Liter-Artists: An Interview with Gavin Duffy
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Gavin Duffy is a successful and passionate entrepreneur. He is the head of Raised by Wolves PR, a PR agency specialising in the music industry. Gavin has worked with acts including Tebi Rex, THUMPER, and Æ MAK; and has secured coverage for such clients with media outlets such as BBC, Irish Times, and NME. Gavin is also the founder of Trigr, which is an innovative new platform that connects music companies with creative freelancers.
Hi Gavin, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Being your partner in life helps to understand the kind of entrepreneur that you are. You seem to be quite creative in your ventures and, some years ago, you were also a musician in an indie band. As a creative soul, what inspires you?
Hi Sophia. Thank you for interviewing me by the way, I'm very flattered! Well, how I'm inspired would depend on what I'm creating to be honest. In regards to when I was a songwriter, it was very much a case of being inspired by my own life events, what I saw around me, as well as influences from art of course. Whether that be film, books, or music. As I've got older and moved into different areas of the music industry, my motivations have changed a little. My inspiration behind my PR work and my new start-up is simply to help creatives in building careers. I've never liked the idea that creative people somehow don't deserve success because they enjoy their work. That's something that should be celebrated, not punished. If someone has a creative talent and a genuine determination to share their work, I want to help that person.
Do you have a special process when you create and does literature ever played a role in this process?
Definitely when I was a musician in London years ago. Unfortunately I hardly ever pick up the guitar anymore but, back then, I was always playing. Music always came before the lyrics for me when songwriting and the mood of the music would pave the way for what they song was about. I was probably influenced more by film than literature in my songwriting, but there were references to some of my favourite books and their themes in my songs. One song had very much a dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four vibe, and I was trying to mesh that with some sort of hip hop style. It sounded like a good idea at the time!
I know that you have a passion for cinema. As literature and cinema are often connected, what makes a good movie for you?
Literature and film are particularly connected for me. My favourite books all have film adaptations, sometimes multiple film adaptations, and I love comparing how the story and characters come across in one medium compared to another. Nineteen Eighty-Four is a big one for me, as I mentioned, and my all-time favourite book is Lord of the Flies. I love the old 1963 film version too. What makes a good movie for me though? I think a classic for me personally has to hit you somewhere deep and make you think. Make you look at things in a new light and question them. One of my favourite films is 'Empire of the Sun', for example, and in that film the story of this young boy's view of World War II just makes war look so ridiculous - and childish ironically.
What are the three best movies of all time according to you?
Number one is definitely 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. I love the character of McMurphy, even though on paper he's not a good guy by any stretch. But he's just burning with life, and Jack Nicholson gives the best acting performance that I've ever seen. The other two best movies of all time for me are Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting. As well as them both being outstanding, they also were released at a pretty crucial time in my life. I was twelve when Pulp Fiction came out and fourteen when Trainspotting was released. That's already an age when you start exploring and finding yourself as an individual, and those two movies just arrived at the perfect time for me.
Arts and literature are often interconnected; for example, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. In your opinion, is music literature?
I would say it can be, but not always. The music I'm primarily into includes lyrics and is story-based, so there's definitely an element of literature involved in that sense. But of course, lots of music doesn't have lyrics or words and is just based on the music - the beat and the sounds. It's an interesting question though. Even if music is not always strictly literature, or involves elements of literature, they are both very similar mediums and serve the same purpose in many ways I suppose. Whether that's to take the audience or reader on a journey; or to ultimately evoke emotion. With or without words, music is extremely powerful in my opinion.
We are all living in a difficult time due to the Covid-19 crisis, but has it helped you to develop your projects?
It has a little bit. It's a bizarre time, and no-one should welcome it. Thankfully I haven't lost anyone I know to Covid-19 and I've used the time to stand back and look at my own life and my work. In particular, I am putting some finishing touches to Trigr. That's an online platform I've developed that connects music business with creative freelancers. When you're starting a business it can be very easy to avoid doing certain things like branding, SEO, all that kind of stuff. I've taken the opportunity with the world slowing down lately to finally tackle some of those tasks.
Music, literature and cinema all have psychological benefits. What do they bring to you?
They bring a new perspective to me essentially. That could be a case of helping me look at events or situations in a different light, like I was saying earlier, or it could just be a case of helping me see the world in front of me differently. That might be as simple as helping me to slow down and just live in the present for a moment. I feel like we are all constantly put under pressure, by others and by ourselves, to achieve and progress and plan. It makes us focus so much on the future, with our minds always working and not 'dropping the ball' in some way. A problem I have sometimes is just switching my brain off for a moment, art is really the only thing that can help in that sense and I can be fully immersed in.
What are your favourite songs at the moment?
I pretty much like anything from Brockhampton at the moment. It's a group that really excites me. I also re-watched Jojo Rabbit again recently and I've been listening to the German version of David Bowie's "Heroes" loads as a result. It makes me wanna dance like the two kids at the end of the movie.
Thank you so much for your answers. It's a pleasure for me to publish an article about the person I admire the most. One last question to give us inspiration on what to read or watch this summer - what are your recommendations?
With many industries been halted or slowed down during the Covid-19 pandemic, I think this is the perfect time to revisit older classics in literature, film, music, anything really. It could be good to read about someone's travels when we are all stuck at home, Frank McCourt's 'Tis' is a great one in that regard. Also the world seems like a scary place at the moment when you check out the news, so I recommend allowing yourself to escape with lighter, fun movies sometimes - 'Back to the Future' and 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' are two old reliables for me when I want cheering up!
Interviewed by Sophia Hadef.