Toddy Walters [Interview]

Hello Dear TWS Readers! Today we have an absolutely amazing interview to share with you fine folks. Today we have some amazing words from an absolutely brilliant vocalist, actress, and so much more, the amazing Toddy Walters. Right off the bat, if you are a fan of any of the work from the now legendary pop culture icons that are Trey Parker and Matt Stone… are going to want to check this out!

On August 17th, 1997, I was a 12 year old boy. I was a massive fan of the barely watched cable channel known as Comedy Central. I was one of those kids who had a “divorced Dad doing better than the Mom he lived with”, and when I was staying with Dad, I watched the shit out of Comedy Central. I watched The Daily Show with Craig Kilborne on a regular basis. I loved Bob & Margaret, Make Me Laugh, and the endless re-showings of Blazing Saddles. And I remember seeing the constant advertisements for a weirdly animated show called South Park that was coming soon. And on August 17th, I managed to find myself at my “cool aunt’s” apartment in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and falling in love with the program that we all know and love and now consider to be a bit revolutionary, a little show called South Park.

What does this have to do with our guest today? Well, she was there. Toddy was around in the very beginning, and she was invested in in the amazing beginning years of South Park. She speaks of this a bit in the amazing responses she passed along, so I will take a social cue here and just shut the fuck up right about now. So, enjoy some amazingly insightful and amazing words from the great Toddy Walters!

When did you first discover your passion for the world of music and performance? Was it a lifelong passion of yours, or did you sort of just fall into the business?

I was born an artist, and the music and television of the 1970’s really shaped me. It gave me the drive to want to definitely be a Charlie’s Angel but the musical Annie sold me on wanting to sing in front of people. Singing has always come very naturally to me, I have a melody of some kind in my head pretty literally all the time, which is a boon and a bane;) I’ve spent all of my life singing and performing in one capacity or another.

You began working with the now legendary duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone from their initial inception, with their Troma release Cannibal: The Musical, right up through to the inception of South Park. What were those early days like? Was it strange to be involved with so much success, so quickly alongside a couple of dudes you knew from college?

Those days were crazy, life-changing and interesting. I found out about what was then called ‘Alferd Packer – The Musical’ when I went to a CU Boulder film school screening of student films, one of which was Alferd Packer. The short film was a trailer for a film (with no actual finished product) which was such a creative idea to begin with but more than that was the buzz created by this funny little trailer. The buzz was everyone wondering if it was actually a film and I decided at that point that if they were going to make a film, I was going to get myself in that film, not even knowing the story of if there were any parts for women. I had already been in a couple student films there so I wrangled an audition and the rest is cinematic history, lol.

Not long after, I was pretty helplessly in love with Trey and we were together for a few years when he moved to LA. I witnessed the meteoric rise of South Park first hand in a lot of ways just being around the two of them. I moved to LA a couple years later still in a long-distance relationship with Trey but the quick and huge success complicated things unsurprisingly and it was no longer healthy. It was hard for us to let go, but it was harder to sustain a relationship amidst all the chaos.

What I am grateful for is the work I was able to do with them which allowed me to get some exposure as an actor. However, within two years of moving to LA, I decided that I wanted to concentrate on music and that’s what I did.

Amongst the plethora of vocal and musical work you did on the South Park series and film, what would you say is your personal favorite character that you brought to life? 

I had a blast playing Kelly – Kenny’s girlfriend in the episode ‘Rainforest Shmainforest’ starring Jennifer Aniston. Kelly was the perfect nose-picking drama queen that Kenny needed, and even if it was short lived, it was true love.

My other fave was playing Winona Ryder in the movie, it was such a blast. It was fun to hear my voice when I saw the film, felt really good. I have to say I’m pretty proud that in the credits of that film, my name comes sandwiched between Nick Rhodes and Stewart Copeland which is just cool.

Besides being a brilliant vocalists and actor, I understand you have worked extensively in the world of production, including some post work on one of my favorite films of all time, The Thin Red Line. What was it like to work on a project like this? And what sort of other production work have you done in the business?

