So how did teen Tayo Sound hack the internet to land a deal with Sony Records? First he had to have the talent – which this Redding, UK native with Scottish/Nigerian heritage certainly has. In his first two tracks “Cold Feet” and “Heartbreaker” you can hear his smooth, hypnotic voice which exudes calm confidence and openness which simply makes you want to listen to more of his songs. After being dropped a few months ago, “Cold Feet” is quickly moving toward breaking through a million Spotify streams. The label deal also got him his first gig at the Jazz Cafe – which is the first time he’ll be there.
For his first step onto this legendary stage at age 18, he’s got a full band lined-up for what only will be his 5th gig of all time. “I’ve never had a band behind me. It’s always been me and maybe a mate with a box drum.” Tickets as you would expect for this limited capacity show sold out immediately (but if you’re dying to see live music, there are a few shows to still get tickets for. Check our the Camden gig listings here). He’s got his upcoming EP worth of songs to play, plus new tracks that he’s been working on during the Lockdown. When asked about how he writes, Tayo, whose real name is Tayo Gilles Oyekan, says, “I try to start with a blank canvass, so my ideas have no boundaries. I don’t force it at all and let inspiration comes naturally.”
He might be making it all look easy, but his short road to the Jazz Cafe has been a hard one. He’s always been obsessed with music, singing in Church and school. He marks winning the year 4 talent show as one early validation marker that boosted him to busking and really trying to make music. Yet, school wasn’t for him, he wasn’t the trouble-maker, but didn’t connect with lessons and he left at 16. So there he was a few years ago, trying to assure his parents and friends that he could really do something about his dream.
He has a lot to draw upon from both the Scottish and Nigerian music that is infused in his DNA. He gets some power from Scottish rhythms and the love of story-telling in songs. Although Tayo hasn’t been out to Nigeria yet as his Lago trip was Covid-cancelled, he has had the chance to listen to some of the greats like King Sunny Ade and Fela. (If you haven’t listened to King Sunny Ade, you need to check his take on electric slide guitar pumped with all kinds of drumming and other-worldly choir-like harmonies on albums like Sweet Banana.). He is also inspired by the current generation of artists like Burna Boy, Mr Eazi and Davido. He explains, “those influences are always gonna be present. When you listen to stuff it builds the melodies that you are naturally gonna be drawn to.” Anyway, one day Tayo will make that trip to discover the incredible sounds in Africa’s most populated country and his blood will ignite into a musical firestorm.
Ok, so back to how he got above the noise and scored a label deal without a manager while sitting in his bedroom in a suburban sprawl much closer to The Office’s Slough than London. Tayo explains, “well basically I submitted music to every website that would take it. I would send it out every day to blogs- at least 25 uploads, to all kinds of sites from rap to classical to pop. I went to google and searched for anything that said ‘submit music’. I sent it out to a few hundred places. Some would reply that it was good, but not their kind of stuff. A site called HillyDilly, now they are Before The Data and claim to have discovered Billy Eilish, liked it though. They pushed it to some A&R guys and then out of nowhere I was getting tons of DMs from the labels. They said I was sorta like Ed Sheeran with an African influence — whatever that means.”
Then he had (what can only be a good shopping mission) to choose from between a dozen management offers to get a manager before he signed with Sony’s Arista/Black Butter label. “I’m grateful to have had so much interest in my music,” he continues. “It’s exciting and scary now. I’m enjoying while I can. I love being in the studio, writing and rehearsing. I don’t know where it gonna go, but I want the music to be mine.” He’ll be dropping tracks regularly. Look for his first EP drop in early 2021. Follow him on Spotify to catch them as they land.
A few King Sunny Ade clips to check-out