Gayna Rose Madder's musical career started in earnest in 1980 with the formation of 'A Formal Sigh'. All members had been in a band at Liverpool Art College known as the 'Experimental Muzak Society'. This misnomer described an untenably large collection of (almost exclusively) non-musicians who produced ruinaceous versions of wonderful Tamla Motown songs for public consumption, thankfully mainly within student circles. The founder member was Mark Peters, attending the Fine Art faculty as a painter. He had purchased a bass guitar and was determined to use it.
'Experimental Muzak Society' was fronted by three girls with 'Flo Sullivan' as lead singer. When the various courses ended, and with them the band, she wanted to continue the activity and asked Mark to form a new band.
Peters had moved into a less-than-luxurious house-share, and one fellow
inhabitant turned out to be an aspiring guitar player named Robin Surtees.
The three formed the core of what was to become a talented five piece.
Advertisements were duly placed for a drummer, and a motley selection
were interviewed. Several joined and quickly left or were evicted. This
included a direct relative of the drummer in a very famous act, locally
derived and boasting worldwide success. As the owner of a kit which boasted
seventeen cymbals, he left little stage room for other members and equipment.
The next step was the decision on a name. Having agreed to each think of five names then make a short list, one member arrived with a list of over 100 and a determination that, on grounds of sheer weight of numbers, one of his would succeed. Still no accord was met and at least one concert was played under the terrible disadvantage of the title 'Unit Germane', which the chooser had thoughtfully emblazoned on a large, bright yellow poster to fit on the bass drum. In an unprecedented show of unity the remainder of the band refused to appear under this name again.
The next few gigs advertised the band as 'This Is This' which some rather liked for its lack of commitment to anything at all, but the 'Unit Germane' proprietor was unhappy and insisted on yet another change. More lists were produced and this time the lesser of many, many greater evils became the name which was to stick- 'A Formal Sigh'.
Under this name the band quickly achieved a degree of attention. A first demo was recorded and part of it was released as a free tape with a local and well-thought-of music rag/ fanzine entitled 'Merseysound'. An intensive period of gigging around the North West of England brought lots of interviews and reviews. This was followed by a Radio 1 Peel session, prior to the first broadcast of which John Peel decided to do his first ever live radio interview with a band member (Flo Sullivan).
The duo toured Europe a few times, with a longish trip around Germany, Holland and Switzerland, and shorter ones around Northern Europe, supporting such luminaries as Patrick Fitzgerald and Vini Reilly, and playing at such prestigious venues as the Concertgebow in Brussels. They also appeared on the Belgian TV music show 'Graffiti'. The single, 'Waiting for us' was released as Red Flame 29 in 1983, and received daytime Radio 1 airplay. The mini LP made it into the indie top ten and suddenly there was major label interest in the band. At the start of 1984 the band played at the 'Big brother' music festival at the ICA in London, supporting Pink Industry. But by this time the writing was on the wall for Shiny Two Shiny.
Gayna, still 'Flo Sullivan' at that point, and Robin Surtees, decided to disband Shiny Two Shiny and go their separate ways. 'Flo' was offered, via Red Flame, a deal with Virgin 10 records. 'Higher' was duly recorded and intended for release in Spring 1985 on Virgin 10.
Unfortunately, in what was to be the first of many similar misfortunes, due to a legal dispute the single was not released. Red Flame took the decision to release the single on its own label and it had a delayed release in the summer of 1985.
Although this again had daytime Radio 1 airplay, various problems affected availability and distribution.
went on to be funded to record demos for London records, RCA, Polydor
and for WEA, one of which offered her a development contract. The week
she was due to sign, the head of A&R, who had offered the deal, left
to become a director of another music company. Eventually, although there
had been a great deal of interest to begin with, delays and difficulties
meant that the interest dissipated and 'Flo' ended up with no contract.
In 1987 'Flo' changed her name (legally) to Gayna Rose Madder. She had already decided to use her original name 'Gayna' as her main name, but after racking her brain for weeks to try to think of a new name, she had a dream in which she was interviewed by Terry Wogan. In it he asked 'Why did you change your name to Rose Madder?'. She responded 'It was a pigment of my imagination' and woke up with the words still on her lips.
this had been a favourite paintbox colour she decided fate had intervened.
She liked the fact also that the three words made a sentence expressing
a sentiment with which she identified. 'Flo Sullivan' was no more and
a new era began.
