Choices

I wish I could live from my art. Seems impossible in this corner of the world. For now. Some day maybe. That’d make me so happy.

I’ve been on survival mode for a while. Lost pretty much every tangible item I owned. No biggie. I was prepared for it.

I lost a lot of weight, lots of blood. I collapsed a couple of times during my trips. Life was testing me. I got through it all. Victorious.

It’s not about any god. It’s having faith (in whatever and) in the process. Once you’re 100% in line with your path, it all comes together.

I have never felt this whole my entire life. I have discovered feelings beyond names. I have met incredible artists, amazing people.
I’ll keep doing the best I can to create, produce, promote beautiful arts. Probably not as much as I have for the last past 1 & half year.

Right now I’ve got to get back to employment full time. I got too many debts. Our economy isn’t steady enough to offer part time jobs.
Thank you so much for keeping up with my crazy mind. For accepting me. For loving me. Sorry for being harsh. I got that tough love.

I’m not quitting the arts. How can I? I ain’t even takin a break. I’m just saying time is gonna be a challenge but I’ll rise above.

Life is about choices so I wrote about them and invited a couple of talented artists with whom I share the journey to help me say it better. Remember their names: Weya Viatora, Nganji Arnaud, Dany Beats.

#My2016

2016 was an intense year, wasn’t it? Very interesting too. Has there been any other time in your life loaded with information from everywhere and everyone 24/7? Everyone was switched on this year. So much that some of us got a glimpse into the director’s cut of The World As It Is before being slapped by an orange man with tiny hands. At some point I felt like I was part of the newsroom. Well, that’s probably because I was. It’s no secret that I did bombard you regularly with posts throughout the year. If you’re reading this, you survived. 

I began 2016 posting a video on my Facebook page hinting about my music projects and what it would take to achieve them. It probably sounded like those New Year’s resolutions but I knew exactly what I was talking about. I just wanted you to be part of it. 

https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1656633567926492&id=1475922169330967

Personally, I have never doubted my abilities to do the things that I set my mind to. I just have to want it real bad, and I consider it done. Some people call it genius but that’s another way of simplifying things and finding excuses for not doing. Say whatever but it’s whatever it takes that makes all the difference. We get trapped in existing formats about pursuing our dreams and forget the essence. Our experiences vary depending on our situations, time and space. They cannot become models but they can inspire others. How do I make it simple?Think of a hungry African kid in the village spending hours in some banana plantation trying to create toys from banana leaves with his own hands, without any tutorial and still managing to create their own happiness in the middle of chaos and misery. I was that kid. I am still that kid at 35 years old. Yes, the decor is different but the passion to create never went to sleep. I woke up this year to remind us all that “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of” and that “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” as Paulo Coelho put it so well The Alchemist. This year was a very refreshing and interesting journey and I am very glad that I did not walk alone. Many of you followed me closely even from a distance, with love, some friends, artists, journalists held my hand while many watched the journey unfold and there was an insignificant number of people waiting for me to fall. But I have never held my head higher than I do now. I am very proud to write “artist” in the profession box. We did it, fam! 

We pulled it off with no sponsor and we did it with class, didn’t we? We even did more than we planned. From the simple #Expericment series, we produced the #Expericment EP and now working on the #Expericmentary (the expericment documentary) plus lots of features on local and international publications. All this in less than 12 months. So here is a toast to you and I, fam. To the doers that we are. It’s your moral and emotional support, your physical and virtual involvement, your appreciation, your encouraging messages, your vibes that kept me going.

From the bottom of my heart, I wanna take this time to appreciate everyone who made 2016 the dopest year of my life. You will find your name in the credits of the #Expericmentary scheduled to screen towards the 15th of January 2017.

To greatness in 2017.

