEW WORLD
IT’S A MYSTERY
I WANT TO BE FREE
It rocks! ROCKS! ROCKS!
The band are fabulous, the lighting and the sound are mega…what a joy.
Spending time with the artists is a luxury I am grateful for. Usually we are all rushing off but we get time together during sound check and the run up to the show.
Paul Young, China Crisis and myself…….we have known each other for decades but Martika is a new addition to the UK fold and we adore her!
Her music is sublime, the rhythm, her astonishing voice and her energy are inspiring. We love to sit around the meal table and catch up about the 30yrs we didn’t know each other! After the tour I hit the ground running. Completing the shoot on Hound….while the weather is good and the spring is erupting, important continuity for the remaining scenes.
There are many great gigs coming up.
As well as the UK, I have Spain, Gran Canaria and Gibraltar to play, this is an exciting year. On top of this the whole Fripp/Cox creative team are moving to live in our town. Robert’s offices are moving locally too. This is a huge move for all of us. It means no more travelling two hours for meetings.
Robert’s creative team will all be within 100yards of each other.
We are expecting this to accelerate production ideas and open totally new doors for all of us……I am very excited! Painting the Hare has given me a passion to do more art/design projects. I wish there was more time in each day…like an extra 24hrs per day. Right I am off to Shrewsbury to soundcheck and walk along the river!
I hope you catch the show…it is fantastic.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD!
HELLO FROM FRANCE,
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to make it to France more often this year, having not been able to spend time here in 2016. I have a much loved apartment Menton, which looks over the Old Market, the Jean Cocteau Museum and the sea, it is as close to paradise for me as I can get.
Last year I thought I’d look at Antigua or Majorca for possible bases but my heart remained firmly in this historic town where the hustle and bustle reminds me of Worcestershire and the blue sky reminds me of a Hockney painting. It is the one place I can recharge my batteries and rather surprisingly nothing slows…it is a living, breathing, bustling community, where the day starts with the dawn.
The scenery is so extraordinary I find myself looking at the views all day completely blissed out. The Maritime Alps swoop right down to the edge of town and then the sea glistens back at you.
Robert and Bill Rieflin are home in the UK, Bill returning to work with King Crimson this year is based at our UK home. At 11pm last night he e-mailed me to ask what time Tesco is open till……..i am in France! He is 75feet from a Tesco. I came here to recharge my batteries after a fantastic 80S INVASION TOUR. OMG I loved every minute.
The audiences where fantastic and I loved winning new fans from those who had come to see either Paul Young, Martika or China Crisis. It felt rewarding from beginning to end.
I had endless fun winding up the China Crisis boys, sewing up their stage cloths so they couldn’t get their jackets on and various other things.
Being in a different theatre everyday inevitably musicians and artist get lost. The first hour of arriving for a show is spent trying to find civilisation among antiquated rooms. Theatres can be outlandishly spooky. I kind of like it because it means you can jump out on people and they are already wound up like a spring and ready to SCREAM!
At Liverpool a long time friend, John Wynne, came to see the show and when he was brought back after to see me I remembered a particularly tense holiday in Sitges with him where he continually jumped out of wardrobes at me, making me a nervous wreck….. so when the theatre manager bought him back stage I waited in a dark recess and got the bastard…he screamed YOU F—–! Paul Young and Martika popped their heads around the door to see what was going on… fabulous.
As a keen follower of astrological influences we are all experiencing a testing time due to VENUS being in retrograde, it started around the 5th March and finishes its influence around the 9th May, then we have the end of Mercury in retrograde to deal with until the 18th May. I try to love these influences and write during them.
But it is testing. I feel as if I am about to drive off the edge of the world everyday.
So whilst enjoying the tour beyond measure, off stage I was dealing with unbelievable technical issues. As I drove home through the night after Edinburgh my relatively new car developed a computer fault so the accelerator wouldn’t work. Home by 4am, I called the garage by 8am who took a week to fix it then once back on the road it did exactly the same coming home from Chatham.
To say I was really bloody hacked off was an understatement so I got rid of the car, ended my 20 year relationship with Peugeot and picked up a new car and new make….. thank you to the local dealer who genuinely helped me….. you now have a customer for life.
AHHHH as I write, here in France, another e-mail from Bill “the massage you booked me today, is it still on?” the massage in question is next door to where we live….. 10ft away from our front door.
There is so much happening, as usual that I cannot talk about. One of the projects I am ending the year with is thrilling beyond belief. I am going back into theatre in November to be in a production I was involved with 40yrs ago…….. it promises to be WILD, outlandish and outrageous…..my role in it this time is just perfect for me today….. I would have never have believed this would happen in a million years.
