Author Archives: Antoine Guenet

About Antoine Guenet

As an uncompromising musician, Antoine Guenet has been pursuing his own musical fascinations in complete freedom from the moment he first touched a piano. Quite logically that taste for liberty led him to both study jazz and leave the Conservatory, close to the end of his studies, to explore further what he had to explore. His first official album with his own project comes out in 2012 on New-York based progressive label MoonJune Records, in the form of SH.TG.N, a live album of raw heavy metal mixed with contemporary music and a touch of jazz. This explosive album is received ecstatically by worldwide press and fans. In 2013 he releases another album on MoonJune, with Progressive Jazz sextet The Wrong Object and surprises with his jazzier compositions, his fine and personal jazz piano playing, and the vocal song Glass Cubes (which he sings in duo with his wife Susan Clynes). 2013 is also the year he joins Rock-in-Opposition cultband Univers Zero with whom he tours in Mexico and records an album released in January 2014 on Japanese label DiskUnion. It is also the year he ends a 3-year Residency with Trefpunt VZW, a well-known organization from Ghent, Belgium, for which he presented each year a creation : SH.TG.N was first, followed by AG8tet (a double band divided in two separate stages, playing simultaneously jazzy polyrhythmic songs about the end of the world, with some of the finest young Belgian jazz musicians), and finally Fluxx (live electro/drum'n'bass with a string quartet, about the micro and the macro). As a composer for others he also wrote for French dance company La Locomotive (Yan Giraldou), for the show "Galerie" that premiered in the presitigious Pavillon Noir (Ballet Preljocaj) in Aix-en-Provence. Antoine quickly developed a strong stage experience in a great variety of projects. At only 27 he is one of the new exciting musicians to watch!

How I became a Vegetarian thanks to “Pay what you want” philosophies

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How I became a Vegetarian thanks to “Pay what you want” philosophies

PWYW

In the last couple of years our interest for “pay what you want” strategies (PWYW), crowdfunding and open-source philosophies has been growing steadily. I started with funding a significant part of SH.TG.N’s debut on MoonJune Records with a crowdfunding campaign, went on with a lot of reading, and recently Susan and I experimented with donation-based living room concerts with our new project RUNtoSEED. We also placed our own bids on crowdfunding campaigns such as Boyan Slat’s “The Ocean Cleanup”-project which managed to raise over $2M from 38000 funders from 160 countries in 100 days to clean up the ocean.

Not only did we discover new ways to consider a music career, but we were exposed to entirely new ways to look at the world, which would change us forever. But in this article I will focus on one in particular : I’ve become a Vegetarian.

Consumption

Now what do these things have to do with each other ? Well simply put : consumption. Being busy with price and consumption in a different, more flexible way, I started to take a different look on what I bought. With no obligation to pay and no set price, you start gaining consciousness of what your payment really represents : an endorsement. And that’s what any payment is, really, even with a set price. The real power of the money we spend is there. If I choose to buy something at one store instead of another, I choose to support that one store over the other one.

So that got me thinking, when I buy something, who am I endorsing ? What am I supporting ? Who am I giving a tap on the shoulder saying “keep doing what you do, this is good work!” ? And naturally I realized I had been an accomplice of a whole bunch of practices I obviously couldn’t support. Now of course I knew they existed, and in a lot of cases I knew the products I bought were unethical and sure I tried to buy, like, fair-trade coffee, organic food and avoid Monsanto or such products (these specific causes happen to be more advertised than others). But I didn’t exactly realize how far my endorsement went, or how big my power actually was.

Everyone does the best they can

Let’s cut ourselves some slack for a minute. We are trained to think fatalistically about the world. The old “this is how it is and has always been and you won’t do anything about it” song. We are trained to look at people who want to do otherwise as either disconnected idealists, crazy radicals, or both. I’m no exception. And I must say realizing it doesn’t have to be that way is a long and complicated process. For one, you start asking a lot of questions, lose one’s points of reference, and it might seem like you start saying ‘no’ too often. So I learn to say no with a radiant smile.

Because now I know, when I say no to casual meat-eating, I’m saying no to the current trivialization of massive insensitive killings, to deforestation, to objectification of animals, to global disconnection with the life-and-death cycle, etc. etc. etc. And my little ‘no’ to a little toast with, say, foie-gras on it, is a big ‘yes’ to embracing life, the world, and my own personal power to make it an even better place. Definitely worth a smile.

I’m aware that being 100% coherent is this approach is difficult and I’m absolutely not there yet. While contemplating veganism (animals are mistreated whether it’s for their meat or what they produce), I do not yet feel ready to make the step. I own clothes and electronics that have been partly created by exploited workers (I’m typing on my Apple computer right now). Even parts of my instrument probably have been. But demanding to be entirely coherent from the start is part of what’s been paralyzing me and influencing me to keep my eyes closed. Now each day they open a little more. And that also means more of the world’s beauty to see.

