Eccentric country artist Orville Peck returns to New Zealand after captivating audiences with his elusive looks and baritone voice.
Charlotte Ryan spoke to the man behind the mask about her new album Broncoscountry music and its mysterious fashion.
He will perform to an already sold-out crowd at the Powerstation on July 17 as one of many Side shows Splendor in the Grass.
Continuing to focus on pursuing a career in music has become difficult during the pandemic, Orville said.
“I was going through a really bad time, as I’m sure many of us were, and everything came to a head for me at that time personally and professionally, and I’m very proud of myself for going through it and I’m so glad I didn’t give up.”
Coming out the other side fogged up Broncos with new energy.
“That’s entirely the reason I called him Broncos, because I felt like it was a release for me in so many ways: literal freedom from a bad situation in my personal life; a freedom within me to be kind to myself and to be gentle with myself; a freedom in my career of not caring what other people thought or having expectations of what I was supposed to do or what my album was supposed to be.
“It was really like I kicked down a big door and rushed into the sunset. It definitely has that spirit…it’s the spirit I wrote it in – just in a sense of freedom.”
Orville has previously stated that he doesn’t write love songs.
“I still maintain that I’ve never written a love song. A lot of the songs related to romantic life that I write about…they’re usually about failed love or heartbreak, but on this album it’s there are songs about love for Sure, and there are songs about relationships, and there are songs about loving myself I think I’m opening up to a much more vulnerable place on this album that I’ve never done before.
“I’m someone who’s had to work really hard through things like therapy and journaling and all sorts of things, it’s taken me over thirty years to learn how to be more vulnerable, to be kind to myself, to be proud of myself.
Orville said vulnerability is essential in art because it taps directly into human connection and shared human experience.
“As human beings, any kind of art that appeals to us, at least to me…is the connection we feel when we see someone show us who they are, no matter what it is – good, bad or ugly We experience the beauty in this, because we see someone having a real feeling or a real emotion or exposing themselves.
“So, so we in turn feel that same feeling within ourselves, we see ourselves in a song or in a movie or a work of art. So the idea of being vulnerable is absolutely tied to at least the longevity of something’s success…if there’s not a lot of sincerity and vulnerability, I’m not sure it’s going to stand the test of time.”
Country music is changing, Orville said, but it’s always lagged behind changes in society at large when it comes to acceptance of many things, he said.
“There is still a big battle going on in the disparity between the amount of female country musicians played versus male country musicians, without even beginning to address the conversation about gay country musicians and black country musicians.
“They’re always a bit behind and they always kick and fight when something new comes along. And then people stay there for 10 or 15 years, and then all of a sudden it’s just in the country cannon.
“But it’s beautiful to watch a genre that I’ve loved for so long and at times felt unwelcome in – it’s beautiful to see this break with the stigma and the access control that is done by really what are just suits in charge sitting in an office building in Nashville.
“While I’ve learned over years of touring and meeting a lot of country fans and playing a lot of country festivals – that there’s a very big part of the people who love country music who want hearing new stories and seeing new perspectives and new faces. It’s definitely changing, and it’s absolutely changing for the better.”
Ironically, Orville is instantly recognizable by his masks, which he made himself by hand.
He now owns about 50 or 60 and an archive of Venice Beach outfits, and has the same stylist as Post Malone – Catherine Hahn.
Orville’s latest masks for Broncos were made by the experts.
“These were molded on my face by a special effects team, and they do a full cast, it was the craziest experience, so they fit my face perfectly.”
Orville said he was excited to resume touring.
“It’s a bit jumpy and dusting cobwebs, but we just had such a great time.”