It is only April and it feels like summer is upon us. For the next 6 months there are fantastic shows coming up and I am praying for hot sunny weather.
Don’t be confused if you see my diary listing two shows a day, because this is happening a few times over the summer. Also I am off to Gran Canaria, Alicante and Gibraltar to work.
Simon Darlow and I are writing/recording and fingers crossed will have a new material release this year, also Sunday All Over The World’s KNEELING AT THE SHRINE is very close to release.
I love the writing process. It always feels like something alive and alert is trying to move through your fingers and burst out into the world, initially, then the chance to hone and readdress the thought process bonds you to it like no other.
It is a process where you can hate yourself intensely, love yourself intensely, doubt yourself intensely, believe in yourself intensely and discover yourself all over again.
All good here.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
This summer is about to get manic! YIPEEEEEE!
It’s festival season!
There are so many great shows coming up. MASPALOMAS PRIDE, EXMOUTH FEST, ALICANTE, The LETS ROCK festivals, UPTON HOUSE, IRLAM LIVE, ASHBOURNE and MANY, MANY MORE! ……hopefully we will have that much-publicised heat wave too.
It’s my birthday in two weeks and I’m flying all over the place. Gran Canaria Pride next week, then on to Menton, France for a couple of stolen days with my hubby. My birthday present this year is a trip to Seattle, to see the opening three KING CRIMSON shows at the MOORE THEATRE.
I fly out crack of dawn on the 11th June after playing the Longlands Club in Middlesborough and then return on the Thursday for the ASHBOURNE FESTIVAL on the Friday. It will be good to be out there. GET IN YOUR CAR AND DRIVE with the Humans v KC needs to be rehearsed and played.
My hometown has become a hub of musical scoundrels and international talent since the Fripp/Cox team have persuaded our creatives to move here.
This means many social evenings and adventures into the arts. I am used to going out on my own in the past because Fripp has never been around, now, suddenly I am part of a team, arranging trips to the theatre and to concerts.
I am loving the energy it has brought into my life. Let’s say the conversations never veer away from the intriguing. Even though 9 out of 10 times the topic is King Crimson but that’s always been the case, it’s Fripps only topic of conversation, until I flash a video of BABY METAL in his face and he goes “OMG WHAT THE F—- IS THAT”, and I say…”Progression?”
Over Easter we had Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Bill Rieflin with us…….it was wonderful and as wild as we Fripps manage to get. In fact we were on the brink of being very Rock n Roll. Roll over Motley Crew….tables/TV’s n’ plate smashing comes next.
In fact when the band returned to rehearsals at the Millennium Studios on the Monday, a little worse for wear, their sound technician, Chris Porter commented……”good weekend then, I can tell.” Chris Porter is staying in town too. Chris produced George Michael (Careless Whisper), Elton John, Take That to name a few. He is now part of the KC team.
Chris and I have a lot in common, our paths have crossed lots in the 80s. It’s good to have him at the dinner table fighting my corner when the KC’s become like teasing big brothers. Living with Robert Fripp cannot be construed as a convention of normality. He practices guitar at least 4 hours a day in his den in the cellar and it isn’t “plinkerty plinkerty M.O.R.”…….it’s more like a mouse on a harp after it has taken Benzedrine.
Then you add Bill Rieflin to the household and suddenly you not only have a demented mouse on the harp in the cellar but another demented mouse on the keyboards in the attic. And on the middle floor is me. This house is industrious.
In my office/studio I am writing away for the Humans and Crimson Queen 2 plus learning lines for the films SWIPERIGHT, TO BE SOMEONE, DREGGS , HOUND……. AND because in November I am about to play one of the most formidable Queens in England’s history there’s a lot of historical facts to swat up on too…
No wonder a visiting builder once told his starstruck parents when they asked what we were up to these days “theses guys are the busiest people I have ever met!” If thought-waves had volume we’d be so bloody loud.
I’d like to say there is equality in the house. I’d like to say gender doesn’t inflict/imply/influence the outcome of debate…….but it F—— does…I am outnumbered! Funnily enough the visiting Americans are super respectful…..but put Fripp and Rieflin together and we have a “what do you know little sister” routine going on….that’s until they want food/washing/shopping and patching up……..that’s the equality on Fripp/Cox home turf. BUT….I am not complaining because psychologically I have the upper hand. (Fripp I know you’re reading this).
A friend pointed out that this kind of complacency from my boys comes, not only from them being comfortable with me but deep down they know they NEED me, deep down they know they CAN’T function without me.
