With smooth, soulful vocals, Filipino artist and producer TRAVIS ATREO serenades us with stripped-down covers and catchy originals.
Realizing his affinity for music as his church’s worship leader at the age of 14, popular Filipino Youtuber, artist, and producer Travis Atreo started his music career four years later, fronting piano pop rock band New Heights. Growing up in a first generation Filipino household in Seattle, the 29-year-old has gained a following of over 100,000 subscribers, posting weekly Top 40 covers by artists like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber.
Covering music on Youtube for most of his career, Travis tells us of his R&B roots and his inspirations for composing his own music. “I’ve always been a fan of pop. However, R&B was my first love. I used to sing and dance to Boyz II Men, 112, and Az Yet in my room as a kid, wishing I was in one of those groups,” he shares. “I think my inspiration for composing my own songs comes from the merging of those two genres.” Shifting his focus from his popular Youtube channel to working on his originals, Travis is fueled by passion. “It’s gotten busier, not just because of opportunities arising but because the shift has focused. There’s no on/off clock anymore. It’s a 24-hour constant push to make this happen, and that constant push makes me so excited for the future.” Read on as Travis details how he projects his own style into his covers, his latest single “EXCITED”, and how he keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground.
Hey, Travis! How are you?
I’m really good! I’m actually here at a coffee shop in downtown LA with a buddy of mine. I’m sitting in the front outdoor area off of Spring St in the heart of DTLA. It’s kind of cold actually, surprising for LA this time of year.
Which artists have you been digging lately?
Lately, I’ve been digging Drake’s new album Views. I’m just a big fan of what that guy does. I think he made hip-hop accessible to a wide audience and ended up creating his own sub genre. Also, I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve been listening to Halsey. Her songwriting and production is captivating. Same thing with Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighborhood and Justin Bieber’s Purpose. My good friend Josh put me onto The 1975’s new album as well, and that hasn’t stopped playing for me since it released.
Lets talk about your viral covers. How do you project your own personal style into the covers you record?
I always try to think, “If this artist were to perform a stripped down piano/vocal version of this song, what would they do? How would they arrange it?” And then I interject my own style into the song when I sing it. I try to emote as much as I can, almost as if I had written the lyrics. My hope is that comes across to the listener.
What was the production stage of your single “Excited” like? What about its release?
My good friend and producer AFTRHOURS, whom I met through our friend Daniel, actually wrote and produced “EXCITED”. Daniel and AFTRHOURS wanted to try and write a song for me, and we ended up with it. We immediately scheduled a vocal session, and after I finished the vocals, we all felt like we created magic. I typically have a heavy hand writing/producing my own music, so this was very different for me. But this experience really changed my process of creating music and opened me up to a whole new process.
It’s safe to that you’ve generated buzz thanks to the power of the Internet. What can you say is the best thing about being a musician in this era? Are there any cons as well?
The change in the music industry has been the main reason I’ve been able to do this full time. The major labels that once controlled everything with a handful of artists are losing a lot of money because people can do it all on their own. I’m a huge advocate of doing things independently until you’re so busy that you are forced to expand. It’s been amazing thus far to be able to handle all aspects of my business without giving up a big portion of my income. On top of that, the amount of access we have to our supporters, and vice versa, is incredible.
In light of your increasing fame, how do you stay humble?
I believe that “birds of a feather flock together”. We are inspired by those immediately around us, and having good people that keep you grounded will keep your mind focused on what’s most important. I feel so blessed that I have a great group of people with good values and strong minds to keep me going in the right direction. Also, I’ve learned, especially living here in LA, that there will ALWAYS be someone better looking, skinnier, more successful, and more famous than you, so there’s really no excuse to have an ego.
Could you share with us your future plans?
“EXCITED” is currently spinning on Monster RX1 93.1 radio in Manila, as well as Dash Radio1 here in the states. I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign this summer to help fund my debut EP as well as a Fall/Winter West Coast tour here in the states. If we can raise enough money, I’d love to try and come out to Manila, Singapore, and Malaysia as well. I’ll also be releasing a music video for “EXCITED” this summer and my second single this fall. That’s TBD at the moment. Stay tuned!
By Danielle Cabahug
Interview by Denise Marcelo