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DJ Private Ryan’s evolving Battalion

Melissa Doughty The popular DJ Private Ryan has worked with several artistes this year including Patrice Roberts, Nessa Preppy, Sekon Sta and Skinng Fabulous, among others. - Photo by Sureash Cholai
The popular DJ Private Ryan has worked with several artistes this year including Patrice Roberts, Nessa Preppy, Sekon Sta and Skinng Fabulous, among others. - Photo by Sureash Cholai

Ryan “DJ Private Ryan” Alexander is focused on building a holistic Carnival brand, that includes deejaying, music, events, and now mas.

The TT-born, international DJ has his own section, Aurum, in Tribe’s 2023 presentation: A New Dawn.

DJ Private Ryan has introduced new events to the Carnival calendar including the Soca Baby Boat Cruise and Imagine - the J'Ouvert Party Experience. - Photo by Sureash Cholai

Private Ryan worked with designer Keisha Als to bring Aurum to life. The section is already sold out.

He said he has been evolving the Battalion brand. The road experience (mas) was always one of the components he wished to add to the growing brand.

Aurum was designed by Keisha Als. -

There was a natural progression to mas design from working with Tribe over the years. The section is “colourful, vibrant” and was launched after Tribe’s official band launch, he said. The process began with a conversation with the mas band and then progressed to who he’d work with, to give life to the idea.

“I had taken a look at a couple designers, but I looked at Keisha Als, who does Tropix Swim, and she did do something that was very Battalion-like in 2020. I wanted her to bring something to the table that I could expand on in terms of a costume.”

A costume from DJ Private Ryan's section in Tribe's A New Dawn. The section is called Aurum. -

They then went back and forth with the design; working with his team, her design and Tribe. Tribe was integral in the approval processes and making suggestions, he said. They then came to a final design which included a large backpack, a medium backpack and no backpack.

The initial conversation with Tribe took place around March last year.

He has also stuck true to producing universal music with soca at its core and has produced a number of singles under his Battalion brand. He has worked with top artistes to achieve this including Mela Caribe, Skinny Fabulous, Sekon Sta, Marzville, King Bubba, Patrice Roberts, Freetown Collective, Nessa Preppy, Terri Lyons and Guyana’s Timeka Marshall.

The music includes World on Fire with Patrice Roberts, Freetown Collective and Nigel Rojas, as well as Nasty Flow with Nessa Preppy, Dream with new artiste Mela Caribe, No Feteing Behaviour with Sekon Sta, Vibe with Sekon Sta, and Juicy with Timeka Marshall.

As a DJ, he took notice of the discussion of newer soca not being played in fetes as the season began.
That might have changed this week, however, sharing his thoughts on it, Private Ryan said there were two sides to it.

“I think the cycle of them (patrons) consuming music shifted a bit, in this timing. We are now jump-starting Carnival and usually what happens, is the excitement of Carnival rolls over from the last one. We have not had one for two years. The way we would consume music is Miami Carnival would inject the first wave of music we listen to. This time, whether it is economic factors or just coming out of covid19, a lot of people did not attend Miami Carnival.”

He added that the 2022 World Cup and Christmas also shifted people's attention away from Carnival. The floods in November also affected this.

“The music, in terms of people learning it, it was kind of delayed. So people are now attending the fetes in January, these are their first parties so the response would not be there yet as they are now seeing their favourite artistes and DJs since two years ago.”

He said DJs were now reconnecting with the Carnival atmosphere and felt there might have been some fear in playing new music as they might not be sure how audiences would respond to it. He said, however, by February audiences would have become familiar with the music and would show their response to different songs.

Asked if the pandemic irreparably changed music consumption patterns, Private Ryan said music consumption had already changed as people heavily use streaming services like YouTube and Spotify to learn new music. He said people learn new music through mixes and go to their favourite DJs or compilations and play that.

For Private Ryan, Carnival 2023 is one in transition which will see fete-lovers, masqueraders and Carnival stakeholders set the new norm.

“It is a work in progress, to be honest,” he said.

He, too, is constantly evolving his brand and has introduced new events for this year’s Carnival.

His signature event, Soca Brainwash, is on February 18 at St Mary’s College Grounds, Serpentine Road, Port of Spain. This year’s theme is Happy Birthday which is a celebration of all of the past themes, in an interactive way and a tribute to all of the things done in the past.

This year he has introduced Soca Baby Boat Cruise which will be held on February 13 at Chaguaramas. The event is already sold out.

“Soca Baby is going to pay tribute to the music of the 90s, 2000s and now. The DJs can play new music as well, but I think the focus is more so going to be on the music of yesteryear so we don’t forget.”

There is also going to be a Soca Baby stage at Soca Brainwash.

DJ Private Ryan is building his Battalion brand. It now includes music, production, entertainment and mas.
- Photo by Sureash Cholai

“There is going to be a main stage and one that plays old-school music as well too.”

His annual Soca Starter-Breakfast party is on February 16.

Another new event forming part of Private Ryan’s Battalion is Imagine – The J’Ouvert Party Experience. The concept will contain all of the elements of J’Ouvert: mud, paint, oil, powder, water and riddim. It will include Carnival characters and DJs, Private Ryan said.

It inverts the original J’Ouvert experience which usually moves from night to morning. Instead, his event will shift from day to night and lead into the wider national event.

All of Private Ryan’s 2023 Carnival experience will wind up with his Post Carnival Relief which will be held on February 23.

He wants to add a future event to his Carnival experience and that is the Battalion Show which will showcase all of the songs/music and the artistes he’s worked with.