A self-styled "outlaw cowboy," Orville Peck is a purposefully enigmatic performer whose music fuses elements of goth, shoegaze, and indie rock with grand-scale vocals and iconography that honors classic country music from the '50s and '60s. Performing on-stage with an elaborate mask, Peck's music and image at once embrace and subvert the accepted tropes of Western culture, but his strong, melodramatic voice is expressive and keeps the music rooted without letting the subtle ironies of the songs overpower the performances. Peck made a splashy debut with his 2019 debut album Pony, which made a strong impression despite Peck's desire to keep the particulars of his identity under wraps.
In his public statements, Orville Peck has revealed few details about his life offstage, preferring to talk about his influences (including Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton) and his musical approach. Peck has said that he has lived in many cities around the world and toured extensively with punk rock bands in the past before embracing his identity as a cowboy. However, the music media has been rife with speculation about Peck's background, and in March 2019 the online music magazine Brooklyn Vegan posted a story stating Orville Peck was the stage name of Daniel Pitout, a musician born in South Africa and based in Toronto. (Photos of Peck and Pitout confirm they have several tattoos that are identical in design and location, and that Peck's facial contour behind his mask is a match for Pitout's). Pitout is best known as the drummer with the noise-punk band Nu Sensae and the singer with the alternative rock-influenced outfit Eating Out; he also lends backing vocals to albums by Hunx & His Punx and White Lung. He has worked with the bands Shannon & the Clams, Groovy Temple, and Terror Bird, and was one of the founders of the AIDS Music Day Project, which helps advance awareness of HIV and AIDS through art and music.
Pitout began creating country-influenced music under the banner of Oliver & Friends in 2017. In January 2019, Sub Pop announced the upcoming release of the first Oliver Peck album by posting the David Lynch-inspired video for his debut single, "Dead of Night," with a second, equally surreal video for "Turn to Hate" following in February. The album Pony arrived in March 2019. ~ Mark Deming