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Friday, October 08, 2010

Brian Mc Farlane Interview - Part 2.

Why don't you have an all inclusive band?

When we first started with The Washing in 2005 the trend was that people were having these all inclusive bands. Ok we sit and we talk about it, of course you have road management, the committee, and we analyzed what is an all inclusive band? It means maybe all the food, all the drinks, has to be premium since this one does it that one does it so you have to do what they do. But this one has a wee wee truck, people want wee wee trucks so we need to do that too, yeah but this other one has the massage truck so we have to bring the air conditioned massage (truck).Stop, stop stop!This is madness. This is the heat of the street, this is the beat, the sweat, the black, the white, the Chinese, the Indian; this is mas! It is not about the lashes and spending three hours on makeup, that is not what it is. It is paint your face, it is (play) the devil and what ever the case is. So immediately I said, rubbish!

If you want to say that we supply them with things on the road because people do not want to walk with money because of crime, let's do the drinks alone but I am not going to say it is an all inclusive band because some people, I, do not want it. I am not a big drinker, I do not eat on the road, so there are people on the road who don't eat or drink or whatever. Lets have it optional, so we did a premium bar fully all inclusive starting off with breakfast items, snacks, lunch at a cost of $500.00 for the two days; it started at $300.00 and ended up at $500.00. The first year we had people any section, you want that, you pay extra you had your band and you got all inclusive. Every year we did it, Saucy, it dwindled, less and less people (signed up for that option) until the last year we did it, Earth, we had 52 people for all inclusive. We have to get the truck, pay the staff to come and do the all inclusive, pay the caterers and all this for 52 people , we said this was not making sense because it is not like it was getting on the incline, people are obviously not interested.

So what we did when we stopped the all inclusive option that year, is that we would purchase drinks and it is a semi inclusive. Beers, soft drinks, juices and water no hard alcohol. 

What are your thoughts on The BBF - Bikini, Beads and Feathers - bands? And what do you think about the obvious influences of Brazilian mas and where or Carnival is headed?

Ok, what do I think about them what I think is that, and I continue to say it, I am not against the bikini mas because you would have to be a fool not to realise that there is a market for it. There is a market and Carnival is what you make it, what you want from it and what your experience is. However, even the people who play it complain about it being the same thing, my simple thing is we are such a creative island, Trinidad and Tobago, creative in so many aspects, creative in picong, in music, creative in how we dress, creative in so many ways, in Carnival more than ever. Why can't we just put more creativity into the whole thought of what our costumes bring, and that is all I am saying. Yes it can still be sexy, if you want to say that is sexy because I still think sexy to me could be a fully covered body, but be a little more creative.

People are saying that the influence has come from Brazil, and I have to say maybe yes the beginnings of it (bikini mas) came from Brazil. But I think at the same time I have seen authentic Brazilian costumes and what is shown is that the camera will pick up on the nakedness of the body and what not and they publicize that, but that is a minuscule part of Brazilian Carnival. Brazilian Carnival is far better than what they are doing for Kings and Queens, elaborate headpieces , beautifully elaborate costumes, precise and they are not falling apart.

As for where it is going, I hope that everything is cycled,so, you know I think the people will direct it, I think the mas evolves and it changes and I think it will churn out of what it is now.

Of all the bikini beads and feathers bands in Trinidad, do you have a favourite?And which band do you think is the most creative, sticks to theme and thinks outside the box?

I'll be honest I have to say when I came into this five years ago and the first few years of it I would have to say it was it was Trini Revellers because they would do a theme  and they were really trying to stick to it, but I truly find that it is deteriorating and they are becoming another one of the bikini bands now. And on the other hand I found that Island People seem to have been trying to do something a little more. But I don't want to go here without saying , and maybe it is a mini band, but I want to make a point about people like Stephen Derek who I have the greatest admiration for , I remember two years ago passing trying to get away from traffic and seeing all his pieces out in the yard and I stopped and I looked at it, I was rushing to get back to the mas camp, and I stopped and I looked at it with all the colour and the plumage and I said, my God this is fabulous. You look at this and you figure it has been done, you get tired of it and you do not even pay him much attention , the average person on the street , but my God, this is us.This is our beauty, it is our culture, this is our passion this is what has put us on the map.And hats off to Stephen Derek for continuing that.

What do you think of mas today, prices, the costumes "the experience"?

