Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book: The Rosary by Immaculee Ilibagiza



Nothing more adequate than a wonderful book exalting the power of prayer during this special time of year. And that's what this is, a powerful, compelling testimony of a strong human being, one that has lived through unimaginable suffering and horrors during the Rwandan genocide. I became aware of Immaculle Ilibagiza years ago when I was watching a PBS Wayne Dyer special. He introduced her to the audience and talked about the book she had just then launched, which told of the amazing ordeal she went through to survive the genocide, against all odds. I remember her immense faith when she related how she clutched to her rosary, the last and only belonging she had left, during those 3 months of agonizing imprisonment, believing in a miracle, believing in forgiveness, believing in salvation. And it came. And she credited it all to her faithful praying of the rosary.



With great satisfaction I found out she had written this book, describing in more detail her intimate relationship with praying the rosary, and how it continues to make a tremendous difference in her life. From her teenager years before the genocide, during and after her ordeal, and how it still has a great impact in strengthening her faith and easing her sorrows, it is truly amazing to read the testimony of this special person, and how she humbly devotes herself to this glorious prayer.  This uplifting story, that describes her own personal experience, is a powerful motivational book that shows how prayer is still the best answer to our questions.




FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Music: Interview with musician and entrepreneur Cedric Theys from Mad Ducks Records


Cedric Theys stopped by for an interview to tell us a little bit about his talent both as a musician and as the founder of Mad Ducks Records, an independent recording company label based in Austin, TX. Cedric plays bass and has performed with different bands in Texas and France. Let's hear him!

1. As a musician, when was the first time you performed live? How did you feel? 

I don’t think I actually remember my first live performance. I remember when I started playing; the first time I entered Guitar Center while I had just arrived in the US, I decided I wanted to play guitar. I think it took another 3 years before I decided I really wanted to write and play live.
The first performance I can remember in front of people was as a guitar duo playing covers of Metallica and Megadeth. A friend of mine played the guitar solos and I played the rhythm parts. That was not a great experience! I couldn’t play standing up at the time and there was no chair so I sat on a table that actually collapsed while I was playing. No harm though and I kept going.
The best early performance I can remember is playing for my father’s 50th birthday. It was a trio, drums, bass and guitar. We actually played for the first time a piece we had written especially for the event, “Mid Century Sky Jump”. My Dad went free falling for his birthday. The piece is our first really concept piece with various parts and all instrumental. It changed a lot afterwards but it was so great to play the music we love.

2. Is there a specific performance you feel was your best ever? If so, where and why? 

It was again with 4Element (www.madducksrecords.com/4element.html). We had just become a trio; one of the guitarists had quit the band. We had 6 weeks to figure out the songs as a trio and be able to play them at a concert. 6 weeks may seem like a lot but we all had day jobs and other responsibilities so it’s actually quite short for the material we were playing. I think my brother (on drums) and Xavier (on guitars) were quite on edge not sure if we would make it. I felt really comfortable.
We were actually on fire that night and the music just soared. 3 guys on stage and it felt like there were 6 of us! Maybe the fact that it was new and daring made it so awesome. I recall Xavier telling me afterwards that he had actually puked before we went on stage as he was so uneasy. That’s a good sign!


3. What do you enjoy the most between the interaction with your fans?

I don’t get approached too much… might be the bass player syndrome. The cool thing is that because of the music I do, when people are drawn to it, they really listen and they are really engrossed by the music. Which to me is what is important. It’s not about the player; it’s all about the music. So if the fans get that, I’m happy.

4. What genre do you consider yourself and who is your greatest influence? 

I coined the phrase Electro prog rock as I was very influenced (and still am) by Prog music (Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, to name a few) and all the electronic experimentation that’s been going on for the past 30 years (Aphex Twin www.drukqs.net, Brain Damage brain-damage.fr, Bill Laswell, Brian Eno http://brian-eno.net/lux/).