1Key, 1Love 

Entre 2 album review: Chasing Ghosts

Track 8: Raison d’Etre (“Reason to Be”)/Chasing Ghosts ft. Jason Ntaro & Body of Brian 

As we progress further through 1Key’s eclectic album, the tone shifts once again. 1Key’s eighth track – Raison d’Etre/Chasing Ghosts – was inspired by the soulful, folky quality of Ben Harper’s single Please me like you want to (2011). The music opens with the comforting sounds of an acoustic guitar and the passionate voice of Body of Brian, who sings his verse in English.

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing on the #expericment. [Courtesy of Innovation Village]
As the artists on the track contemplate their “reasons to be”, the album’s entre deux (“between two”) theme reappears. Once again, 1Key articulates his frustrations with the entrapments of a capitalist society. In order to emphasise the omnipresence of money, the wordsmith inserts multiple variations of the word “money” throughout his verse: L’argent, thunes, money, maille, blé, pognon, fric, beurre (“butter”), and pain (“bread”). In French, the rapper asks the question:

“In a consumerist society even the dream is for sale

What’s the right choice between passion and employment?” (Translated from French to English)

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing on the #expericment. [Courtesy of Innovation Village]
The track – which is about selling your soul to make money – is reflective of 1Key’s unease with his position as both an artist, concerned with “speaking truths”, and as the Creative Head for an advertising agency, where he is paid to sell ideas – whether he believes in them or not. 1Key tells us “…I sold grams of my soul/When I put my pen at the service of capitalism/For little money, I lost balance.” (Translated from French to English)

1Key was excited to collaborate with his favourite Ugandan poet for this track. Jason Ntaro shares 1Key’s concerns with the ever-demanding nature of capitalism. In verse 3 he tells us:

“Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard

But hard enough is not even hard enough

And so I sit, watch my shrivelled shadows and laugh

And fall willingly into this crack…”

Like 1Key, Jason Ntaro feels burdened by the repetitive emptiness of a life chasing money, rather than a life enriched by authenticity and meaning.

In May 2016, 1Key quit his job in advertising to pursue a full time career as an artist. As a fierce promoter of Kigali’s live music scene – which is severely under-funded – 1Key has been organising a series of live shows: the #expericment. The first show saw the evolution of the storyteller. As one fan tweeted: “[1Key] Came in like a slave and left like a rock star…” Indeed, it is beautiful watching 1Key evolve as an artist, among his family and his friends – and with a fast-growing audience beyond that. The second show was simpler: a band, a stool and a storyteller, with 1Key using this self-made-platform to invite other storytellers (singers, spoken word poets and comedians) to the stage. 1Key oozes stage presence and his third show in the series – which he called “Sexpericment” – playfully explored gender themes and sexuality.

Exp 3_Profile
Courtesy of Eric 1Key

In order to meet the financial demands of a live show, 1Key regularly appeals to his fans on social media sites, encouraging them to buy his album, and to purchase show tickets using mobile money. In January 2016, 1Key released The Free Song, with Don Nova, J Dub, Sickspits, Natacha, Arafat, and Khalil. (Prod. Jay P) 1Key’s opening line is unambiguous:

“I’m an artist, art is what I practice/If it’s free how do I eat? How do I survive?”

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Courtesy of the internet 

1Key’s perseverance in appealing for investors, and also for more creative spaces – there is still no national theatre in Rwanda – is relentless. In a recent blog post, he wrote:

“Special thanks to everyone who went out of their way to buy tickets with mobile money for the first time. Someone had said, “Rwandans don’t believe in pre-sales unless you are Stromae and they all don’t have Mobile money.” True! One fact though: About 60 Rwandans and non-Rwandans bought their tickets with Mobile Money (mostly pre-ordered) then skipped the Champions League final to attend the #expericment.”

Once again, 1Key proves himself a pioneer!

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon. 

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

https://soundcloud.com/eric1key/raisondetre-chasingghosts-feat-jason-ntaro-brian-corpus

 

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Song lyrics and translations

Raison d’Etre (“Reason to Be”)/Chasing Ghosts ft. Jason Ntaro & Body of Brian [Track 8 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Lo Rider (Kampala); English, French.

