He says he’s got nothing to lose. “I’ve been releasing music, recording professionally since 2005 and I’m yet to make it to mainstream radio. What do I have to lose at this point?” he rationalized. From Guayaguayare, Trinidad, one of the most persistent, hardworking vocalists in the underground Soca music industry, is bursting at the seams, urging programme directors at radio stations across Trinidad and Tobago to create better systems to accommodate the industry.
Eustace Bessor has worked with the very best. From KC Phillip of Precision Productions to his brother, Kyle Phillip of Badjohn Republic, and countless others, Mr. Bessor – as he’s called, has never compromised quality. His latest soca releases for 2020 is proof of that. He teamed up with producer, Chain Linxxx and the Phillip brothers for additional production, mixing and mastering on a single called, ‘To Have and To Hold.’ “That’s a groovy single with a double meaning,” he explained, highlighting that while adults will get the underlying meaning of the song, children won’t, and can still sing along. It’s a part of his commitment to delivering music that doesn’t influence negativity but still caters to the entertainment needs of his audience. His Power Soca track, “Bumperville” is a Badjohn Republic production- something he’s extremely proud to have been a part of. “The music is really good. I know the quality of what’s been delivered,” he said, arguing that with so many new artistes and new music being released each season in Trinidad and Tobago, no systems are being invested in, by programme directors, to accommodate the many talented vocalists.
Mr. Bessor credits M1 – the artiste formerly known as Menace of the group, 3 Suns, for supporting him in the Soca business. “I’ve been singing Soca professionally since 2005. It’s been 15 years. I met M1 in 2007 and he has supported me 100% from then to now,” he said. The pair released two singles together in 2012 and again in 2018. “He’s always supported me and I’m really grateful to him for that.” But Mr. Bessor laments the state of the business, a business that he feels lacks proper systems, that if worked on and implemented, could see huge returns for Trinidad and Tobago as a music and culture exporter. “I question whether the soca music industry is really growing because the systems and processes that would drive success and output, aren’t clear,” he explained. He says the first step lies squarely on the shoulders of radio stations’ programme directors. “I’ve recorded music with Kernal Roberts, Millbeatz, Precision Productions, Badjohn Republic- and still my music isn’t getting the airplay required for it to reach the people,” he said. It’s a familiar sentiment.
Mr. Bessor recommends that programme directors create a separate and distinct opportunity for new music, from new artistes, to be vetted for consideration to make it to the airwaves. “So many struggling artistes are investing in delivering the high quality music that DJs require, but how much of that music is actually heard by the Programme Directors?” he questioned. With plans to unleash a 12 track album post Carnival 2020, Mr. Bessor says no matter if he gets the airplay so many artistes yearn for, or not, he will maintain his commitment to the music. “I love Soca. I love doing this. My intention is to stamp my name in the history books and nobody is going to stop that,” he affirmed.
For some time, DJs on air at some radio stations have argued that new artistes must use social media to their advantage, even when radio does not facilitate them. Mr. Bessor disagrees with this ideology. “I’ve never heard of any new Soca artist being booked by a promoter solely by being liked on social media. We still need DJs to play the music on radio, to bring it to the masses, to draw awareness to the songs and essentially allow promoters to hear what’s new,” he said. Despite the limitations and seasonal nature of the Soca music industry, Mr. Bessor isn’t giving up. Equipped with persistence and will, the South native plans to let those qualities work for him, confident that he will make the breakthrough when the naysayers least expect it.