24-year-old Tayte sits on camera, swivelling on his chair in a black t-shirt and tattoos crawling up one arm. Speakers and bits of gear stretch along a desk behind him and tiny potted plants clutter in between as a homely reminder. On the wall is a large drawing of a fox, overseeing the production of his namesake studio, Mad Fox, which Tayte launched in early 2020.
“The thing I like to get across is it wasn’t a hand-out studio,” he says, a little toy fox peeking out from behind a speaker as though eavesdropping in on a top-secret discussion. “I didn’t get given a load of money to build it or anything — it’s completely made by me.”
Mad Fox Studio was made at the brink of a pandemic, a time where nothing was certain. People drew the curtains on the outside world and Earth stuck a “temporarily closed” sign outside its door. Luckily for Tayte, he knew success doesn’t happen overnight.
“There’s a lot of sacrifice you have to do to build it,” he continues. “It’s completely self-funded. Obviously, with building a studio, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, but the really cool thing is that you don’t have to get everything at once. I started with a phone, won a grand after we won this competition, and that was kind of how it began.”
The competition in question was on the radio in 2015, caught by Tayte as he was riding the school bus. With the help of his mum, the family won £3,000, and some of the money helped fund Mad Fox five years later.
“I probably wasn’t producing until about 2020,” reflects Tayte. “I kind of started with engineering and just recording bands, but I wasn’t developing and working with artists until I was confident in what I was doing.
“Basically, it was kind of something I was interested in. I remember when the first Samsung Galaxy phones came out — me and my dad were really into smartphones. So, when that first came out, he leant me his older one. How I first started recording was I’d record my part on one phone and then record me and that part playing on another phone, and just keep going back and forth. And it sounded like crap, basically, the whole way through.” He imitates a crackling sound with his mouth, mimicking an old brick phone, and laughs at his amateur self.
After buying his first computer, Tayte moved to Manchester for university where he started interning for Sugar House, a UK based production team, and gradually learnt how to record and produce. From Radio X to BBC, his work started poking its head onto major platforms.
“It’s one of those things that doesn’t happen overnight. I’ll listen to a track I did like three months ago, and I’ll think, ‘What was I thinking? That sounds awful!’ And that happens every single month. You sort of revisit something and think, ‘Ah, I’m a lot better now.’
Last week, Lisa T’s ‘Babydoll’ hit number one on the iTunes Country and Western Charts. Tayte did vocal, production editing and engineering on the track.
“I engineered the vocals in the second studio upstairs,” he says, pointing to the ceiling. The main producer and co-writer had been in America. “But I’ve produced a track which got to Radio One, and a lot of tracks I produce get to Radio X and BBC Introducing and stuff. So, whenever something quite big or career-changing happens, you get a buzz for, like, two hours. And it’s very addictive. But then it starts feeling normal after a while.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve found is not getting too excited when stuff happens. You’re just always trying to keep level headed. So, like that thing with the track getting to number one on the charts, obviously there’s a lot of credit and I did a lot of work on the vocals and engineering, so it’s great to see stuff like that happen, but it’s more that as soon as it happens loads of times then you can take more credit for it.
“Just have to remember your roots and take the time to feel grateful.”
After the whirlwind success he’s had producing since 2020, Tayte hopes to continue as he does. With the industry on the mend from coronavirus, there’s no hope in planning too far ahead. But what’s one of the best parts about being a freelance producer? Enjoying the ride and seeing where it takes you.
You can find Tayte on Instagram: @tayte_andrew_chris
Featured image credit: Nick Dunleavy (@nickdunleavy)