For example they think the washing machine is a salad dryer. Last weekend Frippy and I spent the day with Brian Eno learning as much as you can in one day about Russian Avant-garde composers. The first thing Eno did when I arrived was show me a picture he had saved on his phone of a pair of shoes he had bought his daughter.
This moved me so much. To see some one like Eno being a dotting father. It was also really lovely to see Fripp and Eno together again……they fit together so well. A couple of days ago I took the team to see Laura Mvula at Cheltenham Festival. She was fantastic. So accomplished for such a tender age. Her mother sat proudly on the row behind us. Laura was nervous no one would come to see her but the tent was packed with an audience in rapture and on their feet for the encores. She was great. What we couldn’t believe is what happened to her in January………..
For someone as creative as Laura perhaps it is better her talent isn’t confined by record sales, but instead she is an innovator, a culture maker, inspiring others around her. I would certainly see the events in January as allowing her creative spirit free to roam fresher and more exhilarating possibilities……go girl…the world is yours. Right, I’m off to run some lines and to become a year older……..see you out there.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD.
LOTS OF LOVE
I am so excited the news is out about Derek Jarman’s JUBILEE being made into a stage play at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester.
I have known for two months and it has been hard to keep it a secret. The writer/director Chris Goode came to lunch in March to ask me to be an advisor to the performers for the up coming production and by the time he left it was decided I was to play Queen Elizabeth 1st.
It is 40 years since the film was made and the memories are still as vibrant today. The film was mainly shot in run down, deserted warehouses and ruins on Shad Thames. One of the most atmospheric parts of London in 1977…..there was hardly anything there except a brewery who’s hops where delivered daily, making the whole area smell of malt and a community of artists who had the most fantastic parties and ideas.
Jubilee helped me so much as a musician because the film bought me into contact with so many luminaries from the punk scene, Adam Ant, Jordan, Jayne County, Little Nell, Gene October, Kenny from the Banshees, The Slits. In retrospect it was extraordinary, culture making, at the time it was plain exciting.
Punk was at its height and everything and anything was possible. This is the theme Chris Goode is picking up on for the play. The fact people could build a cultural revolution out of very little. Young people created bands, magazines, record companies, their own clothes from what appeared to be random pieces of nothingness/ wasteland……. young people made something massive from the embers of a time gone by.
How I will play Queen Elizabeth 1st I am not sure. The Queen in Derek Jarman’s story, thanks to the metaphysical talents of John Dee is allowed to see England in the future…in our present day and what she finds is extreme social breakdown.
Jordan as Amyl Nitrate & Toyah Willcox as Mad in Jubilee, 1977 motion picture directed by Derek Jarman
The historian and author Alison Weir has kindly been sending me her books on QE1 and it makes for incredible reading. This Queen was educated to equal men. She spoke 6 languages, was a musician/composer, an intellect and had great political knowledge. Apparently she had total recall of everything she ever read and she put aside three hours a day to read Greek classics. That’s quite something to play as an actress.
If I could ever see the future what I would see would be a totally alien landscape that I had no control over. I am not sure it would benefit me at all….therefore it would be like the saying “be careful what you wish for, you might get it”.
My birthday has come and gone. Was it what I wanted………………. The week before our Birthdays Robert came into the room looking very pensive and I thought, “what’s up”. My immediate reaction was ‘had our most loved, cherished best friend passed away?” So when Robert announced “I have no passport. It is at the American Embassy, so we can’t go to France for our Birthdays”……… I was hugely relieved that was all that was concerning him. So was my birthday what I wanted…….well NO.
There’s a lot of rain in the UK and there’s a lot of sunshine in France! I wanted to be in France! We had builders in our house, booked because we were supposed to be in the Med. Instead we booked into a hotel a few miles away to discover they had builders in too. THE NOISE!
Robert and I had a fantastic time eating at great restaurants returning to our home in the daytime to escape the noise from the hotel…yes our builders were quieter than their builders. Only going back to the hotel to sleep.
Our present opening was lovely. My pressies were fab….. LOTS OF BOOKS ON QUEEN ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND.
Robert particularly loved his Unicorn presents, which came as a surprise. Just Google” Unicorns fart rainbows”. This was last minute present shopping on my part, there’s the mug, the shopping bag. I thought nothing of it till Robert opened them up and he was in love…totally his sense of humour. He now has his “Unicorns fart rainbows” bag on tour with him in the USA.
Last week I was working in Alicante, which bought me into contact with two new drivers. Both were around 40, one from Cuba and the other from Romania, neither had heard of David Bowie. This came up because both drivers googled me and couldn’t stop singing I WANT TO BE FREE.
So I told them of other songs to look up…Bowie’s Heroes for example….they had never ever heard his music. This was incomprehensible to me. I still wish I had the chance to have thanked Bowie for making me experience deep emotional feelings like no other artist ever has, so hopefully I have turned these guys on to him.
