Creativity

Blog, Sound & Video

Spot the Korrigans !


I told you I was back into video, and tha I had plenty of ideas ! (so remember if not done yet, to subscribe to our channel, or even share it, there’s plenty more we could do on the channel once we hit a certain amount of subscribers 🙂 http://tinyurl.com/y4ugdtlo )

So here’s my latest short fun video with my favorite and very cooperative actor 🙂

Watch carefully !

How many Korrigans were you able to spot? 😉

Korrigans are little magical creatures found in Brittany mostly in remote magical places like stone circles, wells, hidden springs… They could relate to pixies in a certain way, they tend to be fun and happy, though it’s rather unsure whether their interactions with humans can be positive or negative!
In any case they tend to hide from humans, so it’s quite rare to spot them on their daily life.

Unlike gnomes for instance, they generally don’t live in houses or human settlements, they aren’t as far as one knows attached to any particular house or family. It’s said that they can sometimes be caught forming big circles and dancing under the moonshine. They can grant wishes to humans, but it’s generally not advised to go for it as they’re quite good at tricking you! We supposed that they got a bit grampy and prefer to hide from humans since they aren’t many places they can harmoniously share because of heavy agriculture, buildings and road constructions. Maybe it could also be because they hide their treasures, as it’s said they can create their own gold!

They’re plenty of categories and names for Korrigans, depending on where they live or where they hang, their size and style may vary as well. I have to confess I haven’t met enough of them to be that accurate about the categories 🙂

They have inspired many artists, the most famous one being maybe Pascal Moguerou, that has created numerous illustrations for books, postcards, or posters that can be found in any good stationery or souvenir shop in Brittany. All of his books are like precious beautiful grimoires.

Music is a traditional “fisel” dance played some years ago by Yann, and even I can tell that he doesn’t mix and edit music on the same way anymore!

The video was filmed in June 2019, in a “secret” location in Carnac 🙂 But we’ll reveal that special one very soon, stay tuned! Maybe another time I could share about other magical creatures, we’re trying to attract a Teuz to our house. A Teuz is also small in size, but they use to live with humans, and they would help them with daily cleaning and tidying in the house and the farm! Not kidding!

Thanks for watching and caring, you keep us going!

* Simone.

Note : Links may be affiliated for some of them (on Amazon for instance). As a friend of Astrakan Project, you allow us to earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our affiliate/referral links. This doesn’t affect you in any way in the checkout process. Thank you for supporting our creative journey!

Blog, Musicians' Diary

Summer 2019… About failure, sadness and hope.


We filmed a bit in Carnac (a beautiful and magical location in the south of Brittany) where we were some days ago, we wanted to share a bit with you what we are at. If you have a look at our tour schedule, you’ll straight away notice we’re far from being over-booked for next summer, and we thought it would be fair to also share with you what has been going on. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel if you haven’t yet ! And leave any comment that could support our moods 🙂

In case you wonder, we’re doing much better, the small tout to Catalunya and Portugal were amazing and like the medicine we needed, but we are still practicing intense self-care, as much as we can. We still have our job contracts running up until early July, but we still manage to squeeze in some creative time.
For me personally, creating and editing videos is a fun way to do something different, and stay creative, which makes me feel much better!

Thanks for reading and following our creative crazy journey, even in darker days *Simone.

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Creativity, a need or an addiction for artists? 5 things I do to stay focused on my art!


June is around the corner. And it’s almost the end of the school year which for us means the end of our job contracts in high schools/ secondary schools. And it means also look behind and realise that despite of all going on in our lives, and we’ve definitely had our share this year, we have still been quite creative since January. 

Yann has done some deep sound work in the studio, and rethought the all way we organise our music set. I’ve done some small videos (some are even published on Youtube here), learned new editing tricks, taken pictures, done small drawings. Nothing physically released that’s for sure, no new recording, although we’ve tried hard on that.

I guess like for most artists, creating is a need, can I even say a basic need? One that if it isn’t met messes up all of our lives even where all could go well? Or maybe it could rather be an addiction. Something we got so much used to that we feel we need and to want to experience it again and again?

As the years pass by I’m coming to the conclusion that it isn’t just about “being creative”. It’s also about “staying” and “feeling creative” no matter what. No matter the turmoil of life, no matter if our art doesn’t generate enough revenue to make a living and get us back to side-tiring-non exciting-jobs.

