The Celtic Connections festival was the first milestone of the Scotland Goes Basque 2019 programme, created and promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute. At the end of January, the rock band Huntza joined other Basque bands in Scotland to take part in the Celtic music festival. In the words of Josune Arakistain, Huntza’s lead singer, “the experience in Scotland was amazing”.
How do you value the participation of Huntza at Celtic Connections?
As a group, and on a personal level, our time in Scotland was a fantastic experience. It was our first time playing there. And this trip not only gave us a chance to export our music, but also learn about Scottish culture.
What struck you the most about the Scottish people?
The atmosphere between the musicians and the public at our concerts. It was amazing. I feel really fortunate to have experienced it first-hand. My groupmates noticed the same thing. The Scottish public was so generous, and we already want to go back.
Were the Huntza concerts well received?
Yes, especially the second one. There were a lot of young people, and at times, the atmosphere felt the same as it does at our concerts in the Basque Country. In the first concert we experimented a curious sensation: we played to a more mature audience, which was completely new for us, and the experience was very good.
Was the audience familiar with your songs?
I don’t think so. The majority heard us for the first time at the Celtic Connections live concerts.
Do you remember any particularly special moment at the festival?
Yes, our second show, which was a complete surprise. The plan was to give only one concert at Celtic Connections, but they invited us to play again, and this time the crowd was huge and very enthusiastic.
Other Basque groups travelled to Scotland too. Did the trip give you the chance to strengthen your relationship with them?
Some of them we already knew before, but not others, and during the festival we got to know each other better.
Did you find similarities between the Basque and Scottish cultures?
They are similarities. The trikitilaris, for example, are very used to gathering around the table with friends or family to sing; in Scotland they usually enjoy their music the same way, but with different instruments.
Do programmes like Scotland Goes Basque 2019, promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute, help artists expand their reach to larger international audiences?
Yes. The members of Huntza have been fortunate enough to have played abroad on other occasions, but this initiative allowed us to perform in Scotland, something that wouldn’t have been easy to do on our own.
Did your experience in Scotland meet your expectations?
Yes, obviously. And more importantly, the trip made us want more. We look forward to going back to Scotland soon.