Passive resistance

You know in the end all this, including the whole PWYW thing, is nothing but Ghandi’s Satyagraha. Holding on to truth, not to force. So I’ll leave you with that song Susan and I wrote together a few months ago for our project RUNtoSEED, performed live at La Monnaie/De Munt (Belgium’s National Opera House), and called “Satyagraha”. With the whole personal power talk I could have as well picked my song “You’re in Charge” but I’ll let you discover that one on your own on our site.

We’ll talk about PWYW and all that again very soon : we’re busy setting up a Patreon account for RUNtoSEED.

Antoine Guenet

PS : Just to show that we have more individual power than we tend to think : here’s a PETA report showing that each vegan individually saves the lives of in average 185 (most of them mistreated) animals per year.

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3 Valses pour ma Famille

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We’re back! After several months without a post on the blog, we’re finally back. Both Susan and I have been very busy lately, between the NY tour, the intensive writing, and other fun stuff. An important part of what I’ve personally been busy with is available for you to listen to right here (for free ;-)) :

Three “waltzes” in French for some members of my family who’ve been in a conflict for about two years, and haven’t seen each other for a year. Feeling powerless when we talked about it, I decided to write them songs to express what I needed to express. Isn’t that basically the use of a song ? My family being French-speaking I naturally chose to write them in French (a first for me).

I won’t go into details about the content of the lyrics but I just want to talk about one little verse which comes back in all three songs :

Le vrai pardon est salvateur
Celui qui vient vraiment du coeur
Et s’il n’est pas une sinécure
De ta douleur il est la cure

It basically means that real forgiveness can save you and while I’m aware it’s not easy, it’s their pain’s cure. You know… what else can you say to three people who love each other but can’t see each other ?

Anyway. I’ll take this chance to officially announce Susan and I will be touring soon with our brand new duo project SEEd ! The three songs I’m sharing here with you can give you an idea of the direction we’ll be taking in terms of content, although they obviously will be arranged differently to fit our duo line up. Can’t wait!

Love you all people, thanks for reading!

Antoine

My first year with Univers Zero (part 2 : studio and RIO Festival)

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Hi there again,

First of all thank you all for you enthusiasm around the first part of this story. Now with the album coming out in two days (!!!) it’s time for me to post the second part.

Back home : Gentse Feesten and Fluxx

Fluxx, Colliding Universes (© Susan Clynes)

Fluxx, Colliding Universes (© Susan Clynes)

After a week of great experiences in Mexico we got back to Brussels and split (to go home of course, don’t worry the band didn’t split up!). I took the train alone for an hour, looking at the pictures of that week, still a little high from the whole thing. The next day was my daughter’s very first little school show, I was still a little jet-lagged and the skin on my face is disintegrating from the giant Teotihuacan sunburn in the middle of it, but I enjoyed the day immensely. For a few months after that the band didn’t see each other and I focused on my last creation as an Artist in Residence (three years, one creation a year) for the Gentse Feesten (one of the biggest cultural festivals in Europe) . It’s called Fluxx, it’s some kind of live drum’n’bass/electro with a string quartet (the great Bl!ndman [Strings]), and I shared the composing job with Koen Quintyn, a young composer from Ghent who I chose as my successor as Artist in Residence. Three months doing strictly something else.

Let’s start recording

As soon as I was done with Fluxx and the concert was over, it was time to start recording with Univers Zero. To be fair we had seen each other a few times before anyway, to prepare the recording. It was time for the longest recording session I’d ever had. I was used to, like, 2-days recording sessions (those things are expensive ya know…). This one was 16 days, non-stop, every day, weekend included. We were going to take our time to do things well and without rushing. I told Susan it wasn’t going to be to heavy on her with the kid because anyway I was coming back home every evening, not late. She’ll tell you I was wrong : when I came home everyday I was so exhausted it was impossible for me to do anything. Well it is intense music.

In the studio (© Laura Di Tullio, Nicolas Denis or Daniel Denis)

In the studio with Univers Zero

First day, again, problems with my gear (among other things). We didn’t play that day. I spent most of my day trying to figure out why the midi signal didn’t send to the sound engineer’s (Renzo Gotto) mixing table. Again, I have no idea what the problem was but it did get fixed… Then I had to open up my Nord Stage to fix a key that was not reacting properly (I just had to clean up behind it). I fixed it but the problem moved to another key, so I opened again, fixed again, problem moved again, had lunch, opened again, fixed again, played a little, went home. The next days the band was so tight and motivated we ended up like 3 days ahead of schedule. Days that the band’s perfectionism of course made us catch up later. We particularly spent a lot of time on some parts of Kurt Budé’s composition “Danse Mécanique”. The attention was on every detail. What was hard with that groove was to find what exactly was the best feel for it. It has to feel extremely natural while it’s not. My left hand (organ) is supposed to play tight with changing time signatures (3/4-5/8-5/8) while my right hand plays piano in 4/4, extremely expressive and laid-back. We could do them separately but it’s important to me to get the feel of the band together. Meanwhile all of the band’s attention is on that tight-but-natural feel and we make close to 20 different takes that are all just slightly different. Again, I’d never worked in such detail before (the advantage of time here, usually we just have to be happy with the 2 or 3 takes we make… no time to do more!). On the solos spontaneity is the key though, so one or two takes max. About that, I just noticed that the only excerpt from the album on YouTube is a solo of mine 🙂 Here it is.

