The Debt Records team has just returned from the Aragon region of Northern Spain, where almost all our acts (plus others from across the globe – spanning every conceivable artistic discipline) gathered to celebrate the final Kuiperfest, an all-acoustic festival hidden among the olive groves of the Mattaraña mountain range.
The festival is one of the most welcoming and challenging events an artist can be involved in (as well as the most secret) – there are no lighting rigs, stage props or effects pedals, not even amplification beyond the terraces’ natural acoustics. All a performer has is their material and the trust of a listening crowd. To say that the festival is “no-nonsense”, however, would be grossly inaccurate… with turns from the Navet Bete clown troup and the Something Something puppetry duo there is certainly plenty of nonsense – though nonsense of the finest caliber.
Over the years the Kuiper showcase has led to collaborations, international tours and Fringe Festival residencies for those that have taken part. David Rybka and Louis Barabbas, for example, found themselves with bookings in Mexico, Alabaster dePlume ended up performing alongside a string quartet and contemporary dancers, Biff Roxby became Monkey Poet’s producer and a lot of drunk musicians fell down a ravine (but that’s another story).
This year’s Kuiperfest was always set to be the final instalment. Its founder Jon Bonfiglio (producer, playwright and author of the “Movement and Memory” lecture series) was adamant that one cannot sustain the innocence of such an event indefinitely. Anyone who has watched the metamorphosis of festivals like Glastonbury over the years will no doubt agree.