Sound & Vision: Orville Peck on Influences & the Mask You'll Never See Him Without

Sound and Vision
Emily Fox

KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear stories, like this feature on Orville Peck in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.

Orville Peck has called himself a gay cowboy. He isn’t the first gay man to perform country music. Lavender Country is known to be the first openly gay country band that formed in Seattle in the early 70s. Peck spoke with Sound & Vision Host, Emily Fox about how Lavender Country influenced him, his music, how he sees himself in the country genre and the mask you’ll never see him without. 

On the first time he heard Lavender Country:

“I was just so completely blown away that this album existed for so long and I'd never known about it as a country fan and as a gay man and someone loving both of those things. I was just completely blown away that it was a classic, classic country album with this activist flair but done through a queer lens and done with such a classic kind of like Hank Williams country sound. I mean, I just thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever, ever heard.”

On the influence of Lavender Country in his own work:

“I set out to just basically make songs that are inspired by country musicians like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and people that don't necessarily share my perspective. But, they're my odes to those musicians, which is exactly what Patrick [Haggerty] does and I think it's incredible, because there's something so liberating about not having to change the sound or the genre or whatever you want to call it — not having to change the structure of an art form that you respect in order to think that it has to fit who you are and what you sing about. I think it's actually more empowering to keep that authentic sound and to keep those tropes that inspire you or those moods from that music that inspires you to do it your way.”

On being a queer country musician:

“No one can tell me any different than I'm a country star and I make country music and I'm a part of the country community. And my fans are everything from drag queens to trans people to punk rockers to metal dudes to frat bros. And then, I have like Hank Williams fans who are in their 80s — and they come with their wives and they tell me that I sing like Roy Orbison. I mean, I feel embraced by the country community. I think it's because my attitude towards it is that I never allowed them not to embrace me [laughs]. My critics who don't embrace me in that community, you know, I think the problem lies with them. I never let it ever feel like the problem is me.”

On Peck’s label, Royal Mountain Records, giving each of their artists $1,500 for mental health and addiction services:

“We have huge stars all around us dropping and people in our community and in the music community in general and the arts in general, I mean the combination of addiction and mental health – it's a serious, serious problem. And, in this industry, it has been since the beginning of time and it's about time labels start looking out for their clients and the artists that they work with.”

On his masked persona:

“I studied the Jacques Lecoq mask as a performance and, you know, especially in something called the neutral mask which is something that a lot of actors study with and things like that. And, it basically just works off of the idea that sometimes, putting a mask on reveals a lot more than it conceals. I mean, I would actually encourage people to look into it and research it. It's an extremely fascinating art form. It's actually very telling of who people really are.”

Orville Peck's debut LP Pony is out now via Sub Pop Records. He plays the inaugural Thing Festival on August 24-25 in Port Townsend, WA. 

Sound & Vision airs Saturday mornings at 7 AM PST. Hosted by Emily Fox and John Richards, the show "uses interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter."

Related News & Reviews

Sound and Vision

Sound & Vision: Lavender Country, The First Openly-Gay Country Band in the World

KEXP talks to Patrick Haggerty, frontman for Lavender Country, the nation’s first openly gay country band.

Read More
Click anywhere to return to the site