THE SOCA A-TEAM | Local Features
If you have a party, need people to start dancing, and they aren’t already booked, you should hire Team A.
For the past nine years, rising soca band The A-Team have proven this reworked phrase from their popular American action TV series to be true.
A team went from “the A-who?” to “A-Class” in the books of soca fans in less than a decade. It was a remarkable testament to what can be achieved through the combination of raw talent, persistence and hard work.
Since their debut in 2013, the Port of Spain band have spread their tight sound to the region and across North America, becoming a fixture at every Diaspora carnival. In recent years, the group led by Miguel Charles has backed competitors from the International Soca Monarch (ISM).
A Team has also become a go-to group for solo soca bands looking for a gigging experience, including Shal Marshall, Erphaan Alves, Preedy (Akeem Chance), Olatunji Yearwood, Lyrikal (Devon Martin), and Patrice Roberts, among others.
Band manager Zarin Morean’s vision and never-say-never approach is a huge part of their success. The grit of Mr T and the charm of Faceman de Morean helped the young band become a major player in record time.
“After nine years in the band business, what I’ve definitely learned is that sometimes when you’re about to give up, that’s when the opportunity or the break comes. product. My advice to everyone is that whenever you do something and you are passionate about it, keep going; it may not happen when you want it to, but this break comes at the right time,” a thoughtful Morean said in a WhatsApp exchange with the Kitcharee on Friday.
The defining moment for the A team came in 2019 when they received a call to play Bonnfire Festival in Bad Honnef, Germany. The band represented T&T and soca music to the fullest, playing the festival’s main stage on June 22 and 23 that year.
“It was a moment that stood out for me, getting that call to go to Germany to do the Bonnfire Festival. It was a festival with bands from all over the world and A Team was part of it. It was really a moment of pride for us to represent Trinidad and Tobago,” Morean fondly recalls.
No shortcut to success
A team began ten years ago with a chance encounter between a group of musicians at Morean’s Chocolate City Jouvert mas camp in Port of Spain. Morean said the decision was made on the fateful day to form the group and Team A was chosen as the name.
Breaking into the market, however, was not so simple. Their resolve was tested as the band struggled for several years without a gig.
“I still remember the first Carnival where we had no work. The men were saying if it made sense. In fact, some members left after the first Carnival. But at the fourth and fifth carnivals, we had jobs. We didn’t have much, but we had work and you actually started to see the growth during that time,” he recalls.
There are no shortcuts to building a reputation as a musical unit, Morean said. A team’s success is due to the countless hours its musicians spend in the music room building their song lists with Curlene “Kerlz” Joseph, Eddie Charles, and Soca Trainer (Nicholas Prescott). Not to mention the overtime the band puts in working with the various solo bands they support.
“Yeah, we’ve probably become one of the most recognized bands that solo artists go to, but to get there, it takes long hours, learning every song from that artist and bringing it to the way it wants to. interpret it. Calling them into the band room, reviewing with them, making intros, it’s a lot of work.
“Then after you do the sessions, you have to go back and listen to the recordings and edit what needs to be edited. This is where I have to thank our musical director Miguel Charles and engineer Brennon “Val Musik” Vergil. They have fine musical ears that catch complex mistakes and make sure they’re corrected,” Morean said.
The next frontier for Team A is producing its own soca hits, Morean said. The band is working with some of soca music’s top writers and producers, including Jason “Shaft” Bishop, Kernal “Young Kitch” Roberts, Zan (Joel Feveck), and Chinese Laundry (Anthony Chow Lin On) to try and make the leap. next.
“For Carnival 2023, one of the things we’re working on is having our own music. Our front line is working with some of the best writers and producers to make that happen. We’ve also done some production the year last one called ‘Engine Room’ and we want to develop that,” he said.
A crew will also bring live band music to the band parade when they appear with Chocolate City on the morning of Jouvert and mas band YUMA on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, Morean added. Before that, the group will travel to St Luica next week and Barbados the following weekend for those islands’ respective carnival celebrations.
“We really need to get that live music back on the road. When you go up to the Caribbean, all mas bands have live bands playing on the road. Trinidad used to be a gig venue and that has all changed, but I see it coming back where promoters incorporate more bands into their events. So we look forward to Carnival 2023 being one of the live bands on the road,” Morean concluded.