Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Graham Clark
Music Features Writer
4:00 PM 8th February 2024

In Conversation with Toyah

BBC Radio 2 presenter Gary Davies has announced a nationwide 2024 tour for the live version of his show Sounds of the 80s, which will include an appearance from Toyah.

Ahead of the tour, Toyah spoke to the Yorkshire Times

What can people expect when they come to the Sounds of the 80s show?

Anyone who attends one of the evenings will find an atmosphere where the audience can be themselves dancing and singing to their favourite tracks from a classic period in pop music. There was such a broad spectrum of music at the time from artists like Bananarama, Prince, and T'Pau, among others, including myself.

I think what will work beautifully is that the stage will be constantly active. Gary will be on there plus the dancers, and a stage set that is Gary’s Radio 2 studio and there will also be live performances from myself and other artists such as Carol Decker from T’Pau and Denise Pearson from 5 Star.

Why do you think the 1980s were such a golden period for popular music?

It was all very hedonistic, none of us thought beyond the 80s. It was difficult in the 90s to sell music from the previous decade, but that all changed with the Millennium. People wanted to hear all those iconic songs again. Part of the success of those tracks is the narrative of the songs; we really were traditional song writers then, writing about people’s attitudes and what they needed in their lives.

So, Toyah, tell us about your best 80s memories.

There were many good memories appearing on Top of the Pops. One of the happiest memories is the magnitude of what we did. For instance, on Christmas Eve in 1981, I played the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which went out live on television, bringing in twelve million viewers, which at the time was phenomenal.

The tour visits York; have you visited the city before?

I have been to York many times, not just when playing a concert but also from my acting career. In fact, when the tour comes to York, I am going straight to Bettys for a cream cake, preferably with a macaroon on the side. I took my husband Robin (Fripp) for the first time in his life last October when we were touring together and there was a massive queue outside. When we went inside, he was very impressed with the atmosphere, service, and, of course, the cakes.

How did the opportunity arise for you to record with legendary British producer Trevor Horn on his last album?

Trevor called me and said that he wanted to record a new version of Relax, the old Frankie Goes to Hollywood song. He had already done a version using artificial intelligence, which the record company turned down.

He thought that I might be able to intimidate and impersonate the artificial intelligence version; we did about thirty versions of the song in one day. He would change the key I was singing in, speed things up and down here and there. He then had the material to present to the record label a version he thought they would like, which thankfully, they did. You can hear it on the album.

My version of Relax is going to be included in a movie, though I have not been told which one, something I am very excited about.

Were you apprehensive about working with Trevor?

Initially, I was very frightened. When you work with someone as talented as Trevor, it shines a mirror on your limitations as a performer and musician.

He completely understood my singing technique; working in his studio in Camden produced the as the best sound I have ever experienced as a recording artist. He is a master of sounds, the way Turner was a master of colour.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Robert and I are playing a lot of the major festivals this year, including some of the 80s ones, although some of those will probably be just by myself. In between, I am playing the female lead in two movies, both of which I cannot reveal the titles just yet; one of them is being filmed in York and the other in East London. I am very much looking forward to what seems to be a very busy year, which all starts off with the Sounds of the 80s Live Tour. If anyone wants a night out that gives people a chance to socialise and hear these wonderful songs again, I would advise them to come and witness a really good night out.

The tour visits the following northern venues:

23rd February York Barbican

10th May Scarborough Spa