Someone once said that the satisfaction of winning and regret after losing are both worthy of remembrance. If this is so, then Mark Mclean, band leader of Kaios International Sounds is a very satisfied man who will forever remember his band’s most recent first place win for medium size bands at this year’s West Indian American Day Carnival.
Mclean spoke about what was going through his head when he found out he had won. “I actually thought everybody was lying. It wasn’t until my friend and right-hand, Sean “Topflight” Phillips, posted it on Facebook and I saw it, that I was like, ‘Wow!’ I was really amazed and after all the years where we’ve placed second in large size bands and third in medium, this win felt like a Grand Slam or the lottery. After all we’ve been through as a band, God definitely showed up and showed us the way,” he said.
When you hear Mclean speak about carnival, you quickly realize that his main reason for doing it is not competition, but for the love of it. “To be honest, as a band leader, I really didn’t set out to win anything. I set out to make sure my masqueraders had a good time and that they would come back again because they enjoyed themselves. My focus was not competition; I wanted to give them the Trinidad carnival experience.”
The reality however is that something different happened this year that didn’t happen in previous years for Kaios to get the first place win. “I think the difference was the designers. They came with artistry and craftsmanship that brought to life some awesome costumes. Also, I think as a band leader, I stepped up where organization was concerned; introducing our portrayal, our sections, bringing everyone together and making sure they crossed the stage on time. In looking back, it would seem as if I was going for competition, but in reality, I just wanted everyone’s hard work to be showcased properly,” said Mclean.
This year the band portrayed “Who are We?” “Who are We” comprised 10 sections including “Fantasy” by Keisha George; “Temptation” and “Empress” by Kaylona Arthur; “Forbidden” by Crystal Isaac; “Goddess of Carnival” by Martin Andell-Jack; “Life of Carnival” and “Night Star” by Hayden John; and “Passion” by Boston-based Errol Philips.
The portrayal represented the dichotomy of pleasure and the sweat of hard work that made Kaios the band that it is. “Who are We?” brought remembrance of all the hard work involved in preparing for the parade. It’s the dreaming, the vision building, costume making, the glue burns and filling last minute orders; staying available at mas camp past bedtime hours, it’s the truck-building, the sound-checking and it’s also the fun, the laughter, the music and dancing in celebration when they’ve reached their goal.
“They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but I think with what we have in place and what God has given us, I’m putting it out there and saying, ‘Yes, lightning will strike twice!,’” said Mclean.