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Steps’ Faye Tozer Talks Sunderland, Touring and What the Future Holds

Steps
People
March 2022
Reading time 10 minutes

As Steps celebrate 25 years of pop hits, and prepare for their next show at Kubix Festival in Sunderland this summer, we catch up with Faye Tozer

Steps were formed in 1997 and have released hit after hit since (despite a hiatus in the early 2000s). Their first single 5,6,7,8 was a techno line dance song and our favourite track is Tragedy. Their fifth studio album Tears on the Dancefloor was only kept off the UK top spot by that pesky Ed Sheeran. Their sixth studio album What the Future Holds was released in 2020, and was preceded by a tour with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and fans have been streaming their new music since. But ‘what’s next?,’ we ask Faye Tozer, who has called Boldon her home for 13 years.

How are you? 
I’m good. I finished work on New Year’s Eve, then we got a rescue puppy so I’m a little bit tired because we’re house training. But it’s been nice to have a little bit of time at home to do all of that!

How did you keep busy during the lockdowns?
The first lockdown was an interesting one for everyone I think because it was a new experience and I’ve got to say, for me personally, it was a break that I wasn’t expecting. I actually spent more time at home in the first lockdown than I had in about 10 years. That actually worked in our favour. It was really wonderful to have that time with my family, my boys. With Steps, we were so lucky because we were able to put together two albums, release them and, when the lockdowns were lifted, we managed to get together and create videos. It’s been incredible what we’ve achieved and I can’t believe we’ve been able to do that, considering what’s been going on.

Steps

How have your fans reacted to What the Future Holds?
We’ve had such an overwhelming response from our fans who are so pleased we’ve been able to deliver something to distract them. We’ve been fighting hard, it’s been a challenge, but we’re pushing on forward.

It has been a great distraction. But how does it feel now to be back on stage performing it for your fans?
Well we didn’t know when that was going to happen! Our first dates for the arena tour had to be pushed back a whole year, but to get back on stage and actually open the arena show was electric. It was such a buzz. The adrenaline rush was huge and the response online and on social media blew us away. We definitely appreciated it more because we didn’t know when it was going to happen and it felt like a night out for us when we were on stage. It was a really wonderful experience and I feel (I think we all feel) very grateful that we were able to do that.

Steps have been around for nearly 25 years now! How will you be celebrating this milestone and what does the group mean to you?
I don’t think anyone could have written it to be honest! From our little line dancing single back in the 90s, I don’t think we knew what we were doing at the time. We were five youngsters put together for an audition to front a line-dancing single, and here we are 25 years later with an incredible fan-base who keep demanding more. We’re still selling out arenas, as many as we did back in the day, which is just crazy. We’re living our best lives. I’m unsure how it happened but it’s truly amazing. Lucky us! You’d never have thought we’d still be doing a pop concert at our age.

How has the music industry changed over the years? And how has Steps changed?
The music industry is almost unrecognisable to what it was when we were first around. You have to learn to change with times and we’ve got incredible management who know exactly what they’re doing. I don’t think we, as band members, know exactly how the music industry works anymore – we just focus on the creative side. It’s a funny old thing now. I think there’s been amazing changes for a lot of new artists; artists that might not have been seen before. But in another way, you can’t see the wood for the trees. There’s so much out there, it’s difficult to know where to look sometimes. I take a lot of my music choices from recommendations from other people these days, rather than just listening to the charts because they’re so different with streaming.

A quote that inspires you.
‘You do you’ – that’s the way forward.

Your favourite song lyric from a Steps song.
‘Come as you are, cause you're great, and you don't need to change a thing,’ – Neon Blue.

As an adopted Mackem, what’s your favourite Sunderland slang?
I had to tune my ears a little bit when I came up here because there’s lots of different accents and heavy slang. Like when you say you’re ‘gan hyem’ for ‘going home’. I have a bunch of girlfriends up here, and they don’t call me Faye they call me ‘Fe-ah’. Just little things like that – I love it!

Favourite place to eat out in the North East?
Our local pub is amazing. It’s The Black Horse in Boldon. It’s run by Pete Zulu and his food is incredible but I love it because it’s so quirky and eclectic in there. It’s a real experience.

Steps

Your favourite musician from the North East.
That’s difficult because you’ve got people like Sting and Jimmy Nail. In fact, this isn’t to put a damper on anything but we’ve just lost him recently and this is celebrate him: John Miles who wrote Music Was My First Love. He really took me under his wing when I came up here. He introduced me to incredible people like those involved in Sunday for Sammy and really helped me find my feet in the North East. I send my big love and celebration to him.

Favourite Northern venues to perform in?
We do Utilita Arena but we haven’t had so many gigs up this way recently. This next gig for Kubix Festival in Herrington Park is going to be amazing! This is where I walk my dogs. We’ve done charity runs there. It’s going to be amazing to have Steps there and all of my friends and family. It’s such a great vibe – and what a great line-up as well!

Someone who inspires you?
My mum. My son. He surprises me everyday! It’s a funny generation to be inspired by people. When I was growing up my music influences were people like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna but it’s a different generation now. The people who are closer to my heart are my inspirations. Your inspiration to lead a good, healthy, happy life is the most important thing.

Let’s keep reflecting. What have been the highlights of your Steps experience?
We’ve been so lucky and we’ve been through so much together and had so many experiences. I guess a really prominent one was when we toured with Britney really early on. That was such an eye-opening moment and such an exciting journey to go on. Of course, receiving a BRIT award. Our Reunion Tour was absolutely huge and such a major milestone for all of us. All the times when we’ve just been together in hotel rooms, having a drink after a show. We went to The Ivy during rehearsals and we sat in a corner and we hadn’t had time to actually hang out with each other because it’s mostly work. To make that time to sit down and have a meal was great. We went through all the anecdotes from memories of being in Belgium, a trip to Holland – and we belly-laughed. We’ve had an incredible journey, and the fact that we’re still here is bonkers. We’re really lucky aren’t we?

Can you answer your question? What does the future hold?
An incredible summer. Loads of gigs. New music to celebrate 25 years!

Click here for tickets to Kubix Festival on Saturday 9th July.

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