1 Recognise what can’t be done right now

Sometimes it’s just not the time and recognising and accepting it seems to make it easier to navigate through. I’ve seen too many times what denial could do to us. Denying that we aren’t getting the expected gigs/sales/views/streams. Denying that it makes us feel sad and worthless. And fooling ourselves pretending it’s about not giving up. Getting revenue to sustain our living and ensure we’ll be able to live decently, afford healthy food, replace expensive violin strings, do some unavoidable repairs in the house or on the car, all this certainly isn’t about giving up on our creativity.

2 See instead what you can do & start creating something small

We all hear about “dream big”, and keep on seeing this quote shared by anyone on facebook “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” (which btw is by Norman Vincent Peale, author of the Power of Positive Thinking which worth a read ). I feel it’s ok to do so…. when it makes me feel good! When it doesn’t, because let’s be honest when my tour agenda is almost empty the gap is too big for my mind to deal with, I can’t fool myself on that one.

I realised I hadn’t created many videos in years, although it made me extremely happy, and I just thought this was extremely sad. I used to vlog for Astrakan Project. To shoot little sequences just because they had interest for my eyes and because I wanted to see them come to life. There are many reasons for why I was doing less of these. On one hand it’s true that the small equipment I’m lucky to own has its limitations. A lot of limitations for sure, and the truth is also, when I hear our music, I have visions of glorious landscapes and skies that I can’t capture. And I imagine scripts (I wrote a few of them, some even with a storyboard!) that can’t be done with me alone so far.

What was then my cure? Go back to step 1! I acknowledged I couldn’t do these projects right now, and started thinking about what was doable right now. Doable technically. Doable schedule-wise too. I realised I was aiming at creating a full music video, with our tracks being almost all more than 5 min long, that’s a tremendous amount of work, and just the thought was pulling me back from doing anything.at.all! And guess what? It made me so happy to imagine, shot and edit this small sequence with my son!

In a way, I try to change my perspective. Instead of staying stuck into “want I want to do”, I gently try to push myself to also see “what I can easily do” and that makes me (quite as) happy too.

I’m preparing a few more, you can subscribe to our Youtube channel here if you haven’t done so.   http://www.youtube.com/astrakanproject/?sub_confirmation=1.

3 Reduce social media

And I’m serious on that one! More than often I can be more than happy about friends having gigs, tours, exhibitions, and I’m happy to listen to new music people share, discover new videos. But again, if the gap is too big with what I’m experiencing right now, I just see how it makes me feel sad to hear/see their own achievements, and then it builds up to resentment, to feeling like a victim, and I deeply believe feeling like a victim doesn’t really pair with being a thriving artist! My feeling again, everyone is different, some people may get motivated by some sort of competition or revenge, but it’s not my case at all, I need to be centered and at peace to create.

the ghost of me - Simone Alves - Astrakan Project
The Ghost of Me.

Since a reduced my scrolling time, I noticed how I had more clarity, more ideas, and more focus for sure to deepen the ideas I have, and actually create them (I also noticed I could remember vibrant dreams, is that related?). I feel that even “nice”, “inspiring”, “classes”, “how to” content is an excuse for not being creating myself. There’s so much waiting to be done! I have a long way to go, but I’m taking responsibility for trying it out.

4 Read (or listen) to inspiring books instead!

My bible will forever be The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. I don’t know if there’s anyone around that hasn’t heard about her book, but if it’s your case, know that it’s been a companion for a decade, and it’s more than a usual inspirational book. It has concrete steps and exercises to get back on creativity. I could even award it as best-value-book-ever!

My second go to book is Big Magic, Creative Living beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I listen to it actually rather than I read it, but I love it and it has changed my perspective on the expectations I had towards my art. I realised I was putting a lot of pressure on what I was creating. It had to please me, to make me happy, to get me revenue (oh! That’s a big one!), to get me to travel, to get me to meet new people. I realised I needed to accept (remember step 1 😉 ) that if it was really cool when it would happen, I should relax, step back, and re-focus on the process of creating, not on the out-come. To be honest, that’s way easier said than done and experienced!

The author has also a very unique take on inspiration and ideas. For Elizabeth Guilbert, ideas have an existence on their own, like they are floating around waiting for someone to grab them and materialise them into the physical world. A very profound book that I feel like… listening to again as soon as I press the publish button on this post!

I’m personally a big fan of audiobooks, especially for non-fiction books, books about creativity, motivational books. When I discovered about it, I was in awe with all the possibilities. I already loved long drives, but that definitely make them even more exciting! Same goes for cooking sessions!

