“Call me RamKING Sharma,” Omardath Maraj, a joint winner of this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch, jokingly said as our interview was about to begin.
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Bunji shines on international stage
The whirlwind continues for soca star Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez as his work continues to get attention in high-profile international circles. For several weeks, Alvarez has been on tour in Europe with his wife Fay-Ann Lyons and their band the Asylum Vikings.
In Europe, they played for eager audiences in Berlin, Norway, Belgium and London. In the UK, they were interviewed on BBC 1Xtra, the UK’s leading Black music station.
In one interview, Alvarez spoke to DJ Robbo Ranx, who called on the self-acclaimed “Viking of Soca” to show off some of his freestyling skills. The resulting three-minute lyrical flow was shared many times on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, with fans in the UK urging the station to play more of his music.
One of the high points of the Bunji Garlin summer, however, was the positive review of his recently released album, Differentology, in US pop music “bible” Rolling Stone magazine.
The August 21 review by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd gave the album three stars out of five.
“For the first time in ages, Trinidadian soca—a percussive, often high-speed, calypso-influenced Caribbean music—has a new global star in the making,” Shepherd said.
“Bunji Garlin, a stylish tenor with a mean hook game, scored a kinetic smash with 2012’s Differentology, which stayed in rotation for a full year, placing him as the clear successor to soca’s previous crossover king, Machel Montano,” she added.
“Garlin’s debut exemplifies what it means to be a differentologist: The singer blends dancehall, EDM and even trap (Truck on D Road, with A$AP Ferg) into his sound, without ever seeming like he’s trying too hard. It’s soca for the Spotify generation.”
On Tuesday, Alvarez and Lyons were in the US for their second appearance on the popular BET programme, 106 & Park. They were a part of 106 & Carnival, a special edition of the programme celebrating Caribbean Carnival that also featured popular Jamaican dancehall performers like Elephant Man, Wayne Marshall and Gyptian.
Summing up his hectic summer, Alvarez told the T&T Guardian he had one word, “Incredible!”
The next stop for the soca star is Texas, followed by Miami Carnival before returning home to start preparation for Carnival 2015.