Now, while the focus should be on him, considering that it’s his birthday and all, the ever humble and down to earth entertainer couldn’t refrain from telling us how elated he is to see just how well Soca music is doing at this present time. “What Bunji does as an ambassador for soca music and Trinidad and Tobago, is wonderful. I am really proud of that brother,” he said, adding that just the same, he is always happy to see the hard work of artistes like Machel, Destra and others who continue to fly the country’s flag high. Blaxx, in a reiterated statement to us said his aim is to get to that standard and with the help of his band, Roy Cape All Stars who he has coined, ‘The best band in the world,’ Blaxx says nothing will hold him back.
Noting that all artistes must support each other, Blaxx said the big picture is getting Trinidad and Tobago the recognition it deserves. He said with the spotlight on T&T, the sky would be the limit. “I will be the next one they’ll be calling,” he said with a hint of humour; but he is serious. Blaxx plans on executing above par in 2014 and with returning band member, Ricardo Dru along with female vocalist, Danella Timmons at the forefront of Roy Cape with him, he says fans can expect spectacular shows from the band in the season ahead. “I’ve done a lot of collaborations for 2014 and there are still a few that we’re working on. I’ve been in studio with producers like Kernal, Maximus Dan, Peter Coppin and King Bubba out of Barbados and I still have to do some stuff with Neil Bernard and Julio,” he explained.
With a lot of surprises to come, the entertainer who has thrilled audiences time and time again, assures soca music lovers that all of this is just the beginning of greater things to come. Intent on being part and parcel of the mission to take Soca global, Blaxx, on his birthday delivers a single he hopes will demonstrate just how serious he is.
Bunji, in an interview on local radio frequency, Boomchampions 94.1FM on Friday, said whatever the result of the MTV Iggy Poll, he is proud of the overwhelming support shown by the people who’ve voted. He added that should the result be a positive for the song, it will be a triumph not for him, but for the people who’ve taken their time to vote. In the past few days, the online energy has been incredibly high as media houses across T&T have been encouraging Trini’s everywhere and Caribbean people generally, to rock the MTV Iggy vote. On Friday, an extension to the poll was announced by the international music website as there seemed to have been a voting glitch of some sort. Presently, Bunji’s ‘Differentology’ is slightly behind his competitor, G-Dragon’s, ‘Coup d’Etat.’ Voting continues to 11am today.
On Friday evening, Bunji, his wife Fay-Ann Lyons and the Asylum Vikings hosted the media at their new business headquarters in Mucurapo dubbed The House Of Vikings. Lyons-Alvarez told ETCETERABUZZ.COM that this was exactly the outfit the team had wished to showcase to promoters- a professional outfit, for some time. She said she was happy that it had all become reality and had already conducted several meetings since the official opening just about a week ago. The building, Lyons explained, offers a homey feel but still provides all the amenities suitable to meeting with industry execs. The band room where practice sessions are held has also been given its space in the new House Of Vikings.
Lyons meanwhile, released a brand new single on Friday as well. The thing is however, she hasn’t officially given the song a name. She says she’s still playing around with names for this one so listen out for it, and just maybe you’ll be called to help the Vi-Queen give her new track a title. The new single comes on the heels of several singles released for C2K14 and beyond, among them- ‘Oh Yeah’ ‘Catch Me’, ‘Done De Party’ and ‘Gimme Dat’.