(This link should give you 1 month for free, which means one book credit for free)

That’s all for today folks, if you have any advice or thought to share with me, please to in the comments below, if that was useful too 🙂

Wishing you a lovely, peaceful and creative week!

A galon / with heart, Simone

PS: Links may be affiliated for some of them (on Amazon for instance). As a friend of Astrakan Project, you allow us to earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our affiliate/referral links. This doesn’t affect you in any way in the checkout process. Thank you for supporting our creative journey!

Blog, Crowdfounding Inês

Small artwork / petites illustrations


(this page relates to our crowdfunding campaign rening right now for our music and book project Inês. Please have first a look at the general campaign!) / (cette page concerne la campagne de financement participatif de notre projet de livre/album Inês. Merci de consulter d’abord la page en français du financement participatif pour y comprendre quelque chose!)

(français plus bas) For a contribution of 90€ you get to choose any of the following art-work pieces. They’re all on watercolor paper (professional quality), and will need to be framed. They all include collage and a mixture of techniques and materials, sizes are different, check each for details. When contributing on indiegogo, please add the title of the piece you choose, or we’ll get back to you.

Pour une contribution de 90€ à notre projet, vous recevrez une illustration originale ayant servi à la réalisation du livre. Toutes les pièces sont uniques, sur papier aquarelle de qualité professionnelle, sans encadrement, et incluent beaucoup de collage parmis les techniques utilisées. Référez-vous à chaque pièce pour les dimensions. Lors de votre contribution sur indiegogo (en anglais), indiquez nous le titre que vous choisissez, sinon nous reviendrons vers vous.

  • 1. The boat – Le bâteau

Ar Maured o kuitaat Iberia / The Moors driven away from the Peninsula. Artwork for the concept album Inês (medieval love story between Pedro King of Portugal and Inês de Castro)

For song n°1 The triumph of King Alfonso. 30.5*23 cm approx 12*9 inches.

Pour le titre n°1 Le retour victorieux du Roi Alfonso. 30.5*9 cm.

  • 2. Water Spirit 1 / Sylphe 1 (already chosen / déjà choisie)

Water Spirit 1 full

For song n°5 Gwerz Inês, 32*24 cm approx 12.59*9.44 inches

Pour le titre n°5 Gwerz Inês, 32*24 cm.

 

 

  • 3. Water Spirit 2 / Sylphe 2

Water Spirit 2 full

For song n°5 Gwerz Inês, 32*24 cm approx 12.59*9.44 inches

Pour le titre n°5 Gwerz Inês, 32*24 cm.

 

 

  • 4. Water Spirit 3 / Sylphe 3

Water Spirit 3 face.JPG

For song n°5 Gwerz Inês, 25*18 cm approx 9.84*7.08 inches

Pour le titre n°5 Gwerz Inês, 25*18 cm.

  • 5. The swans / Les Cygnes

    Swans full

For song n°3 The Hunt, 32*24 cm approx 12.59*9.44 inches

Pour le titre n°3 La Chasse, 32*24 cm

 

 

  • 6. The Knight / Le Chevalier

    Knight full

For song n°4 Inês Trial 30.5*23 cm approx 12*9 inches.

Pour le titre n°4 Le Jugement d’Inês 30.5*9 cm.

 

 

to Indiegogo campaign now! 

 

For this reward we will also include / dans cette récompense il y a également :

+ Hand numbered copy of the Album/book freshly arrived from the factory / un exemplaire numéroté du libre/album à sa sortie

 1 cover artwork repro A5 size on 300g/m² light cardboard / une reproduction de la couverture en format A5 sur carton léger 300g/m2

+  4 Postcards set (artwork repros from Simone’s artwork used for album covers A6 size) / la série de 4 cartes postales des couvertures des albums d’Astrakan Project 

 Full album download ( It will come with the lyrics+translations in french and english on a nice PdF)  / le téléchargement de l’album (avec l’intégralité des traduction en anglais et français en format PdF)

Blog, Crowdfounding Inês

9 paintings for 9 songs


(this page relates to our crowdfunding campaign rening right now for our music and book project Inês. Please have first a look at the general campaign!) / (cette page concerne la campagne de financement participatif de notre projet de livre/album Inês. Merci de consulter d’abord la page en français du financement participatif pour y comprendre quelque chose!)

