EXCLUSIVE: Tolü Makay Chats New Single “Used To Be” and more!

Rising R&B vocalist and songwriter, Tolü Makay has been recognized for her soulful anthems by fans across Ireland and by the 270k people who viewed her stunning cover of Saw Doctor’s classic “N17.”

Her latest anthemic and emotive singles, “You Are Enough” and “Used To Be,” seek to uplift and relate with their powerful messages. 

We chatted with Makay about her single, “Used To Be,” her forthcoming debut EP Being, and more!

How did you first get interested in music? 

Performing in church, going for competitions, learning songs from my favourite artists from YouTube is what I think brought about my interest of music on a deeper level.

How has growing up in Ireland influenced your music?

I think it’s made me very open and exposed to a lot of genres. It made me appreciate and become interested in understanding music in my own way.   

Do your gospel roots influence your music?

Yes definitely. From the way I sing, and how much I want people to feel the emotional & “spiritual” connection of what I write and sing. 

What inspired your new single “Used To Be”?

Love inspired “Used To Be.” Knowing that you’ll continue to love someone so much even when they’ve moved on and love someone else.

It is also the first single I’m releasing from my upcoming debut Album set to come out at the end of this year. 

I’m working with an amazing artist called Enda Gallery who wrote “Used To Be” several years ago and whom I’m also working my album with.  

When recording “Used To Be”, especially under the restrictions we are under in Ireland, we couldn’t go to the studio, so we made a booth using mattresses, and pillows. The final product you hear was made in those conditions and it came out amazing! I cried.

…and “You Are Enough”. What was the inspiration? 

What inspired “You Are Enough” was when I was consciously working on myself and reading books like “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. There is only one you. NO one can ever do what you do how you do the way you do. I was singing ‘you are enough’ to myself, the chorus first before I created it into a full song.

I worked with a producer called Davlo, we created a beat and kept layering till we were happy. The guitar you hear is actually me doing that vocally with added effects. That was so fun! Then I asked a friend called ‘Solow the astronaut’ to help me write the verses. We worked on those together in one session and that’s how we got the foundation of the work. The added adlibs in the background are what I recorded at home myself. 

If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to “You Are Enough,” what do you imagine it looking like? 

Oh it would be in a garden, it’ll be sunny. Me on stage that isn’t far or too big so I can see everyone and it’s intimate enough but spacious enough.  Similar to ‘All together now’ festival. Just vibes and nature haha. 

What drew you to cover the Saw Doctors’s “N17”?

It was actually suggested to me by Kite Entertainment, so I must thank them for having me involved. 

What was it like to create that new arrangement?

It was Gavin Murphy who created the arrangement. He works with RTE Concert Orchestra. We haven’t even met in person yet, can you imagine. He did an incredible job. All our communication and work was done via whatsapp haha. Can’t wait to meet him one day in person.

What can fans look forward to next? What can fans expect from your upcoming debut album?  

More songs that will leave you awestruck! I want to break the idea and concept of having to fit into a genre in order to be marketed. So expect the unexpected, truths, attitude and songs that will feature in my upcoming album. That’s all I can reveal.

How do you hope people feel after listening to your music? 

I hope they feel. That’s all. To really feel the emotion behind my songs. Either happy or sad. As long as they have an emotional reaction that’s good with me, because that’s what will make the song last. When it has a place in people’s hearts.

What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world? 

Let your voice be heard and lean into your discomfort.

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