While it was hard and exhausting work it was also very exciting and at the same time a very nice and chill time. We were lucky enough to have some sun, Kurt cooked great lunches for us every day, that we ate in the garden, next to the roosters (sometimes maybe provoking them by eating chicken!)…

Rock-in-Opposition Festival – before our show (Romantic Warriors II, meeting people, the effect of the European Union expansion on Chicago)

In a gas station on the road

Picture I took from the ground of a gas station in France on our way to Carmaux.

Soon after that was the time to get back to work on a live set as we were invited

The concert hall in Carmaux

The concert hall in Carmaux

to play in Carmaux, France, for the Rock-in-Opposition Festival. A few days before leaving, Susan and I watched the Romantic Warriors II documentary about Rock-in-Opposition which extensively features the festival, and Univers Zero. That way we knew a little bit more about the whole movement. I strongly recommend watching the documentary, it’s brilliant! Besides, their makers are busy editing the third episode, which will feature The Wrong Object (we played a few songs for them, including my composition Glass Cubes, the first real vocal track I sing on a record, with Susan (who just rocks it!) – I challenge you to make the difference between our singing voices by the way, it seems that a lot of people didn’t manage… Little hint : the highest one is generally me :-P) Daniel left a couple of days before us and stayed there longer so he could enjoy a little holiday with his wife Chantal. Kurt went in the van with Present (which he was joining for a show at the same festival). And Nicolas, Dimitri, Jeremy and Susan and me went in a giant van with all our material (including Daniel’s drums). Susan came to enjoy the weekend with us and take pictures of our concert.

Rock-in-Opposition 2013 poster

Rock-in-Opposition 2013 poster

RIO Festival is quite a special thing. People come from all around the world for it, to that former mining site in the middle of nowhere, for bands that are totally unknown to the general masses. But that’s how great their dedication is to that music. It was a chance for me to meet lots of fantastic people – some of which I had already met online – and Susan and I felt at home. We arrived at night, had a couple of drinks and went straight to bed. The next morning unfortunately I was too nervous (Dimitri had warned me it was important to be on top with this concert because it was a demanding and knowledgeable audience, as well as some promoters… Pressure was the word) and taken with the installation and everything to go and see the other bands. Susan however caught Cheer Accident‘s show and photographed them (she had no zoom so for their concert as well as ours she was running around, climbing on everything she could, and the result is just awesome). She fell in love with their music. I just was able to see 15 minutes of it and understood indeed that they set the bar high. We met these fantastic people/musicians later and their drummer/leader Thymme Jones gave us a DVD of his TV-show back in Chicago. We watched it in the van on our way back, jeez what a crazy act, reminds me of Andy Kauffman’s stuff, you never really know if it’s real and you laugh at the total absurdity (about “the effect of the European Union expansion on Chicago”). I was also happy to see cd’s of The Wrong Object and SH.TG.N, two of my other bands, for sale there (and even someone with a Wrong Object t-shirt!), and to finally meet in person the Leonardo Pavkovic who released these albums for us on his label MoonJune Records in New York. Unfortunately I ran into him while I was literally running to my soundcheck so we just exchanged a few words and planned to talk to each other later but that never happened. Next time i saw him he was busy with The Soft Machine which is the band from his roster he accompanied there, and after that I didn’t find him again.

During and after our show (technical issues, interview, great community)

Faust's chainsaw

Faust’s musical chainsaw

I found it exciting to find Faust‘s chainsaw and masks on stage before we installed ourselves. Our concert went well, appart from some technical issues (little fight with the light guy who just refused to follow our light plan and ended up doing nothing like what we wanted – which got Daniel and his wife angry ; floor tom falling appart in the middle of the show). All in all that might even have helped the energy… Right after we were done we had to run to the public interview (first time ever for me). I hate talking in public so you can bet this wasn’t an easy task for me. Luckily of course it was mostly Daniel and Kurt they wanted to hear so I didn’t have to talk too much. Dimitri and Nicolas just stayed in the audience (Dimitri was late because he had other business to attend to and Nicolas really didn’t want to participate so he walked with us to the table but stopped in the audience and took a seat!).

