Teja: It Feels Like Destiny

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – “Surreal!”

That was the word from an exhausted Mical Teja (Mical Williams) following his Road March victory yesterday.

“The feeling is surreal because after so many years of hard work, I could never have dreamed of this; it feels like destiny,” Teja told the Express during a telephone call just after 6 p.m. yesterday.

Teja’s popular “DNA” was played 341 times at the seven jud­ging points, holding off a late surge from Bunji Garlin’s (Ian Alvarez) “Carnival Contract” (225 plays), to claim the Trinbago Unified Calyp­sonians’ Organisation (TUCO) National Road March Championship. Patrice Roberts’ “Anxi­ety” was third with 48 plays.

While visiting and local soca fans across the country excitedly shared news of the victory, as well as congratulating him across social media, yesterday evening, Teja was in bed fast asleep.

“I’m celebrating with some sleep, getting some much-needed rest,” Teja said with a chuckle.

It has been a hectic season for the gifted 27-­year-old singer/songwriter. Between his solo gigs and band performances with D All Starz, he competed and won the 2024 Young Kings Calypso Monarch and placed fourth in the National Calypso Monarch competition.

Teja admits that of all his Carnival accomplishments, the Road March win came somewhat as a surprise as he had purposely “tuned out of the race” and was deter­mined to “enjoy two days on the road with Lost Tribe”.

“I just wanted to enjoy myself on the road. I just wanted to have a good time. I was not going to go around promo­ting the song; win or lose, I already felt like a winner so I say let me just enjoy myself,” Teja said.

Teja says while all his 2024 accolades are much appreciated and cherished, they don’t determine his value as a person or entertainer.

“I’ve always been this winner (even before the 2024 titles). People have this definition of a winner based on winning things. But being a true winner is about how we feel. I’ve always felt like a winner regardless of outcome. I’m making music that I love and feeling happy about doing what I doing, and that to me is a win,” Teja added.

Making music that lasts lifetimes

In recent history, soca acts have held back their Road March contenders until the last possible moment to ensure the freshness of the song among masqueraders.

Teja has broken that mould. He released “DNA” in October, in time for Tobago’s Carni­val. The longevity of the song is a testament to his deep desire to create music that lasts, Teja said.

“Well, for me, I always try to create music that can last not just in a Carnival season but that can live on. Some of my favourite artistes are David Rudder and (the late) Shadow (Winston Bailey). They have music that lasts a lifetime, and I would love to be in that space and have music that lives on for generations.

“‘DNA’ is one of the songs I believe my gene­ration could appreciate and call their own and, hopefully, future gene­rations can do the same,” Teja added.

Teja thanked second-­place Road March champ Bunji Garlin for the advice through the years and for leading by example, adding “of course I want to work with the Vikings”.

“We have been in talks for a couple years on working. It’s so crazy Garlin and myself were pitted like rivals for Road March. At the end of the day, Garlin is somebody I look up to. He is a soca giant and not because I having a good season I will disrespect him.

“It’s about respect for the way he has paved for artistes like myself to do what I’m doing. That’s why every time I see him, I address him as General, and is love and manners every time,” Teja said.

Garlin: ‘I enjoyed

the battle’

Bunji Garlin meanwhile said yesterday that he enjoyed building “Carnival Contract” from the ground up and pushing Teja to the wire for the Road March title.

Garlin said he adop­ted a similar approach in 1999 when his underground hit “Send Dem Riddim Crazy” became his first islandwide hit.

“Oh, man, I just extremely happy I was able to get my toes into the dirt and just build the song to its current magnitude. That’s how I built up my very first track before radio even took it, ‘Send dem Riddim Crazy’, so all my focus and our team was just on building the song to the level where people know it.

“I am happy overall and had so much fun getting into my inner strengths to see how and where I can still go as I grow,” Garlin told the Express via WhatsApp yesterday evening.

The 2023 Road March winner took to his Instagram page yesterday to thank his loyal supporters and congra­tulate Teja, writing, “Let us also congratulate Mical Teja on his Road March win and blessings as you continue your journey through soca.”

Yesterday evening, in his WhatsApp chat with the Express, the soca Viking said he and Mical Teja were “no stran­gers”, revealing both he and wife, Fay-Ann Lyons-­Alvarez, have discussed future projects with the gifted singer/songwriter.

“I congratulated Mical on the social (media) and personally as he and I are no strangers to each other. Actually him, Fay and I been talking since during the pandemic about different projects and stuff and backstage all Carnival it was always respectful if we happen to be crossing paths going from event to event. We would hail up each other as most times time didn’t permit long conversations on the go,” Garlin shared.

Garlin says the just-­ended season has been “magical”, adding that he is excited to see what “Carnival Contract can grow into” in the next 12 months.

“I think we are all in love with the journey. That’s why not once in a single show, I said ‘Contract for Road March’ and dem tings. My focus was the song to be a classic just like ‘Big Bad Soca’ and dem.

“Carnival 2024 for me has been a marvellous and magical journey, and I wish this kind of joy on every creative in all they do in time to come,” Garlin concluded.