I rarely feel nervous before in-studio performances, but the June visit to KEXP by Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, was an exception. Since emerging in his various "Palace" incarnations in the early 1990s, Oldham has been responsible for a dauntingly huge, rich, influential catalog of music. Yet Oldham acted so utterly at-home in our studio that I immediately relaxed and got lost in his playing. As he shuffled through a pile of loose-leaf papers, his song choices seemed fluid and impromptu, highlighting recent tunes like the B-side "Whipped," as well as his classic "I See a Darkness," which reappears on his new EP, Now Here's My Plan, due out July 24.
Our conversation between songs proved just as entertaining, as it spanned everything from his experiences composing music for Southern soul legend Candi Staton to a breathtaking tale about performing at the Wolf Haven International Sanctuary in Tenino, Wash., a few days earlier. Look closely at his hands and you'll notice that his sky-blue nail polish is starting to chip — Oldham lamented after the performance that he'd accidentally forgotten his clear top coat polish back at home.