PRODUCER Kyle Phillips and songwriter Andre Jeffers have been holding on to what they call a "monster chune" which is set to be their main contender for the 2023 Road March title.
That "monster" is a pore-raising track with the powerful voices and contagious energies of Lyrikal and Grenadian duo Lil Natty and Thunda. It speaks of masqueraders' experience of preparing to take over the road, and celebrates the return of the "greatest show on Earth." Prepare yourselves for The Ambush.
Phillips has already won the Road March two times, having been a producer and writer on Machel Montano's Waiting on the Stage in 2016, and Kes the Band and Neil "Iwer" George's Stage Gone Bad in 2020. Jeffers wrote Stage Gone Bad, which also won the 2020 International Power Soca Monarch title.
They both told Newsday that they like to create music that they would like to hear when they, themselves, are on the road or at fetes.
While Phillips – whose official producer name is Badjohn Republic – also has experience in producing groovy soca, Jeffers said personally, his vibe is more of a: "People need to feel like breaking down a fence when listening to the songs I write.
"For me, it tends to be wanting to create the anthem of the festival, the anthem of the road, and I started approaching my writing almost as if I was writing a soundtrack for a movie, so you would see all of them have a lot of stories within them."
The song proclaims:
We ready for road, but the road not ready for we."
Other lyrics include:
When the trucks dem start to jam, and drinks dem in we hand, we enter warrior mode
Masqueraders forward, this is the ambush, put your two hand up, we coming whether they ready or not,
Coming to give dem mas in dey rass,
Dey take 'way we mas, so we taking it back.
Phillips said he is very confident in the track and is looking forward to the public's reaction to it.
But it's not just this song they're entering into the Road March race – it's three in total. The other two are Come Home by Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous and The Return by Aaron "Voice" St Louis and Alison Hinds. They all speak about missing Carnival and being ecstatic for its return.
It was by chance each of the songs ended up with one local artiste and one regional artiste. It was simply that these songs "found homes" in the artistes involved.
Recall that for a song to be eligible for the Road March, according to TUCO's rules, "In the event of a collaboration between a national of TT and any foreign artiste/artistes, the majority of the lead vocal performance of the (song) must be undertaken and carried out by nationals of TT in order to qualify for the Road March title."
This criterion was met for each track.
Throughout the lockdowns resulting from the covid19 pandemic to now, Phillips said, he and Jeffers had many studio sessions where they "sculpted songs."
In fact, not all are being released this season.
The producer recalled the thrill of the 2018 Road March race when they both worked on George's Savannah, a season which included picong with Montano through songs like Road March Bacchanal 2 and Dr Mashup.
Despite not winning the title that year, he said, "We saw how fun it is to have a big back and forth and wanting to go to every fete (to see the crowd's response to the song) because you don't know what part of the story would unfold.
"These three songs have been sculpted over the course of the entire pandemic (and) there have been works in progress that have only now been completed."
Jeffers explained the messages he tried to capture in each track. Come Home, he said, "talks about the sad emotions that we would have felt with Carnival leaving and I tried to personify it into a tabanca story, The Return – that one speaks more to an emotion of relief and happiness...it's almost as if Come Home was the plea for the return...And the third one speaks to an emotion that has not really been visited in all the songs so far.
"I don't think Trinidad is ready for the third track," he said laughingly.
Come Home was also produced by Kitwana Israel, Mevon "XplicitMevon" Soodeen and Anson Pro. In addition, all the producers, as well as Blackman and Anson Soverall have writing credits. It features background vocals by Gregory Ayuen, Karyce Phillips, was mixed by Dre Major and mastered by Parry Jack.
As for The Return, Voice also assisted with writing and additional production. This one was mixed and mastered by Johann Seaton.
And for their main contender, The Ambush, it was mixed and mastered by Kasey Phillips.
All songs are available on YouTube and all streaming platforms.