The show, set to take place on Valentine’s night at the Hasley Crawford Stadium will also feature local hit makers, Denise Belfon, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons and the Asylum Vikings, Kes the Band, Destra, Olatunji and Bakanal and Queen Sass, Nadia Batson. The team at Randy Glasgow have promised that other major acts will be added to the cast as the weeks progress. According to Glasgow and the team, there are some special treats being prepared for the Valnetine’s night crowd- something they’re dubbing a magical experience on a day of romance. There’ll be a special ‘love segment’ which will see Peabo take the stage to belt out his many hits, among them, ‘Tonight I Celebrate My Love,” “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” among a slate of other big songs. Kees is also carded to be a part of the ‘love segment’…
The track, collaboratively executed with none other than former Roy Cape front line vocalist Rita Jones, is calm yet sexually intriguing. The name? … “Crazy Love”. M1 told us that it’s a track that’s already receiving a lot of great reviews and Rita herself was extremely happy about the final sound. This release comes on the heels of a single called, “Big People T’ing” which M1 released just about two weeks ago. That single has been on heavy rotation on the urban frequencies in Trinidad and the artiste says he’s hoping it’ll have longevity this season. Five tracks can be expected from M1 in 2014. Jokingly, he said he’ll be rolling like the industry’s big guns in the season ahead, adding that in this- his third season as a solo artiste, he hopes to gain the attention of all of Trinidad and Tobago and those who visit from parts beyond, sealing his name and his sound in their minds for years to come. Asked why he decided to make that big leap as a solid member of a 10 -year- old group to a solo act, M1, formerly called Menace, told us that there were things in the 3 Suns camp that were a bit unsettling for him and he simply felt it was time to move on. Despite that however, he assures there are no hard feelings.
In 2014, his image will be rude boy/clean and M1 emphasized that while his signature dreadlocks have been chopped off, he won’t be going down the metro road, but he will be dressing to suit the part of an artiste a little more when he hits the stage. With no formal management to handle his professional dealings, the entertainer put it out there that he is in fact on the look out for someone who can represent him well. “I would like to have a manager. That has been one of the main challenges I’ve faced in the past three years. I don’t know… people seem to be scared,” he said with a hint of humor. He assured however that he’s manageable and put it out to prospective managers that “everything would be everything”…
Rolling with his Big Blood camp, M1 highlighted the efforts of team members, Chain Link productions which comprises, Specta and Bones, along with fellow artistes, Droopy, Delux and Snigga.
Christmas, just about one week away, he told us that his hometown of Sangre Grande is alive with the seasonal energy. “My mother is busy in the kitchen making pastelles, fruit cake and all of that for orders that she has and we still maintain tradition in Grande where we go from house to house so I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Chin and Kees’ powerful collaboration on the single, ‘Loving You’ swept through the islands in 2010 and today the song remains a favourite among music lovers but whether we’ll get a Soca remix is yet to be known but it would be nice since Tessanne’s appearance will likely be during the heat of the Carnival season. In Jamaica, crowds are said to have gathered in celebration of their artiste’s major victory- a victory that will see her bank $100,000 USD and seal the deal with The Universal Records group. Having belted out some seamless notes with an artiste she personally categorised as one of her favourites, Tessanne took the stage on Tuesday night with Grammy award winner, Celine Dion, performing a duet of the artiste’s hit, ‘Love Can Move Mountains.’
Later she performed with four former Voice contestants — James Wolpert, Preston Pohl, Olivia Henken, and Grey. They delivered a memorable rendition of Sam and Dave’s, ‘Hold On I’m Coming.’ Twitter was abuzz with excitement later on when it was announced that Chin had struck gold, something that once again shone light on the island of Jamaica and sent a little a more focus to the Caribbean territory by the millions who viewed the show, across the world.
On their Twitter page, Kes The Band tweeted, “TESSSANNNNEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DID IT LOVE!!!!” That was followed by, “RaaaaAAAAY! Tessanne take them people. Jamaica and Caribbean celebrate, we gyul made us jump up and cry…“
Shurwayne’s already released a few songs ahead of Carnival, however the track that seems to be receiving the most love from DJs across the board is the collaborative single done with Farmer Nappy called, ‘We Doh Sleep’. His single, ‘Carnivalian’- while a pretty awesome track by carnival standards, hasn’t caught on on the airwaves as some would have thought it would. Nevertheless, Shurwayne doesn’t seem to be allowing that to kill his spirit. He released a single with Lord Nelson on the Millbeatz produced Classic 60′s riddim last week. It’s the perfect song for the all-inclusives no doubt, and with other artistes on the riddim like Anslem Douglas and Lil Bitts, Olatunji and Iwer George and Zan and Ronnie McIntosh, Shurwayne’s definitely in good company when it comes to this contribution.
This afternoon, we caught up with the artiste as he was about to head over to his home land of Tobago. Shurwayne was happy to fill us in on some of his plans, explaining that he’ll be releasing a brand new single called, “Tang Tang” with none other than the J’ouvert masters, 3 Canal. Shurwayne excitedly told EBUZZ that the pre-release reviews for this one have been really good and he can’t wait for the release tomorrow. “I’ve always wanted to work with 3 Canal so this was a really great experience for me,” he said.
