23-year-old rapper Tay Made has won the attention of young fans with his, videogame-tinged visuals and anthemic trap bangers, produced in-house by his Stupid Mad Fresh collective.
Combining the effervescent energy of fellow south London MCs like Merky Ace with a colourful styling reminiscent of US indie rappers The Cool Kids, the young musician recently caught the eye of ScHoolboy Q – winning a Europe-wide ‘Share The Stage’ contest organised by Vans.
Tay Made was personally picked out by the TDE rapper from more than 300 entries, and joined him for a special performance at House Of Vans last month. We found out what that opportunity meant to him, quizzed him on his influences – from 50 Cent to Jerkin – and discussed his aspirations.
Tell us a bit about the 'Share The Stage' competition – what music did you submit and how did you pick it?
I entered via an Instagram post – a friend who knew I was crazy about Vans sent it through into my DMs. I took my shot and submitted songs such as ‘23’, which is out on GRM Daily, and my latest release ‘Boujee’, which got premiered on SBTV. I knew I had to submit these songs as they were fairly new and I had a feeling they would love the energetic vibe and bright colours.
How did it feel to win? Were you confident or did it seem a long shot?
It was such an amazing feeling to know that I had won the competition, because I had even forgot that I entered. I knew the process would be long as it was a European contest, but that made it that little bit more special. I think it was a Monday or Tuesday morning when I got the email. I was at work and I literally screamed with joy running around my working warehouse – truly blessed!
What prep went into the live show? Were you nervous beforehand?
There was a lot of preparation that was done before the show, to get it just how we wanted and to make a name for ourselves. Me and my cameraman/producer Jay Goodz had a plan to release an EP ‘The Tay Way’ that would be performed at the show and released that midnight for the fans. I was nervous as anything as it was getting closer to show time but the Vans Family made me very welcomed and made me feel at home.
Appearing on the same line-up as ScHoolboy Q must have been a mad feeling
Performing alongside ScHoolboy Q was a dream come true – I’ve been listening to him from the start of his career. It also gave me a taste of what I could be coming up against in the future. His ad-libs and quirky manner brings the best out of him and his bucket hat collection is a true reflection of his brand. It made me want to start wearing hats for my imagery!
Let’s talk more generally about your music. You’re from south London where there’s always been a strong grime culture. Did you listen to that a lot growing up?
Grime music was instilled in me from a young age; probably just before secondary school. Older cousins and people from my local area would freestyle, lock into Channel U and have battles. This caught my eye from an early age and growing up in south London there was a lot of that going on. It was also a way to stay out of trouble and meet new people at youth clubs.
What other influences do you have around you?
I have a lot of influences in music, from the older generation around my area to the celebrities who were on MTV. But my closest influences are my friends and family. Just the fact that I have people around me who never give up and always want to do better, gives me the strength. I’m currently in a collective called Stupid Mad Fresh, which is four musicians: myself Tay Made, Paul Stephan, Quincy OG and Blessed, with our camera man Jay Goodz too. We all make sure we keep ourselves in check and on our A game, which creates a nice productive wave.
If you had to pick one album you really love what would it be?
Wow that’s a tough question... I think it would have to be ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The way 50 Cent came out in this album was just too epic, and when he released the film for it, it made it 10 times better.
How would you describe your sound?
I describe my sound as very energetic and quirky, but with a raw and edgy style. I want my music to make people move and have a great time. It’s all about the mosh pits and the turn up – a mixture of Grime and UK trap with a Tay Made twist.
When did you start to take music seriously as a career?
I have always been doing music since I was a young kid, getting into competitions at Indigo o2, Hackney Empire and local festivals. But I never really knew what I wanted my style and sound to be like. As I got older, around the age of 17/18, I believed I found my sound and style that I was happy with. So I would say I have been taking my music career seriously for about five years now, and hoping for many more years to come.
Your visuals are very colourful. Is there a particular thing that inspired those?
From secondary school I used to watch a dance style called ‘Jerkin’ – it was more American-based but the UK had their shine too. The bright colours to the skinny jeans and just not being scared of how you would want to be looked at, made me fall into that world of colours and a fun atmosphere. Also, videogames were a big part of my life from the PlayStation One days til now. It gives me a creative mindset to think what cartoon videogames I can turn into music videos.
What music do you have in the pipeline?
I have a new project that is out now via all digital platforms entitled ‘The Tay Way EP’, so I’ll be continuing to drop some music videos for that by the time 2018 is over.
I wish to keep a great relationship with the House Of Vans Family and to become part of the team. More shows and more content is my key to have the best 2018 I could ask for, bringing the new vibe into 2019.
Tune into House Of Vans now on Facebook for all the latest events and check out the House Of Vans Share The Stage film here.
Words: Alex McFadyen
Photography: James North
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