Kaunas Zoo. A like-minded animal music collective 

20 April, 2023, Monika Balčiauskaitė / Kaunas Full of Culture | Interviews, News, Topic of the month

One of the attractions in Kaunas for those who are not looking for a typical tourist experience is Šančiai located on the winding right bank of the Nemunas. O kodel ne? bar which existed in Vytautas Park for several years has become the newest neighbor of the Kaunas railway station and started inviting people to its new location in Šančiai. Garazhhh – premises, where events are regularly organized by Kaunas Zoo – were also opened there. The activities of this collective – if you can call it that – have always intrigued me, so getting to know Ignas Kavaliauskas, a freelance multidisciplinary artist, and Zebras (one of the interviewees wanted to remain anonymous, so they chose the name of this animal as a pseudonym) for this street music issue turned out to be very appropriate.

“To put it briefly, Kaunas Zoo is a group of musical like-minded people, right?” I started the conversation with the interviewees. Ignas immediately added, “It is actually quite similar to a zoo. Only the cages are different, they are represented by various scenes. The animals climb into them more or less of their own free will. Some beat the drums like gorillas, others subtly press buttons and chirp like birds of paradise.” The fundamental desire of these like-minded people is to develop the cultural life of Kaunas and contribute to the development of music culture by bringing together musicians, creators, and music lovers. “In order to achieve this, we organized various musical events, which received a lot of interest and support,” ChatGPT answered when Zebras turned to it for assistance in answering the questions. More specifically, ChatGPT is an educational tool that Kaunas Zoo members use to communicate with their community and encourage people to be interested in culture, technology, arts, and science.

As I already mentioned, the Kaunas Zoo base is in Garazhhh, where jam sessions, parties, workshops or, for example, the presentation of the Baltas kambarys magazine take place. More than one organization operates in Garažas. It is an open cultural space where various cultural activities are developed: concerts, exhibitions, literary evenings, robot-making workshops, and so on. “Garažas is a great example of how cultural communities can contribute to the cultural life of a city,” Zebras/ChatGPT added. Bands rehearse there often, and they are basically open – anyone can join. “Sometimes things that are difficult to put into words happen there,” Ignas summarized.

It is important to mention that Garazhhh opened its doors in the summer of 2022 and until then, in addition to the usual misunderstandings, the organizers had problems with the spaces. “One of the biggest challenges was finding the right place for events. We wanted to accommodate many people and ensure decent conditions for both musicians and the audience. In addition, it was necessary to find funding and convince potential sponsors and ensure security. Little by little, everything worked out,” Zebras/ChatGPT wrote.

While talking with Ignas – one of the creators of Kaunas Zoo – and another member of this community, I asked a question that also interested me personally. “Did Kaunas Zoo become Kaunas 3022?” And I received a very clear answer, “No.” According to Ignas, Kaunas 3022 is like an organization of the present and the future, the foundations of which are laid in the past (ordinary mortals call it the present). And Kaunas Zoo is a music band and some members of it are also part of the Kaunas 3022 initiative. More specifically, Kaunas 3022 project aims to present the vision of the city of Kaunas in the context of the future. This initiative invites people from all over Lithuania and abroad to get acquainted with the cultural life of Kaunas, participate in events, experiments and establish new connections, and discover opportunities for cooperation. Kaunas Zoo is not directly related to this project, but the group helps to expand the cultural and artistic horizons, which corresponds to the vision of the Kaunas 3022 project.

Kaunas Zoo organized many events that contributed to the aforementioned expansion of cultural horizons, but, according to Ignas, the most vivid impression was left by all the performances next to St. Michael the Archangel’s Church. This is precisely the community that contributes to the growth of the city’s cultural life. And Kaunas Zoo is a great example that shows that people can unite to achieve common goals for the development of their city.

Photo by Jesus Raves

As the weather gets better and warmer, the “animals” of Kaunas Zoo will start wandering around the city more often. You will be able to see the band near the Nemunas, St. Michael the Archangel’s Church, and other public spaces of Kaunas. For example, Kaunas Zoo, Ignas iš Ignalinos ir Miško Žvėrys, and DJ friends’ jam will take place in the creative space of Garazhhh on April 15. Everyone is welcome [the article was originally published on April 1]. In addition, every last Saturday of the month, the already mentioned public rehearsal of different bands takes place there. Everyone who wants to contribute, listen or dance together is welcome. Don’t be shy!