New mix for Bunji
Bunji breaks new ground
NOT many soca artistes have made it big outside the Eastern Caribbean. In fact, the genre's hits in the lucrative American market are few and far between.
Bunji Garlin, the latest sensation from Trinidad and Tobago, is aiming for North American charts with the remix to his hit song, Differentology.
The remix is produced by hot American producers Major Lazer whose collaborations with Jamaican artistes Vybz Kartel (on Pon Di Floor), Busy Signal (Watch Out Fi Dis) and Johnny Osbourne (Jah Nuh Partial) have fared well in the United States.
In an interview with Splash, Garlin says the link with Major Lazer means "a whole lot to the soca fraternity".
With Major Lazer on a winning streak, Garlin believes Differentology is likely to expand his base beyond the Eastern Caribbean and West Indian communities in the US.
"I'm just maintaining composure and watching closely as it works. The objective is to be able to meet the song wherever it goes and it is going far and wide. The remix is just pushing it eve n further than imagined," he said.
The original version of Differentology was produced by Keron 'Sheriff Mumbles' Thompson, one of Trinidad's emerging producers. It was a hit at last year's Trinidad Carnival and solidified Garlin's stocks as soca's rising star.
Born Ian Anthony Alvarez, Garlin began recording in the late 1990s. He won Trinidad's Ragga Soca Monarch competition in 2000 and 2001, the Young King title in 2001 and International Soca Monarch in 2002.
He has won the latter four times.
Major Lazer approached him to do the Differentology remix early this year. It has done well, with even Britain's Guardian newspaper hailing it as "2013's essential summer jam".
Garlin is not surprised at the positive response.
"I didn't have to hope for the Major Lazer version to cross markets because it was almost automatic after the way they produced that remix," he said. "Firstly, it was their choice to say yes or no to doing it and I will always be grateful for taking that chance because from Ultrafest to Coachella to the world over they carried that song in their set."
While Jamaican dancehall music has regularly entered mainstream American charts, that is not the case with soca.
Soca pioneer Arrow's Hot, Hot, Hot is still the genre's standard. The 1982 song was the theme song for the 1986 football World Cup. Covered by American singer Buster Poindexter (aka David Johansson of the New York Dolls) Hot, Hot, Hot remains a party staple in the US.
Who Let the Dogs Out by the Bahai Men of The Bahamas (song was originally done as Doggie by Trinidad's Anslem Douglas) was one of the biggest hits of 2000.
Kevin Lyttle of St Vincent had an international hit with Turn Me On in 2004, while Barbados' Rupee got in on the act the following year with Tempted to Touch.
Bunji Garlin, whose fifth album is due out in early 2014 on VP Records, is hoping Differentology will have similar success as his predecessors from the Eastern Caribbean.