On another note, Shurwayne said he performed at Christmas functions on the weekend at both Crown Plaza and the Hyatt Regency and was absolutely blown away by the audience’s reaction to ‘Carnivalian’ ”The response was amazing!” he said. With five more songs set for release for the upcoming season, Shurwayne’s focus is on a lot of things, including a few events he has planned- one of which is an all inclusive event he’s partnered with Bishops Anstey in Tobago, to promote. “We’re doing Tobago Love on January 26th in Tobago. It’s a premium all inclusive event and we’re going to deliver all round great customer service,” he assured. The artiste, turned promoter said the three acts who made it out of the The Next Tobago Star competition will actually be making their debut performances at that event, alongside some big names in the Soca biz. “We’re gonna have Bunji and Fay-Ann, Blaxx and Roy Cape, Onyan and Burning Flames from Antigua, Lord Nelson and Fya Empress. “We’re gonna give Tobago what it deserves,” he assured.
Shurwayne Winchester doesn’t seem to allow anything to hold him back. He’ll even be hosting his annual concert at Queen’s Hall in 2014 as well as the Shurwayne Winchester Children’s Show on March 15th in Tobago. Added to that, the iron man said Tobago will be given a treat in 2014 with the introduction of a carnival caravan that will deliver three major shows on the island.
During his media rounds in the U.S, Bunji Garlin issued the above statement. His belief in his mission is real. Over the years, the people of Trinidad and Tobago have seen this artiste evolve from a simple chanter to a lyrical beacon on stages across the Caribbean. His music has reflected subjects from rape to feting and the carnival culture and amid it all, he has remained true to Trinidad and Tobago.
In recent days, all with his VP Records deal and of course, the international appreciation for the Major Lazer remixed version of his 2013 carnival hit, ‘Differentology’, Bunji has been creating a bit of a stir in the U.S. He’s been doing interviews across the New York Tri State area, hitting HOT97FM, The Source Magazine, The FADER Magazine, Billboard.Biz, WBLS and 92.3NOWFM among others. His FADER interview, having been published online is a true testament that hard work and faith in what you do, is tantamount to success.
Trinidadian artist Bunji Garlin has had a stellar year. After claiming four Soca Monarch titles and garnering fame across the Caribbean, Garlin is on the verge of the elusive crossover success. In his quest to bring soca to the world, he’s forged a more stripped-down, slower sound for the genre and he’s quickly making new friends and collaborators along the way. His single “Differentology” recently topped Hot 97′s Battle of the Beats competition, landing it in heavy radio rotation; the song has been remixed by Major Lazer, and it earned him a Soul Train Award for Best International Performance. This week he performed with The Roots at the Annual OkayPlayer Holiday Jam and, tonight, will headline Webster Hall alongside the legendary rap DJ Mister Cee. As he’s gearing up for next year’s carnival season and the release of his Differentology LP for VP Records, we chatted with Garlin about the merging of soca with EDM, the steady rise of “Differentology” and expanding the future of Trinidad’s homespun genre.
With the growing popularity of “Differentolgy,” what have the last six months been like? The last six months have been pretty unusual and hectic because of “Differentology.” Unusual, not for me as an artist in terms of traveling and touring, but unusual for the music I represent, soca. All of the developments of the last six months are something that you usually don’t see with soca. It’s been pretty exciting. Everything started lining up and things that you never knew started happening.
Why has “Differentolgy” been such a crossover hit? The stars aligned themselves. What the world has been hearing all of the time, they’re ready to hear something a little different. Hot 97′s Battle of the Beats was based on a listener voting system. The people voted that song into the current radio rotation. The Soul Train Awards was also on a voting system. The people voted, that’s why it won. The people were ready for the sound and became involved. The same struggle has been going on back in Trinidad all this time—how to do soca in a different way. I’m not saying what I did was the correct recipe or the right formula, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Soca music is known to have a certain tempo, a certain BPM, and it usually carries anywhere between ten and 10,000 instruments. This was a case where we stripped the music down and left five instruments in: bass, guitars, drums, piano and synths. “Differentology” was designed in way where it was easy to sing and more so remember. Soca music is stereotyped as only ever being about two things—wining or gyrating and jumping up. “Differentology” still told the story of Carnival, with the masqueraders, the sound systems, but yet it was able to translate into life itself. It could be used anywhere. I guess when you have those key components on your side, your music can work anywhere on planet earth. The sound and speed of soca was heading in one direction, and this song did the total opposite.
