A report by Melissa Doughty for Trinidad’s Newsday.
IAN “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez and Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez have become known for bringing something different to soca. Exactly, what that is can be defined in different ways by different people.
Whether it is a new sound or a new business format to the local music industry, there is no doubt that their combined effort on in the local industry is adding to what is known as soca’s new age.
The couple have a number of awards to their names, among them Bunji winning the 2013 Soul Train Music Award for Best International Performance and Fay-Ann’s appearance on CBS affiliate, WUSA, in Washington to debut the song, Girls. The soca powerhouse couple are also set to appear in US actor Romany Malco’s film, Prison Logic. Many would say that the couple’s year has been good so far. In a phone interview with Newsday, the couple agreed that it has indeed been a good year.
The good times keep rolling for the duo, who are also set to appear on Apple iTunes artist showcase next month.
Lyons-Alvarez said, “We have Apple iTunes to do next month.
Where we do the in store, iTunes does an in store showcase of the artiste they are supporting. So this is at the Apple store. They did a bunch of Jamaican acts. We will be the first soca-oriented act to do it. That is a pretty big deal for us. Stuff like this is where we are trying to take us and our music…” Lyons-Alvarez said they are also doing work with wellknown mainstream producers, as well as up and coming producers.
She added that mainstream TV was something they aim to do and it is something they which to use to enhance their careers going forward.
One of their future plans include writing and creating music for mainstream TV.
The couple is also seeking to further their acting careers, and after their hectic recording season, they will meet with Malco in LA where he will introduce them to different agents, “that he thinks will be great for us to sit and talk to, to see if we can have them as our agents over there. And get us into different projects…” And for Bunji, it is not just about the “internationalisation” of the soca sound, but rather smoothly evolving the art form in a changing world.
He told Newsday, “For me, as far as I am concerned it is more than international and mainstream thing. This is more of an existing thing. We are in a position, not only Fay and I, but the music we represent, the culture we represent, is on the edge, the corner of showing the world that we are here. If you look at the events that is happening in the Carnivals around the world.
The people who are coming to them. The music, the way people interact with the music and in the mix of all of that, my name and Fay’s name has become a staple name in the mix of the thing and a few other artistes…it is not just about mainstream, we want to take the best of what we know in our environment and make it work wherever we go and take the best of wherever we go and make it work for our environment too.” He added that among the soca-infused music that is done, roots home grown soca is also produced and sometimes overlooked by others.
Many artistes, he said, were doing dual work, creating and producing infused soca for new markets and contemporary soca for “home”.
Lyons-Alvarez said the infused sound currently being done by international artistes such as Drake had soca in their mainstream hits and it was crossing over. She questioned why Caribbean societies could not understand that local and Caribbean artistes also needed to infuse their music.
She said, “If we look at what Drake and everyone is doing internationally there are hints of soca in mainstream hits…so if we are not understanding they are mixing their music with what we are doing and it is crossing over.
Why can’t we understand that our own artistes, whether from Barbados, Antigua, TT whatever needs to start doing the same thing. Because it is going to cross over without involvement and our participation. Most importantly, without our permission because they don’t need permission to do it. So we need to pay attention to what is happening mainstream.” Bunji said the Caribbean needed to pay attention to what was happening on the global music scene. TT , he said, was part of the world of music and if the world of music was moving in a particular direction, one of two things could happen. “Either the industry and society play stubborn and ignorant, stay one way and eventually disappear, or it moves on to a new stage.
Every music is moving to a new stage right now.” He said the society needed to pay attention to what it kept from the music’s root form and what is added from the new form to make it compatible as the music evolved to a new stage.
Bunji said the reason they work a lot of the new markets is to ensure the world knows that TT and the wider Caribbean exists as a people. He said the doors that are opening are for others to walk through. He said their goal was not singular. “Naturally, we know that by making our selves presentable and what we do presentable it will reflect on the whole art-form. It will then make everything about the artform seem credible and presentable.”