SXSW interview with Director of ‘A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story’

nicolette mallow

BECK. Imagery provided by Go-Valley Films.

Directed by Keith Maitland, “A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story” held its world premiere at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas during SXSW on Mar. 17, 2016. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year. And this year Keith Maitland and his teammates debuted two films for the first time at SXSW 2016. “A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story” is a vibrant, intimate and engaging documentary covering 40 years and four decades of live music filmed for the beloved television show Austin City Limits (ACL). It’s a playful and raw story—an immaculate collection of great artists and their bands that took the stage at Austin City Limits. Director Keith Maitland shares the unique story of how ACL began with ‘janky’ sound equipment and soon morphed into the longest running music show in television history.

Artists that appear within the documentary include the following: Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Ray Vaughan, Beck, Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Jeff Bridges, Matthew McConaughey, Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Dolly Parton, Radiohead, B.B. King, Lighting Hopkins, The Avett Brothers, Talking Heads, Garth Brooks, Thao Nguyen and more. “Long-time producer of Austin City Limits, Terry Lickona, also transcends the TV show and gives audiences a front-row seat and backstage pass to the greatest performances of the longest running music show in television history.”

One prime reason “A Song For You” is described as the ‘ultimate backstage pass’ to Austin City Limits is because it entails endless video clippings from numerous performances filmed live at ACL alongside annotations of those who were there first-hand to experience the performances. The audience is granted the inside track regarding many ACL shows, off-stage and-onstage. Watching the artists and the production team work their magic. Feeling as if we were there, too. Hearing about the highs-and-lows of the non-stop adventure—’the flood of memories’—it’s an adrenaline rush to the heart and soul. Listening to the music, hearing the interviews and seeing it all unfold and come to life at once makes the documentary unforgettable.

Director Keith Maitland did an immaculate job of intertwining 40 years of history into 96 minutes. “A Song For You” opens with Dale Watson solely because he was the featured artist on the final episode filmed for Season 39 by Austin City Limits. Once Maitland sets the scene in present day, the Director takes us all the way back to the beginning when Willie Nelson played for ACL in 1974 and tells the story in a retrospective way. Obviously, music is the core of Austin City Limits: their universal love of music and their never-ending desire to showcase musical masters and the up-and-coming talent. The title of the film is also befitting because without the audience, Austin City Limits wouldn’t have thrived. The show needs the audience as much as we need the show. You won’t want this film to end it’s that exciting, but when it does. As the credits come to a close, there is a video of Ray Charles singing “Deep In The Heart of Texas”. Which is where it all began, deep in the hearts of Texans. Or at least those living in Texans even if born elsewhere… Many of the artists in the film are still living, others have died and passed on. But the story of Austin City Limits will live on forever.

asfyou_acl__final_Hi copy

Imagery provided by Go-Valley Films.

Fortunately, this week the Director Keith Maitland met with Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, at The Driskill Hotel to talk about “A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story” and how this delightful documentary came to fruition. Maitland also touched briefly on his other film, “Tower” that screened at the SXSW 2016 festival, too. [“Tower” is about the sniper in August of 1966 who rode the elevator to the top and held people hostage from The University of Texas Tower for 96 minutes, and at the end of his tyranny he’d taken 16 lives and wounded over three dozen.]

Nicolette Mallow: What compelled you to make a film about Austin City Limits? Do you simply love the show and what it stands for? Or do you have a strong affiliation with the city of Austin, too? I noticed both of your films pertained to Austin, Texas.

Keith Maitland: I attended The University of Texas at Austin from 1994 to 1998. Then I lived in NYC for ten years. About ten years ago, I moved back to Austin. And yes, live music is something I’ve always loved … In the 1990’s, I saw a few ACL tapings. I even sneaked backstage a few times. Once I snuck onto Willie Nelson’s tour bus in 1998. I had a knack for sneaking backstage. And that’s really what I wanted this documentary to capture: the energy and excitement of a wide-eyed fan… How this project came about is that I used to work at KLRU. And then a few years ago, a PBS Executive in DC called me about Austin City Limits and their 40th anniversary.

NM: How were you able to pick and choose a specific list of videos from an endless supply of ACL performances?

KM: That was no easy task and there was simply no way to honor all of the artistic talent that has premiered on the show. Austin City Limits has showcased around 800 performers and their bands. That’s a rough estimate and not an exact number, but my point is that it was impossible to include everyone in 96 minutes. I asked the production crew for a list of their favorites, and that was hard for them as well. So rather than pick out favorites, together, we oriented the set list around pivotal moments of the show.

