MP3 Toy - Magic
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15 MP3 Songs
POP: Quirky, POP: Power Pop
The intense synth-heavy industrial grooves on Toy's CD "Everything Seems" -- often punctuated by Toy's own ragged, wet screaming in her native Mandarin -- are definitely not for children. And it's caused Toy some trouble.
"The regional buyer for one of the big music chain stores told me that several hundred concerned parents have complained to him about my CD being unsuitable for their kids," laughs Toy, "but I don't make music for those pathetic yuppies' Izod-wearing yard apes. And I'll tell you something else. So far, less than a dozen units have been returned. I guess that means most of those whining parents have just kept the discs for themselves to listen!"
A cute, petite 25-year-old who sports a bright yellow mohawk, Toy may look a bit like a toy herself, but she bristles at the suggestion that she's anyone's plaything. Although small in stature, she announces confidently that she's an expert kickboxer who learned the deadly art from the same school which graduated Jackie Chan. And she's been known to intimidate troublesome musicians in her combo by proudly wearing her workout robe and third-degree black belt to band practice. "One night after a gig," she recalls, "I was loading my Les Paul back into the trunk of my '66 Mustang when these two really big guys tried to jump me. I'm not sure if they wanted the car, or the guitar, or both, but, uh...." Toy pauses and smiles mischievously. "Well, they didn't get anything -- anything at all. In fact, one of them -- the guy who was holding the gun -- he won't be getting anything' for a long, long time, if you understand what I mean."
Ironically, it was to escape such violence that Toy relocated to America several years ago. "I was in Tiennamin Square when the fighting broke out," she says solemnly. "I wasn't a student at the time, but I was having an affair two of the teachers -- a married couple, neither of whom was aware that I was sleeping with their spouse -- and I'd just left from a tryst with the wife. I was on my scooter when the shooting started, and a volley of machinegun bullets shattered my rearview mirror so I couldn't see what was behind me. Soldiers were blocking off the street, but I got lucky and reached one of their barricades right when some bottle-throwing students pushed it over. I managed to jump the wreckage with my scooter, but something exploded beside me when I landed, and I got cut really bad by shrapnel. It took eight stitches to close up the cut, once I finally found a doctor who would treat me."
When asked to show the scar, Toy frowns. "I can't do that. It's in a personal place, and I'm a very private person. I'm just glad that the last time I ever slept with my lover in China, I didn't have this awful scar on my body."
But it was Toy's internal scars that troubled her the most. In the wake of the horrors she experienced, she didn't feel comfortable in China and arranged to be smuggled out of the country on a cargo ship. It was during these weeks at sea that Toy conceived the idea of her future band, Toy. "I spent most of my time below deck between some cartons, in a space hardly the size of an American phone booth," she recalls. "I felt like something little stuck inside a box, just like a Chinese toy. After about the fourth night I got curious about what was in the big cardboard boxes down there all around me. Every one that I opened was full of toys -- robot toys, little electric cars, wind-up roosters that pecked at the ground, and even big Godzilla dolls with light-up eyes. It was pretty funny to find Godzilla in there, since he's Japanese, not Chinese. Anyway, I always loved American rock and dance music, and I've played guitar since I was nine, so I decided right there on the ship that if I ever had a band, I'd call it Toy."
After moving to Atlanta to star in an underground action film -- director Kristophe Milleski's "Lesbian Fire-Goddess of Kung Fu" -- Toy discovered that she was a better musician than an actress. "The first dailies we got back from the lab after we started shooting that movie were awful," she whispers. "I mean, the movie was bad, but I was worse. My fighting scenes were okay, but I just didn't look right delivering the lines. Then Kristophe ran out of money, and I told him it was all over. I walked."
Meanwhile, Atlanta musician Rick Cohan had been collaborating with Toy on the film's soundtrack music, and was so pleased with the results that he shopped the tape to several regional clubs which booked experimental noise bands such as Pineal Ventana, RA RA, Half Japanese, and DQE. The result was a full calendar of shows and, eventually, a record deal for Toy with the small label Human Entertainment. "I also played for a while in a band called Sweetheart," laughs Toy, "who sometimes did versions of old American rock songs from the '70s and '80s. I got them to do the Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla' one night and it was hilarious -- the whole audience was singing right along."
In addition to promoting Toy and working freelance as a computer systems designer (she created an interactive segment for her band's CD), Toy has also made time to produce several Atlanta-area bands, including a fireball punkabilly trio called McPherson Struts. "People tell me they're like a combination of the Circle Jerks and Jason & the Scorchers," says Toy, "but I don't know the music of those two other bands so I can't say. All I know is that all the Struts are great guys, and that they play the most rocking music I've ever heard!"
Just how great does she think these guys are? "Well," she answers with a twinkle in her eye, "since I left China, those three are the only MEN who have been allowed to see my scar!"
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