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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Sep-18 > Forever Free

Forever Free

BRINGING THE PUNK AESTHETIC INTO 80s POP MUSIC WITH HER RADICAL SENSE OF STYLE AND KINETIC PERSONALITY, TOYAH CHALKED UP A SUCCESSION OF MEMORABLE HIT SINGLES. FOUR DECADES ON, SHE’S DETERMINED TO LOOK BACK WITH SATISFACTION ON A JOB WELL DONE.

When Toyah Willcox celebrates 40 years of making music with a short series of UK dates over the coming months, she’ll not only be asserting her longevity, but also her artistic evolution. “There are some people who think marking time is a waste of time, but I think when you get to somewhere after 40 years of dedicating your life to it, it’s a really good thing to let people know what that 40 years means and how you’ve developed in 40 years,” she tells us. “I think that is beneficial, not only to your fans, but to younger generations who are always made aware that life is an ongoing journey. It doesn’t finish when you hit 25. So, I think it’s really important to wave your banners.”

Quite right, too, especially since the Birmingham native has several significant banners to wave, including eight Top 40 singles and 17 albums, a number of collaborations and three albums as part of The Humans with ex-R.E.M. drummer Bill Rieflin and Chris Wong.

“When I started as a singer, I didn’t know how to listen. About 60% of being a musician is how you listen and how you perceive. So my relationship with basic 4/4 timing was quite strange at the beginning. One thing I couldn’t do really, until about 16 years ago, was sing and count at the same time. I was an instinctive singer, who knew when changes were coming because the drummer did a drum fill. Technically, that alone has been a major change.

“My acoustic show, which I started four or five years ago now, has actually taught me more about singing than anything in my career. Because of that, we try to put as many of those in a week as possible, – it really connects you to the music. You are not surrounded by huge amounts of volume. You’re in an intimate space where your relationship is purely with tonality and timing.”

BITSA HISTORY

Before she secured a deal with Safari Records in 1979, Willcox was already a rising star in theatre and on both the big and small screens. After attending the Old Rep Drama School in Brum, she bagged roles at the National Theatre, and featured in the BBC play, Glitter, as well as Derek Jarman’s seminal British punk movie, Jubilee. “I think the acting was an escape. I love acting and I’m not trivialising it, because I actually can’t live without, either. What I love about acting is no one is interested in me. The whole thing is about being anything other than the person you were born. I find that helps to refresh my soul and to see through someone else’s eyes. Psychologically, acting is incredibly important to me. Does it inform me as a singer? Well, yes, purely because I can step away from the kind of expectation of predictability within the music industry. It just allows me to reboot the computer, I suppose.”

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About Classic Pop

Issue 44 of Classic Pop magazine is on sale now! In the latest issue we speak to Soft Cell's Marc Almond and Dave Ball as they prepare for their farewell gig at the O2 in London and release a career-spanning boxset, Keychains & Snowstorms. We also take a look at their Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret LP in our Classic Album feature. Elsewhere, we have an exclusive interview with the world's biggest record producer, Mark Ronson, catch up with The Proclaimers who return with their politicised new album Angry Cyclist and talk to Level 42's Mark King about his life in pop's funkiest band. This month, we look back on the glory days of house music and Toyah tells us how she brought the punk aesthetic to the pop world. For boombox fans, we take an in-depth look at why cassettes are making a return and we also serve up a buyer's guide to the wonderful Luther Vandross. Our packed reviews section features new albums from Prince, Paul Weller, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Simon and many more while the reissues section includes Pet Shop Boys, the latest David Bowie boxset and Curiosity Killed The Cat. On the gig front, we head to Hyde Park for The Cure's only European show of the year, delve into the latest Let's Rock festival in Shrewsbury and check out gigs by Nick Heyward, Del Amitri and others. Enjoy the issue!