NM: I noticed the documentary focused a great deal on Beck, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. All very big artists that are loved by Austin and around the globe… Personally I loved the footage in your film of Beck’s performance at ACL. And I actually went to middle school and high school with Willie’s nephew, Trevor. Any reason you chose those three to focus on?

KM: Beck is one of my absolute favorite artists and his presence in the film portrays the musical energy of present day. It was so cool to book an interview with him and quite rare for us to get the chance. Beck is very exclusive about interviews. I think it had been about ten years since Beck had consented to an on-camera documentary interview. So that was a huge honor and I know the only reason we were able to book it is because of Beck’s love for Austin City Limits… In regards to the other two artists. There are two statues of musicians in downtown Austin: Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Their names were paramount to the story because they have each cast a shadow over the legacy of this town… Plus, Willie Nelson is the first artist to perform for the show and he’s from Austin. Also, the producers of ACL absolutely adore those two. And I can tell they had a very personal friendship with Stevie Ray Vaughan and that the absence of his presence still stings the ACL family.

NM: Did you enjoy interviewing the production crew, and specifically (the producer) Terry Lickona, from the ACL crew?

KM: Yes. I did. One of my favorite parts of the film is at the end when we are asking all the employees at ACL about what lead them to their job and what their role in the company is… Terry Lickona is just a great person in addition to being a fantastic producer. He is also a live music devourer. And he is always looking to the future and ‘what’s next’ which keeps the show fresh and exciting. He is a people’s people and is constantly out there absorbing the latest news pertaining to music. Terry’s loyalty to the show— and the loyalty of the entire ACL crew—it’s astounding. They’re an amazing team. And come on, it’s a pretty sweet gig to work.

NM: My last question is about your other film “Tower”. The other day I saw “A Song For You” at the Violet Crown and I adore it. But I’ve yet to see this one. My question is, many people have made movies or written stories about the 1966 sniper that murdered people from the UT Tower on the UT campus. What defines your story from all the rest and makes it so unique?

KM: Yes a lot of people have covered this story. What makes my take on it unique is that I don’t focus on the sniper. I focus on the witnesses, the heroes and the survivors of the story. The sniper is obviously mentioned and he’s part of the story. But he’s almost like the shark in the movie “Jaws” and how we don’t really see him until the end. We just hear the music and know what’s coming. “Tower” is a story of humanity at its best and worst. We get to see the people who put their lives at risk to save another. We also get to hear accounts from those who were frozen in fear, unable to help, and the shame they felt for being paralyzed with fear. But it’s very touching to hear the stories. A lot of people risked their lives to come to the rescue of those bloodied, bleeding and wounded… There is a little bit of us all in these characters and I wanted people to be able to relate to the story. Not the sniper.

For more information regarding “A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story” please visit the official website at www.asongforyoufilm.com. To learn more about Austin City Limits (ACL) and to search upcoming performances: please check out their web page at www.acl-live.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

nicolette mallow

Composer Kerry Muzzey talks about writing the score for ‘The Seer’ at SXSW

Kerry Muzzey _headshot

Kerry Muzzey. Photography by Simon Whiteside.

World-renowned modern and classical composer, Kerry Muzzey, wrote the musical score for “The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry”, a documentary directed by Laura Dunn and executive produced by Oscar winner Robert Redford and Oscar nominee Terrence Malick. “The Seer” held its world premiere on Mar. 12, 2016 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Composer Kerry Muzzey and the crew of “The Seer” hit the red carpet several times to promote their newly released, award-winning documentary. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year. And this year “The Seer” was awarded the ‘Special Jury Recognition for Cinematography’ for SXSW 2016.

Music is a key element within the world of cinema and Kerry Muzzey knows how to set the scene, musically, with his innate gifts of sound and music. The score for “The Seer” is absolutely lovely and befitting to the story without dominating or overpowering the documentary. On Mar. 15, 2016, Kerry Muzzey consented to a phone interview with Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, to talk more about creating the score of “The Seer” and his musical background that lead him to Hollywood and SXSW.

  • nicolette mallow

A little more about the synopsis of the film in preface to the interview: “The story of ‘The Seer’ revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky who each face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community… Henry County, Kentucky, like many rural landscapes across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, local economies and rootedness to place have been supplanted by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt—all of which have frayed the fabric of communities. Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Wendell Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one the most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life… Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, ‘The Seer’ blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape. Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself will emerge as a character in the film – a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.”

Nicolette Mallow: When did you begin playing music? Would you mind telling me a little bit about your artistic background?

