The following is additional material from Polari’s interview with Patrick Wolf.
PATRICK WOLF ON COLLABORATIONS
The Bachelor features Tilda Swinton as the voice of hope throughout. There are also collaborations with singer Eliza Carthy and musician Alec Empire.
“I treat collaboration as a sabbatical from myself,” Patrick says of his work on this and previous albums. “I can’t stand five minutes by myself these days. I need to be around people talking with my mind active. Otherwise I get really morbid. I need somebody there with to talk about my issues.” He laughs, and adds in a lighthearted manner, “You’ll get to hear about those neuroses on the next album.”
“People are a lot more open to me. I don’t know what I’ve done or what they know about me.” He pauses, and adds for the record, “Well, not always, because every now and again you approach people that want to run a mile from you like you’ve got swine flu.”
“A lot of people really don’t like me, but people like Tilda and Eliza have been really supportive. All those people who contributed to the album, none of them did it because they thought they would get anything out of it other than the creative process. It was so flattering that they wanted to be part of that world, of my world, and contribute to it, and I really opened myself up on this album to sharing and exploring with other people.”
On the title track ‘The Bachelor’ Patrick duets with Eliza Carthy. “Her voice on that is the rawest she has done. She was a week away from birth. She had to groan a lot. I thought it was right that there should be some sort of struggle in that song.”
On The Magic Postion, Patrick sang a duet with Marianne Faithfull on the track ‘Magpie’, and the reasons for his working with Eliza Carthy were analogous. “That’s why I worked with Marianne before, because I was two octaves higher than she was. It challenged the idea of gender with duets. There’s a chance that I’ll be doing some work with Mark Almond. I thought it would be interesting to do something gender wise, or identity wise, that no one would think that we would want to sing to each other. It wasn’t like Eliza and I were doing ‘Greensleeves’, it was an Appalachian mountain song about giving the middle finger to love and celebrating death.”
Tilda Swinton provides the voice of hope, the voice that lifts the singer out of despair. “With Tilda it was about finding the right phrasing, making sure the right word was said, so it did not come across as too pastiche.”
When asked if he would like to work with Joni Mitchell, whose influence returns time and time again in his work and in his interviews, Patrick responds, “Yes, definitely. The total number one choice.”
PATRICK WOLF THE PERFORMER
The Patrick Wolf stage persona is that of a rock star. In the Spotlight review of his March gig at Heaven in London, Polari wrote: “It was like watching one of the great performers from the glam rock era, Bowie or Bolan, as this figure caped in black unfurled itself, cutting great shadows through the kneading smoke, opening up to a rolling beat cut with a staccato violin.”
“I’m quite shy,” Patrick says when the subject of his performance is raised. “I started to realise that when I talk about my work, or when I am on stage, this whole dominator thing starts happening. The problem with The Magic Position is that it was like that too. This thing takes over me, and I am there, and I’m suddenly – ” he pauses, jumps up, assumes the pose and says, “Whoosh!” Then he laughs. “It’s like I’m some sort of X-Men character. I can’t stop it on stage, then the moment the curtain goes down I’m just like …” He gestures, and deflates. “And everything becomes more emotional and intimate. That dichotomy was freaking me out during The Magic Position because I wasn’t really respecting this side of me. I was a nightmare to interview for a while because I was still -” he leans forward, and in conspiratorial voice says, “‘Yes, well, what do you want to know!’”
“I was still in performance mode. I wasn’t turning it off. It shouldn’t take your life over. Now I am more human, so I’m sat here fiddling with things, and having to drink vodka and coke throughout. As long as I feel more human and about every day life I am a lot happier. I can go on stage and let that happen for music videos and the photo shoots, but not when it comes to human interaction.”
“When I changed my name to Wolf I was sixteen. In my early interviews I said I was a werewolf and I was born in a lighthouse on an island. I did that whole Bob Dylan ‘you can reinvent yourself’ thing. It catches up on you after a year and a half. People do their research so you have to try and sustain it. People just think you’re a fantasist and that you believe in your lyrics. I’m a lot better at doing this than I used to be.”