Q&A with Kevin Quantum

A scientist by training, Kevin Quantum was introduced to the world of magic in 2005 and has since combined the two to become a scientist-illusionist hybrid. He’s also director of the Edinbugh International Magic Festival, which celebrates its 7th edition from Fri 1 – Fri 8 July this year. We caught up with Kevin to find out about how he got into magic and his new show, Illuminations, which takes place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Mon 4 July.

What brought you to the world of magic?

Reality TV. 10 years ago I was a research scientist, but I became a magician after appearing on legendary C4 reality show Faking It. I had 4 weeks to learn magic to convince Paul Daniels I was a pro. Fortunately I had Penn and Teller as my mentors! Never looked back since.

How does your new show, Illuminations, fuse together science and magic?

This is a complicated question, and has tied me in knots. The show is primarily an entertainment show with a science theme. The finale is essentially one huge science experiment, rather than a magic trick, recreating a rainbow on stage for the first time ever. It’s not a ‘trick’ but it’s so magical and unique and brings a lot of ideas together that I’ve been working on for years. I don’t think anyone could have come up with this without the science and magic training I’ve had.

What do you love most about performing magic?

I’m constantly eager to please. Magic allows me to design and build magical inventions that I’ve always wanted to see, be myself on stage, be paid for it and have lots of people like me!

How does creating your own show differ to organising MagicFest?

The running of my show at first had a separate team, director, producer, lighting designer and set designer all apart from MagicFest. As time has gone on we’ve seen the benefit in having them do work for MagicFest also. When I’m building my own show, my biggest challenge is to take myself away from production and stay as ‘the talent’ – working on the magic, the inventions, the script – and staying away from the press releases, tech stuff and venue contacts…

MagicFest is now entering its 7th year. What has been your biggest achievement?

Wow, so many to mention. Probably number one is getting to seven years, no one thought we could do that. We’ve brought live magic to 50,000 people that may never have seen it otherwise, and I’m very proud of that. Also: breaking a Guinness world record; producing events at the Globe Theatre, Scotland’s biggest illusion – making a Lothian Buses bus disappear; producing the Gala show at the Festival Theatre; meeting and becoming friends with Paul Daniels. The list goes on and on…

Kevin Quantum performs Illuminations here on Mon 4 July. Book tickets.