Canadian country singer Orville Peck has been described as a psychedelic, outlaw cowboy. His persona challenges country music in a way we’ve never seen, one that’s more enigmatic than the ordinary. His music and image are far from the country we’ve grown up with. Donned in a fringed mask and a cowboy hat, there’s no doubt that Peck holds a level of mystery even his fans struggle to uncover.
Peck’s choice to disguise himself helped him safely sing about heartbreak and despair. His mysterious persona amassed him loads of fans, curious to know more about the cowboy under the hat. But as quick as fans were to love him, they were also quick to unmask him. The question of Peck’s real identity became the forefront of his music.
How Peck Got His Start
Orville Peck released his first album in 2019, Pony, completely self-produced in collaboration with Sub Pop. The album consists of 12 songs, a mixture of heart-breaking ballads and dream pop anthems. He developed a following who appreciated his experimental sound between country, indie, and pop. However, Peck didn’t become full media buzz until one of his songs appeared in the HBO original Euphoria.
Fans of Orville Peck were absolutely shocked to hear his music in Euphoria, but other viewers were curious as to who this country-pop-combo singer was. This sparked a craze around his song, “Dead of Night,” the one featured in the show. The romantic, slow ballad tells a story of unrequited love and what someone will put themselves through to maintain a relationship.
The exposure from Euphoria jumpstarted Peck’s career. He released an EP in 2020 and then recently released his newest album, Bronco, in 2022. These tracks became hits and surely enough, Peck reached No. 1 on the Emerging Artists Billboard chart.
Orville Peck re-enters Billboard‘s Emerging Artists chart (dated April 23) at No. 1 to become the top emerging act in the U.S. for the first time, thanks to his new sophomore studio LP, Bronco.
With Peck’s music becoming increasingly popular, his fans were even more inclined to find out his identity. The media began focusing on the aspects that could be identifiable; his tattoos. Because Peck had once stated that he was in punk bands as a teenager, they began to compare his tattoos to those of said bands. This narrowed down the search. Fans were able to link him to the Canadian band, Nu Sensae’s drummer, and the puzzle was finally solved.
Who is Orville Peck?
Daniel Pitout, also professionally known as Orville Peck, is a South African musician based in Canada. His love of music stemmed from a young age when he taught himself to play acoustic guitar. This, in its entirety, is the only information truly known about Orville Peck. He keeps his private life tight-lipped, as he even refuses to confirm his identity.
There is, however, much more to Orville Peck than his physical identity. Aside from the eclectic clothing and mysterious face covering, we want to know what he hides under the mask (literally). What really makes Peck stand out from his male country counterparts, is that he’s one of the only openly gay country singers.
Peck has always been open about his sexuality. He takes pride in himself and his work. As he’s clarified to the public, the mask isn’t to hide who he is inside but rather an illusion. The fringe is simply a part of his persona.
Pushing the Boundaries
Peck continues to push the boundaries in country music as well as in activism. Many of Peck’s songs feature storylines of gay couples, turning traditional country songs about straight, heteronormative love into something more modern.
Orville uses his music to celebrate who he is. Much like “The Curse of the Blackened Eye,” two additional songs, “On Winds Change” and “Big Sky” contain lyrics prevalent to the experiences of a gay man. This gives listeners insight into not only his life but how he uses music as an outlet to express his sexuality.
Skillfully using his artistry as a way to connect himself to the fans; to show the experiences he has had as a gay man. There is often a stigma that surrounds country music. That conservative, white men dominate this genre. Orville Peck shows a completely different side of this, advocating for the LBGTQ+ community with every new album.
As such a groundbreaking figure in country music for his queerness, it’s no wonder why the media has taken such a liking to him. Peck breaks down the walls of “ordinary” country and provides listeners with something new.
What’s Next for Peck?
Orville Peck has been touring for his newest album, Bronco, and still has some tour dates left! He has recently appeared on Brittany Broski’s podcast episode as well as drag star Trixie Mattel’s YouTube channel. Listen to his music here to get a taste of the eclectic cowboy for yourself.