An Interview with Celtic Flute Wizards Flook

The following is
World Music Central
‘s interview with

Sarah Allen
of the British band


How and when was the band formed?

We first formed in 1996, when a mutual friend put a tour together for
myself, Brian [Finnegan], and Michael McGoldrick. It was called Three Nations Flutes.
We didn’t like the name but we liked the music, so we decided to play
together some more.

We changed our name to Fluke, because there
were 3 flutes in the band, and “flute” is like “fluke”, and it was a fluke we
were playing together…but then we found out there was already a dance band
called Fluke, so we changed the spelling to Flook. Where is Flook based?

We are all mainly living in England, but not all in the same town. I’m in
London, Ed [Boyd] is in Bath, John Joe [Kelly] splits his time between Manchester and
Dublin and Brian splits his time between Malvern and Armagh.

How do you manage to get together for rehearsals?

are not very practical, and in fact we’ve only ever had 4 in nearly 9 years.
While in some ways it would be nice to have the possibility of getting
together more, we spend so much time together on the road, I’m not sure
really if we’d rehearse very much anyway, even if we all lived down the road
from each other!

But myself and Brian work out tunes together, and when they are ready we
play them in sound checks to the others and see how they sound. If they
sound Ok, then we maybe try them at the gig…and if they don’t we maybe try
again at the next sound check. It can be a long and sometimes frustrating
process, but on the whole we manage OK!

The band plays a lot of original material. Was this
intentional from the very beginning?

I don’t think we planned to play so much original material, but it has
evolved that way over time. We write a lot of tunes and some one has to play
them!  Also, there are many people playing the old tunes very well, and we
were trying to play different tunes. We love playing newly composed tunes,
either by ourselves or by our contemporaries. And we love to play the old
tunes as well.

Flook is an instrumental band. That limits pop radio exposure. Does this
mean you are mainly a live band?

We are well known as a live band, and personally I think music is all
about playing live, interacting with other people. However, we get a bit of
radio exposure, and we have sold over 40,000 albums in total, so some people
must like to listen to us at home too.

How do you choose and research traditional songs? What is the process?

Brian is our main source of tunes. He spends a lot of time trawling
through old CDs, looking for unusual tunes that haven’t been played too
much. Also, both he and John Joe have a huge repertoire of Traditional tunes
as they both grew up surrounded by Traditional music, and they have many
tunes up their sleeves. Basically if one of us likes a tune, then we suggest
it to the others and wait for the reaction. We are quite democratic in Flook,
and we all have to like the tunes before they can get played.

Rubai includes Swedish music by Alle Moller. Do you see a connection
between Celtic music and Nordic music?

Actually we learnt the Glass Polska from a Canadian flute player!

But in general there seems to have been a good exchange of music between
Nordic musicians and Celtic musicians in the past little while. A particular
favorite group of all of ours is SWAP, a band with 2 English/Irish
musicians and 2 Swedish musicians. Flook hasn’t traveled much to Norway or
Sweden, though we play a fair bit in Denmark. There is a big renaissance of
Danish folk music lately, with lots of young people playing it. I’m not sure
what the connection is between Celtic music and Nordic music, but we love to
listen to their music and I think they love to listen to ours.

There is also a mulineira. Is this from Portugal?

The 2 Mulinieras we currently play are both from Asturias in northern
Spain. There is so much lovely music from Asturias, and we have immensely
enjoyed touring over there in the past couple of years.

Your recordings sound modern, but they are also very acoustic. Is this

We all listen to loads of different kinds of music, and we use the beats
and ideas that we hear in other types of music in our own music. That is the
only way we can operate to be true to ourselves. I think that that is why
our music sounds quite modern. We found a fantastic engineer, Mark Tucker,
to record Rubai, and he did a brilliant job with the acoustic instruments.
He was definitely the final link in the chain in the making of that album.
It definitely sounds more “produced” than Flatfish, but it still sounds like

How do you record an album?

We play the sets of tunes live and altogether, but we always know we can
replace bits and pieces individually if need be, so we don’t have to get it
right all of the time. That makes it less stressful and we can be more
relaxed. We sometimes then overdub additional harmonies and other
instruments to the mix; on Rubai we asked a few of our good friends to add
parts to certain tracks, and we were delighted with results.

Do you teach workshops?

We have just finished 2 solid weeks of teaching workshops, up at the
Folkworks Summer Schools in Durham and at the Burwell Bash in
Cambridgeshire. We enjoy teaching…though we wouldn’t want to do it all the
time, as it is quite exhausting, especially the early morning starts. John
Joe never teaches workshops (if he can help it); he retired from that a few
years ago!

Do the members of the band participate in other projects?

We all play with other musicians, but mostly we are busy with Flook, so we
often have to refuse gigs with other people. Ed and John Joe still play with
Michael McGoldrick sometimes. We like to play with other musicians to keep
ourselves and our music fresh.

[Buy Flook’s



[Photo credits. 1- Flook by Julian Andrews, 2- Sarah Allen by
Angel Romero, 3 – Ed Boyd by Jane Hansen, 4- Brian Finnegan by Jane Hansen,
5 – John Joe Kelly by Jane Hansen].