From conception to distribution: The men behind the music

Mical "Teja" Williams, left, and Kevin "Vexmony" Beharry at their System32 Music studio in Petit Valley. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

We've all fallen in love with the 2024 Road March song, DNA – one of the many songs written by Young King and 2024 Road March winner, Mical “Teja” Williams.

Teja, now a household name, is doing even more behind the scenes with his production company, System32 Music.

The company was co-founded by soca artiste, writer and producer Teja and electronic dance music (EDM) producer, writer and sound engineer Kevin “Vexmony” Beharry.

And while not at the frontline of the music industry, System32 has been a part of playlists over the years, with hits like Bodyline by Olatunji, Party Bad by Shal Marshall, Beat Rum Bad by Wadicks, Head Gone by Viking Ding Dong, Waves by Machel Montano and many others.

Teja started making music at just 14 years old, co-writing on hits for stars like Destra Garcia, Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts and more. Throughout that time, he honed his craft, practising different instruments and learning additional skills like music production. By 18, he had transitioned to writing, producing and performing as an individual artiste.

Beharry took a different route. Initially studying information technology (IT) at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago, he found his way into music production organically. In 2008, while studying, he started sound engineering near his school’s campus at Fine Tune Media, ran by Samantha John and her husband Romel Best.

He worked in IT from 2008 to 2016, while also pursuing his love for music production before going into it full time in January 2017.

“It was the same computer, I mean it's programmes. I’m already familiar with the computer. It wasn’t really that difficult, it’s just more so again, making a composition out of nothing.”

At that time, he said, there were no building blocks to expand on.

“Back then it didn’t have things called loops or song starters or things like that, so you literally had to make it from scratch.”

2024 Young Kings winner Mical "Teja" Williams. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

He would practise music production by cutting up his favourite songs and intertwining them to create entirely new versions.

Teja and Beharry were introduced in 2014 while working on the production of a song by Mr Renzo (Lawrence David Gonzalez Adams), which was the catalyst for their continued collaboration, and ultimately the creation of System32 Music.

The production company started with remixing popular soca and EDM songs. At that time, the EDM space was a popular one, which had the pair performing at local events like Life in Colour, with Teja hosting and “hyping up the crowd,” Beharry said.

While based at their first studio along the Diego Martin Main Road, the duo slowly shifted to producing music full-time. In 2018, with their discography quickly expanding, they outgrew their studio space and moved to their current location in the Petit Valley hills.

Moving from an idea to a complete piece starts with inspiration, and Teja and Beharry, while both writers and artistes, take inspiration from different places. Teja’s source is old kaiso and calypso music like songs by Singing Francine, while Beharry takes his inspiration from the EDM genre using DJ/production trio Major Lazer as the blueprint for System32.

Their dedication has paid off. Over his time in the industry Beharry has worked on music for local artistes like Montano, Olatunji, Yung Bredda, Nadia Batson, Lyrikal, GBM Nutron, and international names like Jillionaire, Casely, Kevin Lyttle, Rupee and Bad Royale among others.

For them the song creation process can be long, with some songs taking as long as three years to be written.

“It’s a lot of work to produce a song. People don’t realise how much work it is,” Beharry said.

“It’s never short. (To create a song) Don’t talk for Olatunji Body Line, that took about three years,” Teja said with a laugh.

Typically, the process begin with Teja writing some aspects of the song before Beharry comes in to add his touches.

“That’s the writer there,” Beharry said referring to Teja.

“So most of the times Teja would start a project and I would finish. Sometimes you’re just so engrossed in the creation that you wouldn't know who it’s for. You’re making something and you can figure out who it’s for after.”

Co-founder of System32 Music production company, Kevin Beharry. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

Teja quipped, “It just depends on the vibe. The process is always different. In everything.”

With a number of songs being worked on at any given point, Beharry reiterated that the process is a long one.“It just takes a while. It’s the process too. It could be the artist just not feeling it, shelving it or we (System32) not feeling it or it just not finished.

“Or we don’t have time to finish it. Or another project is more priority. It’s a lot of variables.”

This sometimes leads to songs not being released or put into their archives to be worked on at a later date.

“I guess how it flows. How the space is. How the releases looking..." said Beharry.

Teja said he has hundreds of unreleased songs.

“I now had to buy hard drives and a labeller. Label out everything. Every now and again, I plug it in and look back on a demo.”

They both have an “obsession” with producing high quality work.

“I’m not just comfortable with it being what it is. If I am in no way in love with it, it not coming out. I have to love it in order for me to release it,” Teja said.

Beharry added, “I look up to electronic producers and people of a certain standard and quality. I would always try to emulate something to sound as good as that or would stand up next to that in terms of quality.

"I would always try to make sure it sounds as good as that outside market,” Beharry said.

“People would say that we have a sound. I think it’s just taste, our preference. We might choose this snare over this snare, this kick over this kick.

"You just have to keep your sound. As much I like EDM and trap, we’re still here (in Trinidad) so you have to have a tank-a-lank, that would identify it as something Caribbean.”

System32’s influence and original sound has been far-reaching. Kevin Wild of Bad Royale said, “I always had a huge respect for them, they were the first really fusing EDM and soca which helped us (Bad Royale) get an idea for how the Trini’s would think it would sound.

“...Because we were so heavily EDM we didn’t know what were the important parts of soca until we were more educated, they helped us with that.”

Once the long creation process is complete, the final steps before the public can enjoy a song are promotion and distribution.

“This is where you really have to dive into the creativity behind it. For me I have not dropped a song without a video, I feel like that’s a must.

“And really kinda embodying the meaning of the song, what I’m trying to say and picking the right timing too. The right message, ‘What's the message we want to portray?’” said Teja.

Beharry said timing plays a major role in this phase.

“So when people see the song on YouTube they could go and listen on their streaming platforms and all the assets are there.

“The radio stations too. Making sure they have the songs. We will do our internal DJ blast to the radio stations and Juliens Promos, so all that is part of the promotions.”

While the duo keep busy with their individual artistry and their production work, they still find time for other professional pursuits. Teja continues to write music for other artists. This year he has worked on songs for Wadicks, Viking Ding Dong, Lyrikal and Shal Marshall among others.

Beharry creates music as an individual under the Vexmony name saying he chose the name because it’s culturally relevant to Trinidad and Tobago.

“Well, I had this saying, ‘Everywhere I go I have a vex drink, a vex water, a vex money," he said with a laugh.

“A little $200 in case you have to travel home, the car shut down or you have to call a ride share.”

He also works with Marcus Braveboy, formerly known as Mark Hardy. They recently co-wrote two songs which were licensed by media giant Netflix. Clout Chaser was featured in the Netflix series, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers and the other, Back Up, was featured on season 3 of Love Island USA. Beharry and Braveboy also collaborate on another business venture, Content Island, which works with independent artists to provide a source for royalty-free music, photos and videos in the Caribbean.


"From conception to distribution: The men behind the music"

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