Leader of the Pack
By Jason Lamphier
Patrick Wolf may call London his home, but the young virtuoso is taking the U.S. by glittery storm with his new album, The Magic Position. Wolf had so much to say when we caught up with him the day the record dropped that we had to include outtakes from the interview here.
Your first major label record, The Magic Position, dropped in the U.S. today. How do you feel?
Good. It took a lot of time. The album finished about a year ago, and I think being on a major label made it take a while to get through the machine. It has been quite exhausting, quite frustrating, but I finally got second wind. America is my second burst of energy. I was very close to giving up on the whole record, and then I remembered what it means to me. I thought, It's time to dye the hair red, get the shorts out, and start singing.
Well, it was platinum blond for the first record, which went along with my idea of a platinum blond superstar'but without any hits. Then I decided to go back with my natural sensibility for the second album, which was extremely personal and quite sad. I felt the need to be sober. I wanted to remain invisible for a year. Then I realized I've always been an extremely extroverted dresser and performer since I was about 11. I wanted to be pop again. I think of my favorite 'ginger' pop stars'like Geri Halliwell. It seemed perfect for The Magic Position. It's almost like being a Hans Christian Andersen character.
Have the dramatic changes in the music industry been helpful to you?
It's helpful and humanistic in that it's built up very intimate families across the world'the kids that are stuck in front of their computers, outcasts, introverted people who spend their whole time on MySpace and found my music. I have that audience of kids in Michigan, outcasts from school. A lot of my fan base is outside major cities, places where my music is quite hard to get a hold of in record stores. That fan base is very close to who I was when I was in school, when the only thing that got me through was swapping tapes with pen friends. It's a modern form of sharing music.
You're not concerned about attaining Top 40 status?
I used to be. I thought it would be very interesting and exciting. It's not my responsibility to worry about that. If it happens, great, but I don't have a commercial focus on my work. I just create and see what happens. Then I get on with the next record.
Do you think the audience response here in the States has been different from the audience reaction in Europe?
Yes, it's a lot more accepting here. In England they're still asking after seven years, 'Why do you dress like this?' I've just released an album with videos with bright colors and celebration. I'm doing shows where it's meant to be one big party, and the press is still taking the piss out of the way I look. In England, I'm just the crazy person. I've worked as a DIY, self-sufficient musician for a long time, and no one every really gets that. They think I'm just some kid in crazy outfits that dropped out of St. Martin's College of Fashion. It's nice to come over here, where the journalists say, 'Oh, I like your outfit, let's talk about your music.'