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Orville Peck opens up about why he changed up his mask for the new Stampede era

Orville Peck opens up about why he changed up his mask for the new Stampede era

Orville Peck opens up about why he changed up his mask for the new Stampede era
Ben Prince/Warner Records

The country music star talked to Out about what's next for him in this new phase of his career including switching up his signature fringe mask.


The cowboy agenda is in full effect!

Orville Peck enlisted the legendary Willie Nelson for their new track, "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other," and following its release, on Friday the country music star took the time to share with Out how the song came together, why he's changed up his signature fringe mask, share his views on country's place in the culture, and tease his upcoming duet album, Stampede.

Out: When did you first hear the Willie Nelson cover song?

Orville Peck: I heard it pre-2010 and I thought it was amazing. It immediately became one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs. I used to always love blowing people's minds playing it because, you know, a lot of even Willie Nelson fans don't know about this song. When Willie did his version of it, it wasn't promoted very widely or played on radio or anything for obvious reasons, so a lot of people didn't even know the song existed. It was my party trick to be like, 'Oh, shit, you haven't heard about this Willie Nelson song?' People would just have their minds blown, you know?

How did the collaboration come together?

It was his idea, that's the craziest part. I used to cover this song in my live set, on and off, over the years. The first time I met him, he said, 'Oh, I heard you cover that, that Ned Sublette song,' who was the original writer. I was like, 'Yeah, I do.' And he's like, 'You know, we should, we should do that song as a duet. We should bring it back because it's so important now more than ever. We were having this conversation around the time Roe v. Wade was about to be overturned and the Supreme Court was doing all this crazy stuff and trying to roll back all these things.' Willie is such an activist and such an outlaw really. It was very deliberate on his part that he felt like it was an important song for us to do together, which is the coolest thing ever to hear.

What was it like to sing those lyrics 20 years later in a different climate and attitude toward gay people?

Even in the '80s when it came out, it was intentionally supposed to have a bit of humor to it, you know. A kind of in-your-face poignancy about something that is still... Look at the reception that anybody who does anything slightly outside of the white heteronormative, culturally stigmatized idea of country music. Whether that's Beyoncé or whether that's me or whether that's anybody who doesn't fit into that very specific sliver of the genre, it's viewed as totally outrageous by these people. But the fact of the matter is he's always been like this, you know, he's always been an outlaw and he's always been an activist.

What was Willie like on set?

He's so funny. Being around Willie Nelson, it's like when you're a kid and you meet Santa at the mall. It's the most unabashed, raw, unfiltered joy that emanates from that man. And he's just such a legend. He's 91 and he's still just so cool and tours all the time, you know, still playing Trigger, his guitar that he's had for... I think that guitar is almost as old as he is. He's great.

You donned a new mask without your signature fringe in the music video. What's the significance behind the change?

I try and evolve as much as possible, not only as an artist but as a person. I try not to make steadfast decisions about what something has to be. Especially over the last year, I've done a lot of personal growing and evolving. Everything in my life, I really try to channel towards the pursuit of authenticity and vulnerability. It's like a new challenge for me with every album. I've actually changed my mask for every album, revealed a little bit more each time, and I just wanted to do something that was going to push me a little bit further to feel a bit more vulnerable and a bit more exposed and reveal a little bit more of the man under the mask. I also like when things evolve. As a fan of other people's art and music, I like change. I think change is inevitable.

What can you tease about your upcoming duets project, Stampede?

There's some unexpected or unlikely collaborations on the album, which I'm really excited about. Going into this, I wanted to make sure that every single song on the album felt like a true 50/50 collaboration of me and the other artists' style and sound and genre. I didn't want to just feel like a bunch of Orville Peck songs that feature verses from other artists. I wanted each one to be an actual collaboration. Every single song on the album is entirely its own thing, dependent on who the artist is. It's a really fun journey. It's definitely the most adventurous I've ever been in terms of genre. It's some of the most country songs I've ever done on this album and some of the least country songs I've ever done on this album.

What are your feelings on how the cowboy agenda has progressed over the last few years in pop and country music?

What it really boils down to is that in country music, there's a reality and a factual basis of the genre. Country music is the most diverse American genre. It has got the most diverse cultural contributions as far as instruments, vocal melodies, inspirations. It's built from so many different cultures, it's built from Black culture, gospel, Latin culture, Mexican culture. It is the melting pot of the genre and for far too long, I think it's been sort of gatekept and stigmatized as this straight, white, heteronormative, whatever you want to call it, little pocket of people that are allowed to enjoy this genre. What's actually happening right now is, like Beyoncé called it, a renaissance. It's actually a reclaiming that everybody in this country and beyond has a part in country music. It is a diverse genre. There are a million types of country artists. There always have been Black country artists. There's always been gay country artists contributing to this genre. What's happening now is that people are starting to learn and realize that this is for everybody. So more people are starting to feel comfortable contributing to the genre rather than feeling like it's this thing that they're not invited to or not welcomed in.

Expect Stampede to be released later this year.

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