Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Hughie Gavin, 24, composer

In which the musician admits to pacing on the phone, spending too much time at the Grafton – and the thrill of working on a new local play

Hughie Gavin is a north London-based musician and composer. The son of Australian opera singer Julian Gavin, he developed an early classical training whilst touring with Communion records. He has worked on songwriting projects with XL, Sony ATV and Kassner, and Benjamin Walker, with whom he created a bespoke accompaniment for several fashion labels including Swetty Betty. His soundscape for the Howard Coyler play Kafka V Kafka debuts tonight, 4th November, at the Etc Theatre in Camden Town.

When were you happiest?
Our old flat on Prince of Wales Road had a roof terrace with amazing views of London. I’m sure this is not completely accurate, but I remember it being sunny every day for a year.

Where would you like to live?
Back in that flat; the view more than made up for what became know as the “4am Prince of Wales Pissed Parade.”

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
If you can be just two things, be confident and kind.

Mmmm…pasteis de nata at Wine Cellar.
Pic: Stephen Emms

What is your favourite sound or smell?
Fresh pasteis de nata and coffee wafting from the Wine Cellar.

What is your earliest memory of the area?
Slightly dark actually. I’d moved into Una House the day after breaking up with my girlfriend at the time. After a gin-fuelled night, a few drunken texts and a Pedro’s special breakfast in the morning, I felt both ashamed and very much at home.

What makes you unhappy?
Carrying bags for an extended period of time. I will always offer, but my mood generally nosedives.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
To finally move my piano into the apartment. It’s been in storage for almost a year.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I pace excessively when I’m on the phone. I’ve been told it’s infuriating.

‘I hate small talk.’ Photo: HG

Where do you hang out?
Like many of the Grafton alumni I still spend far too much there. I also love the Southampton Arms, Arancini, The Brewery; I could go on.

Who or what do you hate and why?
I hate small talk, the bit where the conversations drags and both parties are trying to think of something to say. So much so I’ve created a mental game where I’m awarded a point if I say the last thing. It’s still awkward, but at least I win.

What’s been your best experience?
The best experience is an ongoing one. It’s sounds very earnest but I’ve been lucky to meet so many interesting people,lifelong friends.

What has your career taught you?
That you can always know more.

So what’s this new play Kafka V Kafka about then?
The struggle to communicate. At 36, Franz Kafka was driven to write a letter to the father that he feared. The resulting document, over 100 pages long, was read by his sister and his mother, but not one word was read by his father. Our production is based on playwright Howard Coyler’s own acclaimed translation, Letter to My Father, published in 2008.

Poster for Kafka Vs Kafka
Poster for Kafka V Kafka

And how did the production come about?
I first heard about the project while working at the Grafton. It represents the culmination of almost a year’s work that has brought a group together to create a truly local project. Owners Joel and Susie have always had a steady stream of creative minds both sides of the bar, and this blend of personalities had varying results, from late night political debates ending in tears, to impromptu jam sessions. It was one such night that actor Adam Scott and I first got talking about a play he’d recently secured the rights to.

How important was the local connection?
Very. Photographer Jason Wilde was commissioned to document the development of the play throughout the rehearsal period. He was someone both Adam and I had met during our time in Kentish Town, as he worked on his Portrait Studio piece, something director James O’Donnell was also passionate about. This production is the third this year he has directed in Camden, which he describes as his “spiritual home”.

Tell us a secret.
I played Rizzo in a school production of Grease.

And finally, describe yourself as an animal.
Some sort of scruffy dog. Loyal – but sometimes a bit too eager to please.

This is box title
Kafka V Kafka starts tonight, 730pm, at the Etcetera Theatre on Camden High Street. Runs until Nov 16. To book tickets head here.

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