Country singer Orville Peck still wears a mask, but he’s no longer hiding


Over the past few years, the yeehaw agenda has been in full effect. From Lil Nas found comfort in.

This cultural shift has been accompanied by the rise of Orville Peck, a 36-year-old singer-songwriter who—performing under a pseudonym and behind a mask—is making country music that harkens back to outlaw traditions , and found a fan in collaborator Willie Nelson. The gay artist also serves as a reminder that America and American culture are not as homogeneous and heteronormative as they may seem.

“Country culture, country music, cowboy culture, all these things, they all have different origins,” Peck said via Zoom. “The truth is, country music has always been diverse and always made by many people.”

Peck was born in South Africa and moved to Canada as a teenager. As a child, he loved the music and super figures of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash, but by the time he became an adult, country music had become a “politicized” genre. Post-September 11: The Dixie Chicks were kicked out of the industry and Toby Keith set the tone for Nashville with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” This reactionary status quo inspired Peck to look to country music’s past for inspiration.

“If you’re interested in early 2000s country music, and you’re into alternative music, or have a different mentality…then the obvious way to go is outlaw and classic music, because it has nothing to do with that,” Peck explain. “It’s about really being an individual and, as it says, outside the law. … These are things that interest me because I feel like I’m outside of things.

Peck played in a punk band and pursued a career in musical theater before embracing his cowboy alter ego, donning a hat, boots and his signature mask. Even for non-Americans, the image of the cowboy has always resonated with self-proclaimed outsiders, who are drawn to characters like The Lone Ranger and even Indiana Jones.

“[The cowboy] It represents a lot of individuality and finding strength in things like alienation, isolation, isolation, misunderstanding,” he said. “The mythical cowboy really attracts people who are different, but doesn’t want that to be their weakness.”

Creating the character of Orville Peck allowed him to amplify the intimate parts of his identity, much like a professional wrestler transforming his real-life personality into a brash brawler in the ring. In fact, the size of Peck’s masks (which once included dominoes covering the eyes and bangs obscuring the face) was inversely proportional to the artist’s personal and artistic confidence. He hopes fans will embrace his growth wherever he goes.

“It’s really important for artists to keep evolving,” he said. “I create art and music for myself and I’ve always trusted my instincts about what kind of artist I want to be and what I want to put out there.”

June 30 at 7 p.m. at Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. theanthemdc.com. $59.50.



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