Kerry Muzzey: When I was 10 years old I started learning on classical organ. By the age of 11, I began writing music. But really it goes back even further than that because when I was 6 or 7 years old, I recall going to see “Star Wars”. Sitting there in the theater as a kid, when the film started rolling and the music came out of the speakers: it gave me goose bumps. I’ll never forget the feeling, even now. The music blew me away and all I could think about the rest of the day was “Star Wars” and its musical score. I have extreme reverence for John Williams. And I believe many composers can say that John Williams’ music was and is a true inspiration. Right after that movie I went out and bought the soundtrack on vinyl and listened to it on those giant headphones from the 1970’s. The music sounded like classical but it was more specific and inspiring. It was very intense and evocative for a child because it was focused and in conjunction with the picture… As a child I wanted to be a composer, a spy and an airline pilot. I dreamt of becoming many professions just like any little kid would. Yet I always kept coming back to music. My mother raised me entirely on classical and she told me that when I was in her womb: she played classical music for me and held the headphones next to her belly for 30 minutes a day for nine months.

NM: It seems as if you were destined to be a composer.

KM: Yes, and even though I started writing at the age of 11. It wasn’t until I turned 16 that my mother’s friend moved away and gave us their piano. I remember getting that piano and my family could not pull me away from it… Just the sound of a piano allured me. Complex piano compositions resonated with me so deeply even then. Because when you are playing a physical instrument: you can feel the hammers and strings inside its giant wooden case. It resonates in your heart and your hands. You can literally feel the sound as you’re playing music. It’s very powerful. That is around the time I began writing solo piano stuff. Playing the orchestra I heard inside my head. At the time, technology for music was not yet available to create an orchestra inside of a computer. So, it was a little different back then.

NM: I listened to the score you composed for “The Seer” in its entirety, twice. You wrote such beautiful music that compelled my mind to travel through time and feel nostalgic. The song “Daughter” struck a chord with me, in a good way… Was the music meant to be evocative? What is the biggest difference between writing music for a narrative feature versus writing a score for a documentary film?

KM: That is an awesome question. Writing music for a documentary was a challenge that took me quite a few tries to overcome. A narrative film is a completely different process than composing music for a documentary. Writing music for a documentary has to be subtle. The music cannot overpower the picture and it has to stay out of the way of the picture. The score cannot be traditional. For instance, a narrative feature film has a soundtrack of very specifically engineered music. It is written to make the audience feel something at that moment, so when the hero saves the world or the couple finally gets their big kiss: you expect the soaring strings. When making music for a documentary, if you’re too on the nose, or if you’re trying to punch it up too much, it can become a distraction. The audience that attends documentaries and is loyal to documentaries is also a highly intelligent crew. And you cannot use music to try and manipulate the audience into feeling a certain way. The music is simply there to beautify and assist the story as it unfolds in its own natural state.

NM: If you had to pick one song from the soundtrack of “The Seer”, which track encapsulates the spirit of the film? I’m curious to know which song is the beating heart of your composition.

KM: Yes, I can pick one. I believe it’s the sixth track and it’s a song called “Forty Panes”. It’s also the Director’s favorite (Laura Dunn). It’s a song about Wendell Barry and it has piano and cellos in the melody. It was magical to write and it kind of came out of nowhere. I was so in love with it that I actually got my cellist to record it before I even played it for Laura. Which is kind of dangerous because I am paying the cellist for his time. But I loved this cue so much. The way it resonates with the picture and how it struck a perfect balance… It’s the crux of everything and it’s beautiful… I sent the piece out to the Director and I was stalking my email waiting for Laura’s response. Two hours passed by and I feared the worst. And then her email arrived with a response, “I keep watching it over and over—and I kept crying every time I felt the music—and I don’t know why.” Right then, I knew that I got it right… The Director of “The Seer” is not only a good person, but she’s extremely smart and talented. She’s amazing and cool and I wanted her to love the soundtrack. Talking to her the other day, we spoke of that piece in particular as it being the high point in the films soundtrack: simple and quiet, but against the picture it can’t be anything else but exactly that… This wasn’t my first project with Laura Dunn, either. About eight years ago, Laura made a film, “The Unforeseen” about over development in-and-around Austin. The core of it predicted the housing crash a year prior to the fact. At the time she had licensed a few pieces of mine to use. Years later we reconnected and in this case she wanted me to score the entire film. Obviously I said yes and it’s been an amazing project. Laura and her team are so great at what they do.

NM: Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to?

KM: Yes, I do have future projects. Presently I cannot say much because it hasn’t been formally announced yet. What I can say is that I am writing a full-length ballet for a full orchestra. And it premieres in London next May of 2017. This job sort of came out of left field. It’s a very heavy lift for me, it’s a huge challenge, but I am so excited to work with this choreographer and their innovative team. I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.

