Almost anywhere you look in the Nova Scotia cultural sector, you’ll find Trevor Murphy’s name. That’s no accident: having worked as a music publicist, a radio host and a musician, Trevor’s aim is to bolster as many local musicians as possible. As he puts it, “I’m a person who wants to see the most amount of people succeed, especially people who are from … where I’m from.” Whether he’s promoting other artists’ music or making his own, Trevor’s goal is to uplift his cultural community.
King’s is where Trevor’s community took root. He moved from Surette’s Island, an Acadian village on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, to attend the Bachelor of Journalism program in 2002. Initially, he was taken aback by the rigour of the Foundation Year Program and the newsroom atmosphere of his journalism workshops. However, he soon found that the program gave him opportunities to pursue his preferred forms of media. Trevor recalls, “I knew I was there to be trained in a certain way, but every time I could jump out of that ‘hard news’ training and ask, ‘Can I just do this thing about musicians?’ I would do that.”
He says his professors played an important role in helping him to find his niche in journalism: “Before I knew anything about actually about doing journalism, I knew that I wanted to write about musicians. I wanted to talk about records that I liked and artists that I liked, so that was definitely the driving force. To their credit, they let me—and even encouraged me [to]—do those things as I was put through the program.”
More importantly, Trevor found that the journalism program—and King’s collegial environment—was set up to foster creative relationships.
Noting that “King’s has a pretty big musical contingent,” he explains how impromptu jam sessions and gigs at Kings’ campus pub, the Wardroom, turned into the makings of a professional music community. “It’s the nature of a small community,” Trevor says. “It’s where you really get a different university experience and those close-knit relationships and friendships that you develop on a small campus. It helps you understand how you want to move through the world. And I think that having a sense of community (which is something that I came to King’s with and, I would say, was solidified in my time there), has definitely moved with me through time and all the work that I try to do. I like to think that [that work] is in the service of some kind of community.”
Trevor used his journalism skills to help his community by launching the renowned CKDU radio show Halifax is Burning. The program showcased local up-and-coming bands and was must-listen radio until the show’s retirement in 2019. The vision for the show was straightforward: “for one hour a week, I’m going to talk about local music and hammer home the point that this is actually an incredible place to be. All of that was in the effort of maintaining and sustaining that community or at least giving the community that did exist a voice on the air.”
While his work as a publicist has earned him multiple industry awards, Trevor insists that the job is simply an extension of the radio show’s straightforward purpose to bring deserving artists and culture to new ears. Despite the reverence for Nova Scotia’s music scene held by musicians across the country, Trevor remembers feeling that “more people need to know about this community, and more people need to support these musicians because this is a community I’m part of, but it’s also an important part of Nova Scotia.”
Trevor is adamant that his work as a music publicist is augmented by his work as a journalist. As a long-time associate at Pigeon Row (a boutique digital media company that has worked with clients such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the East Coast Music Association and You’ve Changed Records), he relies on his journalistic insight to set himself apart as a publicist. “Journalism training … makes you a good publicist, I think, because you already come to the table knowing what a journalist is looking for,” says Trevor. “I can read articles and see what the trends are on an outlet and come to the table and say, ‘Hey, what if we did this?’ as opposed to, ‘I have this artist, would you like to cover them?'”
Since leaving Pigeon Row late last year to freelance, Trevor’s projects in the cultural sector are now more varied than ever. As the former Chair of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, he made significant contributions to Building Back Better: A Vision for Culture Sector Recovery in Nova Scotia, a report delivered to the province’s Minister of Culture and publicly released earlier in 2021 in response to Covid-19’s impact on the sector. He currently runs the independent record label Acadian Embassy and is helming the release of albums from two of his own bands, Sluice and Quiet Parade. He also serves on the boards of Music Nova Scotia and FéCANE, la Fédération culturelle acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.
Whether Trevor’s taking part in a cultural institution, publicity work, or an independent band of his own, he says that what unites these diverse projects is a community who supports one another. King’s is a particularly fertile place where such a community forms: “I went to other schools longer than I went to King’s. But when people ask me where I went to school, I say ‘King’s.’ There is a little bit of that mystique, those first stages of being away. But there is also something really special about the school, and I think it comes back to the community.”
Photo provided by Richard Lann.
Date posted: October 2021