Singer/Songwriter Talay Riley is the man behind many of your favourite artists songs. Writing for the likes of Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, JLS, One Direction and Chipmunk to name but a few. We caught up with the multi talented 21 year old in the midst of a busy day in central London promoting his new single.
You’re new single Make You Mine has been getting a lot of love from the online community. Would you say this is your strongest single to date?
I would, definitely. It’s one of my favourite songs off of my album and the reception so far has been really positive. Even Fearne Cotton was spinning it on Radio 1 the other day, so it’s all looking really good right now.
You have a very clean-cut image as a soulful ladies man. Yet your last single Good As Gold featured the grime/rap specialist Scorcher. How did that collaboration come about?
When I first did the song it originally had Tinchy Stryder on it. I think Tinchy passed on it and I kept the song. I remember writing the verses like a rapper. I used to MC too, I still got bars ya know (laughs). I played it to Scorcher and he liked it, and was willing to put a 16 on it. I loved the final version so we done the video and released it. That was my most successful song at the time, I think it charted at number 5 or something.
As a solo artist you’re still taking your first steps in the game, but as a songwriter you’re already quite accomplished. What artists and projects have you written for?
I just did two songs on the new JLS album. I’ve got one song close to dropping on the One Direction album, so fingers crossed on that one. I just co-produced the new Jessie J single with Parker & James. I also did Chipmunk’s Oopsy Daisy and Look For Me. A lot of people don’t know this but I’ve got a song on Tinie Tempah’s album called Snap, which is on the US version too. Oh yeah and I just got two cuts in Taiwan, imagine that (laughs).
Which side of the game do you prefer, the writing or the performing?
I actually look forward to both. I had a show in Bridlington for Viking FM’s Brid Bash. I jumped on stage with Chipmunk for the first time in over a year and we done Look For Me and all the fans were going wild singing all the lyrics. I got to perform my stuff too and the vibe was intense. That feeling you get on stage is just as cool as being in the studio for hours writing a song and listening back to the hard work we put in. It takes hours and hours to make 3 minutes worth of a hit. The feeling you get after both is equally fulfilling so it’s hard to choose.
What would you say has been your favourite performance?
Definitely the Usher tour. I spent a week touring Europe with Usher and I was the only support act. It was really last minute, my manager called me at 9pm one night and said, “I got a tour coming up for you, and you start tomorrow. It’s for Usher, the first show is in Germany and your flight leaves at 6am tomorrow morning.” It was so crazy because I didn’t even have a haircut! The first show I came out and just froze, it was just so many people staring straight back at me. But it went down really well, even Usher came up to me and was like “Yo, that was one hell of an entrance that you just did.” So it was nice to catch a compliment off of a legend. Even the noise from the crowd, I haven’t heard anything like that since.
Would you say that’s been your career highlight so far?
It’s definitely been one of them, but I wouldn’t say it’s been THE highlight, but that was very big. That and Oopsy Daisy going to number one in the charts are my highlights so far. Because it was the first song I ever released and it went to number one. That’s a major compliment, but I wouldn’t say the defining moment has happened yet.
A lot of underground and urban artists have been grabbing chart positions as of late. What are your views on this current trend?
I say it’s about time. It’s good that artists like myself and the Tinie Tempah’s and the Loick’s [Essien] are getting recognised for our talents and work on a mainstream level. We put just as much work in as an indie band; it’s the same thing, but coming from a different place and perspective. And I love the fact that our place and our perspective is what’s hot right now in the charts.
Any dream collaborations out there?
I’d like to work with Kanye West, that’s my number one collaboration. Musically the guy is a genius. I love him as a rapper too; I think him and Wretch 32 are my favourite rappers right now. I’d definitely want to collaborate with Wretch as well. He did a remix of my single Sergeant Smash but I feel like me and him could do an actual song together. I did a show in Ireland and we all went to a club afterwards and Wretch was performing that night. He bought me on to the stage, it was nuts, I was doing the dougie and all sorts (laughs). Wretch is just mad cool.
What can we expect from you in the coming months?
I’d say lots more appearances and performances, tours and TV, that kind of thing. I got the new single after Make You Mine that’s coming, it’s called Shut Up And Kiss Me. It’s a straight club track cos I feel like Talay Riley isn’t in the clubs yet. Hopefully that track will be my Pass Out and have that kind of impact on the club scene. I got the mixtape coming out at the end of this year, and I’m looking to drop the album early next year.
Interview by Eddy Leonardo