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ZANI: Dean Cavanagh is not an easy man to pin down. In his own words he is a jack of all trades and doesn’t wish to be a master of anything. For the past twenty three years he has been writing, performing, designing and conceptualizing in all kinds of media whilst managing to remain firmly embedded in the subculture of whatever avenue he strides down.

Dean Cavanagh: “Andrew Weatherall was up at The Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds a few week back doing a ‘Chinwag’ event with Chris Madden. We were talking about being anti-careerists and how people like him and me are gold medal winners in the Shooting Yourself In The Foot event, but that’s actually a compliment.  In my opinion the moment you decide that you have a career is the moment you should stop creating, because fundamentally it’s all about pleasing people at that point. Creativity is and never was about pleasing anyone but yourself, it’s in the DNA of creativity, please yourself first and if people respond to it that’s a bit of a bonus. Don't for fucksake let the tail wag the dog.”

ZANI: I first met you in the early 90‘s when you were producing the Herb Garden magazine and I was producing Positive Energy Of Madness. Like most of the ventures you started you soon moved on and let others take the reins.

/Dean Cavanagh Master of None 1Dean Cavanagh: “Yeah, I just...well, I don’t have a problem with success. I’ve been accused of being a self saboteur in the past but I’m not. My ethos is that we have only a few years alive and if you are of an artistic or creative mind you should never stick with something purely because it feeds you. There are people who want to be successful and earn loads of money and good luck to them, they are probably being true to themselves, or good at acting like they are, but money only interests me as a means to feed my family. I’ve had lots of money in the past and none at all and I’m still the same person with the same urges to explore things culturally. I do think, however, that the old chestnut about money being able to buy you freedom is redundant. It might buy you a “fuck you” attitude, which I've always had regardless,  but it can also restrict you because you could become afraid of losing it all. My back’s a bit fucked but I could still work as a labourer if I never earn another penny from my creativity. I’d still somehow manage to express my ideas. Back in 1990 I was promoting a club that regularly attracted 3000 people and I was making shit loads of cash. It didn’t stop me walking away from it and using the money to try something new and more inspiring.”

ZANI: Isn’t there a part of you that yearns success in one field though, just to say “look, I’ve done it. I’ve conquered this.”

Dean Cavanagh: Well, success is all subjective so I wouldn’t want to chase an abstraction to be honest. I’ve just directed my first film. I say “directed”, my son Josh did most of the directing. It’s called Kubricks and Alan McGee produced it. Success to me is enjoying the process of making the film, not whether millions of people see it. Obviously that would be nice but it’s not the reason we made it. We made it to see if we could. End of. Alan and Chris Madden and Craig Lawson ( producers ) are pushing it and what will be will be. Nobody’s ever gonna take away the amazing time we had making it. I don't really want to be on my death bed thinking about things I never tried, so...

ZANI: But surely recognition is what all artists need and ultimately want?

Dean Cavanagh: I'm not a needy person and can't speak for other people who create, and besides, most of the films and records and books I cherish are usually the ones that were recognized long after they had been made available to the public anyway. I find it wonderful to discover something, be it a record, film or a piece of art that slipped under the radar when it was released. Money can't buy that oceanic feeling of unearthing something that resonates with you and was ignored by the masses.  I suppose “cult” is the best word to describe my interests. I love art that has longevity and rejects fashion. Actually fashion should be spelled fascion, if you get my drift.”

ZANI : You’ve worked with some very interesting people over the years. Do you actively seek them out?

Dean Cavanagh: Not in the least. Irvine Welsh is the man I’ve collaborated with most with the screenwriting, but we met by a shared love of music and on our first meeting in the old Filthy McNasties we talked about Northern Soul and I don’t think films even popped up. It’s the same with Chris Madden. We did Soundclash together but bonded over the books of Robert Anton Wilson. I’ve recently been working with a man doing a ten stretch for organized crime but the last thing we ever talk about is all the gangster bullshit. It’s like Micheal Fassbender. He starred in mine and Irvine’s “Wedding Belles” before he became a “hot Hollywood actor”. Now he can pick and choose whatever film role he wants but we’re enticing him into a project because the part involves a character who’s into Northern Soul, so there you go you see. It’s like a loop. People and events keep reverberating. It’s the magic of life.”

ZANI: What have you been concentrating on recently? Presumably your artworks?

Dean Cavanagh Master of None 4.Dean Cavanagh: Yeah, and helping some great Krautrock musicians by designing their imagery. The artwork or prints or whatever is something that came organically. I was just fucking about on the mac messing around with iconic images I like and people started asking for prints. I’ve sold through a few galleries and broke even so I’m happy. The lads at the Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds asked if I’d like to do an exhibition and I said why not. The Yacht Club is like a cross between the old Tardis, Foundry and Boogaloo so why wouldn't I.

ZANI: What does the future hold? Any interesting projects and collaborations?

Dean Cavanagh: Who knows? I play it all by ear nowadays and I’m long enough in the tooth to realize that planning is like trying to nail water. I’m excited about the Fassbender thing with Irv and also a sitcom I’m trying to get the BBC to take on, but the fact that we’re living in schizophrenic times hasn’t escaped my attention. I’ve been doing a lot of weeding out of time wasters which has been cathartic in a way and I've re-established friendships with people who I’m interested in and are interested in me regardless of how we can help each other professionally. If I have one regret it’s that I’ve wasted precious time in the past with boring fuckers who’s only interest in life is themselves. There's never been a more accurate saying as "the older you get the more you realize who your real friends are."  Anyway,  we might be trying an internet series soon called "Escape From New York Street" about a man trapped in a city center because he's refusing to participate in social networking. It's in the spit balling stages but we're excited about it.

ZANI: So, finally, is there anything you’d like to try your hand at that you haven’t already?

Dean Cavanagh: Yeah, I fancy being a florist. I’m serious. I think it would be really cool to run a little florists for a couple of years.  I know nothing about flowers but I’d imagine it would be really interesting to learn. I’ll bet it’s quite a soporific experience and people are always being born and dying so it’s recession proof to a certain extent.

The Dean Cavanagh Neo-Pop Art Exhibition is at The Outlwas Yacht Club, New York Street, Leeds from 15th of August. Dean will be playing some records on the launch night on the 15th. Everyone welcome.


Dean Cavanagh was speaking to Oscar De Paul

/Dean Cavanagh Master of None

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


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