Adrian Belew debuts his innovative FLUX app: ‘I’m never one to shut doors’

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The wait for Adrian Belew’s new FLUX app is over. Belew, who rose to fame with Frank Zappa, Talking Heads and King Crimson, has been at work for years on an innovative new online experience melding exciting bursts of music and visuals. FLUX will debut tonight (November 25, 2014), as part of an invite-only event in Nashville, Tennessee, before being released on the web.

Developed in conjunction with Amsterdam-based MOBGEN, the FLUX app offers a tapestry of musical combinations via a crisp, involving digital algorhythm that pairs snippets of new songs with several hundred different art clips, behind-the-scenes commentary and other sonic details. Best of all, as Belew reminds, it never constructs the same combination twice — offering listeners a unique experience each time.

Belew joined us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown, to talk about how FLUX will impact the way his music arrives in the future, and how the app could grow and change in the future …

NICK DERISO: Do you see yourself making a CD again, or does that seem hopelessly old fashioned to you now?
ADRIAN BELEW: Oh, absolutely not. I want to make it clear — FLUX, to me, is a new alternative, another branch of the tree. It’s not meant to be the only thing. There are, for example, several pieces of music and even a couple of songs right now that I have in my back pocket that wouldn’t work in FLUX. Why? Because they’re too long, and one rule that I have in FLUX is that things can’t be too long, because it breaks up that feeling of surprise and excitement that we have when things are changing every 30 seconds. So, I have a piece of music — one, in particular, called “Variations of Wave Pressure,” that’s 12 minutes long. It’s a wonderful piece of music, but it would not work at all in FLUX. And, let’s face it, if you are another kind of artist — say, an artist who is playing dance music — you want that to go for a while. You want that groove. Or, a classical piece. There are things that don’t work in this FLUX world. So, it’s its own thing, and it doesn’t mean that anything else is irrelevant now. I will continue to make CDs and, at some point, I’ll probably take some of my favorite things from FLUX and put those out — for people who want that. In FLUX, you can already do something like yourself, because we’ve added a function where you can favorite a song and it will automatically got into a playlist. Then you can go back to that playlist any time you want, and hear that track. It’s not like, if you get the FLUX app, you can only hear it in a random way. You can also hear it just like you would a normal download.

NICK DERISO: Down the road, could FLUX be used as an on-line platform for collaboration? Can other sounds from other musicians come in? Ultimately, could someone else make their version of FLUX?
ADRIAN BELEW: I think the Flux concept has a lot broader usage, and not just in music. I really believe it’s something that could be used in many different artistic mediums, and that people will use it different ways. At some point, I hope that fans themselves can put their own things in. That’s not the way this app is going to be; this is my version of new music, done in the FLUX manner. I need to be clear about that. You don’t get to do anything, at least not yet. In the future, if this is accepted well, I could see other people taking the ball and doing other things with it — because I believe it is a good enough idea that it has multiple uses, maybe even outside of the realm of music. But we’ll see. As far as how it changes my future, I see this as something that could really increase my productivity for years to come. So, I’m very excited about using FLUX as an artistic platform in the future. But, once again, not the only one. Because you do need to go and play live shows and, yes, you will have music that doesn’t fit in that format. And, you know, I’m never one to shut doors. I like to open doors, instead.

Adrian Belew continues a North American tour with Power Trio bandmates Julie Slick and Tobias Ralph after the FLUX debut, with dates beginning again in December at Atlanta, Quebec City, Toronto, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and other cities. Go here for more information.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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