I started as a production office coordinator on the South Park movie which led to other production office gigs on animated film and the odd production assistant or wardrobe assistant gig on live action features. I spent a few weeks on the a computer game based on The Matrix 2 & 3 as a wardrobe assistant. This was when motion capture was new and I assembled hundreds of these little rubber balls covered in reflective tape that were then put on all the joints on these black leotards that the Korean martial arts team wore. I was a stunt double for tests a few times and had to put a leotard on and jump around, that was fun. They were also shooting 2nd unit for both films in the studio so I got to watch Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishbourne work out.

My last production job was on The Thin Red Line where I was a production assistant, a wardrobe assistant and a stand in for the lead actress. There were so many amazing people associated with that film obviously and it was so fun to be a part of. Word got around that I was an actress and Terrence Malick hired me to be a featured extra in a scene that was eventually cut (but I heard I’m in the perhaps fictitious ‘director’s cut’). I thought, you couldn’t just keep my 10 second close up in your 3.5 hour movie, lol? I did get to be in front of cinematographer John Toll who reminded me not to chicken neck when trying to convey emotion, lesson learned.

What can you tell us about your band, Winehouse? I understand it is definitely NOT a “cover band”, but what it is sounds fascinating to me! So with that, could you explain a bit about it to us? And what made you decide to channel the spirit of Amy?

Yes, very adamant about it being a tribute band, always correcting people! I would rather she still be alive and I wouldn’t have had to create the project but it felt like the right time and her songs are so fun to sing, not to mention she was an hysterically funny creature. I took it in a theatrical direction by playing her in earnest, I took on her accent, dressed like her, the whole nine. It married my two favorite things, singing and acting. When we first started, we would recreate her live shows at the height of her fame (2007-2008) as close as possible, setlists, line up, her banter. But it morphed into more of a stage show where I scripted it, the concept was that Amy was now in heaven and so she was able to talk about what it’s like up there, the famous celebs she hangs out with also in the 27 club, so it focuses on the humor mostly with just a little bit of heartbreak when she asks god why she had to suffer. I’ve put the wig down for the foreseeable future as it was a five year labor of love and because I feel like I realized the vision I had for the project and am ready to move on.

I’ve always thought that Denver would be a pretty good town for music, but I honestly have no idea as my experience in Colorado altogether is that of one overnight stay at an airport hotel, and walk through that crazy expensive mall. So, what is the music and arts community like around there? What do you believe sets this area apart from say, an Austin or Portland?

Denver has been booming for a few years now and so has the music scene. The most recent success story is of course, Nathaniel Rateliff. When I began making music here in Denver in the early 90s, the music scene was cool but jam band heavy so I was excited to move to LA where there would be more diversity. Now the art / music scene is infused with so many talented native and non-Colorado natives and it’s hopping with a lot of different styles and scenes. I’d say it’s different to Austin in that it’s not as much of an ‘industry’ town since it’s not known for its record labels and has very few management companies. It’s harder to break out here, but I imagine most musicians here are happy to make it a valid part of their lives even if they don’t make a living with it. As a forever unsigned artist, I don’t necessarily believe being signed equates with making superior music.

Toddy in “Stadium Anthems”

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m happy to say I have a film to plug, although at this point, there is no secure distribution. It was filmed in the summer of 2016 and is called Stadium Anthems, directed by a first-time CO based writer-director, Scott Douglas Brown. It’s a sort of surrealistic, absurdist, dramedy, mockumentary set in Denver and is about the music industry and how it’s changed so much in the last however many years. My character is Heroine Jones, the female singer-songwriter-teacher-bartender-fetish performer (what doesn’t she do?) who is the heart of the film and represents doing art for art’s sake while all around her the chaotic and laughable record label types vie to stay relevant in the post-internet age.

It was an amazing step back into the film world and I was able to not only act, but sing, write songs and be the music supervisor. All in all, twenty-something pieces of music were recorded for the film, some of which were mine and some of which were Scott’s. The film has been finalized and is just now beginning the search for distribution.

Otherwise, I’d love to make a new record someday!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

When my boyfriend bought me the live vinyl of Kate Bush’s ‘Before the Dawn’ for Christmas two years ago which is her first live set of performances in thirty five years. I cried virtually through the entire four-record set I was so happy. That’s not to say I haven’t smiled since, of course:)

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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