The longstanding FADER Mix series presents new, exclusive DJ mixes from our favorite artists and producers.
DJ Ana is a key tastemaker in one of the liveliest scenes in the world. Raised in Trinidad & Tobago, her love of music (and in-house training by way of her father) introduced her to DJing at 8, moving from house parties to music trailers during carnival at 10, and DJ competitions at 15 before expanding to a coveted radio slot on the island’s Hott 93.5 FM. Despite spending much of 2018 bouncing everywhere from Toronto to Dubai to Tokyo, nothing beats the feeling of home. “It’s definitely a unique vibe,” she explained. “I feel that Trinidadians openly accept music from around the world more than any other country I’ve visited.”
As artists from all over the Caribbean drop some of their biggest and baddest tunes just in time for the annual carnival season, mixmasters like DJ Ana break new releases at record speed, whether it’s at her own event Sunglasses & Soca - named after her popular mix series - or a slew of other fetes starting at all hours of the day and night. In addition to spinning, DJ Ana released her own collection of carnival-ready wear - Asita - for the 2019 season. “Each piece was inspired by my DJ travel trips to countries such as Dubai and Japan,” she explained about the vision behind the brand. “I really wanted to create a line of Carnival wear that would fit and flatter every body type and shape. Carnival wear that would make anyone feel confident, powerful, and sexy in it.” Despite having so much on her plate, today The FADER is premiering Ana’s latest mix filled with bangers and gems from Machel Montano, Nailah Blackman, Bunji Garlin and more — sure to mash up the road. We also spoke to her about her role in the island's soca scene.
What would you tell a Trinidad Carnival first-timer?
There’s no such thing as “one party a day.” If you’re coming to Trinidad Carnival for the first time you have to accept that you are here to enjoy the greatest show on earth in its entirety! There’s no room for failure a.k.a. rest. Forget the rest of the world for that period of time. Book your flight and hotel super early! People book their flights and hotel accommodations from months in advance. Listen to the new soca of that particular year. Every year there are so many wonderful soca music releases that you will need to know to thoroughly enjoy the fetes, parties and Carnival Road experience. And try “doubles.” You’ll thank me later.
What has been your favorite release for the soca season so far?
If I had to choose just one Soca song out of the numerous releases for this year of 2019 it would have to be “Issa Snack” by Nessa Preppy. I love the playful nature of that song and I tend to have a soft spot for songs that incite wining. I also really admire Nessa’s drive as an artist and I am happy to witness her continued growth.
As one of the few female DJs on the soca scene, what has been the hardest thing about navigating that?
I’ve always strived to be perceived as generally a “DJ” and not a “female DJ.” My Brand has been built around who I am as an individual which is a very “girly girl” personality who loves to rock dresses and heels while DJing. The biggest struggle I’ve consistently faced in my career, is being taken seriously despite my desire to be as feminine as I am. People tend to have a hard time wrapping their minds around the concept of a skillful DJ who wears high heels. I continue to face the struggles of objectification but I think moving forward and remaining focused on your craft is most important.
You also design a gorgeous carnival wear line, Asita. What was the inspiration behind that?
Having been to so many Carnivals around the world, two things stood out to me as necessities: feeling comfortable and standing out! That's the vision behind my line — pieces that you will feel comfortable in whilst slaying and feeling like the best version of YOU. There’s no need to compromise!
How has it felt to watch soca grow globally, with soca vibes and rhythms finding their way into pop music?
Being able to witness this first hand was such a humbling experience. I felt proud of what we as a Caribbean people have achieved thus far with our music and culture. We have transcended borders and hear influences of soca music in so many Top 40 songs today. People around the world are embracing soca and loving it whether they know it as “soca” or not. There’s still room for international progression and recognition of the music so it’s important for us to continue to elevate our own sounds. That includes supporting our artists and the artform by streaming their songs and buying their music as we would with any other international genre of music.