Meet Studio688 member and singer-songwriter, Travis Roman.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and raised in Nashville, Travis grew up singing in church and “picked up a guitar for the first time to help him better understand the songs he was putting together in his head.”
When Travis settled in Memphis several years ago, he brought with him his “Raw Mississippi Blues” roots and the fruits of an immersion in Nashville-popular music. “Memphis is where I can blend these two inspirations,” said Travis. “Memphis is a good middle ground for me. It’s where I began connecting the dots.”
Travis’ musical inspirations are “a mixed bag,” ranging from BB King (who Travis had the honor of opening for when he toured with The Grady Champion Review) and Billie Holiday to Chris Thile and Jeff Buckley. “These are all people who have great voices, voices that affect you,” said Travis. “They understand themselves so well and can be themselves without pandering.”
In Nashville, prior to launching his solo career with his first EP, “Late Night, Early Call” (2013), Travis did session work for many other artists and, even, for Disney.
In Memphis, however, Travis found his footing as a solo artist. After recording his EP in 2013, he landed a production deal and released his sophomore album, “Whispered World,” in early 2015.
Travis writes all his own music. He also admits that writing is a very personal experience and that he has a hard time collaborating on his own work (though, he has helped others write and produce music).
“When I write, my motivation is actually not to write a song. I have a hard time letting people in because I know what I’m trying to say but cannot say it until I’ve experienced it through the writing process. I want the songs to come out naturally and to be a reflection of me. It may sound strange – but I don’t write to just ‘have songs.’ They all mean something to me.”
Travis’ songs are about life – about his experiences. “I write music for myself but always hope there’s a crossover for others,” he said.
Travis referenced an early writing experience when asked about his songwriting process: “Years ago, when I was a lot younger, I wrote a song called ‘Faces.’ It encapsulated my worldview at the time. With that song, I was trying to figure out how people could be the cause of so much suffering while, at the same time, being the cause of so much joy. That puzzled me. I wrote the song to figure that out, for my own clarification sake. Writing this song, the way I wrote this song, exemplifies the umbrella under which I still write,” he said.
Travis considers himself a laid back performer. “Growing up singing in church, I learned to stand up straight and to make eye contact with my audience. Now, I feel most at-home on stage when lost in the music – head back, eyes closed, feeling what I’m singing.”
Though he plays a lot of cover shows, Travis “feels the music more” when playing his own material. “Still, no matter what music I play, whether it’s my own or not, I try to lose myself in the music. The crowd doesn’t get into it unless I do. I feel that people like to see someone get lost in a song,” he said.
So, what’s next for Travis? “More music,” he said. “I’m happy as long as music leads to more music. If my music leads to the next thing, I’m successful. So far, it has.”
Memphis folks, you can catch Travis Roman on August 14th at The Blind Bear and on September 11th at Lafayette’s Music Room (with fellow Memphis artist, Ryan Peel). Travis’ albums, Late Night, Early Call (2013) and Whispered World (2015) are available on iTunes.
For more information on Studio688, visit our website.
Studio 688, 688 Cox Street, Midtown Memphis, 38104.
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