Kurt and I (© Susan Clynes)

Kurt and I (© Susan Clynes)

After that everything was just fun and games, meeting this whole great community I just found out existed, having drinks on the terrasse, releasing the pressure and seeing a few gigs. On festivals like these I always want to see everything but when I play myself I just can’t : before the show I’m too nervous and focused, after the show I’m too saturated and I need to release the pressure and talk to people). Anyway I did catch a bit of Poil‘s show which was great, in the line of Mr Bungle and Le Singe Blanc. I also saw a part of The Soft Machine which I didn’t want to miss but did anyway… It was a little out of context to have such a straight forward jazz band like this there, plus I’m a giant fan of the Robert Wyatt era and didn’t really know what they were doing nowadays so you can imagine my surprise. Great quality blues/jazz rock though, just not the moment for me.

Quickly said, kudos to Michel Besset for the organization of this amazing festival I recommend to anybody looking for challenging music in a great atmosphere.

After : mixing the album

Univers Zéro's new album coming up!

Univers Zéro’s new album coming up!

I’m not going to get into the details for the rest but after we got back it was time to start mixing the album, again 2 weeks of uninterrupted work by mostly Didier de Roos and Daniel. I did pass by once to listen and make sure I was satisfied with the way they treated my sounds mostly. Didier has the most amazing mixing studio I’ve ever seen, and a great talent. You’ll hear it on the album : he did amazing work! Now I’m just looking forward to see the album, and get some reactions. It’s coming out in Japan (where our new label DiskUnion/Arcangelo is based) and the rest of the world (where there will be distributors of course) next wednesday. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Thanks for reading, cheers,

Antoine

PS : I updated the first part with a video compilation of excerpts from what we did with the avant garde silent films in Mexico, and a video from a composition of mine we played at that same concert!

My experience as a 27 year old fresh member of 40 year old cultband Univers Zero (Part 1 : Joining for Mexico)

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“How do you feel about becoming Univers Zero’s new keyboardist ?”

Univers Zero

A little more than a year ago I was offered to join then 39 year old cultband Univers Zero. We were in Marrakech, Marocco, on our honeymoon when my bride Susan saw I had a new text message. As I was packing my luggage to fly back home, she told me to quickly come and check my phone, I was going to be happy about what I’d read. “How do you feel about becoming Univers Zero’s new keyboardist ?” was what my friend Dimitri Evers – the band’s bass player and my ex-fellow musician in (S)hhh (my very first band) – had sent me. I called him from Marrakech airport, as soon as I could, very excited.

Soon a few scores arrived for the first rehearsal, on December 18, 2012. I had about a month to prepare. What gave me most trouble was making sounds close to these of a harmonium, pipe organ, and horns, with my Nord Stage’s Hammond organ and synth, and the song Phobia from the album Rhythmix (never performed live before). I was nervous for the first rehearsal but I was ready. I was however going to have to expend my setup to the use of a laptop because it was necessary to have a real good harmonium sound, among others. I hadn’t yet considered it because I simply had never done it before and thought they were looking for self made sounds more than replicas of acoustic instruments. Also I didn’t own a laptop.

After that started the real work : Daniel Denis sent lots of new scores he and Kurt Budé had composed especially for Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional concert with short avant grade silent movies. And I had a whole bunch of new things to learn : a new way to play, a new way to feel rhythms (often two at the same time), a new way of setting up sounds. I had never worked with a laptop on stage before so I had to figure out how to setup the midi system, and change sounds without having to touch the computer. Daniel came to my house once to check out the sounds with me and choose together. I redesigned a few things in accordance with the needs of the music (like expending the harmonium sound to the full range of a piano). And damn I practiced. Constantly. I wanted to master the repertoire to feel completely at ease. And good I did because that seemed to be the expectation : on the first rehearsal already everybody knew their parts almost perfectly. All we worked on on rehearsals for four months before the Mexican tour was musicality and sound. And perfecting what was not perfect. And day after day, I was testing different setups, different sounds. One problem I faced was the impossibility to turn pages on my sometimes 25 pages scores (extremely difficult to learn by heart). So I went out and bought an iPad and a pedal that turns the pages for me… Solved all my problems.
I’d never played with such a professional, nice, dedicated band before. And damn was the music good and the experience rewarding!