For more information regarding Kerry Muzzey or the movie, “The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry”: please visit www.kerrymuzzey.com or www.theseerfilm.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

VNTANA and DJI create a hologram drone lounge at SXSW 2016

DJI_VNTANA Hologram Drone 1

DJI Phantom 4 drone and VNTANA hologram technology at SXSW 2016 in Austin, Texas. Photography provided by VNTANA and DJI.

In partnership with DJI, the world leader in aerial imaging—VNTANA, an interactive technology hologram company out of Los Angeles created the first ever interactive hologram drone experience at SXSW from Mar. 12-14, 2016. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year in Austin, Texas. And this year SXSW featured its first ever interactive hologram drone pilots between DJI and VNTANA.

“From fully-controllable life-size avatars to simultaneous global performances from the world’s top artists, VNTANA’s technology creates the most engaging and realistic holographic experiences in the world. With our technology people can truly be multiple places at once and bring products and characters to life in new interactive ways. VNTANA’s team of designers, engineers, business strategists, system integrators, and creative technologists is dedicated to bringing you the next generation of holographic technology.”

The interactive lounge was set up along Rainey Street close to SouthBites™. During this time SXSW attendees could see themselves projected as a hologram in real-time standing next to a hologram of the new DJI Phantom 4 Drone hovering next to them. The Phantom 4 is the first consumer quadcopter camera (or “drone”) to use highly advanced computer vision and sensing technology to make professional aerial imaging easier for everyone. Using gestures, attendees were able to control the hologram drone and even see the interiors of the drone. At the end of the experience, attendees received a hologram GIF via e-mail. To see video footage of attendees experiencing their lounge at SXSW, please visit Vimeo and watch “DJI Phantom 4 Interactive Hologram Drone Experience – Powered by VNTANA”.

A representative from VNTANA met with Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, during the SXSW festival to briefly discuss how to operate the hologram and fly the drone. Mallow also got to experience the hologram first hand.

Nicolette Mallow: How exactly do guests pilot and fly the drone through the hologram?

VNTANA: The guests see themselves on the display as a life-size hologram standing next to the DJI drone. They are able to pilot the drone through gesture control. In this case, guests use vertical hand and arm gestures to fly the drone up and down along with lateral body movement to fly the drone left and right. If you clasp your hands together and then quickly split them apart, the drone also splits apart to show the separate mechanisms and motors inside.

For more information regarding VNTANA or DJI, please visit their websites at www.vntana.com and www.dji.com.

DJI Phantom 4 Interactive Hologram Drone Experience – Powered by VNTANA

VNTANA – Video: https://vimeo.com/158758465

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

nicolette mallow

Ethan Hawke and crew from ‘In A Valley of Violence’ attend Arts & Cinema Centre

nicolette mallow ethan hawke

Ethan Hawke attending Arts & Cinema Centre premier party for “In A Valley of Violence”. Photo by Dawson Smith.

To celebrate the world premiere of the film “In A Valley of Violence” starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta—Hollywood event company A-List Communications hosted its popular Arts & Cinema Centre with venue partner Basecamp and Summit in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Mar. 12, 2016.

The Arts & Cinema Centre cocktail party took place during the opening weekend of SXSW 2016 on the rooftop of the Summit venue located at 120 West 5th St. Overlooking the downtown skyline, the rooftop has a vibrant view of the Warehouse District and particularly Mr. Robot’s glowing and stellar 100 ft. Coney-island Ferris Wheel. Sponsored by Maestro Dobel® Tequila and Miller-Coors Brewing. Maestro Dobel® Tequila offered specialty cocktails including its signature “Black Diamond Margarita” and Miller-Coors provided its Blue Moon Brewing selections to A-list talent, media and filmmakers in attendance.

Film cast and crew in attendance of the cocktail party included Ti West (Director), Jason Blum (Producer) and stars Ethan Hawke and Toby Huss. Earlier that day at 6:30 P.M. CST—“In A Valley of Violence” had its world premiere for the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year. “In A Valley of Violence” is a narrative feature and headliner film that has three official screenings on the SXSW schedule.

