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Venom: A Lifestyle, Not just a Band featuring Aneil Persad

Interview and article by: Priya Balakumar

Brown Girl Diary sat down with Aneil Persad, CEO, Co-Bandleader and owner of Toronto’s Carnival band Venom.

A brief history:

Venom Carnival is the brainchild of Co-Bandleader Hayden Joseph, a creative genius in his own right, with his designs winning King & Queen competitions in the Mecca of Carnival, Trinidad & Tobago.

The band we know and love today, originated at Aneil’s house, when he and Hayden started playing around with the idea of starting their own band in Toronto.

Aneil and Hayden were both section leaders in another band at the time, but felt as if they needed to expand their horizons and form their own entity— thus Venom Carnival was born.

Venom has been around for 4 years and continues to wow the city year after year. Hayden has been in the business for about 30+ years and Aneil has been involved for 20. With decades of experience behind them, this duo teams always leaves the city speechless with their work.

Sitting down with Aneil Persad:

Aneil Persad, is the co-bandleader, CEO and owner of one of Toronto’s hottest Carnival Bands— Venom. Aneil immigrated to Canada from Trinidad at the age of 19, and plays a huge part in the influence of true carnival culture here in Toronto. From embracing his Indo-Caribbean roots, to always looking out for the next innovative opportunity, Aneil continues to bring flavour and heat to the stage

BGD: What does it mean to be Venom?

AP: Venom Carnival is a lifestyle brand more than just a Carnival band. It’s a way of being, a way of approaching life. It’s meant to instil that confidence and “live life to its fullest” attitude. Especially in recent times, we realize how precious it is to cherish every moment and that’s what Venom tries to embody.

BGD: What is your biggest accomplishment?

AP: Venom’s biggest accomplishment was moving up to “A” status (big band status) immediately after their first year. All bands start off as what’s considered “small band status” as per the rules. Very few immediately go up to big band status and completely by-pass the medium band status.

Venom truly represents a band who’s aim is to continue to pass down the legacy, traditions and customs of Carnival to the younger generation. They are very active with their Junior band and kids in the community. They won junior King of the bands in their first two years and tied for first place and second in the junior parade in their first, second and third years.

Venom has placed in the top 5 for the adult parade every year even though they have always been the last band to cross the stage, a feat accomplished by no other band in Toronto.

BGD: Why is Venom important to you?

AP: Venom is important to me because it’s basically another child. Something that we hold near and dear to us. We have an excellent group of people, management team, committee and section leaders that make up the pieces to this complicated but fun puzzle. It’s also important because we’re trying to create a legacy for future generations and preserving our culture.

BGD: Where do you get your inspiration from?

AP: All the things we see on a daily basis, even something as simple as going grocery shopping, you see colours and vibrant imagery that stimulate the senses. Carnival is meant to be an escape from everyday life whilst drawing inspiration from everyday life. That is what we here at Venom try to do.

BGD: What do you hope for the future of Venom?

AP: We envision Venom becoming the biggest band in Toronto and eventually taking it international. The sky is the limit! We have accomplished so much and broke down countless barriers in the four years that we have been around, I can only imagine what the future holds. Venom’s passion for community, culture, inclusivity and innovation has made them a band to watch. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for Caribana 2021!

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