The festivals in the last month have been extraordinary. Exmouth was out of this world. I think they were expecting about two thousand……at a guess 8 to 10 thousand were there, as we went on stage more police arrived to try and control the amazing amount of people arriving….it was utterly wonderful. The show was great.
Then we played IRLAM LIVE, again such a special event. Andy Doble came off stage and said“ That was transformative.”
I think we were all experiencing deep connection and support of each other, as artist and audience, because of the violent and terrifying happenings in the last couple of weeks. As a shared experience we all bonded, were in complete union….it was a sacred space.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
It is one of those hot dark summer days when a thunderstorm is expected any time. The house is too hot to work inside, so I am outside writing in the yard. The water in the birdbaths needed to be changed so I have done that. They were all green with algae, after I’ve been away all week. So I put sparkly fresh water in and waited for Bird Town to arrive.
Now I am sitting writing about 6 feet away from Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Tits, Sparrows using the baths like a lido, playing, bathing, they sound like my hubby in the shower….. all splashy and scrubby and talking to themselves……. yes my hubby has full conversations with himself whilst showering!
Robert is home next week after 6 weeks touring in the USA. I am both very much looking forward to him being home and slightly mourning the level of independence I have had in the last month. After some of my gigs I have just driven off in obscure directions and found hotels in areas I have never visited before.
The home is super clean and tidy, no guitar riffs being played constantly for 4 hours a day, no coffee grounds in the sink all times of the day, no …..well…..no chaos.
On talking to “wives of the band” the consensus is things get done. Bill’s wife has decorated their house, upped the floorboards and relayed them….I have not quite done anything like that, just lots of gigging, lots of writing and lots of travel.
The beginning of the month saw one of the most perfect weekends of my life, partly because the impossible was made possible and the unexpected took me by surprise, like empty fields filling with 5000 people in a space of an hour…MANTON FEST being a prime example, we broke all attendance records.
I performed three concerts in 24hours the first weekend in July. Always a worry but at the same time a privilege and a challenge.
My first moment of joy was performing at Newark RAFA CLUB on the Friday, to a great audience, then driving overnight to Exeter ready for Powderham Castle Saturday lunch time….. THE MOTORWAYS WERE OPEN through the night for the first time in about 5 years!
This allowed me 6 hours sleep. I was in bed by 2am…. unheard of on a gig day. I awoke Saturday morning to glorious sunshine and it stayed that way all day.
From The Jam were already on stage when I arrived at Powderham for LET’S ROCK EXETER and they were driving the audience into a frenzy…. yes a huge wonderful audience by 12 noon……. all you could see was a sea of people, possibly 8 to 10 thousand people but very probably more, arriving all afternoon, by the time I went onstage at 3.30pm it was heaving, sweaty, fun, dancey and loud! Oh happiness.
I read a quote recently from a well known artist “all your problems work themselves out on stage”. It’s so true. There’s a heightened level of being “you” and problems resolve then vaporise, everything becomes possible. There is a fantastic clarity you get being on stage and I imagine it might the same for a tennis player or a racing driver…. everything slots into it’s allotted place and you feel invincible.
At LET’S ROCK EXETER it was great to catch up with Chesney, Tony Hadley (who warned me of his split from Spandau), Leee john, Jaki Graham and Hazel O’Connor who arrived with one of the legendary “Finchley Boys” of 1981. WOW! That was a surprise, I grew up with these guys, so it was really nice to see their leader again.
All the festivals in July have been mega. The power cut at the end of our show at THE EYES HAVE IT festival was beautifully timed.
We had just finished DANCED and the whole site went dark and the full moon lit us all up. So I asked the audience to be quiet enough for me to talk to them and they were all going “shhhhhhhhh” “shhhhhhhhhhhh” to each other and for 20mins we told stories in the dark, like a big slumber party …… jokey stories where you pass an unfinished sentence to the next person….interestingly the loudest members of the audience during the show became the quietest on their turn to pick the story up (probably because no one expects to tell a thousand people a story in the dark during a show)….it was sweet, endearing and super special.
Then the sound came back but no lighting, so we played to the audience illuminating the stage with their mobile phones, that and the full moon…. gosh it was lovely. Another magic moment was Plymouth Armed Forces Day in June, when we looked up from the stage to a Lighthouse man on top of the Lighthouse in the park, in a spotlight playing air guitar along to us…. the whole audience cheering him on! Dan was his name…what a star!
I have just got home from Newcastle where I was a speaker on “career longevity and risk taking”, at the NWG INNOVATION FESTIVAL.