  • nicolette mallow
  • nicolette mallow

The official synopsis of the film released by Focus Features states the following: “A mysterious drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog Abbie (Jumpy) make their way towards Mexico through the barren desert of the old west. In an attempt to shorten their journey they cut through the center of a large valley—landing themselves in the forgotten town of Denton—a place now dubbed by locals as a valley of violence. The once popular mining town is nearly abandoned, and controlled by a brash group of misfits and nitwits—chief among them, the seemingly untouchable, Gilly (James Ransone) who is the troublemaking son of the town’s unforgiving Marshal (John Travolta). As tensions rise between Paul and Gilly, Denton’s remaining residents bear witness to an inevitable act of violence that starts a disastrous chain reaction, infecting the petty lives of all involved and quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) and Ellen (Karen Gillan), two bickering sisters who run the town’s only hotel, try to find the good in both men, while desperately searching for their own salvation. Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul’s past… there is no stopping the escalation. From writer/director Ti West (“The House of the Devil”, “The Innkeepers” and “The Sacrament”) and Blumhouse Productions (“Insidious”, “The Visit”, “Whiplash” and “The Gift”)—”In A Valley of Violence” brings absurdist humor, unique dialogue and West’s shocking scenes of violence to the Western genre. The film also boasts a stellar supporting cast that includes Toby Huss, Burn Gorman, and genre darling Larry Fessenden.”

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

nicolette mallow

Salvador Dalí gallery at ART on 5th reaches its closing week

nicolette mallow
“Mad Tea Party” by Salvador Dalí. Photography provided by ART on 5th gallery.

Prints by Salvador Dalí will be on display for only a few more days at ART on 5th in Austin, Texas. Also known as Ao5, evident within this art gallery are colorful butterflies, portraits, eroticism, symbolism and storytelling, as well as the notorious melting clocks that Salvador Dalí is well known for. All original copies, The Salvador Dalí art exhibition entails many printmaking pieces, too. Printmaking is a significant and unique form of art that launched in the 1400’s. And the last day to see this timeless exhibit of prints is Saturday, March 12, 2016.

Born in Spain the year of 1904, Salvador Dalí is an artist of the 20th century whom was talented in many art forms that included the following: painting, illustrations, sculpture, fashion, photography, writing, architecture and film. Known greatly for his work revolving around surrealism, Dalí’s artwork is captivating and haunting, unforgettable; a kaleidoscope of colors. A master of his craft, he tantalized, hypnotized and sometimes horrified the world with his powerful, one-of-a-kind artwork. After an extensive career of great publicity and artistic beauty: Salvador Dalí died of heart failure at the age of 84. Thankfully, the memory of his artistic legacy is immortal and will live on forever.

  • salvador dali

ART on 5th released a final promotion to inform locals in Austin, Texas that this is the last week to see the exhibition, “ART on 5th will be hosting a stunning exhibition of over 50 authenticated Salvador Dalí prints until March 12, 2016. The work spans three decades of the artist’s career, from the 1950’s – 1970’s, and includes a sampling of images from 6 different series by this artist. Owned by a private art collector in the northeast, this gallery is part of a larger collection of Dalí prints. Dalí worked in series and we have images from a wide variety of his series, including “Memories of Surrealism”, “Les Diners de Gala”, “Biblia Sacra”, “The Twelve Apostles”, “The Divine Comedy” and many others. One particularly interesting series is the 1973 “Les Caprices de Goya”, which Salvador Dalí created by printing over—adding color and new image details to the original series “Los Caprichos”, by 18th century Spanish artist Francisco Goya. As a result, each of these pieces bear the signature of both artists. There is a helpful description of “Les Caprices de Goya” online. Another interesting fact to note about the work: many of the pieces from the “Divine Comedy” series are deconstructions, which means they are sort of artists proofs that may have been used to test plates or colors before doing the entire edition. For instance, we have one on display called “Dante Purified” which only has the pink and the blue inks from the image are printed. It is an incomplete version of the image as it was released in the final publication of the edition.”

Located on 3005 South Lamar, admission to the gallery at ART on 5th is free of cost. For more information regarding ART on 5th and their hours of operation, please call 512-481-1111 or visit their website at www.arton5th.com

To explore more about this artist, please visit Artsy’s Salvador Dalí page which provides visitors with Dalí’s bio, over 1300 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Dalí exhibition listings. A current exhibition is featured at The Royal Academy of Arts in London from 7 October 2017 — 3 January 2018. 

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

nicolette mallow

Slings and Arrows: Zodiac Vodka concocts a romantic recipe for cocktail lovers

nicolette mallow

Zodiac Vodka released several exquisite cocktail recipes in honor of Valentine’s Day weekend. Slings and Arrows is my favorite recipe: a refreshing and succulent mixture of vodka, lemon, thyme, simple syrup, vanilla bean and champagne. Slings and Arrows can be appreciated by all vodka or bubbly connoisseurs. Whether you wish to pair a cocktail alongside dinner, or simply relax with a libation. This easy-to-make, elegant and bold concoction is bound to seduce and calm your senses. Its presentation and scent is so soothing that it lures you to slow down and take a peaceful moment to imbibe.

