The Interview Part II: Patrick Wolf

Published on 13 December 2012

[I]n part two of his frank interview with Hunger TV Patrick Wolf opens up about his grievances with Great Britain, calling it a dystopian reality nightmare, and tells us why he’s hungry for real musicians.

LONDON IS A MUSIC, FASHION AND ART HUB. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS REGARDING THE VIBE OF THE CITY?

For 29 years I have been based in London but England is in a real cultural and economic recession, music is focused on the past and in the last hundred years, from a huge empire it is becoming like a small island with a very big ego. The media doesn’t actually have any power and it is beating itself up. Luckily I get to travel and tour but I love my audience here, I would never confuse them or their level of intelligence with the one of the industry. Television is odd, there is no film industry, and everything is based on reality shows. No more scriptwriters or costume people, everything is a dystopian reality nightmare. At this moment it is falling back into a very conservative decisions making country instead of taking risks and being brave. Before punk, there was a very depressing period in music and films but suddenly an urgency appeared. It has to get worst before it gets better, the culturally plane crash needs to happen and people need to realise that we are really fucked. I have so much faith and love that I think a new cycle and a new movement will happen for England, I have been raised here but I feel that it is relying on the fact that it is Great Britain but it is not so great anymore. It needs to find that greatness again and it doesn’t come from the government or the TV but it comes from the youth and people being pissed off by this country. I definitely want to be a part of it

IN YOUR TRACK ‘LONDON’ YOU SAY ‘I WASH MYSELF IN YOUR GREY RIVERLIGHT’…

I am a Londoner in my blood, I remember wandering the streets at night or in the morning when people got up for work and nobody was out. I was thinking by the river and there are these constantly grey washes of colour that I find quite hard to find anywhere else in the world. The river is grey, the sky is grey, so you are washing yourself in this constant sadness, London is a very sad city. I think the song contemplates suicide but metaphorically is more about rebirth. I wanted to travel and leave London so much and the idea of jumping in the river is like being swept out to sea, somewhere else, to be baptised in this river full of history. It is a song about a point on Waterloo Bridge where you can see both sides and the place where I was born and I want to reborn.

ONCE YOU SAID ‘I AM NOT ABOUT BEING MYSTERIOUS’. HOW DO YOU BALANCE CELEBRITY WITH YOUR PRIVATE LIFE?

I am comfortable with my level of celebrity, if you start being honest about everything it can be overwhelming for a lot of people. There is a lot of fear that someone is gonna find out something about you in a reality obsessed era. It is nice being enigmatic if you choose to be honest with your emotions but not giving everything away. What is not enigmatic is talking about what you had for breakfast and all these things I find boring in celebrities but that people think it is honest. Twitter for example, I will never get into this thing. People prefer to relate to all the personal failures, drama and talk about boring things. I have a very respectful fan base in regards of my relationship with William, he works in the merchandise on tour and they realize that what brings me happiness is something to respect.

IS THERE A CONTEMPORARY BRITISH ARTIST THAT YOU ADMIRE?

There is an artist, Sarah Maple, who really blew me away five years ago. She is a muslim and she lifted the veil to express women’s sexuality through amazing art. There was a lot of controversy but she is brave and makes radical stuff, something that needs to be done, said, and created in art not just for the sake of being controversial. I really like her.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE DINNER WITH IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ARTISTS FROM THE PAST AS GUESTS?

Quentin Crisp, he is endearing and I would be fascinated to meet him, he was a writer, a dreamer, and a true character. John Cocteau, I am really obsessed with everything he made. Clark Gable, I could be his Scarlett O’Hara for the night as I recently discovered the film Gone with the Wind, I  have been told to watch it for years and I will definitely take this beautiful film even on a deserted island. Also Orlando, I love that film, the protagonist goes through period of changes in gender, in time, and the message is that you can be all these people within a lifetime. Masculine, feminine, war, and love, I think it is a very good metaphor for life. Back to the guests, Lucia Pamela, an amazing blues and jazz singer who told the world through an insane sounding album about a journey to the moon on a pink Cadillac. I would definitely like to ask her questions. Then Joni Mitchell of course.

WHAT KIND OFART INSPIRES YOU NOW?

I always liked paintings by Peter Doig, I think I relate to those moments of solitude within nature. His characters are always alone and lost in nature but his work also brings to life a lot of fantasies. I would love, love, love to buy one of his paintings. When I was young I had to leave my school very quickly as things were getting violent and the only other place available was in the country. I was escaping to the countryside, in the middle of nowhere and that is where I found I was alone but not lonely in nature. I started to learn how to play the harp and in this solitude I could think, learn, and dream about things.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOUR NEXT CHAPTER?

It is going to be an apocalypse, a total restart. No one will recognise it or even recognise me. I need to explore and come back with a total regeneration for it. From 29 to 39 is a very exciting period to turn everything I have learnt into practice. This comes from the overview I took of my work and realizing all the things I have explored and all the ones I need to explore.

WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?

I am hungry for a new wave of artists and musicians. I really want to see a wonderful five, ten years movement of art, music, and fashion coming together. I am not talking about a successful band but artists that feel revolutionary. Everything is ready, the technology is ready, the politics are bad enough so I am sure something amazing will happen to change our generation. I am waiting for the next happy movement and I would be really happy if something meaningful that would make history will happen. I am optimistic and I can see that all the signs are right.