Mexico’s Teatro de la Ciudad : first show, soundcheck panic, bass player arrested

At the Teatro de la Ciudad, Mexico

At the Teatro de la Ciudad, Mexico

After four months rehearsing intensely we flew to Mexico for a couple of shows and had a total blast. Here I am for my first show with them and it’s 1) Mexico 2) In the Theater of the City for a lot of people who 3) know the music and I suspect are waiting to see if the change of line-up really was a good idea. Imagine the pressure… I had asked to install our material in the morning so I could make sure everything is ok with the back line and transfer the presets from my laptop to the Nord Stage they had rented for me. Good I did because nothing worked. I had made backup of my presets to load them there, not knowing that the midi settings weren’t a part of it. And I didn’t remember how I did it. I spent a big part of the day trying to fix it, and while I was preparing a stupid B-solution suddenly I hit a button or God knows what I did but everything worked again. I wrote all the settings on paper and finally was able to have a beer with the band. I meditated for an hour before the show and felt astonishingly chill during the whole thing and really enjoyed it. This is extremely fun music to play once you know it. Right after the show Dimitri was arrested for drinking a beer on the street, right outside the backstage. Around us were hundreds of Mexicans drinking cocktails (there was an outdoor cocktail bar). But apparently drinking alcohol on the streets is illegal. Especially if you’re European and the cops think you might have money. He negotiated the price for his liberation and we went back to our hotel.

Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional : avantgarde silent films and dedicated fans

Soundcheck at the Cineteca Nacional, Mexico (pic by Jeremy Trossat)

Soundcheck at the Cineteca Nacional, Mexico

The next day we played in the Cineteca, had a blast again, and in the afternoon new guitarist in the band Nicolas Dechêne and I visited the house of Frida Kahlo which I’d been wanting to see for years, and happened to be right next door. It was a weird, totally unexpected experience, to have to spend an hour after the show taking pictures with fans before we were able to pack our stuff and go celebrate. But I appreciated the devotion of Univers Zero’s audience. Nicolas and I already had a foretaste of that on our first day in Mexico, before our first ever show with the band, when we visited, together with Jeremy Trossat our sound technician, the Ministry of Education where Diego Rivera painted murals for years. Our guide, for some reason, asked us if we were musicians. When we said yes he answered he knew a band from Belgium, it was called Univers Zero. “Is that you ?” We ended up taking pictures with the guy during our visit, while we hadn’t even played with the band once on stage yet!

Day off : No sunblock at Teotihuacan = bad idea

On top of the Pyramid with Nicolas, getting red.

On top of the Pyramid with Nicolas, getting red.

For one of our off days our dear friends Carlos and his son Carlos arranged for some of us to visit Teotihuacan and it’s pyramids. It was amazing but here’s a bad idea for you (don’t try this at home) : meditate and sungaze without sunblock. For weeks after we came back home I looked like a zombie with my face’s skin hanging and disintegrating. Before we flew back, Young Carlos explained to us what Univers Zero’s music meant for him, and how it pushed him to dare to go for his dreams. There you know why you’re doing this job.

In the next episode I’ll you about what happened after Mexico, the recording session and Rock-in-Opposition festival.

UPDATE : Here is PART II !

Cheers,

Antoine

PS : Here’s a video compilation of excerpts from what we did with the avant garde silent films in Mexico :

… and a video of a composition of mine we played at that same concert :

What organic food won’t do for you

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Picture from http://taracreel.com/10-superfoods-children/

So we’ve been eating exclusively organic food at home for a couple of months now and while we can’t deny it tastes a zillion times better and we definitely feel a difference in our way of consuming and our energy, it did however not meet all of our expectations. So here’s a few things organic food won’t do for you :

  • Organic food won’t clean up your house
  • Organic food won’t tie your shoelaces
  • No matter how nicely you ask, organic food won’t massage you (although sometimes a little from the inside)
  • Organic food won’t listen to your problems when you really need a friend
  • Organic food won’t buy you a new house (or you’d really need a lot of it and a very hungry real estate agent)
  • Organic food won’t babysit for you (we tried and ended up having to come home early after the neighbors called the police)
  • Organic food makes the work easier but it won’t actually digest itself
  • …nor will it shop itself
  • And finally, it won’t write your blog posts for you. I was hoping hoping it would and look where that got us!

So don’t listen to what they say : obviously organic food doesn’t buy happiness! What a scam!

Just one last thing it won’t do if you’re doing it right, and which might be surprising to most : it won’t create a hole in your wallet.
For health reasons, Susan is forced to avoid wheat, soy, tomatoes, asparagus, processed sugar, all kinds of milk but sheep and buffalo, all kinds of meat but poultry and fish. You’d think there’s just nothing left… Well that actually forced us make the step to 100% organic since organic shops are the ones where it’s easiest to find what he can it, and to find numerous alternatives. I thought we wouldn’t be able to sustain it financially. But turns out we’re not spending more than before. Yes, the items are more expensive. But we buy less. This change our whole way of consuming. We have more respect for our food and the work of our mostly local farmers. And we stopped filling ourselves until we can’t move anymore. We reach the point where e’ve teen enough and even if we could eat more, we stop. This way we keep our energy for more relevant things than digesting unnecessary quantities of food, we stay fit, we save money, and we consume more responsibly. And this all just happened very naturally.
Makes you question the effect that over abundance of chemically processed food has on our psyche and habits, doesn’t it?

