EDIT: This appears to be the article which Patrick spoke about in one of his blog entries. Thanks to mirmurs for pointing that out. Also thanks to her you can read his comments on the article HERE
Androgynous cult songsmith PATRICK WOLF on how his painful past lead to fierce individualism.
“I want to be number one in the Muslim charts, I want to be number one in Afghanisthan, I want to be on the front cover of Nuts,” Patrick blurts out, over a burger and fries in London’s East End. He’s not joking. Though such ambitions are a tad unusual for androgynous bi-sexual white boy singer/songwriters, this one is hellbent on defying anything that limits the straight-from-the-spleen self-expression for which he’s become known.
In fact, being labelled is the only subject that makes the otherwise softly spoken wunderkind rant. “I don’t like gay ghettos or straight ghettos. I like it when an artist isn’t about their sexuality, but their music first. I’m the only person who knows me, so I’m never going to fit in any of the boxes in the same way that I’m never going to say I make a particular type of music – I’m not a pop musician, I’m not a folk or a rock musician, I’m Patrick.”
Coming from other singers this tirade might seem precocious, diva-ish even. But one spin of his latest record The Magic Position and it quickly becomes apparent through the unique hotchpotch of folk, classical, electro punk and pop how inadequate such categorisations are to describe Mr. Wolf’s work. Indeed, many a fine music journalist has toppled over attempting to stretch for appropriate adjectives. (My attempt at a general description; feral child howls at the moon while self-harming and masturbating as a ukulele plays). But one peak under the stone of Patrick’s past and it becomes clear that his unapologetic individualism is the key to both his demons and his survival
Attending a boys private school – the kind where military service is de riguer – meant years of homophobic bullying for the young, poofy boy. “I was really hardcore abused at school; they would throw nails…everything. When I was 11 I had a growth spurt and so became separated from everyone physically and then got really into hardcore punk. I started writing fanzines and getting involved in the DIY punk/electro scene and queer performance art because I was tall enough to get into the clubs. One collective called The Offset really looked after me. I would come to a show with a black eye and cut legs having been beaten up and a bunch of drag queens would be like, ‘Right, we’re going to come to the school and get the lot of them.’”
Despite the violence, Patrick stood firm. “My way of dealing with it was to be 100 per cent myself. I would come into school with dyed red hair and platform shoes. That was my weapon – my identity.” It didn’t exactly quell the hatred though. “The violence escalated so that the whole school were against me. One day when my mum picked me up I got in the car, broke down and said. ‘I’m never going back to that shit-hole ever again’”
He didn’t – instead exacting a fitting revenge. “I sued the school for their views on gay people. They had said that they couldn’t help me with my bulling because I was of an ‘effeminate disposition’. So I took them to the European Court of Justice when I was 15, won, and bought a piano with the money I was awarded.” A year later he ran away to pursue his music, studying composition at London’s Trinity College of Music.
Whilst his latest offering is inspired by “love, sensuality and sexuality”, his freshman and sophomore creations were a great exorcism of the anger created by such traumatic experiences. Not only did he have physical abuse to deal with from his contemporaries, but sexual abuse from an unnamed man. When I ask if the song The Childcatcher (which includes lyrics such as “You held me down and said, ‘I’m gonna be your right of passage, so boy you better spread’”) comes from personal experience, he locks my eyes and replies simply: “Yes”. After a pause, with tears threatening, he adds: “It’s still difficult to talk about.”
Now a “professional bachelor” (despite relationships with both sexes), he lives in a flat in South East London – “just a dirty kitchen, a grand piano and a bed” where, when writing, he becomes hermitic, turning his phone off for six-month periods. “I’m completely obsessed,” he says, “I’m only just beginning to realise that you also have to look after your personal life as well as the music.”
For now at least it’s paying off. Work is already underway for his fourth album. The new material Patrick is dealing with everyone’s favourite topics: ‘Manic depression, psychosis and Satanism.” Marvellous.
And there's also a short review of The Magic Postion, which gets 4/5;
After two albums worth of music best listened to when alone in a lighthouse with only a copy of The Waves for company, Patrick wolf has climbed down from his splendid isolation and into the pop arena. At first, this change appears driven by finding love – an occasion which the young crooner details in joyous bursts of colour from the title track down. Here, Wolf discovers love and life “in the major key” an experience that seems to have done more than just coloured his hair a nice shade of copper. The results are less abrasive than Wolf’s previous output, with songs like The Cure-tinged Get Lost an ocean away from the theatrical angst and crackling static of Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires. Even the catastrophe he tackles in Accident & Emergency is wrestled with a manic smile as he sings; “Give me the worst, I’m feeling braver than I’ve been.” Patrick the popstar’s shiny new self is still underpinned by a larger battle with depression, which emerges as the real driver on The Magic Position. Overture declares, “it’s wonderful what a smile can hide” as Wolf looks back (at himself?) as a schoolboy with “such a heavy heart”. As the album progresses, things get progressively eerier – the deliciously creepy duet with Marriane Faithful, Magpie, a particularly gothic tale. If The Magic Position wanes a little towards it’s end, it’s still never less than a fascinating wander through the foreign lands of pop music by a unique talent.