Scott Walker, the former pop baritone with 60s heart-throbs The Walker Brothers who subsequently evolved into the low-key genius of underground music, proves unusually talkative in a brisk but exceptionally informative interview with Rod Stanley in October’s 20th anniversary issue of Dazed & Confused. Now aged 68, Scott finally acknowledges he is a Composer of the Absurd, and says what it would take to drag him onto a stage again. Here’s a taster…
❏ FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF DECADES, Scott Walker’s unsettling, experimental and occasionally downright disturbing music has drawn on such diverse narrative sources as Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother, the films of Ingmar Bergman, and the public execution of Mussolini’s lover. As viewers of the documentary 30th Century Man will recall, during the recording of his 2006 masterpiece, The Drift, his long-suffering percussionist was even made to pummel the side of a piece of pork to get just the disquieting, meaty thud that the composer could hear in his head.
D&C: Detractors of your more recent work point to the unrelenting horror and misery, but I argue they miss its humour. Would you agree your work always retains a fundamental sense of its own absurdity, in the best possible sense? How ‘real’ is the extreme emotional content of your work, and how much is performance?
Scott Walker: You’ve understood the work perfectly. It’s about balance. It is indeed difficult to separate the emotional from the performance, or the ‘character’ as I’d like to call it. I usually try not to rehearse or learn the vocal before attempting to sing it. I just leave it rolling round in my head. I simply want to try and catch immediacy and discover afresh what might be going on in that way.