Antoine

10 reasons to attend Staalhard at Trix in Antwerp tomorrow

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My band SH.TG.N played the day before yesterday in its hometown Ghent. The band had been on standby for almost a year so we were extremely excited to find each other again and rediscover the extreme pleasure of playing that music for a (jumping) audience!

SH.TG.N in action

The concert was meant as a try-out for tomorrow’s showcase at Trix in Antwerp where ‘Staalhard’ will be presented.

Staalhard is an initiative of non-profit 666Decibel and came to existence when a bunch of people in the Belgian scene noticed that most people in Belgium had no idea there was so much great metal in Belgium. They decided they’d do something about it. And they put together a compilation LP of their selection of Flemish Underground Metal. And they asked SH.TG.N to be a part of it. We’re extremely proud and happy to be part of such a great initiative!

Now for those who don’t know the band, I gotta tell you, SH.TG.N will be a little bit of a black sheep in that context since it’s arguable we’re even a metal band at all. There is definitely something metal about our music and the (punkish) approach to what we do.
Let’s say the only stable thing about SH.TG.N is that we play everything intensely and that our sound is raw and hard. Now for the structures, rhythms, melodies… that’s a different story. Oh and did I mention we have a vibraphone in the band ?

Staalhard

You know what, I’ll just let you (re-)discover it on your own. At the end of this post is our full debut album we released in 2012 on MoonJune Records. Now it’s time to play. If you’re around Antwerp (or willing to travel) tomorrow Saturday, January 25, I strongly recommend the Staalhard evening at Trix. For at least 10 reasons :

  1. 9 bands play a 30-min set
  2. It’s all for free for God’s sake!
  3. All 9 bands are awesome
  4. There’s for every taste in metal (death, punk, prog, hair, …)
  5. It’s probably your only chance to buy the compilation since after that it’s only meant for promotion purposes with professionals
  6. It’s a fantastic initiative, and supporting it is supporting the Belgian scene
  7. It’s a chance to meet lots of great, passionate people
  8. The venue is great
  9. The beer is good
  10. SH.TG.N will be opening at 7.30pm (bottom line : don’t be late! Be there at 7pm!)

Antoine

Playing some guitar with Beautiful Badness

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Playing some guitar with Beautiful Badness

So here’s one you haven’t seen yet, have you ? I’m up there with the wrong instrument you think!

Well this was my first time on stage on guitar (I mean on a real stage, and since I became a professional musician so high school doesn’t count). Just one song but still, damn how fun is that! I might want more…

The context : about a year ago my friend and colleague Gabriel Sesboué – fantastic singer, and a fellow pianist and guitarist – hurt his arms with a case of the tennis elbow (common with musicians). As it didn’t seem to get better quickly he asked me to replace him on the piano with his indie pop rock band Beautiful Badness for a show or two. Unfortunately his arms are still not healed today. Nevertheless it’s a chance for me to have a lot of fun with them playing piano, singing backing vocals, and occasionally playing guitar…

Anyway two nights ago we were playing at the VK – a great location in a less great (in reputation anyway) neighborhood of Brussels – as an opening act for Spanish band Fuel Fandango. By the way if anybody at VK reads this I damn want to open for Deerhoof with SH.TG.N in March, call me! The (mostly Spanish) crowd was running late so we waited a bit for them and started playing half an hour later than originally planned… then released the tigers. Playing with a straightforward rock band like this unlocks some things in me. Singing backings does too. Suddenly I feel much freer to move and jump everywhere shamelessly, occupy the space I’m given around my keys. And dams that feels good.

The band is starting to be well-oiled, the songs are good, and now the energy was just perfect. It’s a context I haven’t been so used to so it’s also fun to be a part of that for a while and get a taste of how they work… I was surprised at how much attention they have for intangible things. So if you’re a fan of nice and catchy pop rock with great vocals, definitely look up Beautiful Badness and check them out.

#mydaysasapoprockmusician

Antoine

Picture by Anneke Peeters (c)

Exclusive new track from the equally exclusive Pencils or Guitar Strings

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Susan and I have been working on a new project together.

We’re writing new songs together and arranging them for a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments.

Just to get started on that and explore some of the sound possibilities, I remixed (with her artistic assistance) one of Susan’s songs, namely the eponymous track from her forthcoming album : Life Is…

One of the challenges was to try and make it more radio-friendly, try and touch more people with the purpose of pulling them into our world and say more than “We’re up all night to get some, We’re up all night to get lucky” (sorry folks, nothing personal), with music we do stand behind. Try and accompany them into our world with some ear candy like Pink Floyd did when David Gilmour gave the audience a good blues-rock guitar solo before going into all kinds of experimentations.

And… I don’t know about you guys but I’m pretty happy with the result! What do you think ?

