IN CONVERSATION WITH TAYC
Interview by Asia Lanzi & Marie-Pauline Cesari
Tayc is a French-Cameroonian artist known for his unique blend of Afrobeat and R&B called Afrolov’. He burst onto the music scene in 2019 with his debut album ‘NYXIA. Tome 1’, which quickly garnered attention and praise for its fresh sound and infectious rhythms. Since then, Tayc has continued to make waves in the industry with his soulful voice, smooth production, and honest lyrics that often touch on themes of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery. With a rapidly growing fan base and a string of successful releases under his belt, Tayc is undoubtedly one of the most exciting Afro artists to emerge in recent years. In this interview, we get a glimpse into Tayc’s world and learn more about his background, inspirations and creative process.
Tayc, you are one of Afro-beats’ biggest names. But let’s go back to where it all began. How did your music career start and progress in its early stages? And did you always dream of being a successful artist?
I was studying music in 2020, but my interest in music goes back to high school. There was a studio there for the older kids, and that’s where I started making music. The first time I heard my voice with autotune and reverb, it felt like magic. In 2018, I signed with my label, and everything started from there. It was clear from the beginning that I was committed to my dream, and I truly believe it was God’s plan.
In an interview, you explained how your mother helped you with the word ‘Yimme’ in your song ‘N’y pense plus’, which is a Cameroonian term for ‘going forward’. How does your French-Cameroonian heritage influence your musical sound?
My mother has always been a great help to me when it comes to finding catchy phrases for my songs. Being of Cameroonian heritage, she gives me Cameroonian words that are easy to remember, such as ‘Yimme’. It’s really effortless for everyone to sing along to. I grew up listening to Cameroonian Afro music, which has for sure influenced my sound and it drives my musical inspiration.
Do you think music can serve political and social interests, and how do you use this medium to spread certain messages? What messages do you hope to convey to your fans?
For me, personally, I focus on the pain and happiness of love in my music. I think music can be used to address global issues, but I find my inspiration through love because I believe it has the power to fix everything, including politics. So, I mostly use my music to express the theme of love, and Afrolov’, to my fans.
In a lot of your songs you talk about love and relationships, but would you consider yourself a romantic?
Honestly, I’m not that romantic in my personal life. I’m more of a down-to-earth guy when it comes to love. I am inspired by the idea of love and it often serves as a source of inspiration for my music. But instead of loving with my heart, I love with my brain, you know? I want to be intelligent in my approach to love and avoid any regrets. So yeah, I’m not the kind of guy who will make grand romantic gestures, but I still believe in the power of love.
Afrolov’ is a musical movement that you started. You often explain how you wanted a term describing your style with all your different musical inspirations: From Afro, over R&B, to Soul, and even Gospel. How does it feel to be the initiator of this new musical genre?
I’m really happy about it! It feels great to see people embracing Afrolov’ and using it like it’s been around forever. It’s not just a music genre, it’s a movement, a whole mindset that my team and I created. It’s amazing to see people connecting with it and thinking like us.
Can you explain what the vision and meaning of Afrolov’ are?
Yeah, the vision of Afrolov’ is about always pushing yourself to new limits and never settling for less. It’s also about prioritizing love in everything you do, even in business. But it’s not just about excessive love, it’s about balancing it with intelligence and using your brain to make wise decisions. That’s the Afro-Lov’ mentality.
Let’s talk about your new EP. After a 2 year hiatus, you just released the EP ‘Room 96’ on February 14th, the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to your fans. Can you talk us through the inspiration and creative process of the EP?
I wanted to give my fans some new R&B music because that’s where I started, but then I got more into Afro music. So, I wanted to reconnect with my R&B roots and let my audience know that I still love R&B. I focused on creating an album with only R&B songs, nine in total. It’s fresh, new, and different from my previous Afro-centric releases. I wanted to show my fans that I haven’t forgotten about R&B.
What is the secret of ‘Room 96’? (For clarity, the album is called Room 96 and it includes the song Room 69.)
Room 96 is not a physical room, it’s an Afrolov’ mood that can be felt everywhere. It’s not about opening a door to get into the room. Room 96 is a space created between the listener and the music, or between two people. It’s like an environment or an energy that you can feel in your eyes. It’s hard to explain, but we’re in Room 96 right now.
How has your music progressed/evolved from your previous double platinum album ‘Fleur Froide’?
I feel like I know myself, my fans, and my music better now. With ‘Fleur Froide’, I was experimenting with different genres, topics and even rapping, but I realized that my fans want me to sing and stick to certain melodies, chords, and beats. So now, I have a better understanding of what my fans want and what I want to create musically.
So would you say the new EP is a more authentic representation of yourself? In your opinion, does the new EP better reflect your true self and artistic vision?
So, with Room 96, I purposely made an R&B project that represents me authentically. I know exactly what to include to give my fans the best representation of my artistic vision. When I started making R&B music in 2018, nobody was paying attention to it. So, I had to create a perfect balance between R&B and Afrobeat to catch the wave and make people appreciate the genre. Now, when I hear a song like ‘Room 96’ on French radio, which is totally R&B, I find it unbelievable. I’m taking my fans with me towards my goal, and things are going great. I’m not worried.
