Within hours of two of TT's soca titans, SuperBlue and Machel Montano, unleashing their monster hit Soca Kingdom on social media, the song received thousands of views which touted it as the 2018 Road March.
But the real powerhouse behind the hit which has taken the country by storm, is 22-year old Travis Hosein, known in the music business as Travis World. The creative genius has been labouring for the past seven years, honing his craft as both a DJ and producer, working alongside some of the big names in the business. But overnight, Soca Kingdom has made him an industry favourite.
Suddenly people across the board, locally and internationally, are reaching out him giving him due respect.
In an interview with Newsday last week, the soft-spoken father of five-month old Tyler Hosein, said the rave reviews have boosted his confidence as he seeks to improve his skills, but he is humbled by the achievement.
“I am really proud to be the first person to get these two soca giants to collaborate on a song like this. It is a major achievement and something I would be proud of and happy with for the rest of my life, but I am not going to behave as though I am the best thing out. That I reach. That I only want to work with big names. I am humbled about the whole situation,” Travis said.
The woman behind his success is his mother Betty Ann Hosein, an employee of Newsday’s South Bureau. Betty Ann recognised her eldest son’s talent from an early age and encouraged him to experiment as a DJ and a mixer at school bazaars, birthday parties, graduation and other school and family events. She also seized the opportunity when she attended a relative’s birthday party, to have Signal to Noise (Joel Morris), who was a guest DJ, hear the mad skills her son possessed.
Signal was so impressed with the then 15-year-old that when Slam 100.5FM came on the scene, he offered Travis an opportunity to do a Saturday morning shift, making him one of the youngest DJs in the country.
Although dad Trevor gifted him with his first drum set and mixer, becoming a DJ was not a career Trevor approved of. He did not approve either of having his young son, still a student of Pleasantville Secondary School, travel from San Fernando to Port of Spain to do DJ duties. Betty Ann often had to convince Trevor that the Saturday morning journey was for extra classes.
After all, Travis was always accompanied by two or three other classmates who made the journey with him, really for protection.
“Dad did not want me to be a DJ. He did not understand or knew how deep I had it in me. He just thought I wanted to be a small DJ, making small money all around the place. He wanted me to have a good job, a stable future. Now that he has seen the growth and that I am actually going somewhere with this, he is proud.”
Bitten by the music bug, doing DJ duties on several shifts at the radio station, failed to satisfy Travis’ hunger. This shy, young man who used music to express his emotions, wanted to be on the cutting edge, to stand out. He wanted to do remixes nobody else had and the only way to get them was to create them himself. He enrolled in businesses classes at the School of Business and Computer Science and music courses at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). He also started doing remixes which got the attention of his peers.
Working in radio also opened up doors for Travis to interact with a lot of artistes who sent him their music files for him to experiment and mix it up. It provided the opportunity for him to work with artistes such as Salty, Machel, Major Lazer, Skinny Fabulous, Aaron Duncan, Erphaan Alves and Preedy, among others.
About the new wave Soca Kingdom is creating, Travis said this was not on Montano’s agenda for 2018. Neither, he said, was he looking for a song to team up with SuperBlue to rival Iwer George’s offering of Savannah Party as a contender for the Road March title.
“This was one of four songs sent to him a long time. This thing just happened naturally. It was not forced on him. One of his business partners heard it and said he had to do it. The SuperBlue thing just happened. It was a miracle,” Travis said.
He said while the original rhythm was not intended for Montano, it was influenced from the vibes he picked up while part of the Montano team during the 2017 Carnival season.
Just after Carnival 2017, from his Diego Martin home, where he now resides, he began experimenting with the energy he picked up from the various Montano fetes. He played it for Prince Pronto of Sheppard’s Pro recording studio and within two hours, he said, Pronto had half of the song and a demo recording which sounded a lot like Montano.
The unfinished project was put on hold, until a few weeks ago when he played it for Montano who liked what he was hearing. Although Montano did not commit, it motivated Travis and Pronto to finish the song days before it was recorded and released.
The response has caused the public to declare Soca Kingdom as the Road March winner prior to the competition. Travis said while that is the aim, he is not going to call it.
“That is the talk, but I don’t want to call it because I feel like calling it, I might jinx it. That is the aim and we are going to push hard to make it happen, but I am not going to call it.”
About his future Travis said he is in a comfortable place, but has ambitions to work with Bunji Garlin, Patrice Roberts, Shal Marshall, Destra Garcia, Kees Dieffenthaller and others. He said while he has been consumed with production his role as a DJ has suffered a bit.
“I want to perfect that craft (production) build a catalogue of soca and Caribbean music, but I really want to tie it back to where I could be like Major Lazer, where I could produce and DJ at the same time.”
Travis is also working on a project for Jamaica Carnival as well as a project in St Vincent with Skinny Fabulous and one of that country’s main producers as well as with artistes from Belize and the British Virgin Islands. He said his aim is to capture the Caribbean stage and then head on up to the international stage.
“I am still connecting with a lot of guys in the USA and South America. We (him and Salty) just recorded a Spanish version of Trouble to be released in Panama. Salty has been getting a lot of good feedback from the Latin American countries and we are going to push is here after Carnival.
“Basically, I am just trying innovative ways to reach a wider audience. I am not limiting myself to soca and calypso. I want to experiment with all genres to create new sounds and beats. I have a lot of songs recorded that are ready for release for 2019,” he said.