18-year-old Nigerian-Scottish songwriter Tayo Oyekan – aka Tayo Sound – has just dropped one of the best debut singles of the year so far. ‘Cold Feet’, produced by Courage, arrives through Black Butter/Arista Records and tells the story of a brief but lovely young relationship via irresistibly charming chilled-out pop.
“The lyrics are about my first relationship and how I thought I had found this perfect person,” he says, “but I wasn’t sure if the situation or timing was right as I was getting signals that her feelings weren’t as deep as mine. I felt happy because I’d found her but also terrified and anxious because I kinda knew it wouldn’t last.”
Having already worked with the likes of George Reid (of AlunaGeorge), George Fitzgerald, Rob Milton (Easy Life) and The 23rd (Khalid, Grace Carter), and with a debut EP coming later this year, Tayo’s is a name you’re going to be seeing a lot more of.
Hey Tayo, how’s it going? Are you having a good day?
Yeh, all good thanks g. Just chilling.
When did you first realise you wanted to make music, did you have a musical upbringing?
I was raised in church, so I was always around music, and my dad played guitar and saxophone. The first time I discovered non-gospel music though, was when my older brother started downloading pop ringtones on his phone when I was young – that’s when I really caught the bug for creating my own melodies and started writing songs. I won my school talent show when I was 10, and all the kids were chanting my name… I even got standing applause from the kindergarten kids, and that’s hard to do! They’re harsh critics. Lol.
Is being a musician living up to the hype so far? What’ve been your highlights?
It’s bless – I can’t lie. I wake up at 10am every day and then go to the studio for 1pm, and then I just make music all day, so I’m super grateful for my position in life right now. I went to LA earlier this year, and that was a big highlight for me so far. In London, all the studios are quite dark with no natural light, but in LA almost all the studios have windows and a view, and the music bangs, so that’s always a plus.
You spent some time busking around Reading, right? How did you get into that? Was it a good learning experience?
My mum put me up to the idea actually. The first time I went out was on Boxing Day, and I made £200, so when I dropped out of school to do music, I decided to do it full time. I definitely learnt a lot! Some days I would make a packet, and some I would make like 20p. I definitely learnt to stick through the dry spells and just keep digging and playing.
What was your initial writing and recording set up like, and how has it evolved?
Well at first I used a PC, but the screen was broken, so I plugged it into my dad’s old computer screen. I also couldn’t afford a mic cuz I’d spent all my money on the recording software, so I used my phone to record everything. It’s calm now tho – I’ve finally bought a Mac and a mic, so I’m all good.
How did you ‘get noticed’? What was your first break?
When I used to get home from busking I would type into Google ‘submit music’, and would send my demos to anything that came up. I sent it into classical music blogs, R&B radio stations and everything in between. I wouldn’t be surprised if I sent some tracks to you guys, to be honest, lol. Eventually, a blog called HillyDilly posted my stuff up on their site. I didn’t know at the time, but they’d discovered Billie Eilish and Lorde and a tonne of other artists. It went from there, and I started to get DM after DM from record labels and management companies offering to fly me out to the US. It was crazy!
Has working with other musicians like George Reid and Rob Milton helped you hone your craft? How do those collabs usually happen?
I ain’t gonna lie, I have no idea who sets these things up, but I just get told I’m working with different people every day, and I just show up at the studio, and we jam and make tunes. But yeah for sure, I’m super privileged to work with people I’m fans of! Rob Milton produces all of the Easy Life stuff, and they are probably my favourite band atm, and obviously, all the AlunaGeorge stuff is sick. I learnt so much from these guys before I even met them just by listening to their music, so actually working with them has improved my writing so much.
Is there anyone else you’re keen to work with at the moment?
Anyone anywhere anytime. Hit me up on Insta @tayosound. But for real, Lorde where you at? I love low dark female voices so anyone who sounds like Lorde or Lana Del Rey. Also, there is this band from New Zealand called Drax Project that are dope.
What do you most enjoy writing songs about? Are there any themes you find yourself returning to?
Well, my EP is all about my first breakup, but tbh I’m kinda fed up of writing breakup songs, so I think I wanna start writing more about the smaller things in life. My favourite song during lockdown has been an old French song called ‘La Mer’ which means ‘the sea’, and it’s literally about the beauty of the sea, not a metaphor or anything, just an appreciation song about the sea. I’d love to write more stuff like that, but who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love and have my heart broken again and be back to square one.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I used to be really into film making and visual FX. I stopped when I started making music full time though, but maybe I’ll pick it up again. For now, I just prefer to put all my creative energy into my music.
What do you do for fun?
I love watching combat sports. I stay up most Saturday nights to watch MMA fights, and I love boxing too.
What have you got coming up over the next few months?
Got my first singles coming out and I’m super excited for it all. Hopefully, when lockdown is lifted, I’ll be able to perform live again too! If any bands have any opening slots they want to fill, hit me up!