Slings and Arrows is a drink of mystique that is suitable for any romantic occasion—which is why Zodiac Vodka featured this cocktail for Valentine’s Day. Rest assured, Valentine’s Day is not only a commercial holiday for lovers and couples to show their affection together. Valentine’s Day is a time to love yourself as an individual and to mark the month of February as a memorable time of self-endearment. Therefore, this amorous cocktail is suited for everyone. Think of Valentine’s Day as a time to treat yourself to decadence and passion. Zodiac is a perfect vodka to pick because of its smooth, clean creation that gives it a brilliant taste.

“Most vodkas aren’t made in one place. Water from here. Ingredients from there. Distilling and bottling happen somewhere else altogether. That’s one way to go. Another way is to handcraft vodka in a quiet town along the majestic banks of the Snake River. To combine humble little spuds harvested from the valley’s rich volcanic soil with water born high in the Upper Tetons. Single Source Distillation® means Zodiac is made from beginning to end, entirely in Idaho. The resulting smooth, clean spirit proves that like Idaho’s vast starlit sky, sometimes the best things are only found off the beaten path™.”

A demonstration video portraying the making of Slings and Arrows can be found online. All of Zodiac’s cocktail recipes are posted with the inclusion of a video to guide guests through the process. For anyone seeking to mix a memorable cocktail that is less oriented around romance, something a bit more casual, yet equally flavorful. Zodiac Vodka also features other recipes including the following: Texas Golden Girl, Star Eyed Julep, and Bullseye. Each cocktail entails various flavors, recipes and garnishes ranging from strawberries, honey, rosemary, ginger, jalapeño, lemon and mint.

Several liquor stores in Austin, Texas are presently stocked with Zodiac Vodka. However, a store locator is also available on the internet and by entering a zip code: guests can find out where to buy this product nationwide. For more information regarding Zodiac Vodka, please refer to their website at www.zodiacvodka.com.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in February 2016.

nicolette mallow

Naomi Whittel: Founder of Reserveage Nutrition has a vision for global wellness

JP1_6287 (1)

Naomi Whittel. Photography by Jack Plunkett.

Founder and CEO of Reserveage™ Nutrition, Naomi Whittel has dedicated her career to naturally beautify the world with a vision oriented around science, health and wellness. Whittel is a ‘nutritional navigator’ who travels the globe studying various cultures and ecosystems to discover the best standards in nutritional health. Launching her company with four products in March 2009—Reserveage™ Nutrition now offers an extensive list of products ranging from skin hydration, metabolism boosters, anti-aging, cardiovascular support, antioxidants, and much more. Naomi Whittel has received several prestigious awards for her role as a successful female entrepreneur, including the following: the Gold Stevie Winner as Female Executive of the Year and the Silver Stevie Winner as Female Entrepreneur of the Year. “Naomi Whittel is one of the nation’s leading female innovators in the natural products industry. With two decades of experience in developing and managing sustainable companies in the health and wellness sector, she is the founder and CEO of Reserveage Nutrition™ and two sister companies: ResVitale™ and ReBody™. Together these natural health supplement brands have earned over 30 industry awards in four years, and are recognized for their mission to produce life-changing products based on ground-breaking science.”

Recently, Naomi Whittel assented to an interview with a local Arts & Entertainment Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, to talk entrepreneurship and becoming a CEO at the age of 23. Whittel also shared some helpful tips and insights related to wellness. The interview was held within the Press room at Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit held at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.

Nicolette Mallow: On stage, you spoke of age and numbers. You emphasized that a number doesn’t define us no matter how young or advanced in age. Listening to you talk about starting a company that went global and being the CEO at 23 years old is so inspiring to all female (or male) entrepreneurs. However, I also recall during the presentation you mentioned that sometimes in the past you hid the fact you were the CEO because you felt your age might cause others to not take you seriously… How did you overcome the fear of being the youngest? It’s important for us all to learn from our elders or those with the experience of time that exceeds our own. But I have often felt the same way as an artistic professional when I’m the youngest, and often the only female, in a group where everyone else is older. It can be hard to be taken seriously and it can feel discouraging… How did you break free of all that and succeed?

Naomi Whittel: Being a young entrepreneur can be difficult. In hindsight, I wish that I hadn’t always kept it a secret that I was the CEO. But it’s a learning process for everyone starting out. First off, in order to succeed you have to be willing to fail and to be bold. To take risks. Failure is a huge part of success, but so long as you hold fast to your purpose and sustain boldness in all you do. In due time your visions and dreams will transpire. It’s also imperative to have a voice and to be honest with yourself. To know your strengths and weaknesses… Not long ago, I was in a meeting with other entrepreneurs and we were discussing investments. We needed to raise money for something that day and it seemed daunting to the others. At first no one was willing to invest, but I saw no reason to not make a move and act. I was the first one, and the youngest, to offer up a check to invest. Once I made the first move, the others were interested in the investment and we raised the money that day. Boldness goes a long way… Once you harness your internal power and know how to use it in a healthy way. Once you find a vision and hold onto it: falling into success becomes natural.

