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Xaymaca Band Launch, a product of balance - ‘Playlist’ inspired by ­multiple genres

Published:Monday | December 2, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
‘Candy Shop’ by Sherise Stewart
‘Vogue’ by Derron Dune.
‘Level Up’ designed by Vanisha Somauroo.
Models Athaliah Samuel and WhiteChocolate758 showcase ‘Showtime’ by Rawle Permanand at the Xaymaca band and costume launch held at the National Indoor Sports Centre last Friday.
‘Gold Digger’ by Jessica Hewitt-Haynes.

“Work hard, play hard” were the words of advice Andrew Bellamy, Xaymaca International’s co-­director, had to give subsequent to the ­reveal of the band’s 2020 carnival ­costumes last Saturday at 1 a.m. inside the National Indoor Sports Centre. Bellamy, in an ­obvious good mood, could not wipe the smile off his face as he allowed the feeling of ­accomplishment to soak in.

After a week of no sleep, Bellamy said, “All the work we put in as a team feels worth it, and I am more than ­satisfied to see everything come together.”

He added: “If there is one thing I could advise the members of our Xaymaca ­family to do, it is to balance – to work hard and play hard and with everything, keep fit in ­preparation for the Jamaica 2020 carnival season.”

The co-director said that there is a lot to explore for the upcoming fête period, with a calendar full of events that cater to ­everyone, and that Xaymaca International will be ­offering a diverse package to its supporters.

“The reveal is just the start of it. As we get closer to the time, we will have more to share about our offerings,” he said.

The band returned with 15 sections, but this time, the element that stood out was not the representation of one particular genre as the Iconic 2019 theme did, it was the use of multiple genres to inspire the designs. All named using song titles – ‘Phoenix’, ‘Roar’, ‘Showtime’, ‘Baddish’, ‘Gold Digger’, ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Level Up’, ‘Vogue’, ‘Candy Shop’, ‘Poker Face’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Megatron’, ‘Icy’, ‘Fever’, and ‘Power’ – the costumes were introduced to the audience with models strutting not to the typical soca but the remixed versions of the hip-hop, alternative, pop, and dancehall selections.

‘Gold Digger’ by Jessica Hewitt-Haynes, the winner of Xaymaca’s Costume Design Competition, was a holographic PVC masterpiece. Though not extravagantly played up with feathers, it was received well for its modern design that was not only creative but functional.

About her first time designing a costume for a band, Hewitt-Haynes explained, “The journey from the competition started to getting the design out in time was a lot of work, so now, I am just living in this moment. I knew I had to make a standout piece, and that is what I went for … . I have not even thought of how much work it is going to be preparing for the big day yet.”

Jamaica-born designer Andrew Chuck, based in Miami, was also on a high following the presentation of his costume, ‘Baddish’.

“So like music, one minute you like a certain genre, the next you want to hear something different, so it’s my first time with Xaymaca International, having switched from another band here. You see what the options are, and I liked what the team was doing in terms of being a comprehensive band,” Chuck said.

“For my section, there [are] front line, back line that provide coverage, not exposing too much, and something for the males. As a designer, you [we] not designing for one specific person. Carnival is all-inclusive, and I have learnt that everybody should be catered to.”

Seasoned costume designer Bonnie Lee shared similar sentiments about looking for a band that epitomised inclusiveness.

“I was looking for a family-based environment with people that share the same passion and love that I have over the past six to seven years in the game of carnival. I have known the team for years, and in seeking a change, I felt Xaymaca was a suitable place for me,” Lee shared.

Adding to that, Lee was intrigued by the band’s theme and was ready to take on the challenge.

“I am a Jamaican, so dancehall will always be a first pick over everything else for me, and we are all about culture, so typically, it is what I would have chosen, but I also love to do the unexpected,” Lee said.

After days of deliberation, the designer went for Lady Gaga’s Poker Face because, according to her, the singer represents everything she does – urban and edgy.

“The section, like the band overall, has something for every shape, size, and taste – it is at essence a diverse playlist, one that will get any party going and leave every patron content. The type of women that will wear my design is not afraid to be daring and out there, but I cannot forget my full-figured women to give coverage with a back line that, while it covers more, it is still sexy,” she said.