It has been a perception that large bands make money, so they don't need incentives for prize money and things like that. That is why we are getting 200,00.00, we fought to now get I think 350,000.00. I say across the board everyone should get it , I think it should be even across the board for small bands. So many small bands are struggling, and I find they try to be more creative than the bigger bands, but they are struggling to keep the cost in strain. But I can only talk for me, I know all the overheads that I have, mortgages, electricity rubbing the business and so forth. Because we still struggle for over 1000 masqueraders , when you add security costs, cost of music trucks, drinks,  all of these things are costs and before we put anything on it our road cost per person is $1800.000. We now have to talk about costume, fabrics, labour, artisans, so what happened in particular with that costume (Mc Farlane is referring to the post I wrote on the price of Jab Jab ) I think now when I look back I did it wrongly, I was wrong in how I handled it but I thought it was the right way then. I would not do that again.

When I started to put the cost for all the sections, the elaborate sections  some of these were already $3000.00, $4000.00 and I could not go any higher.  I got to the very simple ones, to try to have more people buy that and have the price more attractive,the simple costumes worked out cheaper than those (the elaborate ones). So what I decided was lets try to off balance lets put more cost into that (the simple ones). And I did it a few of the others too but it was not as noticeable as that one (Jab Jab). But the bottom line is it is $1800.00 before we add anything

Is there any truth in the assumption that you and Peter Minshall do not like each other?


Hmm, how should I answer. I will be very honest and I am always honest about what I say. You are my witness ( gestures to Maurice). I longed , I don't think I do anymore, but I longed for many years to have been a true friend of Peter Minshall's. Am, I longed for many years that if I did something Peter would say Brian you did so and so, if you turn it this way you would have a better effect. Oh yes you did do something that looks nice , but you could add this next time for a creative effect, I would love all of that. I am, I remember growing up when Minshall , because MInshall was knocked hard by many people for the works he did, am, and I remember they were making a play when he did things like Paradise Lost , little things that have very macabre involvement and people say oh he was a devil worshiper , he did this, he did that, he was into Satan and rubbish like this. And I would listen to him, and I was very intrigued listening to him talk on TV and I remember there was one little thing, which I don't remember what the edict of it was but I remember it was Peter on an interview and becoming so emotional that he began to cry, there were tears he was so emotional about what people say, what they would do and what he was trying to do and I remember alone in my house, in my parents house, watching him and I began to cry watching him, Peter did say, and saying to myself why did people do this to this man, he is so great. And I would hear Peter saying from since then , those days that the mas is dying that we need to go back to the birth, that we need to go back to the this and the that da da da! And I tried to listen to what Peter was saying and I tried to be true to the mas, the culture, and I thought he would have been proud , I thought he would have said here is somebody ,am, but it was a completely different reaction from Peter.

And the story behind this photograph that appeared in the press almost one year ago, where the two met at a reception held annually at The President's House to honour outstanding artistes of Trinidad and Tobago ?

Well, Brian Mc Farlane spoke very candidly of the history that led up to this now famous photograph  and the actual event itself. I can summarize very succinctly, since I do not wish  stir up a controversy by only airing one side of the story,  that  the hat was "gift" from Peter Minshall to Brian Mc Farlane on the night of that event and the symbolism was not the passing of the hat from one great mas man to another. What happened away from the glare of the photographers will remain between Brian Mc Farlane, Peter Minshall, witnesses at the function and now, myself. But to put it in Trini parlance "there is more in THAT mortar than the pestle!"

What would you tell and up an coming band leader that's inspired by your art and talent and wants to follow in your footsteps?

The first thing that I would tell him is that it is extremely difficult,  number one, but he needs to know that, don't fool himself or herself. You need to understand that it is difficult, it is a difficult role. But there is such great success in your self fulfillment , I am not saying financially, because we really have not seen that yet. Africa was the first year that we made a profit, last year we went back into the red. What I have received out of this is,  the passion goes deeper and deeper and it has given me such a drive to go forward because I realise that I am doing something that people want, people want to see , that is expressing us, that is keeping a cultural art form alive, that many people worldwide come and for that reason it is important to keep it alive.

I know every body has a time limit period, this is my time, this is my moment in the sun, if you want to call it that, but it is quickly gone. Minshall had his moment, Berkley had his, George Bailey, all of them had their moments, mine would be gone and we have to hope that people can hold on to it, understand it and continue it. Because if it dies, the culture is dead and people who do not have culture are an empty people, they have nothing.

So I would say yes, make up your mind that it will be difficult, find the avenues you can get in to  whether it be Kings and Queens (of the bands) or you start doing characters and I am always willing, there are people coming all the time. Yes, I may come up with the concept, once the concepts are done I sit we have meetings and I brain storm. Somebody may come up with an idea, they say you know Mac if we turn this and do it this way it may have a better effect and I say "shucks, that is a great idea" lets do it that way. So I am not headstrong and it all has to be mine, there are many youths in here who come up with great ideas, it is a groove from us, it is the team so I give them all the encouragement, go ahead and do it.


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