Favourite Fives: Dean Cavanagh

Our mate Dean is an incredibly talented Bradford born screenwriter best known for his collaborations with Irvine Welsh. He’s also an artist and musician and was something of an Acid House pioneer as a club promoter in the eighties, as well as being responsible for the excellent Herb Garden magazine which was in no small part an influence on our own humble publication. So here’s his favourite five..


They were really important to me in the past, I went through the Northern Soul, Punk, Casual and Hip Hop & Club scenes so there’s not many things I haven’t worn over the years. Nowadays I’ve got a wardrobe full of hardy perennials:  a couple of tailored woolen covert coats, a couple of nicely cut leather jackets, two pairs of selvedge denim jeans, waistcoats, a couple of linen outfits for summer, well worn Levi denim shirts, Blundstone suede boots, a Kenzo three piece, an original Belstaff trial jacket, about 30 years old, and a matt black Adidas Yamamoto cagoule that I bought at TK Maxx about 13 years ago. Style usurps fashion as you get older.



A huge part of my life from a very early age. My Grandma used to go around the pubs in Bradford singing old Irish folk songs and my Dad was a singer on the vast working mens club circuit in the 60s and 70s. We lived in a very humble council house but we always had music. Bowie and Northern Soul were my first loves and set me off on a journey of discovery that I don’t want to end until my dying day. Music encompasses everything for me: past, present, future, hopes, dreams, fears, good times, bad times. There’s not a genre of music I haven’t dipped into and it would be impossible for me to try and single out one that takes precedent. If I had to choose one album though it would be Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks”. Listening to it is the closest I’ve ever come to having a religious experience. It’s the kind of album that evokes memories of places you’ve never been to and it’s got a real time travel quality to it. “Soul On The Rocks” by The Isley Brothers manages to condense so many different styles of music I love and that would have to be my second choice. For pure “feelgood” it’s got to be Bowie’s “Hunky Dory”.



Francis Bacon. Hands down the greatest painter of all time in my opinion. It was Bacon who said the role of the artist is to deepen the mystery and everything about his work deepens mystery for me. In his work you’ve got violence, fear, brutality, religion, sex, death and truth. He seemed to effortlessly tap into the dark side of humanity in such a fascinating style. I loved the fact that he also appropriated other works of art and was never shy about revealing his inspirations and sources. He was essentially a remixer in paint and he was never precious or snobby about his art. As a self taught colorist I’d go so far as to say he originated the color of London, specifically Soho of the 50s and 60s. He was also a raving queen, pisshead, gambler and apparently not a very nice man, which only makes me like him more.



I read more essays, documents and biographies than I do fiction. I used to be a voracious book reader but I read more and more on the internet nowadays. The works of Robert Anton Wilson, William Blake, Joseph Conrad, Alan Moore, Borges and JG Ballard are always inspirational. I read a lot about politics, ancient history, the occult and religion. My favorite novelist is James Ellroy mainly because of his tough, sparse style, but also because he mixes historical events into his stories. As you can probably tell I’m a lover of synthesis and any medium that manages to mix, match, rewrite or take something and make it into something else always grabs my attention. That’s real magic. I’m a great believer in the saying “Nothing new under the sun” and I think ideas are constantly all around us just waiting to be plucked out of the air and expanded. I’ve always been very suspicious of the word “novel”. I don’t find a lot of originality and novelty in modern fiction and I’m much more interested in writers who bring certain aspects of “reality” into their work. Magical realism is the best description I suppose.


Something else

I don’t drive so walking’s always been a big part of my life. I’ve covered many miles in my time and am blessed to be living near arguably the most beautiful countryside on earth. Psychogeography fascinates me and I hope one day to be able to devote more time to it. I’m not overly bothered about seeing the world because there are areas close by to me that I haven’t even seen yet. The older I get the more I become interested in British geographical antiquities. There’s loads of places I want to visit and I believe its my Celtic roots that are calling me. I often have dreams about setting off on foot and traveling to undiscovered places.


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