A Festival Of Underground, Experimental & International Music
April 2021
More Information Coming Soon

Counterflows 2020, like so much cultural activity across the world, may have publicly fizzled out like a damp firework but artists and creative people have not stopped creating. All this has made us no less determined to support the development of a culture we believe in and to support artists locally and across the world that share our vision. We had so many hopes for what might have been, however there is no point in dwelling on that, there are far greater challenges emerging across our communities right now.

We are busy looking at developing strategies to examine what our new cultural world may look like. The cultural sector has to brace itself for close scrutiny as funding will inevitably tighten. Our good friends and colleagues from Liquid Architecture in Melbourne who were 20 years old this year have just lost their funding. In times like these culture is an important cog that binds our societies. It gives a platform for questioning and a voice for dialogue, it brings joy and reflection.

We are exploring what 2021 might look like. Counterflows will happen. It may take on different forms and present music in new ways but we will talk with our audience, our colleagues, artists, venues and our communities and work out ways that we can all support each other and deliver exciting and important new work.

Second up in our Counterflows Interventions Series is Quinie. Quinie was commissioned by Counterflows to present her new work at the opening of the festival. She has been exploring ideas developed around traditions in Scots singing and vocalised piping styles, questioning ownership and authenticity.

Alasdair & Fielding


Josie Vallely, April 2020

There are people who can or cannot sing particular songs, or whom songs belong to.

This style of singing that I am inspired by is rooted in communities of Scottish Travellers of the North East of Scotland. I have a commitment to the style of singing, but I do not see myself as having a role in the preservation of the arts of Traveller Culture or in saving songs from oblivion. Traveller Culture doesn’t need to be acknowledged or heard by settled people in order to have legitimacy. That is why I focus my efforts on creating new work that isn’t based on a concept of these songs as archaic relics or cultural products for export.

I see songs as “a way of trying to describe what is in fact going on, what people actually do and feel, how people relate to everything else in this vast sack, this belly of the universe, this womb of things to be and tomb of things that were.” The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Le Guin, 1986

1. Quinie, Thoughts on repertoire, 2019

2. Quinie, Notation of Mary Morrison’s canntaireachd of A Cholla Mo Rùn, 2019

Tomorrow, songs

The Scottish Heritage Industrial Complex* continues to articulate a reductive stereotype of our folk culture that re-enforces colonial nostalgia, nationalism, imperial militarism, toxic masculinity, and white supremacy. It is only by holding each other to account that we can begin to reaffirm our relationship with this type of music and create a space where folk traditions can exist outside the grip of authenticity.

“We need to open up spaces for learning and dialogue, reflecting on shared experiences of dispossession, dislocation and subjugation, always in the spirit of reconciliation. In this context, giving new voice to these old songs becomes a radical act.” – Mairi Mcfayden

Tradition is a organic and living process of meaning-making routed in place. These songs are articulations of living, making and working collectively. These images of spinning wheels, peat, washing drying on lines or herbs in forests draw community to me. They give me connection to an imagined and real Scottishness based on some pseudo shared cultural understanding of a past.

Tomorrow, songs
Will flow free again, and new voices
Be borne on the carrying stream.
— Hamish Henderson