NM: Speaking of healthy, in regards to nutrition and wellness, it can be daunting for those just starting out with a mission to achieve a better diet or a healthier lifestyle. There are thousands of books, recipes and products out there for people to try. Where to begin? What is your advice for anyone wanting to change their lifestyle and nutritional diet but they don’t know where to start?

NW: Yes there is a lot of information there. I would advise the first step to be the elimination of processed foods. Processed foods do not carry natural nutrients, or often any nutrients, and therefore the body is not getting anything vital or healthy from these processed foods. Processed foods can do more harm than good. Solely because processed foods often carry a lot of chemicals and damaging, artificial substances within them, too. People aren’t always aware that what they are eating isn’t actually food at all… I was fortunate to grow up in a home of science and chemistry with parents focused on a biodynamic, organic lifestyle. However, I want everyone to join me on the journey to wellness no matter how or when their journey begins.

NM: My last question is, for those of us who sustain an overall healthy diet, exercise, drink plenty of fluids, take nutritional supplements and hydrate our skin, hair and nails. For those of us who feel we are nearly doing it all. What is something else that we can do to improve our diet and overall wellness?

NW: Intermittent fasting is something even the pro’s can forget to do. Fasting periodically from 8 PM to NOON has amazing benefits on the body. Intermittent fasting has proven to control blood sugar and insulin. It can promote weight loss and reduce cholesterol levels. Intermittent fasting can even assist with cellular repair or inflammation in the body, reducing stress.

For more information regarding Naomi Whittel’s background story or to view and purchase products online, please visit www.reserveage.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.

nicolette mallow

Life coach Lauren Handel Zander speaks of self-discovery and the power of truth

JP1_6821 (1)

Lauren Handel Zander. Photography by Jack Plunkett.

Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Handel Group®, an international private coaching company. Zander is a life coach with a sense of humor and she specializes in bringing dreams and visions to life.On Jan. 16, 2016 whilst she was in attendance of Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit held at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas: Zander consented to a short yet insightful interview with A&E Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow. Prior to the interview within the Press room, Lauren Handel Zander shared the stage with other talented professionals that included Joan Lunden, Naomi Whittel, Dr. Jennifer Ashton and Dr. Lauren Streicher to present the keynote “Love Your Age”.

Nicolette Mallow: During the presentation, you spoke of the past and hating the shape of your own shadow. That stuck in my mind. The way you described nitpicking yourself so deeply to the point it became absolutely absurd: disliking your literal shadow while walking about… I believe many people can relate to that sort of melancholy unkindness directed to the self. We often speak silently to ourselves, in our mind, and say such horrible things we’d never allow others to say to our face. Ultimately, my questions revolves around this: how did you overcome such negative self-feedback and rewire your mind to see things positively, accurately and with kindness? How did you conquer the inner-voice that was trying to hold you back and distort the truth?

Lauren Handel Zander: Yes; editing the voices can be a challenge. My journey of self-discovery began in my 20’s. The first step was being honest with myself and everyone around me. It’s easy to become afraid to be our own individual. To stay true to ourselves, we must be honest. In the past, I was hiding truths from myself, and others, because I was hiding myself away. I was lying to everybody. I was the epitome of a bad girl. One day I simply decided to reveal everything that was truthful. And that was when my life changed. I was born to be a life coach, it’s in my blood. I just had to learn to edit my own voices and learn to be true to myself, first, before I could coach others.

NM: Once we edit the voices, then we can get to the truth?

LHZ: Absolutely. One of the aspects I love most about my job is that I can get to the root of things. Throughout the process of life coaching, I want to know why someone is doing what they’re doing. I want to understand what’s going on beyond surface level and why they’re feeling whatever it is they’re feeling. I want to understand what they’re thinking. That way I can help find the blocks and I can fix it. Bringing shadows to light helps people reach their highest self. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, an investment, family issues or whether someone is unsure why they’re doing what they’re doing as if running on autopilot… I want to know everything so that we can work on fixing it. I like fixing things. But people have to be willing to do the work.

NM: So you help bring dreams and visions to life?

LHZ: Yes. I like to say that I have ‘a vision for my visions’. Having a vision and following our dreams helps us to reach our highest self. I want people to find the truth and find a vision so they can turn their dreams into a reality.