Speaking of the hyper BPM of the music, soca as a genre has now found itself aligned with EDM. How is EDM being received in Trinidad? EDM has always been a mainstay for Trinidad. Even before the term EDM, when it was called techno or house music, it was always big. Back then, I don’t think DJs even realized what they were doing when they played the music. It was easy to transition between the two genres because they had similar BPMs. They didn’t realize that the two would merge years later. But now, with the advent of Major Lazer and different producers, there are some very healthy integrations taking place between soca and EDM sides within the West Indian community. It is making for something very interesting that I think is going to impact the music world.
“BY DRIFTING AWAY FROM TRINIDAD’S CONTEST ERA, I WAS ABLE TO BROADEN MY HORIZONS”
How was it working with Diplo and Major Lazer? For the “Differentology” remix, we didn’t actually work together, they just remixed the song. I performed with the whole crew when they came to Trinidad in September for the Major Lazer show. I interact with them over email and Twitter—they’re all cool. We were able to work together on another song, “It’s a Carnival”. I was just invited to work with Major Lazor on another project, but that one I can’t talk about just yet.
Tell me about the Major Lazer Free The Universe tour stop in Trinidad. Were they well received? The show was sold out. I want to use the well-accepted carefully. Trinidad and Tobago has different music scenes for different audiences– the uptown crowd and the downtown crowd. Major Lazer fits in well with the uptown crowd. When they hit the stage, the place was packed and the energy was high. As a musician or entertainer, when that happens you don’t really see uptown or downtown, all you feel is the energy and that’s what you pay attention to. We were just joyous that that happened. People were concerned about a group like them coming to Trinidad, but what people don’t realize is how diverse and unique Trinidad really is.
What’s your performance schedule like during carnival season? From the first of January to the beginning of March, I do shows every weekend. Then for the last two weeks leading up to carnival, it’s shows every night and on the weekend its five or six shows a night. Each show is an hour-long set with a full band. So you’re talking about six hours of straight performing and that’s not even counting the travel time between each venue. It’s hectic, but it’s something that we’ve become immune to. When we first started, there were times when we’d black out or get tired, but now it’s nothing.
What are you plans for carnival 2014? My wife Fay-ann Lyons, who’s also a soca artist, and I have started releasing new music for next year. I have “Red Light District”, which is doing well already, “All O’ Dem” and of course “It’s a Carnival” with Major Lazer. Fay-ann just did a song with Richie Baretta called “Catch Me”– it’s so out there!
Can you describe the sound of the new album? The album will be a very unapologetic. What you tend to find, especially with soca artists, they tend to want to try new things, but you can feel and sense their safe zone and that they don’t want to go beyond it because they think they might get criticized or neglected by the scene on a whole. Fortunately for me, I went through all the ridicule and neglect when I first entered this business. I know how that feels, so it doesn’t matter anymore. If a new sound doesn’t work, well it just didn’t work, I’ll find a next thing to work. This album will capture all of the sounds of what soca is and what its going to be. It basically makes the statement that in the world of dancehall, pop, EDM and everything, there is a place for soca. If you don’t like it sorry, if you do we rolling.
Will it be similar to “Differentology”’s stripped down sound? I don’t want to say that it will be similar. There will be songs like that but we’re not specifically steering all the songs in the “Differentology” direction. Those songs are already doing what they should have done, so we’re looking for other songs to do other things.
What are you looking forward for the new year? I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen, with myself and with the music on a whole, now that there is a new found attention. I don’t want to say that its only because of me, a lot has been going on with soca music even before me. I’m just playing a part. Now that we have record execs talking to artist again, all these producers from around the world want to work with soca artists, we’re getting email saying people want to come to Trinidad for a month to study the musical scene and the style of writing– its a whole new movement. Personally, I’ll continue looking for a new for the music to sound. It might sound impossible but its not, there’s always the possibility of the new.
