Image via Black Butter Records

Tayo Sound is alt-pop’s new heartbroken teen hero

The Scottish-Nigerian teenager is working on an EP chronicling his doomed first relationship for you to mope along to. Here are 10 things you need to know about him.

by Douglas Greenwood
05 November 2020, 1:57pm

Image via Black Butter Records

Reading, England: it’s not really the kind of place you’d expect to find pop music’s hottest new hopeful, but 2020 has been hugely unpredictable, and it happens to be the place that someone we’re very excited about calls home. Tayo Oyekan, known better by his stage name Tayo Sound, is a teenager who musically wears his heart on his sleeve; the kind of satellite town lad who, by being perpetually underestimated, has broken down barriers and ended up with a whole lot of fans.

Armed with a guitar, Tayo has started to drip-feed some spectacular songs into the world, carried along with earworm melodies and a book of lyrics that frames him as the lovelorn boy in a relationship that’s sort of falling to bits. “It's way too easy finding someone new / I kinda like not getting over you” he sings on his latest one, over a beat that makes the whole thing sound like Metronomy meets Rex Orange County meets Brockhampton.

But before all of this happened -- yep, Tayo’s now signed to Black Butter records, and has had recording sessions with George Reid (AlunaGeorge) and The 23rd (who did some good songs on that new Hailee Steinfeld record) -- Tayo was just a teenager going to church on Sunday, using his dad’s old computer and his phone as a microphone to make music in his spare time. He cut his teeth busking on the weekends to make some spare cash, but after uploading his original tunes to a bunch of blogs, became hot property for some very important music industry people who rated his songs.

And here he is now, with three singles under his belt (all of them very good indeed), giving us a fabulous insight into his life and work to date. Read, listen and stan along with us…

1. Tayo’s first taste of music was in church as a kid
“It's pretty much all I listened to, as we didn't listen to the radio or anything. The only music I heard and knew of was in church.” 

2. But his first own discovery was indie-folk man Vance Joy
“He's got a song called ‘Riptide’ that was pretty big. It was recommended to me on Spotify and I got addicted to the whole album. It's probably one of the first albums I listened to completely from start to finish.”

3. His half-Scottish and half-Nigerian heritage shapes his music
“My dad is from Edinburgh and my mum was born in Glasgow but raised in a town called Whitburn. Folk-leaning, storytelling elements are quite present in my melodies and that's definitely something I've subconsciously picked up from my Scottish heritage. Rhythmically I'd like to think you can still hear a lot of Afro elements in my songwriting too. That's been directly passed down from my dad's Nigerian background.”  

4. Tayo’s not the director of tourism for Reading, but if he was, he’s got the pitch ready:
“One, if you're in Berkshire you don't have much choice -- it's either here or Slough and no one wants to go to Slough. Two, there is actually a lot of hidden greenery in Reading. Loads of parks and woodlands and obviously the river. We've also got an average shopping centre. And three, I'm here!” 

5. He has a ridiculous ear for melody and learned from the greats
“My favourite songwriter at the moment is Jon Bellion, but of all time it would have to be John Deacon from Queen. All of the best Queen songs were written by him!” 

6. His lovelorn songs are inspired by real life. The worst relationship advice he’s taken?
“That you can salvage something once it's over. It never works.”

7. His name is inspired by the inflated price of domain names
“I wanted to just be Tayo but the domain cost like 30k to buy. Tayo Sound was free though so that's where the name came from. I wish the story was more interesting than that but there you go.”

8. Still 18, he’s growing up but doesn’t feel old just yet
“I’ll feel old at 70. You're definitely old at 70.”

9. He doesn’t draw those monkeys on his song’s artwork
“I have a big imagination but I'm pretty bad at putting it to paper. Thankfully I've got a couple of friends who can do that bit for me.”

10. He doesn’t name his guitars, but if he did…
“I've got one that's mahogany so I'd call it Mahogany. The make of another one of them is Adam Black so I'd call it Adam, and the other one is red so I'd call it…. Blue.” 

Go follow Tayo Sound on Instagram if you want to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve!

10 things