Lauren Handel Zander is a life coach, university lecturer, public speaker and, above all, a purveyor of the truth. As the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Handel Group®, she has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private clients: entrepreneurs, couples, families, professors, politicians, Emmy and Academy Award-winning artists, Grammy-winning musicians and Fortune 500 CEOs. Her corporate clients have included executives from Sony BMG, The New York Times, News Corp, J. Walter Thompson Agency, Citibank, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Uniworld, The Gap Inc., BASF, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Vogue. She is a mediator, who has fixed corporate business relationships, mediated contract negotiations, reconciled marriages, and helped resolve complex family issues. In the early 2000s, Lauren created a groundbreaking methodology, The Handel Method®, which she developed and taught at MIT. Her methodology, supported by top educators and psychologists is now being taught at Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT, NYU, Columbia, Yale Drama School, and Wesleyan, as well as in over 35 other universities and educational progrlauren-zander-candid-2ams across the country.”

www.handelgroup.com

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.

nicolette mallow

Celebrity personal trainer Larysa DiDio talks fitness, healing and Kung Fu

nicolette mallow

Larysa DiDio. Photography by Jack Plunkett.

Celebrity personal trainer and writer Larysa DiDio was a featured fitness instructor at Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit. Sporting hot pink Nike shoes, athletic gear and a stylish braid: DiDio taught her groundbreaking workout, Fit in 10, that maximizes results in only 10 minutes a day. Afterward, DiDio consented to an interview in the Press room with local Arts & Entertainment Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, on Jan. 16, 2016 at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.

Nicolette Mallow: You’re a remarkable athlete and clearly you posses a strong, resilient body to be such a steadfast, successful and powerful instructor. However, when athletes (male or female) get injured. It can be very difficult, almost emasculating, to feel weak doing something that used to come naturally to our bodies. How do you handle injuries, or what advice to you give clients (athletes) when they are in the recovery process after an injury or surgery? How do you keep the mind focused on the end goal without overworking the body in the process, or feeling as if the body lost its physical power?

Larysa DiDio: Week-to-week progress is how I look at my fitness goals when I am injured. Being kind to ourselves as individuals is also an important factor. Talk to yourself positively—turn the negative into a positive—and the healing process goes a lot smoother. Mind over matter really is a huge part of fitness and staying focused. For instance, I’ve broken my ankles twice. The first time I was really annoyed and frustrated. And that did not help me heal any faster nor did it alleviate the pain. Later on, the second time around when I broke my ankle playing outside with my son. Even though I was not pleased to break a bone: I knew what to expect and I had a positive outlook. I knew that in time my ankle would heal and it wasn’t something that would last forever. The second break was a lot easier and the healing process was far less stressful or straining.

NM: For the beginners just starting out fitness classes with no prior athletic training, it can feel overwhelming and intimidating being around those with athletic skills. What is your advice?

LD: The gym should be a haven for everybody, especially beginners. For beginners, the gym is not a place of competition. It’s completely natural for a beginner to be afraid and there’s no shame in that. I advise those just beginning to enroll in fitness classes and work out in groups. That way everyone is in it together, learning the ropes and finding their strengths and weaknesses… When I started fitness classes as a kid, I watched Jane Fonda videos. I watched her videos so repeatedly the video would skip. Jane Fonda was a great teacher.

NM: Do you believe massage therapy is essential to the fitness lifestyle?

LD: Yes. Massage therapy is absolutely essential. And if people cannot afford massage therapy regularly than they should invest in a foam roller and explore foam rolling exercises. It applies the same kind of pressure and manifests the same results as massage therapy.

NM: Out of all the exercises you have mastered or explored. Do you have a favorite workout?

LD: Yes, I love learning Kung Fu. Martial arts has become my favorite workout! I love learning how to train with weaponry. I love Tai Chi. It’s not only logical so that I can and will defend myself if need be. But it’s very empowering and I love crossing the standard gender roles. It’s a great workout for men and women alike.

“Larysa DiDio is a celebrity personal trainer and fitness author. With over 20 years experience in helping celebrities, Olympians, professional athletes as well as moms, dads, and kids meet their health and fitness goals. Also, an accomplished writer of “Sneaky Fitness: How to Slip Exercise Into Your Kids Everyday”– Larysa has provided exciting articles and content for national and trade publications as well as blogs and websites. She’s currently an expert health and fitness contributor to Prevention Magazine, host of “The Perfect” online videos and host/co-creator of “Strogation” and “Fit in 10” Fitness DVD’s with Prevention Magazine. Larysa has appeared on Good Day NY, Better TV and CBS Morning segments to name a few and has been featured in over 50 national women’s magazine. Larysa spends time at schools, hospitals, wellness seminars, and on television motivating and inspiring others to live a healthy, active lifestyle.”

www.larysadidio.com

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.

nicolette mallow