This project caused me more “pre-show” nerves than Glastonbury last year. For a month I ran and ran the presentation, even went to France for solitude, so I could work on it without distraction.
Right up till my stage time on the day I was reworking it, then literally ten minutes before I was due on stage I suddenly had clarity about the 12 page speech and I could see where I had to edit……….
I walked on stage and for the first time in about 150 run-throughs of the piece I could feel fluidity, all because of 2 or 3 sentences going off on a tangent, once they were removed the clarity flowed……. just like acting… a good script has a logic that gives the speech and character a flow. The sleepless nights this talk has given me but I think it worked really well. The reaction was great.
Today (Fri 14 July) I play WELLOWFEST, in Newark, with Hazel O’ Connor, then we both drive to London to be on site at LETS ROCK LONDON for 9.30am. I am on stage at 12.20 noon and then I drive to Dunstable to play PARTY IN THE PARK.
I wouldn’t have it any other way!
BE PROUD! BE LOUD! BE HEARD!
I have just got home from performing at REBELLION, the punk festival. It was incredible, 9000 people on site.
The festival takes place in the Blackpool Winter Gardens and I was on stage in the Opera House, where I first performed in 1981 and later in 2002 in Calamity Jane. It is a huge theatre like the London Palladium, capacity 3000 I believe. The audience were fantastic, up for it and giving a huge amount of love back.
About three songs in I looked into the wings and there were children dancing while watching us. This isn’t what you expect to see at 10pm at a punk festival, then 6 songs in I looked over and there were even MORE children in the wings dancing so I went and got them, led them on stage to see the space, their faces lit up as the audience cheered them on and they pogoed through the instrumental in DANCED. Future young punks!
I am getting excited. The script for JUBILEE is about to land on my doorstep and I cant wait to see how the director/writer Chris Goode has dealt with moving the story into the present (and how he has written my role, because in the film Queen Elizabeth 1st only has two scenes).
In 1977, when JUBILEE was being made into a film, homeland violence was reported through conservative eyes as a “class” thing, a thing only outsiders participated in, well you cant get away with that today, the world is an open book with virtually no where to hide and violence in its many guises is endemic whether it be verbal, physical or physiological.
Mind you I find advertising to children an act of violence against innocence. Once I have the script I can start to learn the lines, I really don’t like going into rehearsals without knowing them backwards. Learning lines is just as enjoyable as performance for me. The isolation and focus of sitting down and simply learning is transformative, so much so I have to make sure I don’t indelibly ink my first impressions into my brain! These impressions can be hard to erase. There’s a months rehearsal for this play and there will be many changes in the process of bringing it to the stage. That’s inevitable.
Before this all starts I am screen testing for a film and again I choose to learn every scene rather than read. I don’t know how anyone can get cast if their head is in the page because the eyes say everything. If I get the film it possibly will cross over with JUBILEE which will be interesting….my schedule will be crazy.
This morning, hours after getting home from Rebellion I was filming for Sky Arts. Initially a programme about the video age and its effects on music, but ending up making a whole programme about my videos. When I opened the door to the two producers I said “DON’T I KNOW YOU?” They were Scott Millaney and Brian Grant of MGMM STUDIOS who produced the videos for I WANT TO BE FREE, THUNDER IN THE MOUNTAIN and the award winning BRAVE NEW WORLD. I hadn’t seen them in 35 years.
Like many people of our age, their life experiences are too good for retirement and they now make feature films and TV based on their experiences as world class video makers from the last 4 decades……a bit like the video equivalent of REWIND, or HEAR AND NOW festivals. Scott and Brian shot videos for everyone from myself to Duran Duran to David Bowie.
Miracle of Miracles I managed to persuade a homebound Robert to visit friends in Mallorca who have bought a farm. My hubby hates travelling and hates being away from home. The irony of his life is he has never been more successful as a touring musician but I managed to prize him away from his armchair once I promised taxis, airport lounges, good food, lots of kisses and swimming, in that order. We had a fantastic time, apart from being completely ripped of by the hire car company….what’s new there, it’s been the story of the season.
It was too hot but we had a romantic 4 days walking my favourite nature reserve where an artist once lived who set tortoise free to breed. The artist is no longer with us but his house is still in the centre of the reserve, empty……for two years now I have been asking to buy it but the family will never let it go. If I had it there would be NO phone line, NO internet, No TV……..just silence and the tortoise.
REWIND NORTH this weekend and the weather should be great.
I am looking forward to catching up with Nick Heyward, Jaki Graham and Carol Decker. Luckily this isn’t my last festival of the season…..we have Dover and Gibraltar to come…. YIPEEEEEEE!
