Tokky Horror Interview: “We’re not thinking too heavy on a masterplan”
Zee Davine talks to Gary Dougherty about inspiration, musical direction and Tokky Horror’s debut single.
Following the demise of Queen Zee – the Iggy Pop approved Liverpool queercore , who shook the ground beneath us and gave guitar music in the city a much needed kick up the arse – their erstwhile leader Zee Davine has embarked on a new musical venture, Tokky Horror.
The three piece, comprised of Zee, Mollie Rush and Ava Akira launched their debut single Girlracer in July, and make their live debut at Birkenhead’s Future Yard in March.
Laying down a marker for a bright future, Girlracer is a riot of in-your-face pop-punk fusion. As an old friend of the site, Zee kindly spoke to Planet Slop about the single, Zee’s inspiration and their musical direction.
PS: Your new band is called Tokky Horror, which I assume is a nod to The Rocky Horror Show. How did the show have an impact on you and your music?
Zee: The reference started as a joke to be honest, I think me and Jay (of Queen Zee) where making puns out of Scouse places and that came out and I nabbed it as a graffiti tag, which became a producer moniker, and now this project. But the film influenced me a lot as a kid, and I always latched onto the glam and grit mix and have gravitated towards that in my art forever
PS: I really didn’t expect that it was half a joke. That’s quite cool. I was only seven when the movie came out and I first saw it when I was a teenager. Like you I like the glam, the farce and the nod to old sci-fi and horror movies. I’m predictable though and Frankenfurter is my favourite, I’ve loved Tim Curry since. Do you have a favourite?
Zee: I love Eddie because I really love Meat Loaf, whose Bat Out Of Hell live show got played in our house a lot while I was growing up.
PS: Your new venture is with Ava and Mollie, how did you meet each other?
Zee: I met Ava through our friend Zand, I was DJing for them and Ava was also playing that night. Me and Mollie met through the DIY scene. Mollie played a show Queen Zee also played. I’m one of those people who’s always saying “Let’s make music!” and we all have similar tastes so eventually when I had some instrumentals I was happy with it came together really quickly and naturally
PS: You bio says Ava and Mollie are from London. Have you charmed them into a life up north?
Zee: Ava’s from London, Mollie is from Manchester, I think they both have a soft spot for Liverpool but think we’re all pretty territorial that our city is the best
PS: I think all these cities have merits. Moving back to music, Girlracer retains the punk influences from your earlier work but adds a healthy helping of electro-pop. Is this the direction you are heading in, do you have a plan or are you going to let it flow and see where it goes?
Zee: Yeah, we’re not thinking too heavy on a master plan for the sound or direction we’re just creating. But Girlracer is our flag in the ground for anyone who wants to know what the project is about
PS: What was the spark behind it and who were your influences?
Zee: We all bonded over a love of old rave stuff like Underworld and The Prodigy, I think we were all about 14/15 when Prodigy released Invaders Must Die and we all saw them separately on that tour. But we all love a range of stuff, particularly heavier music.
PS: Is there a message in the lyrics?
Zee: Lyrically, that’s not my forefront anymore. Mollie has really laid in some amazing references and points in Girlracer. I don’t think that’s our focus though, we don’t have an overriding message, it’s about the song first.
PS: You have been a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility and while we like to think the music industry is a place of tolerance have you met resistance or acceptance?
Zee: I very rarely meet openly homophobic or transphobic people within the industry, the left leaning twitter masses friendly approach is popular and to be openly hateful towards me is obviously shunned. But, the music industry, and the key word being industry there, is just a reflection of where we are at in society. While my existence as a trans person is politicised, my marketablity (for want of a better term) is questionable. In the age of social media, you don’t just buy into the band or artist’s music. You buy into them as a personality. My personality is dominated by my gender as far as anyone trying to sell me is concerned, and they’re not wrong. I’m answering this question right now, when any cis gender person wouldn’t have to. So, this is the barrier. People will always be less willing to take a risk on me and invest money, time, effort. While they know there are people out there, and a fairly large percentage who will see my gender first and music second. I am happy to embrace my queerness, to talk about it, and to express it in my art. But this is partially because if I didn’t, I know it would still be a talking point around me.
PS: That’s a really interesting point about it wouldn’t be a question if you were cis gendered. You’re right of course, but is that necessarily a bad thing? I’m a straight, white middle-aged guy and grew up in the 80s. Back then the likes of Boy George, the late, great Pete Burns and Holly Johnson were making great music and were open about their queerness.
Zee: As I said, I’m personally happy to talk about it and have done and continue to, because I do feel music is a way to spread messages and convey on a more universal emotional level. But not every trans person needs to be a pioneer or an activist. We should be able to just be artists, without gender coming into it. Which is rarely a possibility. That itself is institutionalised transphobia.
PS: That’s a good observation. As you say it shouldn’t even be mentioned. Let’s hope we can achieve that. Do you know if Iggy Pop knows about the Queen Zee split and do you think he will be devastated?
Zee: I don’t know if Iggy knows, but I’m sure with his experience he gets it and has seen countless bands come and go, including his own.
PS: I met your mum when you launched the Queen Zee album at 24 Kitchen Street. She seemed really proud of you. How is your mum and is she a Tokky Horror fan?
Zee: She’s fine haha! And she likes Tokky Horror!
Tokky Horror’s debut single Girlracer is out now. They play their debut show at Future Yard, Birkenhead on Saturday 20th March 2021.
Lead image: artist’s Facebook page