We also made a profile on Belgian music site Vibe where you can read our bio, which translates like this :

Fukushima finished Tchernobyl’s work in creating a hybrid being that sings and produces healing energy. The tremors gave it a sense of rhythm in sync with its radioactive universe. After laying down knocked out by the fumes for an endless moment in time the being awoke to a new consciousness. And it started singing : lalalalala.

As you must already be thinking, reading the bio and looking at the picture (which is a mixture of our faces)… weirdness catches up. Well, we’re a couple of weirdos after all.

Antoine

To my Belgian artist friends and other people who want to know about our situation (EN/FR/NL)

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I updated the article with some more info, it’s at the end of the text, in all three languages.

Text in English first, in French a bit further, in Dutch at the end.

Meme Generator
Meme Generator

EN

To my Belgian artists friends :

I see a lot of you haven’t heard about the new regulations yet so I’ll just warn you here of what I understood of it. If I’m wrong anywhere please correct me!

Soon we’ll need an artist visa (a little card you ask the government and they give you if they think you’re worthy of it…) to be allowed to make artist contracts or RPI/KVR. Since this visa is not yet available but the law is in application since the 1st of January, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED not to make any artist contract or RPI/KVR until the situation is cleared out, all the contracts you make in that period could turn out being illegal.
It’s not me saying it, it’s SMartBE vzw/asbl. I also got some valuable info from the Facebook group of the FACIR (Musicians union of the Wallonia/Brussels Federation).

I’m aware this basically means we can’t work but that’s also pretty much what our government is telling us. They also say they’ll be much harder on artists working in black so really I think they mean it’s forbidden to be a professional artist (since it’s also illegal to work for free in your own field of expertise).

The only options in the meantime imply not working, having the status of independent, or pretending there is an employer/employee relationship whenever you work.

Good luck,

Antoine

PS : more info here ; I also suggest to fill in Smart’s type letter to ask a visa and send it to Smart so they can send them all at once as they intend to, and flood the mailbox of the ones in charge.

UPDATE 16/1

After having read yet more about this situation I found out there is still a way for us to declare our work right now without having the status of independent and that is to make “interim” contracts, in which – indeed – we are employee of the interim company.

UPDATE 24/1

According to people at Smart, since the visa doesn’t exist yet, a recorded delivery of your registered letter to the Artists Commission to ask for your visa will act as the visa itself until things are put into place for us to actually get that said visa. So again I insist : send a registered letter to the Artists Commission, ask your visa! Or send it to Smart using their type letter and they’ll make sure you get your recorded delivery.

Yet more valuable info in French to be found here (by Benoît Vreux). He calls this situation the “biggest legal bug of an artist’s career”. This article is a must read if you want to know exactly what to do and what’s going on.

FR

A mes amis artistes belges :

Je vois que beaucoup d’entre vous ne sont pas encore au courant des nouvelles régulations donc je vais juste vous prévenir ici de ce que j’en ai compris. Si je me trompe quelque part, s’il-vous-plaît corrigez-moi!

Bientôt nous aurons besoin d’un visa d’artiste (une petite carte qu’il faut demander au gouvernement, et qu’il nous donnera s’il pense qu’on la mérite…) pour avoir le droit de rédiger des contrats d’artiste ou des RPI. Vu que ce visa n’est pas encore disponible mais que la loi est en application depuis le 1er janvier, il est FORTEMENT RECOMMANDE de ne faire aucun contrat d’artiste ou de RPI tant que la situation n’est pas clarifiée. Autrement il se pourrait que tous les contrats faits durant cette période deviennent illégaux.
Cette mise en garde ne vient pas de moi mais de SMartBE ASBL (qui a déjà mis en standby son service de RPI). J’ai aussi reçu des informations importantes du groupe Facebook du FACIR (Fédération des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Interprètes Réunis, en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, dont je vous conseille de devenir membres par ailleurs ; et de leur groupe Facebook).

Je suis conscient que ça signifie en gros qu’on ne peut pas travailler mais c’est aussi à peu près ce que notre gouvernement essaye de nous dire. Ils préviennent aussi qu’il sera beaucoup plus difficile de travailler en noir donc vraiment je pense qu’ils nous annoncent officiellement l’interdiction d’être artiste professionnel (vu qu’il est aussi illégal en Belgique de travailler gratuitement dans notre propre domaine d’expertise).

Les seules options que nous avons en attendant implique de ne pas travailler, d’avoir le statut d’indépendant, or de prétendre qu’il y a une relation d’employeur/employé quand on travaille.

Bonne chance,

Antoine

PS : plus d’info ici ; je suggère également de remplir le courrier type de Smart pour faire votre demande de visa et de l’envoyer à Smart afin qu’ils soient en mesure de les envoyer toutes ensemble (par recommandé) telle qu’est leur intention, et inonder la boîte aux lettres de nos représentants au gouvernement.

