Stukafest – which stands for Studenten Kamer Festival – is taking place on the evening of 21 February. This small and private festival, hosted in real homes, student bedrooms, in which performers enter the space to amaze a small audience – usually only 15 or 20 people. Alexandra Alden is the chairperson of Stukafest Rotterdam. Having found home in music herself, she wanted to share the same experience with international students living in Rotterdam. “I moved around my whole life. That’s probably what drew me to music. I wanted to have something constant that I could always return to. It made me very happy.”
“Stukafest is a multicultural, extremely diverse, cosy, intimate festival that is hosted in the realm of students’ everyday lives”, Alden describes the festival. “It’s a very up close and personal approach to music and human connection.”
During the evening, all performances are organised in three consecutive rounds. Guests can move from one student house to another to enjoy all three shows. Every location is selected carefully, to make sure that they are no more than a 20 minute bike ride from each other, and so are the performances. Usually, artists reach out to the Stukafest board offering their participation, and then undergo a selection procedure. “We have a lot of confidence in our programmers. They choose quality acts. This year, when the board set down to see everything come together, we were like: yeah, this is going to be nice. This year’s line-up features video art, theatre, spoken word, indie music, funk music, even an afterparty planned at Roodkapje”, Alden says excitedly.
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The interview takes place through Skype, because Alden is still in Malta. She is originally from Malta, where her career in music started. “When I was a teenager, I recorded an album and had a few successful singles. But six years ago, I moved to the Netherlands to study Jazz singing at Codarts. Now, I’m basing my international music career here.” Around a year and a half ago, she was invited back home, to become a jury member of X Factor Malta. “By this time I’d actually released an album in the Netherlands as well, and I was kick-starting my music career here. It was interesting for me to see how I could combine both worlds.”
After years in the Netherlands, becoming a jury member and being exposed on TV hasn’t been easy at all. “The general public quickly form an opinion about you, based on what they see and hear, but the screen captures only one moment in time, not the entire picture.”
She had been away for a long time and the Maltese audience was no longer very familiar with her. So, the Dutch directness that she’d acquired during her studies was not taken very well. Her feedback was perceived as harsh and too critical when she commented on participants’ musical talent. “Malta is a small country. The general public were shocked at my directness. I just came across as being very blunt and some people even found it rude. I was seen as a young woman, with a very strong opinion, who’d been given a platform. It wasn’t easy to deal with that emotionally, but I try to use the criticism to help develop myself as an artist and a human being.”
X Factor and Stukafest are two different worlds, even though they both introduce art to an audience. For Alden, juggling these two worlds has been fun, since working with music is what she loves and enjoys the most. But now that the second season of X Factor is over and Stukafest is just around the corner, she is looking forward to the event.
Pig who chokes on waste
Some of these performances are not just nice for the eyes and ears, they also communicate important messages, Alden explains. “We have this performance, called ‘the pig’, by an Italian duo, which highlights the sustainability issue. It evolves around an image of the man who gets personal benefit from throwing away trash, and a pig who chokes on waste. That’s my favourite piece. We also have an act called ‘Unwanted Words’ by a queer poetry group, supporting LGBT rights. So, generally Stukafest is a very accessible, open space. We want everyone to feel at home, regardless of their beliefs and upbringing.”
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Stukafest Rotterdam takes place on 21 February, from 20:30 pm until 02:00 am.
You can get the tickets for one, two, or all three rounds and the afterparty.
For more information and to purchase the tickets visit the website.