We had the good fortune of connecting with Bruce Duff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bruce, how do you think about risk?
Risk is a funny word. It makes it sound as if someone is plunging headlong into danger; as such it is perhaps a bit dramatic. In music/the music business, I think of it more as chance taking, or springing on an unforeseen opportunity, or perhaps taking your music in a completely new direction. When I was barely out of my teens and still in college in my hometown, a slightly older friend had a surprise career upswing when a free paper he’d started—a bilingual journal aimed at the Mexican-American community—became a local success. Enjoying his new-found prestige as a publisher, he decided to expand. He walked into the guitar store where I gave lessons and asked if I’d be interested in editing a music magazine he was thinking of starting. I literally didn’t even stop to consider it in any practical way, I just shrugged and said ‘sure.’ Without any exaggeration, that knee-jerk response changed the entire course of my adult life. I was a decent creative writer in school, but had no journalism experience and didn’t even really know how a magazine was put together—this was back in the ‘70s (I’m olde) before it was all done on computers. I went for it anyway, surrounding myself with locals and friend who knew some aspect of what to do, from graphics, to art, layout, classified ads, ad sales and so forth. In the long run, while making a splash locally, the paper was not a success. However, moving to Hollywood at the end of the decade, it became a calling card that I used to become a pro journalist, which became a decades-long side hustle that built my music collection to an impractical size and sent me on assignments across three continents. Because of journalism, I took an interview with a gentleman (who in turn was taking a big risk/chance) that was opening a music/entertainment PR company. I figured publicity was journalism in reverse, and got the job provided I could land a paying client, which I did. Again, I didn’t know what I was doing, had taken no communication classes; I basically just started figuring it out from reading the press releases I received as a writer and watching what everyone else in the office did. I ended up being Vice President of the firm a couple of years later, and eventually left to join a record label as publicist, which quickly grew to many new opportunities. When in doubt, I always suggest at least learn a little bit more and see what you can find out about any opportunity that pops up. There of course will be many dead ends, but most likely some happy surprises!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m an open book with many dozens of recorded releases out streaming and in the antiquated shelter of the record store. I also wrote The Smell of Death so I’m a published author to boot. Was it easy? No, nothing is. I overcame the challenges by getting out of bed every day and checking things that needed to get done off of a daily list.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a hilarious question circa 2020. I guess they’d come over to our Addams Family-esque crib and we’d stare at each other’s masques. Be still my heart….
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife Else Duff is a life-long do-gooder which offset the noise I’ve made for decades. She is a Development Consultant for a variety of worthwhile charities.
Other: https://kittenrobot.com/records/ https://www.facebook.com/kittenrobotrecords/ https://www.facebook.com/TheStreetwalkinCheetahs
Photos by Evil E