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Guess who got their hands on the official
PRESS RELEASE scheduled for WEDNESDAY the 20th of JUNE?
Utopia Mas was formed in November 2011 by band leader & designer Stuart ‘Whitey’ Sampson. After several years of  consultation and the eventual offer of a General Manager position with one of Trinidad’s major bands, Stuart decided it was time to bring out his own band.
Stuart’s a man who is passionate about mas, whilst living in London during the mid 1990's he became involved in Notting Hill Carnival working with Glissando and then T&T Mudders Jourvert band.  Stuart then became involved in Trinidad Carnival in 1995 and has played mas every year for almost 20 years. Having chipped and whined and jumped and waved through the streets of Port of Spain from Jourvert to Las Lap he is highly experienced in the highs and lows of being a masquerader. Drawing from these experiences, good and bad, it is from this angle that he has approached forming the new band Utopia Mas putting the needs and desires of today’s masquerader as a priority.

When a band leader heard Stuart was bringing out a new band he asked, “So what makes your band different from all the others?”
From inception it was always Stuart’s desire to bring together a core team who, like himself had grown somewhat disillusioned with mas in the 21st century, experienced people who were on the same page, who shared the same vision and are able to put a high quality product on the road whilst at the same time bring back some traditional elements of Carnival. Many bands are scared to say ‘bring back’ or ‘back to’ for fear of being labeled ‘old fashioned’ but there is nothing old fashioned about Utopia Mas. A modern 21st century band with all the comforts and special treats of today’s mas, sensual and sexy costumes but confident enough to ‘bring back’ some traditional elements of carnival.

Bringing back costume design: Traditionally, mas costume design has been the work of the band leader. It would be they who conceptualized the theme, designed the costumes and throughout the entire prototype and production stage would oversee production ensuring that the end product was a true and honest representation of their vision. In the last decade the mass production of costumes and the commercialization of Trinidad Carnival has seen bands move away from that art. Many of today’s band leaders are businessmen, not designers, and at no stage do they put pen or brush to paper. Costumes are mostly designed by professional designers who follow a set formula repeating profiles and shapes then sell their designs to a number of bands, who in turn, push and squeeze and manipulate them into the ‘theme’.
As Band Leader, Stuart is also the designer, having conceptualized the theme, put pen to paper and designed all the costumes sourced and selected the materials, created the patterns and fine tuned all 11 sections from inspiration to final product.
Bringing Back costume quality:Most important to the vision of Utopia Mas is the quality of costumes. From the first moment the band was formed it was a given that Utopia Mas would produce a quality product, well constructed, from quality materials and most important is that the costume you buy, that you open and take out the box and wear on carnival Monday and Tuesday looks like the one you saw in the mas camp, on the website and at the band launch. It is partly for that reason Utopia Mas will produce their costumes here in Trinidad, employing Trinidadian staff to make costumes with materials purchased from carnival suppliers in Trinidad. This is after all ‘We culture’ ‘We carnival’ and as such mas bands have a duty to support the industry, the culture, the skills and crafts of Trinidadians. A key production team was integral to the band fulfilling this and here Utopia Mas co-owners Michael Guy James and Paulette Alfred-Guy James, who with their immense experience in carnival costume production, as Utopia Mas’ Head Productionists along with their team at Guy James Studio will ensure the high quality beautiful product today’s masquerader expects.  Made right here in Trinidad.

Bringing Back customer service: Anyone who has spent their Friday or Saturday before carnival at a crowded mas camp in a seemingly endless line for distribution would have probably experienced the sense of poor customer service. Something you would have heard said many times, especially from international masqueraders visiting Trinidad are the words ‘they don’t care’. An all too common feeling is that you’ve paid your money and now no one is responsible for rectifying what’s wrong. Utopia Mas has therefore designed a new distribution system to prevent any such issues occurring and ultimately avoiding your frustration and disappointment, instead, providing you with the same levels of customer service we would expect or demand for ourselves and that you feel a sense of appreciation for your custom. Aaron and Jessica Marquez have a wealth of experience in hospitality, catering and the service industry and will be ensuring that everything  you experience from the moment you step in the mas camp to register to the point you drink your last drink at the end of las lap is a pleasurable one.

Bringing Back affordable mas: Carnival has become expensive. If you ask people who’ve never played mas before the reason why they don’t play, the most common answer is that ‘it’s too expensive’. Only ten years or so ago a frontline costume cost $700. When All Inclusive ‘sections’ arrived costume prices jumped to $1200. Now costumes have soared in price, some are even touching $8000. Utopia Mas is committed to producing an excellent product and great customer service whilst keeping mas affordable.

Bringing Back fun on the road: Sometime, somewhere, somehow carnival changed. In many bands now there are too many trucks, too many things that should not be there, bands of 3000 masqueraders or more are squeezed through the streets and what used to be playing mas and having fun is now more about avoiding the wheels of a truck, or feeling like a sheep being herded along. Utopia Mas has all the comforts and special treats you need without the overkill of all the ‘stuff’ you don’t. Less space for ‘stuff’ means more space for you to free up yourself.  Our Events Manager has 20 years of experience hosting fetes and carnival road management, along with Band Leader Stuart he will be ensuring that everything on the road is run professionally, safely and your security and comfort is Paramount. And talking of free-up, an element of pretentiousness has crept into mas. To play in some bands you have to be part of a clique, or have a link to get in, perhaps be a certain complexion or even deemed to be attractive enough for the costumes. This is not what mas is supposed to be about. Playing mas is about having fun, freeing up yourself, expressing yourself, play mas and like yuhself. This is carnival. Trinidad is the rainbow nation, all colours, races, creeds and sizes. Together we aspire, together we achieve. Utopia Mas is an all inclusive band  and when we say All Inclusive we are not just talking about the drinks trucks, If a man or woman is confident enough to wear a costume then who is to say they are not good looking enough? So black, white, red, Indian, Spanish, Chinee, Dougla, tall, short, thick, thin, man, woman, straight, gay or lesbian, Utopia Mas is an all inclusive band and ultimately we are about having fun.

Bringing Back loyalty: You only have to go back to playing mas in the late 1990’s  and bands were full of people who year after year would bounce up with each other on the road. You would see the same faces each year and it was almost like everyone knew everyone else in the band. It was that sense of ‘family’ that meant the bands really looked after the masqueraders. Today masqueraders still have a sense of loyalty toward the bands, through good and bad, they are there on the road with the same band year after year, but now, often when things break down, the band does not show the same level of loyalty to the masqueraders. Part of Utopia Mas’ vision is to ensure that you, the paying customer receives excellent customer service and the feeling that loyalty is a two way street. We hope to show you over the years to come that we appreciate your loyalty, we understand what it means and that you will become a part of the Utopia Mas Family.

Bringing Back appreciation: The Utopia Mas family will have some things we will make noise about. We’ll make a big song about our costumes, we’ll dance at yuh wedding about our customer service,  and we’ll wave a flag to celebrate the fun we create. However, there is something we will keep quiet about and that is our appreciation. Our appreciation that we have money to buy a costume, we have legs to dance with, hands to hold a drink cup with, ears to hear the music with and eyes with which to take in all the colours. And we as a family will remember that there are many who do not. For this reason Utopia Mas is dedicated to supporting orphan children in Trinidad & Tobago and supporting Trinbagonian children who need surgery. We will not make a noise about this, we will simply do what we can, and you the masquerader will be kept informed of the good works your money has contributed toward.



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