You have previously mentioned how your lyrics are inspired by life and fiction. Can you talk us through your writing process?
In the past, I used to search for beats on YouTube and write a song on the beat before heading to the studio. But lately, for the last three years or so, I’ve been going to the studio with an open mind, letting the producer set the vibe, and following my emotions. Sometimes, I have a specific topic in mind, like when I wrote ‘Comme Toi’, where I talk to my ex-girlfriend and express how I miss her and how the new person in my life is not like her. But at that point, I didn’t have any melody, chords, or beats in mind. I only had a topic that I wanted to talk about.
So, do you use music to express your own emotions and experiences?
Yeah, sometimes the beat just draws me in and other times I have a specific emotion or topic that I want to address, and the beat comes later.
You played in the series ‘Christmas flow’ in which you portrayed the role of a rapper, and you mentioned that you consider yourself an actor. Why were you drawn to acting and what can we expect from you in the future?
Well, I hope to be in a lot of movies in the future, it’s part of God’s plan. I really admire Jamie Foxx and how he’s both a respected R&B singer and an actor. I want to achieve that level of respect for both my music and my acting. That’s why I always try to incorporate acting into my music videos and vice versa. I think it’s all about finding the perfect balance between the two, acting and singing.
And then there’s also dancing, because that’s been an important part of your identity since childhood. In 2022, you even won the French show ‘Dancing With The Stars’. Why does dance play such a significant role in your life?
Dancing has been an important part of my identity, even before acting and singing. I had a dance group in Marseille where I grew up, and we traveled to Paris and other places, performing Afro dance. So, when my career started to take off, I thought it would be a waste not to use my dancing talent. I couldn’t just be a singer, you know? I won the French show ‘Danse Avec Les Stars’ in 2022, which was an incredible experience. So, dance has always played a significant role in my life.
Do you usually choreograph your performances?
Yeah, I do, but I also trust my ladies. I have my seven black queens – called the OG wifey’s – who are my dancers and perform with me on stage. They create all the choreography, and I just come and learn it.
Does fashion have a special place in your life, and do you work with specific designers for your performances?
I used to prioritize comfort over style, but now I understand that music is also a visual art, so you need to look good too. As an artist, you need to dress well, whether you’re a rapper, a singer or even a soccer player. I’ve started to pay more attention to my outfits and dress better. I used to have a lot of clothes, but I would just wear tracksuits for comfort. Now I’m learning more about fashion and it’s become really important to me.
‘N’y pense plus’ is your most successful song up to date and went platinum with more than 100 million streams on Spotify. How has this international success made an impact on your life and career?
It really changed my life, especially since the song was released during the pandemic. Everyone was dancing to it on TikTok and social media because they were stuck at home. For two years, I never had the chance to perform it live on stage. And then suddenly I saw a whole different community of people than when I first started making music. Before, it was mostly black and Caribbean people, but now it was a diverse group of people coming to see me, and they were all there for ‘N’y pense plus’. I remember one showcase in Toulouse, south of France, where the club was packed and people were falling into the pool just trying to see me perform. It was crazy to see how this one song brought so many people together. It’s really something else – it just went boom, all at once.
You never gave up on your dream of bringing R&B infused afrolov’ to France. How does it feel to have fans all over the world sing and dance to your songs, even in non-French-speaking countries like the Netherlands?
It’s amazing, honestly. I’m currently in Amsterdam and in just a few hours, I’ll be heading back to Paris, then off to Georgia for a music video shoot. I’ve been to places like Mauritius, the Indian Ocean, and Madagascar – places I never thought I’d see in my life. I’m grateful for it all, especially since Afro is everything to me. I believe my passport is my afro music, not my R&B music. I’m glad I created this perfect balance of Afrolov’ because when I first started making music, I was set on doing R&B. Even though it wasn’t popular, I stuck with it. Then I realized I needed to be smarter about it. I started combining my R&B voice with Afro beats to create Afrolov’. You can still dance to it but it evokes certain feelings. Adding my R&B voice to Afro music creates something new and exciting. It’s like my world passport.
How has traveling the world been for you?
It’s been amazing! I’ve been to so many countries already, but I really want to go to Johannesburg, South Africa, Tokyo and also China. There are so many places I still want to go!
Is it your first time in Amsterdam? How are you enjoying it?
Yeah, the weather’s not great, but the country is nice. I like the energy and the people. I just arrived yesterday and have only been here for one day.
Afro-Beats is taking over the world. So what can we expect from you in the future when it comes to new music?
I want to conquer the world for real. It’s not just an ambition; I want it to be a fact. I want to receive calls from Drake, Wizkid, Nigerian artists, and even artists from Timbuktu to work on their new tracks with me. I want to inspire the world with my music and the Afrolov’ movement.
Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed hearing your story and learning more about your creative process.
photographer ALEXANDRE BRUCATO