Will Oldham

interviewed by piero scaruffi TM, ®, Copyright © 1998 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
Back to the Music page | List of available interviews | Palace Music biography
Will Oldham, so far mainly known as the composer, frontman and often sole perpetrator of Palace Brothers, is responsible more than anyone else for the regression of rock music towards the introspective and spartan songs of the old-fashioned folksinger school, i.e. for the "acoustic renaissance" of the 1990's.

The new album is a soundtrack, or was supposed to be a soundtrack. And you have a background in acting. In retrospect, could one view all of your albums as soundtracks to imaginary movies?
"I agree that one may view the records in that way, but I wouldn't go too far with the analogy..."

What parallel can you find between the way you compose your songs and organize them in an album and the way a director puts together a film?
There are more than a few similarities: the songs are written, and worked on seperately, as a screenplay is. The record is "cast" with musicians, a location scouted. Then the direction begins... what has been called "production" in records in this case is more "direction", as I have never met a record producer."

Many listeners think of you, first and foremost, as a terrific poet. Have you considered publishing poetry? Do you see yourself more as a poet or a philosopher? Why?
"Poetry to me is a specific medium, unless it's used as a metaphor: "her ass moves" is poetry! As for the second question, it's like asking if somebody sees themselves as more red or blue: not really neither.

When a song is born, is it first text or music? Which comes first? Do you put words to melodies or melodies to words?
"This changes from extremes, depending on the song in question.

When did you start writing music in earnest? When did you realize you were not born to be an actor, but a musician?
"In earnest" is a judgement call...the making of music began to be a disciplined set of actions in 1992. And I'm not sure the realization ever came that I was not born to be an actor. I realized that many, if not mos t, people have a different concept of actor, or what I thought an actor is, than me. Am I a musician?

Religious imagery and solemn tones are common in your songs. Are you a religious person? Are you influenced by the Bible or any other religious source?
"The lines are blurred here. The best I can say is, if you really care, make the call from the records. Don't nobody TALK about god here."