THE BEGINNING

The DIY label and promotions company that supports bands with learning difficulties

contantflux

In the world of music documentaries, in 2012 everyone fell in love with Sixto Rodriguez, the humble enigma that magically appeared via the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugarman. For a small few, however, there was one music film that stood out above all others that year: The Punk Syndrome, a touching, hilarious and exhilarating documentary on the Finnish punk group Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät whose members all have learning disabilities. One such fan of the group is Richard Phoenix (frontman of Sauna Youth), who has a background in working with people with learning disabilities and decided he wanted to see the group himself. “It was actually after hearing PKN that Constant Flux came about,” he says. “I wanted to see them play, so I started an organisation and got £10,000 from the Arts Council to make it happen!”

Constant Flux is a promotions company and record label that puts on shows and puts out records for musicians with learning disabilities. The most recent is an April UK tour by glitch group The Fish Police (starting in Nottingham on the 4th and ending in Swansea on the 11th), who will be playing a series of integrated shows with bands like Fair Ohs, Cowtown, Cold Pumas, Ravioli Me Away, Caves, Sissy Hex and L’Amour Des Reves, as well as others from the nascent learning disabled music scene such as Daniel Wakeford, Beat Express and Ultimate Thunder.

Phoenix says of the shows and the scene: “When I first started working within this world, the only opportunities for these musicians was to play a 10-15 minute set in-between a couple of DJs at a club. Just being able to play with other bands is a huge step forward. It’s important for any musician or scene to have cross-pollination of ideas and influences and one of the best ways to do this is to play with your peers, learning disability or no learning disability.”

With the on-going success of groups like PKN, and the birth and continuing growth of Constant Flux, awareness is gradually being raised. “That’s a large part of it,” says Phoenix. “There is a long history of people with learning disabilities being out on the fringes of society, in institutions, homes, etc., and this ‘out of sight’ situation unfortunately creates a certain ignorance and fear that in extreme cases manifests itself in hate crime. I think one of the biggest obstacles is being able to engage with society and the community in a positive, non-judgemental and open way.”

The Fish Police Constant Flux Tour:
April 4th – Nottingham at Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, NG1 2GB
April 5th – Leeds at Wharf Chambers, 23 Wharf St, LS2 7EQ
April 6th – Sheffield at The Broomhall Centre, Broomspring Ln, S10 2FD
April 7th – Sunderland at Pop Recs Ltd, 50 Fawcett Street, SR1 1RF
April 9th – London at The Macbeth, 70 Hoxton St, N1 6LP
April 10th – Brighton at The Green Door Store, Trafalgar Arches, BN1 4FQ
April 11th – Swansea at Mozarts Walters Rd, SA1 4QA

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