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
It has been an extraordinary month, really hard but with very wonderful results.
The biggest leap Robert and I have taken is to totally detox in relation to our DNA needs. Yes Mad, Bonkers but the truth is the science is out there to help us live fuller and longer lives in a healthier and more quality induced state. I will try to explain this. Firstly we were both DNA tested, then thousands upon thousands of foods, external influences were run through our DNA.
The result being pages and pages of potential time bombs within our DNA structure. These cannot be changed, we are born with fixed DNA. What we can change is putting more stress upon our inherited traits. This means a complete lifestyle/dietary change for life.
The initial thing that made me want to commit to this is I had stopping sleeping altogether. An experience that can only be explained as being in a wakeful hell. From June through to the beginning of August I didn’t fall asleep. You start to feel very unwell after 10 days. So I needed to seek help. Not being a fan of pills and dark rooms I was advised to have food intolerance testing, this lead to the discovery of DNA influences.
Now Robert and I are non-dairy, non-wheat, non-sugar, non-yeast, non caffeine BUT WE CAN DRINK CHAMPAGNE! Because this is made from grape……. this is what the science says and I am not going to argue. The first two days were hard due to feeling really poorly and hungry. The hunger was my mistake. I got the portion sizes wrong! Now 4 weeks in, I have lost weight and look a lot better, my eyesight has improved and my mind is clear AND I AM SLEEPING, of sorts…..still up at 3am but I am a lot more relaxed and happier. Frippy is looking even slinkier too.
Last month I was reading an interview in the Times with Idris Elba, in which he said he reads Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist once a year. This is a story of a Sheperd’s journey into adulthood and how he realises his purpose in life. This book has sold 65 million copies worldwide and been translated into 74 languages. Up until this point I was one of the 6.35 billion people not to have read it but Idris’s story intrigued me, especially as he reads it once a year to remind himself of the origins of his dreams and ambitions.
It is a small book, a very quick read and a lovely mind-awakening read. Within 20 pages I was pen in hand writing lyrics totally inspired. Then a sequence of events started to happen which I couldn’t have wished for. My agent called to say SIDESWIPE, a horror I was cast in last year is now green-lit. Then producers on The Last Laugh and Lies We Tell contacted me to announce the premiers of both films shot last year, the films having been chosen by major film festivals and on and on…… blockages seemed to become unblocked. From now until December it is manic.
Luckily I have learned my lines for the two movies I am on this month. HOUND is still shooting too. In ten days I get the script for JUBILEE and I can start memorising that. The Alchemist seems to have flicked a switch and I am back to the old me, rather than the “older” me. Gibraltar was fantastic. Glen Matlock flew in a day early (he was playing on the Wednesday) to come to the show and hang out.
The venue St. Michaels Cave is breathtakingly beautiful and it wasn’t until I was singing that I remembered that THUNDER IN THE MOUNTAINS and JUNGLES OF JUPITER refer to subterranean cultures, which made it all thrilling in such a naturally acoustic space.
The next day Fripp and I flew to Nice to have a few days in Menton…..supposedly to chill before the mayhem of the next three months but I have been at loggerheads with my property maintenance manager who literally hid 8k of my money for the past 18 months…..so I really threw my F—— toys out of the pram and marched into his office with a bank paper trail of his theft and the threat of police. His excuse? He was on holiday, clerical error……18 F—— months holiday in this case. That’s how long he has denied having this money.
No sooner had I got back to my flat when there was a knock at the door, my upstairs neighbour, lovely, Italian, came in distraught…….her money had been snaffled too…..result……the manager is sacked. It’s astonishing how you can make yourself understood when you don’t share a common language, in this case the internet and sign language saved the day.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again…..I cannot wait for the sanity and sanctity of the stage! On a final note. My dear husband is getting his proverbial arse kicked on a site called Progressive Ears. He is being called a “sad little man”, a “wanker”, a “bastard”, for airing a band arising.
I would like to add to this…… try being married to him for 31 years, he is hell…NOT……BUT….his kindness is overwhelming. His endless support, his taking me out to lunch to get me out of the office, his cooking me lunch because I am stuck in the office, his keeping vigil by my bedside when I was seriously ill 5 years ago, his keeping vigil by my mother’s bedside when she was dying, his flying to England from Italy to kiss my father’s forehead as he died, his continuing education when I flip over something I cannot comprehend, his loyalty to his band……yes he is obviously an absolute bastard…… NOT….what does this make his commentators?
Fripp is a great and unconventional human being and those who think they know him so obviously don’t.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD
I am hugely relieved to be back in the UK, because I flew in from NICE, on the 29th Sept, on the last Monarch flight before the company went down…….I wouldn’t know how to get back if that flight hadn’t have taken off. At the airport something was obviously up, because we cued for well over an hour and eventually check in staff arrived about an hour and 40mins before the flight time.
