Special thanks to Natalya for sharing her experience with us.  This is a fantastic read for anyone who feels like they may want to try something other than bikini, beads and feathers for Trinidad Carnival 2012.

Skullduggery experience Carnival 2011

  This year is the first year in my adult life that I actually played mas ALONE. Could you imagine how unsettling the idea of playing mas alone in one of these big bands would make you feel? This year I took it upon myself to be the fearless leader that I can be and step out from under the shade of bikini and beads and try something “different”. I love my mas like any other Trinidadian but for the past few years I questioned myself as to why I play with these big bands, pay all this money and get practically the same costume and experience every year. The artist in me was looking for something more that the Vegas showgirl/pretty mas situation. Not much option other than, maybe Mac Farlene. As much as I admire MacFarlane’s drive to design mas that essentially says something and has some concrete thought behind it, still too much fabric for me.   At this point I stumbled across Mr. King of Carnival himself, Peter Samuel who was bringing out his début carnival band. I did some investigation, loved the sketches, the vibes from the mas camp and his team… I was sold. I was in a Soucouyant kind of mood so that was what I decided to portray. I was an individual for the section. This experience I must say was one that I would never forget and solidified my already blooming thoughts on carnival and where it is today. I would have liked my friends to see this side of Carnival as well. It was also wonderful to get the feeling that the generation before me had when they played mas. That feeling of community, family, tradition and comfort. I felt proud of myself. Even though I was technically “alone”, before Carnival Monday I felt like I knew everyone in the staff and many of the masqueraders.   Here it is! My assessments of playing with a smaller band
  • You can actually pick up your costume without waiting for hours and minus the bacchanal. If something is wrong with your costume or missing, it is dealt with on the spot. Costumes were also custom made to fit you.
  • On the road you are taken care of. I needed nothing! There was no fight for alcohol and if you look sharp they would have brought it for you.
  • Food was great. It actually tasted good, on time and it wasn’t sour. There were also a lot of snacks and refreshments on the road as well.
  • I was able to cross the stage at a good time and not standing still in heat for hours.
  • Lots of assistance with my costume
  • Lots of laughs
  • One of my great shocks was the amount of attention and photographs that were taken. Many people were pleased to actually see mas that looked and coincided with theme of the band, when you look at me you knew I was a Soucouyant (with a twist of course).
  • It was just plain ole fun!!!! I had an amazing time.
Of course because it was the bands first year they had a few issues but not enough to spoil anything. Plus after speaking to Peter these issues were addressed and will not occur or 2012. One of my only complaints was the issue of having more music geared to a younger crowd. As much as I love David Rudder and Stalin they don’t generate enough energy for me to misbehave on the road. With Darren Cheewah on board and my dear friend Delano, I expect the 2012 band X will be even better than Skullduggery, with the same great energy, lovely people, great costumes and concepts…. Lets not forget great prices too!!!!   This band is definitely a band to watch.   The saying is “think outside the boX”… In my mind/world the boXDoesn’tXsists…   This band is the epitome of that!     About Author Art and Design has always been a moving force for Natalya Mills. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, she watched her Grandmother create men suits for politicians; she played around in a Steel Pan-Yard while her Uncle practiced his music. Her Grandfather was a talented artist and musician, made her life-long love for art inevitable. After leaving Trinidad in her teen years to move to New York City, she took her early influences with her.  Natalya attended Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC where she studied Fashion Design. After dabbling in fashion she switched to Display and Exhibit design earning an AAS, and later a BS in Visual Arts Management (Art History).  At present, she is studying Costumes Studies: Visual Culture at New York University Steinhardt School. Natalya is also currently researching and working on a book about wire benders from Trinidad. She has also published interviews conducted with Mas- makers and is involved in the Mas making community in Trinidad. Natalya intends to use her artistic skills and her passion to give back to the country where it all started.