[Verse 1: Body of Brian] [Verse 1: Body of Brian]
Wohhh! I’m losing myself Wohhh! I’m losing myself
It’s like I’m searching for something I don’t know It’s like I’m searching for something I don’t know
Could be the missing piece to my puzzled soul Could be the missing piece to my puzzled soul
My guts they tell me what I need is somewhere out there My guts they tell me what I need is somewhere out there
I have no clue where to look so I try everywhere I have no clue where to look so I try everywhere
It’s like whisky to an alcoholic, crack to a crackhead It’s like whisky to an alcoholic, crack to a crackhead
Except I’m missing something that I never had Except I’m missing something that I never had
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
[Verse 2: Eric 1key] [Verse 2: Eric 1key]
L’argentne fait pas le bonheur, la pauvreté non plus Money does not create happiness, poverty neither
Certainement parce que le bonheur existe depuis des lustres bien avant les thunes Certainly because happiness existed way long before “money”
No money, no life mais la maille n’offre pas l’immortalité No money, no life but then money doesn’t make you immortal
No pain, no gain alors on souffre puis on die pour le blé No pain, no gain so we suffer and die for money
C’est pas l’amour du beurre qui nous motive à gagner le pain It’s not the love of “butter” that pushes us to get “bread”
Mais surtout la peur de ne pas en avoir au réveil le matin But the fear of not having “butter” in the morning when we wake up
Le pognon est une drogue, impossible de rester lucide Money is a drug, it’s impossible to be lucid
On en devient accro et son manque peut résulter en suicide We all get hooked on it and its absence can lead to suicide
Société de consommateurs, le rêve est commercial In a consumerist society even the dream is for sale
Entre la passion et l’emploi, c’est quoi le bon choix? What’s the right choice between passion and employment?
L’artiste se dit heureux malgré sa vie de sutures So artists convince themselves they are happy, despite their miserable lives
L’employé est malheureux car s’il bosse dur And the employed are unhappy because when they work hard
C’est juste pour payer ses factures It’s only so they can pay their bills
Moi qui n’ai jamais voulu vendre mon art I never really wanted to sell my art
J’ai vendu quelques grammes de mon âme But I sold grams of my soul
En mettant ma plume au service du capitalisme When I put my pen at the service of capitalism
Pour un peu de fric, j’ai perdu l’équilibre For little money, I lost balance
Deux poids deux mesures Making the choice will never be fair and balanced
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
[Verse 3: Jason Ntaro] [Verse 3: Jason Ntaro]
Chasing gold but no goal, so chasing ghosts Chasing gold but no goal, so chasing ghosts
Wasting life growing old Wasting life growing old
This is not the story that I was told by those of old This is not the story that I was told by those of old
Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard
But hard enough is not even hard enough But hard enough is not even hard enough
And so I sit, watch my shriveled shadows and laugh And so I sit, watch my shriveled shadows and laugh
And fall willingly into this crack And fall willingly into this crack
So, I sell out So, I sell out
I sell my soul as I sweat and toil I sell my soul as I sweat and toil
Constantly planting crops in hard barren soil Constantly planting crops in hard barren soil
But I stress and I boil But I stress and I boil
In this system I am the clown In this system I am the clown
And now… And now…
Heavy this load, I try to cope Heavy this load, I try to cope
This tug and war has a slippery rope This tug and war has a slippery rope
Complacency replaces me Complacency replaces me
Ignorance embraces me Ignorance embraces me
My shadows stare into my periphery My shadows stare into my periphery
And I realize that I am empty And I realize that I am empty
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Brian Corpus: Body of Brian:
Mmmm feel like I’m chasing ghosts Mmmm feel like I’m chasing ghosts