Gayna had several bands including an all-female one comprising seven members, one with a four piece brass section, and three different four and five piece bands. They played live around the North West and in London. She struck a deal with Uglyman records, who had recently enjoyed success with Black's 'Wonderful life', and a 7" and 12" single, 'Are you in pain?' was released as Ugly 4 in 1987. Yet again this attracted some rave reviews in the music press, but yet again there were distribution problems as the distributors went bust just after the single's release. This made the single virtually unavailable just at the time when it was receiving airplay and attracting press attention. Bad luck had intervened yet again.
A year later she set up an independent label with another musician who had his own band and had also played in two incarnations of her ensembles. The label was called 'Destiny Angel' (after a favourite Captain Scarlet figure) and in 1989 produced a first release, 'Only time' by clairvoyant Paula Paradaema (a long but interesting story). The second release was a 7" Gayna Rose Madder single, 'Ties'/ 'Bigger than a dream' . A distribution deal was set up and copies of the recording sent out for review. But ill fate was shortly to strike yet again.
First, the metal master was lost (from which the vinyl singles were to be pressed) and had to be re-made at considerable extra cost. Secondly, just as favourable reviews appeared in 3 high-end music publications yet another independent distributor, the one to whom the label was contracted, unbelievably went into liquidation.
The final blow occurred when the warehouse containing stocks of the records burned down together with all its contents. There was no way the label could afford to re-press the records and re-print the sleeves.
Gayna continued playing live with her band for some months afterwards, even doing a short tour of Germany. But the bad luck had taken its toll. The following year, 1990, she decided to leave Liverpool and move to London.
Throughout the early 1990s, after her move to London, Gayna temporarily gave up performing her own music in public or trying to get any of it released. Instead she took a full time course in music to improve her keyboard, vocal and sight-reading skills. She also joined forces with an eight-piece jazz band and began performing standards with them in London venues as well as studying classical singing with a personal tutor.
up a company which staged music and entertainment events in the capital,
and returned to DJ-ing after some years absence. As one of an all-girl,
3-piece spoof 60s group, 'The Blonde Supremes' she played at some corporate
and other 'gigs' around town. She augmented her living by teaching music
and writing articles.
1995 saw another change of name. This time Gayna re-incorporated her given name of 'Florence' into her name, calling herself Gayna Florence Perry, the latter after the sparkling drink. Visits to her home town of Liverpool began to form a notion of a return there in 1996, and by November that year the decision was made.
Gayna returned to Liverpool in 1997, buying a house and setting up her current company, 'Strange Attractors (In Light) Ltd'. In March 2000 her first musical play, featuring her own songs and music, was staged as part of the International Women's Festival in Liverpool. In December 2000 she performed the lead part herself in the first run of the full one-woman show, entitled 'It's my party', in the 'Wine, women and song' festival.
In Jan-Feb 2001 a finalised version of the play was staged at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool. In April 2002 the second play 'Danger! Vacuum', of what was intended as a trilogy, was previewed at the Williamson Art Gallery, Wirral, Merseyside, and in September 2002 the full length version of this, complete with original film, video, visual art pieces and music, was shown at the Pacific Road Theatre in Birkenhead, Merseyside.
is now part of a band named 'Cant'. Formed in the Summer of 2003, demos
can be found in the discography section.
The original line-up was assembled by Andy Maslivec (bass) who teamed
up with Gayna to perform live versions of her original material. Andy
asked fellow former member of Liverpool band 'Lady McCrady' to join on
guitar. The line-up was completed by classical pianist Bruce Gibson on
keyboards. Bruce Gibson then found that spending much of his time away
from Liverpool meant it became unfeasible for him to continue playing
with the band and his place was taken by guitarist Tom Dean. The current
line-up is flexible and more recordings and live appearances are hopefully
has also worked with guitarist Marc Waddington, developing sets to perform
in different musical genres. They performed concerts featuring songs by
Bacharach and David, played to packed and appreciative houses with encouraging
in her alternate existence as an astrologer
and psychic, has been appearing on the small screen and was featured
as an expert on several editions of 'The Russell Grant Show' (Sky One).
She also appeared in several episodes of the Five series 'Housebusters'.
She currently broadcasts weekly on BBC Radio Merseyside and CityTalk FM.