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Kalakan: “We had to cancel a tour of Basque clubs in the US and Quebec to play with Madonna”


Madonna complete with txapela singing in front of Kalakan
Madonna complete with txapela singing in front of Kalakan


Since May 29 the Basque group Kalakan is touring the world with Madonna who they accompany on her MDNA World tour. The three members of the group from Lapurdi play the txalaparta and sing in various parts of the show where Madonna even wears a beret and sings with them in Basque. As Xan Errotabehere explains to the group was getting ready for a tour of several Basque clubs when they received the call from Madonna. For now they are enjoying performing Basque music in front of thousands of people around the world, and when this adventure ends, they assure us that they are eager to resume their previous project and visit the euskal etxeak.

Barcelona, Catalonia.  Txalaparta and Madonna, there is a pair that few ever imagined and which many of Madonna’s admirers are enjoying thanks to the group Kalakan that is accompanying her on her world tour.  The group from Iparralde met the singer last summer in Guethary during a birthday party where she was taken by the rhythms and the powerful voices of these three from lapurdi:  Thierry Biscary, Xan Errotabehere and Jamixel Bereau.  They talk about the singer, who is neither rude, nor lazy, immediately took the sticks and tried to play the txalaparta with them. 

Errotabehere, who spoke with EuskalKultura during a break of this intense tour, remembers the meeting fondly:  “It was really nice to meet her.  She is a very smart woman, she is interesting and interested in what is around her.  She immediately started to ask us about our culture.  What followed was an open dialogue among us, and that continues: easily.  She likes world music, especially traditional music.  She loves to get to know different culture, and is very open.” 

Madonna is also eager about the Basque language

One of Kalakan’s stellar moments during the concerts is when they perform Open your Heart and fuse it with Sagarra Jo.  Madonna then joins the group, singing phrases in Basque.  “We proposed this, but always knowing that she had the last word, and that she decides everything,” Xan says.  “By the reaction that we have seen on the internet it seems like the public enjoys our performances.”

The Basque musician confesses that the world tour is still quite an experience, “We always travel by truck or car when we play in different places.  What takes place in this show is totally different, and we are learning a lot professionally.   On the other hand we are meeting artists from all around the world and we would like to have more time with them but…there is not enough time. “


Diaspora tour

When they received Madonna’s invitation to join her tour, the group was preparing a tour of Basque centers in the US and Quebec.  “Since Madonna’s proposal was a professional experience that we could not refuse, we decided to pospone the tour.  We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and support of our decision. However, the Basque club tour is still among our projects that we will pursue next year,” Xan reassures. 

The three members of the group have a connection to the Diaspora…, "we all have family in America, like many Basques," but the real contact began through the president of Quebec’s Euskal Etxea Adelaide Daraspe.  Last year, the group performed in Montreal at the club’s fifteenth anniversary.  “Since then we have maintained a very good relationship.  It was also them who asked us to perform the World Congress of Basque Collectivities in Donostia.  It was an enriching moment because there were people from all over the world listening to us and singing with us,” Errotabehere recalls.

This member of Kalakan ensures that they feel a connection with the people in the Diaspora and that when Madonna’s tour is over, that they are eager to play for them.  “We have realized that more and more people are coming to the euskal etxeas to revitalize them.  Maybe they want to give a new look to their societies, just like we want to do with our music.”


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