#Expericment Finale

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So that #Sexpericment did happen as promised and yo! It was damn hot! Sexy and a half. I enjoyed myself. Ahem! I owe its success to the die-hard fans (Wankers) both on these virtual streets and in the real world. You are the real deal. I’m gonna name a few if you don’t mind. Thank you Daniela, Murielle, Nash, Poupoute and everyone who always represent. I got mad love for y’all. My favorite part of the show was being next to Alpha, the stage manager on #Expericment 3.0, and watch the beautiful souls that are Natacha Muziramakenga, Lamel Shaw, Tony Cheryl, Barbrah, Angel Mutoni, DopeGurl and Sharon Bayingana slay. I mean that delivery, shall we talk about it? And the amazing band, did you feel what I felt? I’m grateful for Isumbabyose who always goes the extra mile to make sure we have quality footage and editing. I love you my man and wish you success. Ngutuye ka karirimbo ka Meddy “Ntacyo nzaba!” Pose, the film and photography company, also represented. Thank you Iba. A big thanks to the management of The Manor and Mambo for providing the space; Malik, thank you for the food and refreshments during rehearsals that happened at Another Cat studio. The energy was up at all time. Last but not least, I wanna thank you all who would kill to attend the show but are outside Rwanda while many of my friends haven’t attended any. I believe a time will come when the show comes to you. You get me and it feels great.
Like I said on the show, I am not sure the #Expericment 4.0 (Finale) will happen as I am completely tapped out. So bad that we had to fundraise during  the show so the band can get paid. We collected some but we’re still short. So if you wanna contribute, please don’t hesitate. You have my number.
All in all, my heart is filled with gratitude. It’s been an interesting journey of discoveries and I still have hope that we can pull off the grand finale. Until then…
Take care of yourselves and yours.
Thank you
#1key #1Love

#Expericment 2.0 > 3.0

The second edition of the #expericment happened on the same day and time as the most entertaining event in the sports world- The 2016 Champions League final. I had announced the date of show in the first week of May and that didn’t seem to be a problem until the weekend kicked in. I believe that affected the turnout; in a positive way though because it drew the line between those who just want to be entertained and hardcore supporters. Thank you!
I will let the people who came through to comment about how the show went down. Videos and interviews will be available next week for youtubers. If you ask me, It felt like a house party in which I was promoting my upcoming show. Pretty cool!
We connected, revisited our history, questioned our existence,  enjoyed our present, laughed occasionally, and inspired the future.
I had a great time and I believe so did everyone. The pics below (courtesy of Jabo, I believe) may give you hints about what you missed.
Special thanks to everyone who went out of their way to buy tickets with mobile money for the first time. Someone had said, “Rwandans don’t believe in pre-sales unless you are Stromae and they all don’t have Mobile Money.” True! One fact though: About 60 Rwandans and non-Rwandans bought their tickets with Mobile Money (mostly pre-ordered) then skipped the Champions League final to  attend the #expericment. Yes that is a small number you would say but to me that is way better than a noisy stadium. Did I break even? Not even close to the half of it. But somehow I managed to pay my crew. That’s all that matters for now. Me? My debts are getting deeper than my poetry :). but that is totally expected in the beginning, especially on the Rwandan market. Someday this sweat will buy my mom a house that reflects here beauty. You’ll see.
Moving on swiftly, let’s talk about the #Expericment 3.0. Like I said it on 2.0 the next show is going to be a tribute to women. How? I don’t know yet and that is why I would like you to design it.  So ladies…
  • What would be the perfect date and venue? (It’s gotta be after Ramadhan)
  • Should there be a theme?
  • Should it be restricted (“Women only” or “PG18” etc.)?
  • What would you like to be the main focus of the show? Elaborate, please.
  • Any particular performer that you would recommend?
  • What innovative ways would you suggest for people to get tickets?

Now let’s give it a week and decide. Keep the conversation going with the hashtag #expericment

Thank you!

1Key, 1Love.

#Expericment 2.0 – The Background

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First things first… appreciations. I’d like to start by appreciating everyone who came through to the first #Expericment on the 31st of March 2016. Too bad your beautiful faces were not captured in these videos. I also want to thank those who couldn’t make it physically but followed how the show unfolded through social media. Big thanks to the people who shared the content as well. Huge claps for those who landed moral and financial support when I was short of money to pay the band. You are a blessing.

