Gayna rocks on into
THE woman once described by the music paper Sounds as
"Liverpool's bit of fluff" was approached three times before
I met her outside Leicester Square tube station.
People had mistaken a single woman - standing on a street comer - with
large brown eyes and masses
of chestnut curl hair for a ticket tout.
Gayna Rose Madder takes it all in her stride by reacting, as she does
to most things, by giggling.
But then Miss Madder is used to women being propositioned on street
corners. Her rented flat, under the moral shadow of Britain's largest
cathedral, is in Liverpool's red light district.
Gayna neatly combines Liverpool's two main passions: football and music.
Born In Anfield ("I had a season ticket when I was 14") she
is both singer and songwriter.
"If I was going to aspire to anyone it would be Rodgers and Hammerstein,
but although my songs are poppy I think the words address quite serious
and political matters."
Although she is currently recording her own single, Gayna is in London
to produce some else's - the debut record of Paula Pradaema - a Blackpool
"I first met Paula at a psychic demo In Fleetwood and then met
her again a month later in Liverpool. She came back to my flat, sang
me a song and I later arranged the chords."
A long explanation followed In a soft lilting Liverpudilan accent. Apparently
the song, Only Time, is a message from the spirit world - but not from
just any old spirit. Only Time is from Phil Ochs, who once wrote for
Bob Dylan and committed suicide after a knife attack ruined his vocal
"Paula thinks he is fulfilling his karma so that he can get onto
the next astral plane."
By now you may be thinking that Miss Madder is either living up to her
surname or severely testing your sense of humour. But she is 100 per
"I learnt how to do birth charts in Junior school. They were a
bit inaccurate," she adds and starts to laugh,
"but I tried."
Miss Madder was also known in her Junior school as Flo Sullivan. This
changed nearly two years ago.
"I looked Sullivan up in a surname book and it said 'a descendant
of the one-eyed, black-eyed, hawk-eyed Irishman' and this isn't the
image I want to project!"
She described her image, in between chuckles, as "non-existent".
Don't believe her. It is an eye-catching mixture of sweet 'n' innocent
and sleaze-tart with taste. "I admire Bet Lynch as far as clothes
The comparison is interesting. Both women share a quick, intelligent
mind. The exterior acts as a visual foil. Beneath Gayna's dizzy Barbie
Doll appearance lies a mind trained in graphic design at Liverpool Art
College with a further postgraduate diploma in art and English.
She has been seriously involved in music since 1980 when her group,
A Formal Sigh, seemed poised for success.
They had one Peel session under their belt and had signed a deal with
Virgin's Red Flame. A Christmas single, Higher, was recorded and released,
after a considerable delay, in June. No further recordings were made
and, being tied to her contract, no singles were made elsewhere. "I
got to keep the advance, so it wasn't all bad."
Her next group, Shiny Two Shoes, with Robin Surtees (now guitarist with
Benny Profane) had better luck. They recorded a mini-LP while she was
administrating a small college, on a part-time basis, near the city
"It was a brilliant place, but very underused, so we did courses
on racing form and home brewing.”
Naturally the college's popularity increased and she was offered a full-time
job as principal.
Shiny Two Shoes were also offered something - a tour of Europe “so
I turned the job down and launched
myself into unemployment." Their single, Waiting for Us, reached
the independent charts and received Radio 1 airplay, but after four
European tours she left to pursue a solo career.
Since then London Polydor, WEA and RCA have all paid for session tapes.
Her third single, Ties ("all my songs are emotional”) is
being produced by Dave Dix (who produced Black). Its release in April
coincides with the release of Only Time. She is aware that she is within
sniffing distance of success.
But what does the psychic circle think? Her clairvoyant friends predict
1988 will be Gayna Rose Madder's year. Her choice of name was also prophetic.
"I was still Flo Sullivan when I dreamed I was being interviewed
by Terry Wogan. In the dream he asked me why I had changed my name to
Gayna Rose Madder." Her eyes opened wider and I waited expectantly.
"So I replied it had been a pigment of my imagination!"
The music world, especially in Liverpool, is overflowing with people
who can sing, compose and often, through lack of finance, produce and
arrange their own work.
Gayna Rose Madder could be one of the few talents to break through the
tough surface of success. She could also be the first singer who owed
her fame to a paintbox colour, a dream and a bizarre sense of humour.