coffee and biscuits    We only bring out the balde every two months,
so we don’t waste time with things we don’t like,
and we do make space for the things we love.
And we’ve always thought Kafea eta Galletak
(Coffee and Biscuits) to be a beautiful project.
We interviewed Leire and Ibon.
We reckon Kafea eta Galletak is one of the most avant-garde projects in the world. These days, when some think that playing concerts via streaming is one of the coolest things in the world, it’s wonderful to get together, listen to a record and have a coffee. How was the Kafea eta Galletak (that is, listening to a record and
then to a concert) formula put together?

Kafea eta Galletak is a very small thing, even desperately small sometimes, but we do have some very clear ideas about music making, particularly taken from the diy movement, and we try to put them into practice. In that sense, there’s ambition there, too, from a political point of view. We discuss music a lot, and also talk about K&G a lot; we try to be critical, and especially about ourselves. We started off by chance, and what K&G is today has been defined as time has gone by. We went to some talks at Arteleku five years ago. On one occasion, one person round
the table told us that at an experimental concert a musician had clicked on play on his laptop and walked off the stage. Apparently there was a great debate about whether that was a concert or not. We couldn’t care less about the name it’s given: what we care about is whether what people heard then was interesting or not. We said then that we’d like to always listen to the music we’re recommended together, at high volume, as
if it were a concert, and you can’t listen at that sort of volume at home. What’s more, some recommendations never get out of the pub, and we often don’t use the download links we’re sent by e-mail. We reckon what we do is something like a concert, though we don’t really care much what name it’s given. Listening to each record is also a break with our usual lifestyle, which has become too fast: stop, have a coffee, listen, describe an important record to somebody else, say whether you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard,
with no compromise, open your ears, talk about it with the people around you. From our point of view, that’s a political act, now more than ever taking into account what things are like nowadays.
Leire from Gernika is one of the coordinators at Astra Youth Centre and, in 2008, when they took over Astra, we found the room we had had in mind. When we had sorted out the practical side of things (the sound system, the room, an old coffee machine ...), we chose the record for the first session (Slint’s Spiderland, because it had often come up during our conversations. We’d seen the group when they’d got back together and we thought that, rather than that mediocre revival, it would be better to give the record another listen). To start off the festivities, Xabier Montoia, which Ibon’s accompaniment, gave a concert. We asked Fernando Junquera, a huge fan from Valencia, to write a technical text about the record, and we gave that out during the listening. The results were fantastic, we were even moved. And then the initial scheme of things started changing, we weren’t going to just listen to records any more. We started invited groups
we liked to chose one of their records, write about it, and then give us a concert. And we preferred to listen to other people’s recommendations rather than just to our own. So
there were musicians in the conversations, and anyone could talk with them: we were all on the same level, we were against the idea of “stars”.

How have musicians reacted to Kafea eta Galletak? What do they make of it when we ask them to take part in the project?

Their reactions are great and we can only thank them. With almost no money, groups have almost always agreed to come and take part and they’ve all given a lot of K&G. And they’ve all said kind words to us, and that’s actually moving. This is the main thing that makes K&G different: we put musicians into a situation they’re not familiar with. It’s in the afternoon (and not in the evening, which is the usual full party-mode timing), there’s an atmosphere of respect, and, after listening to a record they love, they talk
with the people who’ve listened to them. And, up to now at least, the musicians have told us that they’ve enjoyed themselves.

You get together at the gaztetxe in Gernika. Many concert halls and musical halls put drinking gin and tonic before the concerts they program, and public bodies only obstruct bars that organize concerts outside the night-time timetable ... are
the gaztetxe’s going to save the circuit for smaller groups?

We think that small things are going to save the circuit, whether they’re youth centres or not. But our project is in complete agreement with the gaztetxe’s (youth centre) point of view, that’s where we’ve come from and that’s where we’re going: self-management and free and critique culture. We don’t’ have any doubt that groups, spaces are so on are going to carry on existing outside the mercantile mentality, as has happened up ‘till now. We’re horribly romantic, and we believe in the romanticism of diy.

You also have a project to publish a book. Tell us what that’s about.

That’s right. One of our objectives has always been to be and to have active listeners and, as far as we can, to help in that process of activation, for all of us to take part in music, leaving to one side the passive attitude that often takes hold of us, the listeners also take part in the records. In the traditional format, the musicians are the only people who get to choose the records. Somehow we wanted to involve the listeners, the ones who aren’t musicians, and it occurred to us to bring out a book. After choosing each record, you then write about it in whatever style you like. There are all sorts in the collection we’ve brought together: unknown records, better known ones, but they’re all interesting from our point of view: fanzine writers, bloggers, culture journalists, record sellers, photographers, anonymous members of the public, people who came to our sessions ... We had, or wanted to create, a special relationship with all of them. As well as that, it was important for us for as many women as men to take part in the book. But that wasn’t possible, even though more women came to the sessions, and we
feel the book’s a bit lame because of that, which also reflects the place women have in the world of music (we bring as many women as possible to play at the sessions, and particularly groups with a feminist point to view: we think there’s still a lack of points of reference in that area). Altogether there are 121 texts, records and stories in Kafe aleak (Grains of Coffee), which is the name of the book.