I am excited about autumn, for no other reason than JUBILEE will be up and running, the leaves on the trees will be all my favourite colours and our Christmas decorations will be out by the 12th November! Frippy is away until late November giving me plenty of time to create the Christmas Grotto I’ve been promising him all year outside our kitchen window.
It never occurred to me to light up the late afternoon darkness with a gaudy festoon of flashing Rudolf’s and Snowmen and fairy lights, so I am going for it. Currently I am looking for giant baubles to put on the winter trees. “Real Gert F——“ as my hubby would say…..that’s Dorset for BIG.
In the past month I have made a subtle change to my appearance that has had a substantial and positive response. Realising that by today’s standards of “preening” I was falling way behind I decided to let my eyebrows go back to their natural colour of chestnut. Thinking nothing of this, people I haven’t seen in a while kept saying I was looking really pretty.
My eyebrows are thick and strong and would give any mono browed man a run for his money, so after decades of dying my brows blonde they are now dark and looking…well quite fab. Isn’t it odd how something so seemingly insignificant can change peoples perceptions and first reactions to you, I am used to people looking at me disdainfully sometimes (mostly because I am short) but somehow my brows seem to have placated that reaction……we do look at faces first!
JUBILEE has started rehearsing and I am living in Manchester. When I first visited Manchester, as a vegetarian punk rocker, in 1977 all I could eat was the mash potato off the top of Shepherd’s Pies. Now this city is super charged….Buddhist restaurants, Vegan restaurants, Prada, Harvey Nicks……its all shiny and new. If only I was into shopping. So far rehearsals have been a joy. We are doing so much dancing and loving it.
Not wanting to give anything away, we are creating a sound track to our lives and characters. The show will have musical themes and undertones. The playlist is fantastic. Why are we dancing?…..well come and see the show. If you like Michael Clarke, the Fall and other similar things this show is for you.
The original Derek Jarman film is the framework that this show hangs upon but it is very much a modern piece with modern politics and modern sexual exploration. The cast are fascinating. Many are stand alone performance artists, political activists and social commentators. All of them are young and energetic but above all they are lovely, inclusive, interesting and talented people. Their company is invigorating.
In many ways they are reminding me of my first years in the business when everything was an exciting exploration of endless possibilities, full of personal bravado. Last month I said to myself that I really need to find my personality again…it has become buried in a world of responsibilities and bureaucracy. My new work mates are leading me back to myself and I am not only loving it, I am extremely grateful too.
We start each day saying how we are feeling. No one ever asks me this else where in my life. There’s no time for starters. There are no “blokes” in Jubilee……there are “She’s”, “Transgender”, “Drag Kings” and other non binaries…….I have learnt so much in the past week (and I am still learning) about new gender politics.
For example on the first day at the Royal Exchange Theatre we were all asked to fill out forms which asked us about our preferred gender and sexual preferences (oh yes) plus origins and orientation. So I put down that I was a STRAIGHT, WHITE, CHRISTIAN , FEMALE…….I don’t think anyone else laid claimed to that!
My role as Queen Elizabeth 1st is mainly as an observer. In the original film this character makes very few appearances but I will be on stage for the whole of this show. My costume is stunning AND very tight AND very heavy…..it doesn’t give me much option other than to stand and stare at the action, though we do have a few fun things up our sleeves.
It looks like LIES WE TELL will have a general release. Fripp and I went to the premier in Leicester Square at the Rain Dance festival. I spent all of one day on this film. Originally I was offered a larger role but my gig schedule meant I couldn’t do it, so I said I would come back on a day off and just do a walk on part. This led to me being Harvey Keitel’s wife and having a very brief appearance in the opening and all of one line half way through.
When I was told about the premier I asked the producers if I was still in the film at all and they said “YES! Your performance is one of the few still remaining!” The film has been re-edited by Danny Boyle’s team and it is fantastic. Truly original, compelling and culturally surprising. I think it will do very well on its release on the 2nd Feb 2018.
IN EXTREMIS is to have it’s premier on the 4th November at Leicester Square, at the British Horror Film Festival, then is shows in Chicago. I loved doing this film, the whole way it came about is one of my favourite memories. Steve Stone the director couldn’t find an actress to play a women who has been sawed in half! On hearing this I asked my painter/decorator Ian to film me doing the three page monolog from the script on his I-phone.
With much amusement he filmed me “dying” on the kitchen table at home and we sent the footage to Steve. Steve loved it so much he even though of using this actual footage in the film. When it came to actually shooting the sequence Steve had the make up department look at my make up on the phone footage and copy it!
