Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 11th 2014 Contents C11
Thursday, December 11, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
PETER RAY BLOOD
Roger Taylor Montano s career
as a mas designer didn t get off
to a very promising start, he
He began designing in Montreal
in 1991, creating his first serious
costume for Hawks International.
It was a king costume portrayed
by his brother Randy.
"I didn t have a clue what I was
doing, but still dived into it," he
admits."Unfortunately, the costume
broke on the night of the final. I
had a rude baptism of fire, as every-
one was down on me for ruining
the band s chances in the compe-
Now Taylor Montano is making
his local debut in 2015 as the
designer for an adult band, and
hopes to revive modern mas by
bringing back some old-time tra-
ditions, including quality design.
Born in Belle Eau Road, Belmont,
he went to Canada at five when
his parents migrated, and graduated
from Shadd Academy in Montreal,
majoring in the arts.
The disappointment of his first
efforts at mas-making for adults
didn t discourage him.
"I won the king title in 1992 for
an African costume for T&T
Organisation of Montreal. I thought
that was not my best work---and
it was the smallest costume I d ever
created. My winning came as a sur-
prise, especially as it beat out all
of the much larger costumes, worn
by popular masqueraders in Mon-
"After a few years I decided to
produce my own band. At that time
I was more engrossed in fashion
designing and this helped me a lot
with designing mas costumes.
"I was also the youngest band-
leader at that time in Montreal. My
first band was a combined kiddies
and adult band titled The Beast
Within. It spoke to all the negative
emotions humans have within
them. The evils were portrayed as
imps and devils etc."
Taylor Montano did a number
of successful bands in Canada,
including Mutants of NH2O, from
which every costume he designed
placed first in all individual com-
petitions. Then he formed ROMA
(Roger Outstanding Masquerade
Art) 2K towards the close of the
"I am passionate about mas and
while growing up in Canada during
the 70s to 90s I felt that I had
missed out on my Trinidad culture.
Although I was all involved in
Caribbean associations and doing
voluntary work, and being the
youngest bandleader in Montreal
carnival, it was not enough for me.
I was getting bored with the people
involved in Montreal carnival. Peo-
ple often confronted me, saying
that I was not a real mas designer,
having grown up in Canada and
not in Trinidad.
"But my designs were different
to the norm as I was trying to pro-
duce bands and costumes inspired
by theatre and the arts, and not
the bikinis and beads that were
becoming trendy in mas.
"People used to call me the black
Minshall, as they saw his trend in
designing in the work I was doing.
Yet, amazingly, he had never heard
of Peter Minshall or what he was doing
"I only eventually heard of Minshall
from the older heads who lived in
Trinidad and had migrated to Canada.
As a matter of fact, the first time I actu-
ally saw Peter Minshall was this year,
2014, when I attended a NCC seminar
on copyright that he spoke at."
Taylor Montano came back to
Trinidad in 2000 to fulfil even loftier
goals as a masman.
"I returned to Trinidad at the start
of the new millenium to try to regain
some of my roots, and learn more of
the traditions and development of mas.
I formed Taymo in 2000 and did a lot
of pageant work, and doing a section
for Big Mike s Legacy.
"That wasn t financially viable for
me personally and I realised how
demanding it was to produce a section
in a mas band. I continued with Legacy
for a couple years before moving on.
"I then decided to concentrate on the
kiddies bands, as children are the easiest
and happiest bunch of masqueraders to
please. Kids are happy with whatever
you design for them---it could be a parrot
on a stick and they are happy."
Taymo, derived from his double sur-
name Taylor Montano, is the name of
his designing outfit.
Taylor Montano also joined Richard
Young and Mannequins Management
Image Productions as a hairstylist.
"As a feature hairstylist, I worked
alongside Richard Young on many
prominent national expositions, includ-
ing Fashion Week TT, Ms City of Port-
of-Spain Pageant, Caribbean Next Top
Model, and this year s Tobago Fashion
Returning to Canada, Taylor Montano
became the creative director for Toronto
Revellers in 2010 for five months, con-
tinuing his winning ways with junior
mas, but was ousted in 2012 as the
band s creative director by none other
than Brian Mac Farlane.
"The band assumed that with a
designer of Mac Farlane s reputation
and talent it would go even higher; but,
its results with him were similar to when
I was the designer.
"This is when I realsed that, although
I enjoy looking at pretty mas, with bikini,
beads and feathers, that was not my
passion. A designer has to merge all the
elements of the mas to create a mas
Within recent years, Taylor Montano
has portrayed the king for Godfrey Enile s
Showtime Trinidad, doing so last year
as The Blazing Bush.
"I learned a lesson from that expe-
rience, in that if one is a bandleader you
have to make your own costume and
not outsource the task of making the
king and queen costume. A bandleader
must try to keep everything in house."
"It has been very challenging and dif-
ficult getting a grasp on the best way
to produce a mas band in Trinidad,
especially when one is coming from a
North American perspective and back-
ground. This is why I participated, and
graduated, in the first ever mas devel-
opment programme produced by the
Now he s enrolled at UWI, St Augus-
tine, doing Carnival studies and has
designed Yoruba Dance Deity Dance as
Taymo Creation s 2015 Carnival pres-
The band will be launched on Old
Year s night, December 31, at Belmont
Community Centre on Jerningham
Avenue, at 6.30 pm.
"This mas is a trilogy in one, begin-
ning with J Ouvert, which will be the
Eyo Secret Societies, an expose of the
secret societies of the Yoruba people.
The second segment will be presented
on Carnival Monday afternoon and is
The Call, with the third hitting the stage
on Carnival Tuesday in the full splendour
of Dance Deity Dance."
He added: "I am not competing with
the big bands, and I want people to par-
ticipate. For a mas connoisseur in search
of a memorable mas experience this is
the band to be in as you will be playing
mas from J Ouvert to Las Lap. It is why
I have kept the costume packages rea-
sonable, starting from $1,600.
"I am also trying to get the people of
Belmont back involved in community
mas, like how it was back in the day,
in the days of Burrokeets. The whole
Carnival vibe in Belmont is now stag-
nated, dead even, as all the mas and
pan is now concentrated in the west, in
Woodbrook. It s sorta surreal, that, with
the Savannah being the epicentre of
mas, right on the fringe of Belmont; in
Belmont, it s as quiet a morgue on Cani-
So Taylor Montano intends to take
his band through Belmont before hitting
the streets of the capital on Carnival
"I also intend having processions
through the streets of Belmont during
January to generate interest and entertain
Having chipped and wined and
jumped and waved through the streets
of Port-of-Spain, from J Ouvert to Las
Lap, Taylor Montano is eminently expe-
rienced and qualified in the highs and
lows of being a masquerader.
"Drawing from these experiences,
good and bad, gave me the motivation
to form Taymo Creations, putting the
needs and desires of today s masquer-
aders as a priority. Through my expe-
rience and art form, I hope to keep them
involved in the creativity of our Carnival
and not just the bra-and-panty men-
tality in mas."
Returning mas to Belmont
Mas designer Roger Taylor Montano.
PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
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