The music market in Trinidad is so closely tied to the carnival season and the Soca Monarch competitions, and is mainly driven by singles. Traditionally artists skip full albums, releases a handful of songs leading up to carnival and then just tour for the rest of the year. Is aiming at crossover success changing your output and the way you create music? It’s a weird cycle that we’ve adopted because of the season we try to cater to. When carnival is done, all the artists hit the road to facilitate the other carnivals around the world. Then when it’s time again, there’s this mad rush to book studio time and no one is saying let me put out a proper album. From since the old days of calypso, our scene has been driven by each artist having one song. Even though we had hundreds of calypsonians, everything was concentrated into just two months, as opposed to the American or European scene where you could have multiple artists releasing constantly songs. We were trapped in this model because it was thought that people wouldn’t want to hear the music year round, but now that has changed, soca is played throughout the year in Trinidad. Artists are getting into releasing full albums. Holding prestigious titles like Road March or Soca Monarch doesn’t have the value that it used to. Long time, if you win one of the competitions that would determine the year you have abroad. It doesn’t work that way now, you have some of the biggest songs that aren’t even taking part in the competition and the competition songs people don’t want to hear them after the night that they win.
Do you still care about the titles? Nah, I don’t. I grew myself out of it. It’s evident what can happen. By drifting away from the contest era, I was able to broaden my horizons. Because when you’re so concentrated on the competition, you leave little room to consider where the music can go after that. So Fay-ann and myself have pulled out of the competition race in order to focus on the music in different ways. We don’t have to rely on Road March or Soca Monarch to get the music out. “Differentology” was the evidence of that.
The track’s called ‘Ah Like Dat’ and was written and produced by Don Iko of Martian Music. Smooth says the vocals were laid at SASS studio in East Trinidad, in just about 90 minutes- this despite initially having doubts about getting into the soca game. He was egged on by his friends at SASS studio, Nadia Batson and of course, Don Iko who told him he could do it, which, by the end of it all, he certainly proved he could. In the past two days, the single has been receiving quite a bit of love as online fans of the radio personality attest to their satisfaction with every aspect of the new track.
The move is one that could send some fiery soca artistes into beast mode as they will undoubtedly face the competition of yet another radio personality jumping head first into their arena, but based on the feedback from the public, relative to the single, the music is definitely speaking for itself.
You be the judge.
The song may not have been intentionally written with marriage in mind- in fact, it may not have a thing to do with marriage, but it’s sentiment surely applies as in the track, Menace says, ‘ Leh We Do De T’ing, Leh We Do De T’ing, Leh We Do De T’ing- big people t’ing”… and after all, marriage is definitely ‘de big people t’ing’.
The track was written by Menace who now goes by the sobriquet, M1. It was produced by ChainLinxxx Productions.
Last week, ETCETERABUZZ.COM saw M1 and if you haven’t spotted him around just yet, we’ll be the first to tell you that he’s no longer wearing his nappy dreadlocks. The artiste visited the barber, cutting off his trademark locks and told us that he felt it was time. He said his family helped him with the process.
Check out the brand new single, “Big People Business”… and of course, let us know what you think. Congrats again to Ace on his major life commitment.
Machel Montano who has over the years, worked arduously at putting a spotlight on the genre that is known as Soca, sent congratulations to Bunji via Instagram, saying, “Massive congratulations to @BunjiGarlin on copping the Soul Train award tonight! Well deserved!!! Big Respect to @Sheriffmumbles!!! Take soca to the world.”
Later Kes The Band would post, “The dawn of a new era! Let’s continue to inspire a generation to dream beyond the so called limits and be GREAT. Congrats again to @BunjiGarlin and to the @MachelMontanoHD camp for the nomination. One mission- One Trinidad and Tobago.
Bunji Garlin’s team has promised a lot more surprises in the weeks and months ahead. This success comes on the heels of the Asylum band’s departure from former manager, Ian Pantin and quite a bit of talk over the situation. Several of the artiste’s singles, prepared for the approaching carnival season are already receiving tremendous attention from music lovers, among them, ‘Red Light District’ and ‘All O Dem’.]]>