The Exchange is a periodic in-depth look at the artistic motivations of musicians and collectives. We try to approach this from a more cultural and societal perspective, aside from the necessary musical one, because we cannot deny the influence of modern age bringing ideas from all over the world which broaden our horizons. It is a fact that we can learn a lot from movements that are foreign to us.
Hapësira/Visions of Beyond, Kosovo
In the Southeast of Europe lies a wonderful country, Kosovo, experiencing a blossoming of experimental electronic music culture laced with a special sense of cultural identity and human solicitude. Kosovo is gaining attention for good reasons and is in this respect following in the footsteps of countries like Georgia and White Russia, who have been on the radar of many electronic music aficionados for some time now. On the forefront of this renaissance is Hapësira, an organization carrying the big ambition to push the cultural scene to a new level and redefining, even for Western standards, the level of coherence between mission and execution. Hapësira, meaning space in Albanian, takes the full extent of the word as their mission statement. The focus lies not on the maximizing of profit, but on the maximization of human capital and that is something exceptional to strive for. The bookings of their parties, for which they have the amazing space of a discarded printing warehouse Rilindja, have been very much on point until now. DJs like Alex Do. and Acronym have touched down on the sacred concrete and laser lit hall.
After making name for itself the Hapësira collective also founded the festival Visions of Beyond (VoB), being organized for the second year in 2017 in the cultural heritage site of the fortification Castle Harilaq. Continuing the direction taken in the last Rilindja warehouse parties, head turning artists associated with Northern Electronics and other heavyweights like Tin Man and nthng are flown to Kosovo.
We speak to Uran Badivuku, one of founders of Hapësira and a dj under the moniker Uran B., about the cultural climate in Kosovo, the new wave of collectives and the intentions and aspirations of Hapësira.
Z – Thank you for this interview. To start off and paint a picture for people who aren’t that familiar with the circumstances from which Hapësira was born, can you describe the environment for artists like you before you decided to form the collective?
More than welcomed, likewise thanks for the invitation… 2004 was the year I got stuck into the electronic music industry. At those times I would just laugh if anyone would tell me that I wouldn’t be dealing with anything else but music. For quite some time I would just continue my routine. In places which are still fresh out of the war such as Kosovo, struggles with basic social welfare conditions are inescapable and that of course pushes you to get into alternative ways of living, since music has never been considered a way to make a living. However, music has consistently played a significant role in my life throughout this period and has always been a part of me. My love for music has been the key component that has allowed me to totally commit myself to it, which equals the time when we started our organization “Hapësira” with my friend Arbnor Dragaj. On the other hand considering the fact that I don’t like being stuck in comfort zones, this has always served as a reason to find myself digging for new dimensions and trends that have been emerging outside the borders. All this accumulated knowledge throughout the years is now reflected by our input in Hapësira, which in turn has just started to deliver its output. An output that is showing that the up and coming generations in my country can adapt easily to their counterparts from the neighboring countries.
Z – Now more grassroots initiatives in music are formed, for example Moodular, can you name a few more promising ventures in Kosovo and maybe the general inspiration you take from other scenes in the world, as mentioned briefly before?
The organization itself stems from the principle of creating an alternative scene where young people who are interested in this specific culture can be inspired by our movement. This in turn would boost them to continue their journey of creativeness with full confidence. I say so because until today it is rare to find the intention in any organization or business in this industry to inspire and not to materially profit from the individual. Our main mission is to push the boundaries of Kosovo’s recognition further in all domains of life. Hapësira as it is, can be seen as one of the main actors in placing Kosovo’s recreational life and influence in the international context. With no doubt Hapësira will always work on maximizing the impact music has on people, so newcomers like Moodular may count as a great example and are, in my opinion, signs of our place moving to the right direction.
Z – So Hapësira lays a great worth in being a social movement alongside the artistic vision of the projects. In which ways do you seek to give back to the Kosovar community?
We have a motto: While most events that have taken up stage in Kosovo in recent years seek to maximize material profit, events held by Hapësira aim to maximize human capital. Music is used as the tool to help our community get in touch and appreciate the complex nature of our history, let that be the Rilindja Warehouse experience at the Old Printing house in which our parents have contributed or the VoB experience at one of our cultural heritage spaces, all this to encourage a more nuanced look at how music can initiate a social change.So in this context, what music can do is help support and nurture movements of change and reinforce them in quite a powerful way.
Z – Often governments and public institutions are seen as the death of bottom up creativity. When looking at the page of Visions of Beyond we see however a tremendous support of these officials, where the location for the festival is even a protected heritage. How important is it for you to work together with all layers of society?
Since the primary goal of VoB is to promote cultural heritage and cultural tourism, cooperation with institutions and organizations of this field is very important for us, as cooperations like these make it possible to constitute such an event. It is worth mentioning that Hapësira always seeks on the expansion of cooperation with institutions and cultural organizations in general in order to further develop the cultural sphere and to promote cultural heritage along with the natural beauties that our country possesses.
Z – Hapësira and VoB strive to balance music, culture, nature, art, young and old. What is the process of decision making to ensure nothing of your vision is lost (on commercial prospects or otherwise damaging acts)?
Basically it has to do with a very easy approach as long as you have chosen the right path of doing things for yourself. By the right path I mean taking the direction in which your passion lies. So for me it’s music and as a music-lover all my years,days,hours and seconds spent on this direction are the most precious moments. In a sense it’s also a definition of who we are. So the process itself is a natural one, as there are no other alternative ways that we know to work on.
Z – With the new season of club events starting soon, can you give us a glimpse of things that are about to go down in Rilindja, and possibly convince some readers to take a chance and go for a party in Kosovo?
The special ingredient of Hapësira is keeping the information secret and spread it out at the right moment so all get informed equally. In this way none will feel more privileged, as Hapësira is a space of all. Additionally, when you make things look mysterious to people that increases the opportunity of exploring. This benefits both the audience who can educate themselves and our organization in their future plans as you get to know what your audience likes and wants. Yet, for you we are able to reveal the date of the 7th Rilindja Warehouse, which is going to happen on November 3rd.