Patrick Wolf
may 2004 - e-mail interview by Barbara H

Hello! can you introduce yourself ? 

My name is Patrick from South London... I am twenty years old. Twenty one on June the thirtieth.

Lycanthropy, your debut album, is about your teenagehood, the transformation of young Patrick into Patrick Wolf, was it easy to stick to the concept? 

It wasnt really a concept, I was just trying to document the most important events of my life. Different lyrics and parts of the songs were written over my teenage years and put together in a frankenstein monsters kind of way. It was the moment I realised I was to make an album that I decided it should be "Lycanthropy" it worked on so many levels, that I now had "wolf" as a surname, that I was a lot stronger and resilient than the boy i used to be, that I was concerned with singing about matters of instinct, intuition and emotion... which are matters very much related to the moon. It was actually harder to think outside the "concept" to get any kind of objectivity or distance, it was in an obsessive fever when I was putting the record together. 

The idea behind Lycanthropy is quite interesting, a coming-of-age record filled with songs written between age 11 and 16; apart from the production work, did you change some of the earliest songs ? 

Yes, very much... I really loved the idea that my 19 year old self was looking back to my 12 year old self and they were both writing a song together. "Wolf Song" is a prime example... since i wrote it, it has gone through about twelve different versions, the first was very very intense and abstract and the lyrics were totally concerned with Norse mythology, lots of pre-teen wolf howls and eating schoolboys alive.

"Childcatcher" was written in two eras of my life... the first half when I was a self-pitying martyr... and the second half is when I realised that I was making a victim of myself and being a whinge when the situation was not half as dramatic as I wanted it to be. But, yes, all the lyrics were changing right up to the last minute of recording... I find writing songs like a riddle that slowly gets solved over a period of years, days or hours. 

Lycanthropy being about teenagehood, a fundamental but often very dramatic era, and filled with songs you wrote throughout the era (and not in retrospect), is it easy to cope with all the mixed feelings that must emerge from these songs ? does it make it difficult to play them live ? 

The basic is answer is yes... Im learning more and more to channel the song when I'm singing. When I have written a song and it's recorded and mixed, i feel like it has been released from my system, so to suddenly reach out and touch on the emotion can be exhausting, but then i realise that my nonchalance about a song can be heartbreaking for someone who actually needs that song right now... writing very confessional and emotionally honest songs, i've found comes with a responsability and I'm starting to take that responsiblility more and more seriously these days when it comes to playing live. 

Your music is reminiscent of so many genres and eras, could you tell us about your musical history ? 

I think the basic elements are my classical training, which was constant from 5 until 15, I studied violin and composition, and later on became the only boy harp player in my music academy. At eleven I became hugely obsessed and possessed with turn of early pre-war electronic instruments, like the theremin, the ondes-marthenot, early music concrete composers and the IRCAM school of composer. I never ever got into 80's electronics, i think that is the most embarrasing period for electronic music so far. Then came Digital Hardcore and I was really into Atari Teenage Riot and the whole punk white noise pop songs that german lot made.. so I made one here in London with my friend Fanny and we got booked for fancy rock stars parties and art shows but each show ended in complete disaster and we seemed to provoke really violent reactions from people, so we called it a day before we got killed. So after white noise and distortion, I was searching for something beautiful... so I became obsessed with real songs and found Joni Mitchell and her writing style made me completly rethink how to communicate to people with songs. Thats the basic outline. 

How do you write songs ? 

I dont ever sit down to write a song, they just kind of write themselves over a period of time. 

The record being so musically luxurious, how do you re-create the songs live ? 

well... I bring it back down to a one man and his instrument telling you some stories sort of feel. There is no way I can re-create the recording with the kind of budget I'm working on, but I like things to be intimate, I want people to feel like I'm talking to them as a friend, not some false idol or rock star. 

You're currently finishing Wind in the Wires your second album, how different will it be from Lycanthropy ?

To me, its very different, there aren't really any pop songs and the focus is much more on the acoustic than the electronic. Its very atmospheric... ghost movie soundtracks over the top of stripped down piano and ukulele songs... Im very very excited about it. There is a very strong theme to the album, like Lycanthropy was about growing up and fighting for yourself, this is about the need to be set free but not really knowing what you want to be set free from, wild things held captive, the wind and bleak english coastal winter towns. 

You're about to embark on your very first US tour, how do you feel ? 

I'm really excited to see another part of the world and very interested to see how I will feel after touring. It will be a real rite of passage. 


"Was you ever bit by a dead bee ??" 

I was once stung by a bee when i was eight, it was hiding underneath my pillow in my bedroom. 

what becomes of the broken hearted ?? 

They make good art. 

who's got the crack ?? 

I'm not sure, but i dont want to know. 

what's your favourite pick-up line ?? 

I dont pick up. 

if you could travel in time, where would you go and what would you do ?? 

The first performance of the Theremin at Carnegie Hall back in the 20's or back to the Jurrassic age, I am obsessed with dinosaurs. 

what is the meaning of life ?? 

to be living. 

what freaks the hell out of you ?? 

The Dating Channel, (it is also one of my favorite instant comedy devices) 

where's the party ?? 

not in london 

if you could date any movie star (dead or alive) who would it be ?? 

I'm not sure about dating, but I would like to go on a bike ride with Pee Wee Herman. 

what have you been dreaming about lately ?? 

Moving into a house by the railway with my best friend and having a tartan roller-rink in our front room. 

Thank you! 

thankyou xx patrick

/june 1st 2004/