I am influenced by a lot of different music and musicians playing any kind of instruments. I’m just like a sponge when it comes to music. But if I have to pick one influence, as a bass player I will have to say it’s Tony Levin www.tonylevin.com (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and about 500 other artists!). He is at the root of a lot of things I started doing as a musician.


4Element recording at Sugar Hill Studios. Cedric on the board.


5. What is your source of inspiration to compose? 

That’s an excellent question. I’ve never really stopped and thought about this.
I think I get inspired by many different things. I’ve written some lyrics even though that doesn’t come easy to me. One thing that seems to help me are sounds, like an effect (I’m a big effects pedal geek!) or a certain melody or riff. I build around that. That’s why I really like using the computer as a tool. You can easily put building blocks together just like legos.
I’m a bit hypercritical when it comes to things I compose. I usually prefer composing as a band as I feel each musician know their instruments better than me and they should write their own parts. It makes everything more organic.

6. How did you start the record company and what's the story behind the name?

Mad Ducks Records was started about 13 or 14 years ago. As 4Element, my first band, we were recording our first album and we needed to put it out so we decided to create our own record label.
At the time, my brother was the one finding names for most of the songs and everything we were doing. One of the songs on that first record is “Ducks On The Wall”; it’s actually the first song on the record. I guess he really liked the Ducks idea and used it for the label as well. We all loved the name right away and I’ve had great feedback on the name over the years.

7. Who is your target audience? 

Another question I never stopped and thought about J. Most of the music on the label is electronic, instrumental and experimental. It probably never will be on the radio and that’s not the intent. Indeed it’s not music you can just put in the background at first listen. You have to focus on it and internalize it to some extent.

Some of the albums could have a wider audience. Eric’s album
(www.madducksrecords.com/embadinga.html) is a mix of World music and rock. Corey’s album (http://www.madducksrecords.com/cb_sweetrelease.html) is entirely song oriented and more acoustic folk.




 
 Eric Mbadinga-Nzamba performing live from the album Continuum

8. Why should we buy your music? 

Nobody should do anything they don’t want to. If someone likes the music then I hope that you will buy it and more importantly enjoy it for a long time.
The label is really a one person entity. I do everything to promotion, website design and coding and producing, recording and mixing the albums. It takes time, expertise (I’m still learning!) and equipment. When you buy an album, the money goes back into the label for other projects. I would love to release every single album on CD or vinyl but it’s too expensive at this stage.
Every purchase is a great way of supporting what the artists and I are trying to do. And it feels really good to get an e-mail with a new download sold.

9. Where can we buy your music? 

All of the music released through the label is available in the shop at www.madducksrecords.com. Some releases are available on iTunes and Amazon. A few of the albums are available as CDs through the website directly. Of course when you buy through the MDR store more of the money goes to me and/or the artists.

9. What are your plans for the coming year?

There’s a lot in the pipeline for 2014. The last 2 releases were from 2011. I put a stop on new releases because I had to rethink how I was promoting the music.
I’ve been working on 2 albums, a new one from DJ Lion-O (http://www.madducksrecords.com/djliono.html) and another one I’m mixing from my brother’s French band, Jass & Bazz (http://www.madducksrecords.com/jassbazz.html). Those will be released early in 2014.
In March I will also attend SXSW in Austin and help any French bands that are coming here for the festival.

I am hoping to start some solo improvised gigs with the new U8 Deluxe I’m having built right now. It’s an 8 strings touch guitar instrument designed by Markus Reuter (http://www.markusreuter.com/).
I will also go to the second American Touch Guitar Circle (http://www.touchguitarcircle.com/), led by Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn (http://www.treygunn.com/)whenever that takes place and will most likely attend another Three of a Perfect Pair Camp (Tony Levin, Adrian Belew, Pat Mastelotto) (http://threeofaperfectpair.com/) later in the year. Those occasions have been amazing for me to connect with inspirational musicians and people that love music the way I do. When I come back from those I am reenergized for a full year and know that I can do this!

               


Mad Ducks Records
Follow them on twitter at: @MadDucksRecords