Music: Breaking the sound barrier

Where is all the modern music in the Edinburgh Festival? The Flux Festival is answering back in maverick style.

BACK IN Edinburgh for its second year, the Flux Festival which opens tonight looks set to build on the success of last year's event with another set of unique collaborations and rare performances.

It was founded by Alex Poots and David Sefton to bridge the divide between the classically oriented Edinburgh International Festival and the inherent comedy and theatre of the Fringe.

It worked spectacularly well. Last year Poots and Sefton waltzed off with the Scotland On Sunday Critics Award For Music for a collaboration between Michael Nyman and The Divine Comedy. This year, Spiritualized and the feted classical composer Steve Martland are scheduled to perform new vocal and conceptual pieces together on the opening two nights.

David Sefton is head of artistic development at the South Bank (following an early stint as a writer for the defunct music tabloid Sounds). He says: "I'd go to the Edinburgh Festival every year and see what was going on. They were great on theatre, fine on classical music, but there was absolutely no recognition of contemporary popular music at all. Punters would go for the cabaret and the theatre, but I just thought `Where's the music?' You'd be lucky to get Ray Davies.

"So that's where it all started... I'm very, very pleased at the bill we've put together for this year's event."

Sefton admits to an admiration for all the artists on this year's roster. It raises the question of how much influence he and Poots have over the general content and structure of the whole event, particularly as they try to encourage the acts to be more adventurous than they would on a normal tour.

"It's enthusiasm that drives what you do," he explains. "We book the acts and then we talk about what they do. I went to the first rehearsal of the Spiritualized/Martland project last night, and it was great, fortunately. You have to put people together who you think are going to work. I don't know what happens when they don't - that's a bridge I'll cross when I come to it.

"There are `straight' gigs in there, but they're programmed because they're interesting people: Asian Dub Foundation will do what they do, but will also support themselves with a DJ set. Everyone is encouraged to do something a bit wacky. Nick Cave is doing a solo show that's never been seen in the UK before, accompanying himself on the piano, with elements of spoken word."

The artists themselves are keen to banish their own preconceptions. Everyone is seemingly unconcerned about the potential for tarnished reputations; pretension quickly evaporates into a maverick spirit of adventure.

Neil Hannon (Divine Comedy) recalls how last year, after agreeing to work with Michael Nyman, he was "equally intrigued and terrified by the idea". It took two months to arrange and learn the new material, a period through which the singer claims he was "driven partly by a fear of being crap, and partly by a fear that Michael wouldn't like what we'd done to his songs."

The ensemble played at the Jaffa Cake, a venue with "no air conditioning and a stage the size of a handkerchief... we played three shows over two nights, and I can say without any doubt that they were two of the hottest nights of my life, and two of the most exhilarating.

"The crowded Jaffa Cake only added to the atmosphere - it was an experience I wouldn't have missed."

Sefton says: "The festival context in Edinburgh makes it very clear that this is not just the latest tour by a person or a band, and so it allows the possibility for space and experimentation. They're performing in a place where people expect weird things to happen. For the most part, the artists embrace that and think `We can go there and take chances'."

One of Sefton's great strengths is his ability to transmit his enthusiasm to others. It comes across as he says: "Spiritualized/Martland is going to be fantastic. Getting John Zorn into the country after he said he'd never come back is great. The Jesus And Mary Chain haven't played in Edinburgh for 10 years, so that's going to be wild. The Delgados and Six By Seven are also playing - The Delgados are one of the best bands in the country, and Six By Seven have made one of the best records of the year. With Nectarine No 9 on the same bill, there will not be a better gig put together in the whole of the UK this year. Last year we did Mogwai, Urusei Yatsura and The Delgados on that triple bill, and it was just an awesome evening."

With PJ Harvey and Nick Cave already sold out, and David Thomas, Yo La Tengo, Roddy Frame and the New York electro-artist Ben Neill also appearing, it promises to be an astonishing two weeks.

The Flux Festival, 14-29 August at the Jaffa Cake and the Queen's Hall. Tickets from the Queen's Hall (0131-668 2019; credit card bookings 0131- 667 7776; Fringe booking office 0131-226 5138)

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?