I smile when I remember that day and I feel so empowered to say, “Let’s do it again!” The thing about the #Expericment is to try different ways by which the artist and the audience make the show together. You remember that to attend the premiere, one had to purchase the album online? Well, that didn’t go too well as I learned in the process that not many people had access to online payments facilities and that somehow the process was a bit tiresome. I really appreciate the effort.

On this edition, let’s try a simpler, faster and more efficient payment method that we are all familiar with- Mobile Money, as mentioned in the poster. There is a chance people on different networks might feel left out but I believe you can send money across networks no matter what platform you’re on (Airtel Money, Tigo Cash) and if that’s too much hassle, you can ask a friend to purchase more than one ticket. Speaking of “one ticket” that is the exact amount of tickets I have sold after 5 days of promo. I know we always wait for the last minute but I will tell you how that does not help in this case:

– I have a limited number of 150 seats at Impact Hub and I want to be able to say “Sorry, the space is full. See you at the #Expericment 3.0”
– I want allow myself to dream that I can walk into the show knowing that I have the money to pay the band, the sound & lighting guy and the videographer. By the way there was no budget for him last time and that affected the output. Ismael aka Rio craves for excellence but to be honest I think he did a good job given the circumstances.

Oh one more thing- there is going to be a lot more English pieces on the #Expericment 2.0. I hope to see many fresh faces on Saturday 28th May 2016. The #Expericment continues.

1Key, 1Love.

#Entre2 Expericment

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I know most of you are waiting for the album launch but I don’t think we are all ready. So I suggest we start small. As in small shows.
I have a 6-month plan that I would like to share with you and please be honest if you don’t think it will work. A lot has NOT worked but hey we’re still trying our best. Usually, those in the so-called industry would suggest that I write down the project and submit it to donors, with a sidenote showing them how my art would be of benefit to their organizations and bla bla bla bla but I’m too proud to beg. At least for now. It’s not about them. It’s about us. If you can relate to my story, you know what I’m talking about. And I’d rather be in debt to my people than those aids bodies. So that’s why I’m going to share my plan with you, my friends, my fans, my people so we can find solutions together and perhaps models that finally work. Let’s try together or fail together but let’s try. Ok?

So the Project title is: Entre2 – The Expericment. 1. Because it’s my experiment and two it’s about the album Entre2.

The Format is simple…
Me + an afro acoustic band. Live music played in front of an audience of 100 people max.
These people would have pre-selected (from a web app) their 5 best titles on the album Entre 2, which is in French, while interludes would be English poems related the songs.
To participate, each person would have to buy the album online from whichever platform they choose (amazon, itunes, spotify, etc). You can start now http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1075777233?ls=1&app=itunes 😉 The money will be collected in June and will help create the main event: The Album Launch in July somewhere that is definitely NOT Serena Hotel. I have nothing against the place, I just find it expensive and limiting as a space.

At the end of each show (max 1h30min), a 30min discussions with the participants about the state of the arts would be held with Q&As.

These “expericments” would happen in places like Innovation Village, Plus250 and other restaurants with the capacity and will to be a part of the process.
Entrance would be FREE given that the person has already purchased a 10$ album. Let’s not be greedy 🙂

I know the question on your mind is when do we start? I would like to start this February but here’s the problem: Logistics. Translation: money. I need money for the;
– Rehearsals (venue, refreshment, transport)
– Band (A pianist, a bass player, a guitarist and a percussionist) each would be paid and I would have to hire the instruments as well.
– Sound system
– Videography (shooting + editing)

A minimum budget for each mini show would be around 1,500,000 Rwf. Mind you that I am not being paid yet. If I am lucky then I might get paid in July at the big show. Let me know where I can get this money each month for 5 months and I’m good to go.

Let’s build further, either here or over twitter under the hashtag #Entre2Expericment. My handle is @eric1key.
Peace!