Orville Peck’s cryptic persona and throwback sound have earned him a reputation as an outlaw cowboy among fans. The country singer-songwriter, however, doesn’t see his career path as subversive ― at least in regard to his sexuality.
The Canadian-born Peck, who is gay, was selected this month by Apple Music for its Up Next initiative, focused on showcasing new and emerging artists from around the world.
In a short documentary released by Apple Music to commemorate the honor, Peck says he doesn’t spend much time thinking about how his voice is helping to diversify the country genre.
“People talk about how it’s refreshing to have a gay perspective in country music,” he says in a clip from the film, viewable above. “Of course, I get that. But the fact that I’m gay comes in my mind very, very infrequently.”
“I’m just writing the same way that any singer writes a love song. Mine just happens to be about men,” he added.
Despite the fact that it’s widely seen as a conservative genre, country music now boasts a handful of visible LGBTQ musicians and personalities among its ranks. Last year, Lil Nas X scored a game-changing smash with “Old Town Road,” and he became the first openly gay Black artist to receive a Country Music Association Award in the process.
Peck, however, remains an enigma to critics and fans. His 2019 debut album, “Pony,” drew favorable comparisons to Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley. At the same time, he has kept his identity a mystery, using a stage name and concealing his face behind a leather-fringe mask like a modern-day Lone Ranger.
But Peck, who has said he’s “been a cowboy since I was a kid,” shrugs off the suggestion that his image is simply a marketing gimmick.
“There’s a lot of theatricality to what I do and that’s purposeful,” he told VICE last year. “It’s ironic because, at the same time, I truly believe [‘Pony’] is the most sincere thing I’ve done artistically, the most exposed that I’ve ever been as a singer, as a writer, as an artist.”
Catch Apple Music’s Up Next film with Orville Peck here.