Kevin Quantum (also known as Kevin McMahon) has been a magician since 2005 after an appearance on the TV show Faking It. Formerly a scientist, the show (which trained individuals in areas of work the complete opposite to their existing jobs) introduced Kevin to a whole new career. He was trained by the best magicians in the world, Penn and Teller, in Las Vegas and in the last 10 years has performed at 1000’s of events across the world. Today he is one of the top magicians in the UK.
1. Can you tell us about your experience on the programme Faking It and the moment you realised that you wanted to be a professional Magician?
After Faking It had finished and I returned to Edinburgh after a whirlwind 4 weeks training in London and Las Vegas with Penn and Teller I was still adamant that I would return to my research position. It was only when I was sat at my desk in the lab, staring at my computer screen that I knew I had to make a big leap of faith and change the direction of my life. I took a day off to gather my thoughts and then went into work the next day to speak to my boss…
Science is still a big part of my life, I would say that I’m a hobbyist scientist and regularly play with quantum physics through experiments and I am currently designing and building an indoor rainbow in a way never done before (see it at MagicFest and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in my show Illuminations).
2. You founded the International Magic Festival (MagicFest) in Edinburgh in 2010 and it has become the biggest magic festival in the UK, attracting 8,000 people. What highs and/or lows did you face getting the show started?
MagicFest happened 3 or 4 years into my magic career. I met my now wife Svetlana who was fresh out of her masters degree at Napier University in Festivals and Events Management and we thought that Edinburgh would be a great place to start a magic festival. The biggest worry was in the first two years when I’d racked up a £10k credit card bill each year and I had to work all the magic shows under the sun to pay it off. We’re still unfunded by the city and Creative Scotland, we have some amazing sponsors but each year is very *exciting* lets say. The biggest highs were bringing to Edinburgh and becoming friends with some magic legends like Paul Daniels, Maestro Voronin, David Berglas and many more.
Watch highlights from the 2014 Magic Festival
3. Out of all of your magical achievements, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud that I’ve brought live magic to a new audience of over 30,000 people. I’m delighted MagicFest has run for 7 years and I am most excited about my new show Illuminations. But then you’re always most excited about the things you’re currently working on!
4. You are performing your brand new show Illuminations at MagicFest and The Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Can you give us a little insight to what we can expect in the show?
I thought you’d never ask 🙂 Illuminations is my heart and mind exposed on stage. Ideas and dreams that have become reality. Magic, theatre, science, comedy all combined. My most ambitious work yet. I’m working with Ross MacKay, of “Tortoise in a Nutshell” theatre company, who’s directing and part writing the show with me. Simon Wilkinson is the lighting designer, who’s lit many shows in the biggest theatres and outdoor venues in Scotland. Dr Mark Collins is my creative collaborator. Without Mark the premiere of the ‘rainbow’ would never have happened.
From a magic point of view I’m appearing and vanishing on stage, levitating objects above the audiences heads, holding fire in the palm of my hands, projecting thoughts into reality. From a science point of view we’re building a rainbow and using interesting properties of light to create very amazing light shows using objects that we all carry. And from a theatre point of view my character is exploring the highs and lows of a relationship with an eccentric late uncle. There’s lots going on and I can’t wait to get to the stage.
Watch Kevin performing street magic in Edinburgh
5. How do you think our ever evolving technology will impact magic in the future?
Magicians, since the start of time, have always had to ride the crest of the technology wave. From Frenchman Robert Houdan who used electromagnetism to create an unliftable briefcase over 150 years ago to Dynamo using very creative magical methods to create brand new illusions for a new audience. I expect magic to continue to be intriguing and popular.
And just for fun…
6. Do you have any magical heroes?
Paul Daniels. He was amazing. His presentations and technique with audience members from his live shows in the 70’s and 80’s was and still is unrivalled. Penn And Teller – they make magic important.
7. If you could witness any magical event from the past, which one would it be and why?
I would love to watch The Great Lafayette’s live show. He was the greatest magician in the world just over 100 years ago, more famous than Houdini, and is buried here in Edinburgh. He was probably one of the world’s highest paid entertainers at the time and his stage show was spectacular. I’ve recreated one of his effects for llluminations based on an eye witness description of a trick by an audience member from over 100 years ago.
8. What is your favourite trick?
Ohh…difficult. It’s always the one I am currently working on – so Rainbow at the moment. From other magicians it’s probably Paul Daniel’s electric chairs trick. Find the video on YouTube. It’s brilliant.
9. Can you name 5 song titles with magic in the title? (No Googling!) 🙂
The Magic Flute, Could it be Magic? , Whoa Whoa it’s Magic, That Old Black Magic, It’s a Kinda Magic … that’s all i got.
10. Tell us something that might surprise us?
When I watch other good magicians perform I’m amazed by their illusions. 🙂
He is also performing Illuminations at The Gilded Balloon venue during The Edinburgh Fringe Festival at 4.30pm each day.
Follow Kevin on Twitter – @lowercasekev
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