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For an international pop-star-in-waiting, it’s tempting to overplay the everyday qualities that make 19-year-old Taylor Fowlis - AKA future R&B chanteuse Tayá - so relaxed in conversation. Since getting spotted by her manager before she’d even hit her teens, the artist retains a wide-eyed excitement for all that’s yet to come; if she’s already fazed by the industry’s fickle nature, it doesn’t show. And yet there’s something exceptional about the Toxteth girl, a tangible electricity that runs through her.
It seems there were nascent sparks flying at her after-school youth choir. “It wasn’t even a proper choir really, more of a singing club,” she explains. “Basically, my manager saw a video of me singing in there, listened to a few people in the choir, and liked me.” By the age of 17 she’d already played Hyde Park alongside Nile Rodgers, and BBC Radio 1Xtra were starting to build a buzz around the singer. Now that she’s released her self-titled debut EP, the rest of the world is starting to catch up.
The ‘Tayá’ EP forms something of a style diary, with older tracks like ‘Sweet Waste Of Time’ sitting alongside fresher cuts ‘Deeper’ and ‘When Ur Sober’, featuring Yxng Bane. The new numbers exude both playfulness and darkness in greater amounts, bringing sleeker vocals and chopped-up beats into the mix. Though she talks up a teen trinity of Ashanti, Ciara and JoJo as her early influences, Tayá already stalks more adult ground; this is FKA Twigs territory, really.
Nonetheless, she’s totally confident in her own approach. “I feel that I have a sound that represents me. I think I can go into the studio now and describe exactly what I want - and when I hear something, I’ll know if it’s me or not.” We believe her. “I think for most of my songs now, you can listen to them all together and they make sense. They’re all a thread, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
At this point, Tayá can do whatever she wants. She’s got a modelling career on the side (currently working with Puma, though the singer modestly says she’s “never really been a model”), and a city behind her bursting with new talent that transcends pasty lads with guitars. She talks up boyband Mic Lowry, and upcoming rapper Aystar. “Liverpool’s kind of been one of those cities that’s been overlooked for R&B and those kind of genres, because people just expect The Beatles. But everyone’s starting to come through now.” Make way, boys.
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Words: Matthew Neale
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
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