RIGHT, presently I am at the Alternative Festival on Skegness and the Vapours are on stage sounding absolutely stunning. I am on next!
BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE HEARD MORE COMING SOON ABOUT JUBILEE.
WOW! WOW! AND WOW!
Scripts are rolling in ……. really great characters being offered, all in totally different areas than I have been in before. Perhaps I have turned that certain age corner and now life gets really interesting.
Last night was Press night for JUBILEE.
It was an electric, effervescing show. Crackling with static charge and brilliance.
This play certainly offends but it holds a mirror up to the world.
For the past month I have been coming back to my apartment after rehearsals and painting miniature canvasses for the cast……an abstract idea about the origin of the arch angel Ariel……each member of the team received a painting. This was a lovely project to complete. In the past week I have re-written this blog three times because I really need to word it in a way that can’t be picked apart and used out of context.
Also the anger I am feeling right now will dissipate but the words will remain. We are currently in an era of apology. People from the past are contacting me and apologising for past acts of aggression ……. believe me no one of you can match what my mother put me through psychologically. (My mother and I reconciled in the last two years of her life). But apology and admittance of wrongful doing is a start.
For me JUBILEE has been cathartic. The writing is special.
The cast is special.
The theatre is special.
The message in the play rings out around the audience. WE ARE BEING RIPPED OFF ON ALL LEVELS.
Working with this incredible cast has brought me closer to many realisations about who I am right now.
The last month has been an eye opener, a wake up call and a bar setter. The level of support, for everyone in the team, at the ROYAL EXCHANGE MANCHESTER is beyond anything I have experienced. Because of the RET’s multifaceted support I am now not willing, nor intending to settle back into the difficult, sometimes oppressive “maleness” I have lived with for over 40 years.
The elephant in the room is about levels of passive violence. Levels of being “not seen”, being “not heard”, not “listened to”. That is unless you are offering food or servitude.
The team at the RET have opened my eyes to things I have found increasingly unable to tolerate in everyday life as a singer/musician/actress in recent years.
Forms of subtle cultural aggression, preconceived prejudice and on rare but just as magnified occasions school ground spite. Most of this is plain rudeness, jealousy, sexism, and ageism and general misogyny. All of which can be practiced by well meaning people who simply have become set in their ways and are not aware of themselves.
I certainly have learned about myself in the last 5 weeks. The cast of Jubilee are non gender specific and kindly ask not to be referred to as He or Her but They …. any one who knows me knows I cant even get a handle on names yet alone gender. In the rehearsal process we have all been given time as individuals to reveal how we feel daily as part of the creative process. Very quickly I realised how I have bottled up so much over the decades. I have carried a lot and not had any outlet for my anger other than in performance where I am grateful to say my anger transmutes into positive performance energy reflected back by truly amazing audiences. In fact most of the support I feel in life is from the audience.
But I have to go back to the root of this unsettling anger. My mother was unintentionally abusive under the guise of love. Her comments to me through my life make twitter trolls look like tiny little specs of dust on the surface of the moon.
This was violence. When and why does true nurturing contact become passive aggressive contact?
With me, I realise I live as a lone female musician in a dominantly straight male environment, where I simply have to fend for myself.
Last night at press night my long time friend John (not straight) came to the show and I found myself looking over to him in the audience and feeling his support ……… I was so grateful. After the show we hung out and I felt hugely grounded to have had real time with him, where I could be real and he could be real, no defences up, no agendas ….. just complete trust.
Thank you RET in future I now realise that most past negative experiences have nothing to do with me but with the ingrained cultural violence, cause and effect. If the piss is taken out of women in popular culture this attitude finds it way passively into everyday life. For all the leaps and bounds we have moved forwards in the past decades passive aggression still simmers below the surface. Anything that allows you to think it is right to insult someone you don’t know is VIOLENCE.
By far the biggest act of violence I have ever experienced is hearing third party that my back catalogue of albums is to be sold without my being asked if I would like to buy it …….. this to me is by far the largest act of violence I have every experienced. Similarly discovering a piece of creative work, you have put your heart and soul into has been placed somewhere without you being consulted.
Every time I walk into the theatre in Manchester I am asked “How are you?”
It makes a huge difference. I am grateful.
JUBILEE is an astonishing creation. I am grateful.
SWIPERIGHT was fantastic to be on. I am grateful.
My Husband is my rock. I am grateful.
I am working. I am grateful.
2018 looks even better than 2017. I am grateful.
My work is my world. Trespassers are not allowed.
BE PROUD, BE LOUD, BE HEARD