“WHEN WE TOUCH DOWN, DE WHOLE PLACE SHELL DOWN.”
Get ready Zulu Nation, because that’s what Zulu International Inc. has in store for Crop Over 2016.
Riding the mind-blowing wave that was Crop Over 2015, we’re looking to seriously shake things up this year at Zulu. After the long-awaited release of our theme “APOCALYPTO”, we’ve been receiving awesome feedback from our past revellers, and from those who are looking to get their feet wet with their first Barbados Crop Over experience.
With band launch season fast approaching, Team Zulu is ecstatic to share another major announcement – welcome the newest member to our already dynamic team, Head Designer Valmiki Maharaj.
Hailing from the twin island of Trinidad & Tobago, Val Maharaj comes to Zulu International Inc. right off the heels of Carnival. Val has been designing for the past seven years, and it was in 2009 when he first got involved with the band Tribe Carnival. It was also around that time that Tribe started to reinvigorate itself. “Everything was changing,” Val said, “and the fact that they were celebrating their fifth year on the road was a big opportunity to be a part of that team.”
Tribe’s theme that year was called ‘Birds of a Feather’ and Val tapped into his creative consciousness in order to breathe life into two individual costumes. “I still remember them, and I still have a relationship with the people who played Mas in them, after all these years,” Val said as he reminisced. “It was an absolute great experience. I remember seeing them on stage – it was my first band launch – and I was so excited, and I wanted to collapse because I was working so hard that day. I was working on my own costumes and the production itself. It was just a great experience.”
Val recapped the story of how he applied to Tribe, very informally, with his A-level portfolio. “I kind of found my tribe with Tribe, no pun intended,” Val said laughing. “I found a family that was very inviting, and who I maintained a relationship with over a number of years.” During his final year at University, Val received a call that would change his life, and as they say, the rest was history.
Val added that after many years he feels blessed to be doing very well. Not only has he been successful, but he’s also created a kind of validity for himself as a designer, and gained the approval of his peers. In terms of Val’s family and friends, he said that he doesn’t receive anything but love and support all around in every single thing that he does.
As one of Tribe and Bliss’ principal designers, he was also the Creative Director for one of his biggest achievements to date – the launch of The Lost Tribe – Tribe’s second and more intimate all-inclusive Carnival experience.
It was also his most difficult project. “The Lost Tribe totally moved away from what we normally see at Carnival. I wanted to see masquerade the way our parents and their parents knew it – with the presentation, drama and flair. I was trying to take something that some people had considered dead, not fashionable and not now, and make it now. Some people don’t know what they want until you show them. So as the old adage goes ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
And they did come.
“I’m proud of it,” Val professed. “Proud of the masqueraders, proud of the entire team, and proud that in a very short space of time, a few months even, we were able to pull it all together. From conceptualization right down to providing a fun experience on the road for the masqueraders.”
Now that Carnival’s over, Valmiki is on the road to Barbados for Crop Over 2016 – full speed ahead. He’s expressed great enthusiasm on working with Barbados’ premium band experience, Zulu International Inc. After many conversations with our team, Val expressed that as “a man who operates on vibes, I got great vibes from Zulu and have received nothing but since.”
Eager about this new venture, Val is excited to start putting together the designs for Zulu’s Apocalypto theme. When asked what inspires him, he replied that there’s no one space for inspiration. “It comes from everywhere – from traveling… reading… the Internet. My greatest source however, is from Carnival. I’m inspired by the masqueraders, the movement, the music and the environment. And then of course, there’s the band’s theme which gives me an overall vision and direction.”
Val is also hoping to bring ‘a little bit of Val’ to Zulu this year. “I want to bring my design style. I want to bring something new to the design table. I know that Zulu is the cream of the crop when it comes to party bands and road experience in Barbados and it’s the place to play Mas. I’m hoping to be able to add something to that, to raise the bar and raise the Crop Over costume standard further then we had in the past.”
We want it known that our new Head Designer isn’t the only one thrilled about this journey. We want everyone, before, during and even long after the Crop Over has finished, to be talking about the Fun Band – Zulu International Inc. We want to exceed the expectations of our patrons – not just with our costumes, but with the overall experience during the festival season. With a creative genius like Valmiki Maharaj representing Team Zulu, Zulu International Inc. is going to up the ante for Barbados Crop Over 2016.