For this perk of 180€ you will be able to choose from 9 main compositions on canvas, size is 40*50 cm minimum (approx 15.74*19.68 inch), or bigger, corresponding to the 9 songs of the album, pictures will be posted as they are ready, though they still might be work in progress at the end of the campaign. (please keep in mind that all this is a creative process, what is planed can change, inspiration is someone you don’t control easily!). In any case, we’ll come back individually to each of you, and it will be possible to change your mind even after the campaign if you like one of the paintings best 🙂

  1. Alfonso return (opening song of the album, will feature the King, and a castle with a blue village, musicians)
  2. Inês and Pedro

    2 full 1
    Pedro & Inês – song n°2 An Emgav – on canvas 50*40

    2 full sag

  3. Inês dress (for the song “The hunt and the prophecy”, will feature Inês in monastery Santa Clara, before Pedro’s departure, with scenes from the prophecy on her dress) – this canvas is already reserved by someone!
  4. The Judgment (king and knights around the table with little couple couple of Pedro & Inês symbolically in the middle of the table)
  5. Gwerz Inês

    5 full 1.jpg
    Inês ha merch’ed Mondego – Inês and the water spirits – song n°5 Gwerz Inês – on canvas 50*40

    5 full sag

  6. Gwerz Pedro (most likely a tortured portrait of Pedro)
  7. The secret wedding (Pedro and Inês’ ghost above the knights meeting room and the scribe)
  8. The revenge (most likely some castles with a banquet scene. )
  9. The Coronation (will feature Inês on her throne, with scenes from the story around her, and Pedro’s hands coronating her)

Back to indiegogo campaign here

In any case, feel free to reach out for more info!

 

Back to indiegogo campaign here

 

 

DIY Album, Sound & Video

Making new from old AKA dare to sacrifice


Our album is right now being manufactured, it’s a big achievement already! We still have a lot to do, but we can be more relax since the first big deadline is over (and we made it! 🙂 ) And since we were so busy last week, here’s a sneak-pick on how we created the album cover.

Our music too is pretty much also about “sacrificing” ancient (and beautiful) a-capela songs to turn them into new pieces. Sometimes we barely dare to. For some tunes, including some on next album, we waited for years before we dared to. Not by fear really. But because it’s sometimes hard to transform a song into a new tune that will at least compete with the original version.

§ Simone

Musicians' Diary

What is left behind during the creative process


When we released last month our “Within The Circle” tracks, I had done a front cover (>here<) with original art work, but didn’t get into editing something more visual with short descriptions from the songs – but it is done now!

I would never pretend to compete with any professional designer, but the more I get to work on the visual I want to add to our music, the more I enjoy the process. It is still a challenge for me to try to find something clear and easy to read, but also different from what I have already done. Here it is, it will now automatically download with the songs:

Within the Circle - astrakan project

 

The little philosophical story relates to the colour circle-like that are from a picture I took from the process of painting the full cover, which means… it no longer exists. It is somewhere, somewhere under this painting. It is part of it, it was necessary to make the face emerge from a flow of colour. But it only exists as part of Her now.

Tethys - Within the Circle
What is left behind the creative process…

Maybe every creative process is about this sacrifice, about choosing one version over another one. When we choose to play a formally a-capella version of a song on stage using loops and oriental instruments, we also kind of leave the old version we heard and learned from the elders behind. But it is still there, part of something new that would have never existed without it.

We so far don’t know if we’ll ever release it as “physical” edition, or maybe as a bonus? In the meantime anyway you can enjoy the music here (and download it for free by just entering your e-mail address) : 

§ Simone

Musicians' Diary

Bringing music to Life


A new album is emerging within us. We know the process will take some time, months at least. But we are now opened to the possibility of creating a new album.

Another aspect of our music. Another us. The first album was like an “emergency” call. We needed to release it, we needed to bring something to the real world. We needed it because it was blocking us from creating new sounds & songs, from imagining new ambiances for live shows. Then we made a lot of choices, shortened some improvisation parts, to make it fit (obviously just a little bit 🙂 ) into some standard formats & length. It is thus very tense, full, packed maybe too…

Home music studio - Astrakan Project - diy album again
The Music studio is already working at full potential!

We knew moving to Greece would bring that sense of “emergency to create” again, because, well… because being in a totally new environment is very powerful, everything is new, everything requests attention, and probably stimulates unknown parts of our musician brains… We just didn’t expect to be already digging into it!

We already have a feeling about how our next album will be… More of us. More freedom. More wildness. More fearless creativity… And it’s really joyful to be back into that feeling again!

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