UPDATE 16/1

Après avoir lu encore un peu plus sur cette situation j’ai appris qu’il y a toujours un moyen pour nous de déclarer notre travail pour le moment sans avoir le statut d’indépendant. Nous pouvons faire des contrats d’intérimaire dans lesquels – effectivement – nous sommes employé de la boîte d’intérim.

UPDATE 24/1

D’après des collaborateurs de Smart, vu que le visa n’existe pas encore, un accusé de réception de votre recommandé envoyé à la Commission Artistes pour faire votre demande de visa aura le même effet que ce visa jusqu’à ce que tout soit mis en place pour que nous puissions enfin obtenir ce dit visa. Donc encore une fois j’insiste : envoyez un recommandé à la Commission Artistes, demandez votre visa! Ou envoyez-le à Smart en utilisant leur courrier type et il s’assureront que vous receviez votre accusé de réception (le mien est arrivé hier donc je peux recommencer à faire des 1bis et des RPI!).

Encore plus d’info importante et en Français ici (par Benoît Vreux). Il appelle cette situation le “plus grand bug juridique de [la] carrière [d’un artiste]”. Cet article est à lire absolument si vous voulez savoir exactement que faire et ce qu’il se passe.

NL

Aan mijn Belgische kunstenaar vrienden :

Ik zie dat veel mensen onder jullie nog niet op de hoogte zijn van de nieuwe voorschriften dus ik zal jullie gewoon hier waarschuwen van wat ik daarvan heb verstaan. Moest er iets fouts in zitten, aub verbeter mij.

Binnenkort hebben we een artiest visum nodig (een kaartje dat je aan de overheid moet vragen, en dat je krijgt als ze vinden dat je het verdient…) om de recht te krijgen om artiestencontracten te maken, of KVR’s. Aangezien deze visum nog niet beschikbaar is maar de wet is al effectief sinds 1 Januari, het is ECHT AANGERADEN om géén artiestencontract of RPI te maken tot de situatie duidelijker wordt. Alle contracten gemaakt tijdens deze periode kunnen anders illegaal worden.
Deze waarschuw komt niet van mij maar van SMartBE VZW (die hun KVR-dienst al in standby heeft gezet). Ik heb ook belangrijke info gevonden op de Facebook group van de FACIR (soort nieuwe muzikantenbond van Wallonië/Brussel).

Ik ben er bewust van dat het betekent dat we niet meer mogen werken maar het lijkt ook ongeveer wat onze regering ons probeert te zeggen te zijn. Ze waarschuwen ook dat het moeilijker wordt om in het zwart te werken dus ik denk dat ze gewoon het verbod aankondigen om professionele kunstenaar te zijn (en het is ook illegaal in België om gratis te werken in uw eigen vakgebied).

Enige andere opties dat we hebben tot dan zijn ofwel niet werken, zelfstandige statuut hebben, of beweren dat er een werkgever/werknemer is.

Succes daarmee,

Antoine

PS : Meer info hier en hier (+ andere recente artikels op dezelfde pagina) ; ik raad het ook aan om de modelbrief van Smart in te vullen om uw visumaanvrag te maken en om die onmiddelijk naar Smart door te sturen zodat ze al die brieven ineens kunnen sturen en de brievenbus van onze regering kunnen doen overstromen.

UPDATE 16/1

Ik heb nu nog een beetje meer gelezen over deze situatie en ik heb geleerd dat er toch nog een manier is om ons werk te declareren zonder zelfstandige te zijn. We mogen nog interim contracten maken want daarmee zijn we werknemers van het interimkantoor.

UPDATE 24/1

Volgens Smart medewerkers, aangezien de visum nog niet bestaat is een ontvangstbevestiging van uw aangetekende visumsaanvraag naar de Artiestencommissie geldig als visum tot alles eigenlijk klaar is voor ons om die echte visum te krijgen. Dus is zeg het nog eens : stuurt een aangetekende brief naar de Artiestencommisie, vraagt uw visum! Of stuurt het naar Smart, maakt gebruik van hun modelbrief en ze zullen ervoor zorgen dat u het ontvangstbevestiging krijgt (die van mij is er gisteren aangekomen dus ik mag terug veilig KVR’s en 1bis maken!).

Nog meer belangrijk info in het Frans hier (door Benoît Vreux). Hij noemt deze situatie de “grootste juridistische bug van de carrière van een kunstenaar”. Dit article is een must-read moest je exact willen weten wat je moet doen en wat er aan de hand is. Gebruik dus maar Google Translate als je geen Frans verstaat maar leest het toch.

The Secret to Eternal Life in our Vocabulary ?

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It’s curious and interesting that we would use the heart as a symbol of love.

The heart is what keeps us alive, it is our battery and when it has no power left we die.

Isn’t this telling us something ? Could infinite, unconditional love be the secret to eternal life ? I most certainly think so.

Antoine.

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Image : José de Páez, Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga, c. 1770