PERFORMING ARTS

Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy

. September 2012. 400p. 978-0-39334-433-2. 16.95.
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On a flight home from an Australian tour in 1998, Will Oldham became Bonnie “Prince” Billy. The story of the introduction of this alter ego and the creative ramifications that accompanied it are what editor Licht (Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories) slowly extracts from Oldham in this lengthy interview. In statements that add up to something like an autobiography, Oldham reflects on his creative career as an actor and musician and comments on his discomfort with his celebrity status. From the outside, Oldham’s creative endeavors can seem arbitrary (appearing in Dianne Bellino’s film Slitch) and scattered (participating in episode 15 of R. Kelly’s Trapped in a Closet). However, unfolding throughout the interview is Oldham’s unified philosophy of creativity, one based on risk, friendship, and authenticity. As with all great artists, his creative output comes from a place of necessity, not a need for recognition, whether he is performing as Will Oldham or as Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
VERDICT A rare glimpse into the thoughts of a truly original artist. Fans of Bonnie “Prince” Billy will not be disappointed.

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