Liverpool Echo. May 5, 1988


Gayna rocks on into psychic pop

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 psychic.
"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 chords.
"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 cent serious.
"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 go".
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 centre.
"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.