Category Archives: Thankfulness

Resolutions for 2015 I’m planning to keep

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1. Being the most loving human being I can be, in the profound experience & knowledge that when I give fully, and hold nothing back, I am truly living, and being myself in my most natural state, beneficial to myself AND everyone around me in the best possible way.

2. Supporting, sharing and promoting wonderful ecologic and humanly economic projects.

3.  Consuming as ethically, honestly and responsibly as possible in a fun way, supporting with my money and energy the production processes I believe in, and want to see more of in the world.
Asking myself with each action (as I’ve heard it is said Native Americans used to do) : ‘What will the effect of this action be, if it is repeated for 7 generations.’ Will it be wonderful or harmful? If it is harmful, why do it?

4.  Recycling and upcycling as much as possible, making treasure out of trash and if I can’t do it myself, having it done for me by these amazing people. (Don’t want to ruin the surprise, just check it out, you seriously won’t be sorry.)

5. Asking and accepting the help & support I need when I need it in the knowledge that asking and accepting help is allowing others into our hearts, that vulnerability doesn’t make me weak but actually reveals my true strength.

6. Finding what it is I can do to benefit the world and beings in it in the best way possible.

7. Appreciating all the beauty within each and every one of us, focussing on it so it can grow.

Happy 2015 sweet people. What are your resolutions you plan on keeping this year ?
Love –
The half of the couple of weirdos called
Susan

Resolutions for 2015 I plan on keeping.

Inspiring little image.

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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.

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