Ian ‘Bunji Garlin’ Alavarez and daughter Syri.
Ian Anthony Alvarez knew he wanted to be a dad. But he had to get his affairs in order. First item on the agenda was to get married to girlfriend Fay Ann Lyons.
“It [getting pregnant] wasn’t planned with a target date per se but we planned in terms of making sure we were married before getting pregnant and made sure we had finances in place as well because a baby is a life that needs to be looked after until independency, and in this world that requires finance.”
If the name Ian Anthony Alavarez doesn’t ring a bell then maybe Bunji Garlin plays a loud tune. He and wife Fay (married for 11 years) are internationally known as top-class performers on the soca scene, but more so in their homeland of Trinidad.
As musicians with their own band, they travel a lot, and so the new addition to their family meant making adjustments.
“When our daughter Syri was born she went on the road with us from six weeks old,” said Bunji in an interview with EASY magazine. He was speaking to the magazine ahead of his trip here next month for the Twisted event called Tipsy.
The “road” meant many overseas trips to perform on various stages. But Syri would have been used to the stage already as Fay Ann didn’t slow down when she was pregnant.
“Fay was active on stage still, and that kept her health in check all the way to birth. But she had pre-eclampsia, so that had to be monitored constantly.”
Bunji is a hands-on dad and throughout the pregnancy was there for doctor visits, only missing out on the actual birth.
“I really wanted to experience that in the presence . . . .While on the way to the hospital the doctors called and said, ‘We are going to deliver the baby right now’ so I reached there exactly after Syri was brought into the world,” he said, chuckling.
Syri, age nine, is growing up in a world dominated by music, but her parents are letting her choose her own path.
“She has her own way planned but she is also very interested in our domain. She asks me for beats to freestyle when we’re driving home from school. She likes shooting her own videos and editing them on the iPad. She still shocks me that she’s nine,” said Bunji, adding that she has even taken to the stage at times when he is performing to do her own song.
As with raising any child, there are ups and downs, but Bunji tells EASY it is more of the former.
“I don’t have much stress with her as nothing really stresses me out, honestly. From since I’ve been a little kid I’m barely bothered about anything, so that translates into our life and makes things smoother, and combined with Fay being there with Syri and I, we have an easy road.
“I never knew I would like being responsible for someone. When I was small growing I used to look at my parents and their struggles with us and wonder if I would be capable. Now, cakewalk.”
Bunji said being a dad has changed him in more ways than one, especially his relationship with Fay: “It made us closer and more open.”
Syri got her name through careful deliberations.
“We had the name from early. If it was a boy we had planned his name would be “Syr” (sir) so when we saw it was a girl coming we added the i to make it Syri.”
Bunji, who has had some memorable musical moments, cherishes the moments with Syri.
“I have special memories growing up such as fishing with my neighbours in my hometown in Wallerfield. So with Syri it is seeing her cry her first day at daycare, then next time she didn’t even want to stay in the car when we reached at the school.
“Every time she has to change a tooth it’s an episode from Cartoon Network. It’s noise and loud laughter and jokes all from her because she works the tooth until it’s fully loose to come out but in the process she’s nervous so the antics are just incredible.”
Speaking of antics, Bunji said Syri: “. . . is a techie like me, so we play video games. I’m waiting to start teaching her to fly some drones we have at home. I love being able to teach her what I know and what her mum knows . . . . We are also teaching her what we know and we in turn get to learn from such a young and powerful mind.
“But Syri doesn’t get her own way. Both her mum and I are disciplinarians but she’s very intelligent, so when she does something wrong she comes and explains she did something wrong, apologises for it, then asks if she has any punishment to get . . . . But that breaks us every time,” he said, laughing loudly.
As with any parent, there are fears, and the entertainer highlighted the fact that he and Syri have personal conversations about life: “I fear her getting in with the wrong crowd and not being prepared to handle herself when she comes across these demons that walk the earth, so the training is constant.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and for the Alvarezes, “Grandma is a must and she has multitudes of aunts and uncles and cousins and our friends know that we’re very serious about parenting so they know where to pull her up if she does something. But I am glad that never has happened, so we nice.”
Bunji said the sky is the limit for Syri and he is looking forward to extra special moments in her life, such as, “When she becomes a president or prime minister. She has a very, very, serious, nurturing way when she sees people in need in any capacity. She’s extremely warm with love.”
Bunji said the values he has passed on to Syri are what his parents instilled in him.
“Be honest no matter what, be nice, be thankful, be giving and forgiving, be an encouragement and be alive.” (NS)