“Dog boy, media whore. It’s who the hell you take me for”
Brian Molko’s curated music magazine persona in the fan archive.
Keywords:Musical Persona, (Extra)ordinary Identity Performance, Brian Molko, Fan Archive, Presentational Media
This article investigates how the persona enacted at the end of the 1990s by Brian Molko - British band Placebo’s lead singer and guitarist - resonates with contemporary approaches of persona performance. Amplified by presentational media along the lines of Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, persona increasingly proliferates as enmeshed in everyday practices and identities. This is no different in the domain of (popular) music. Yet, contemporary music personas whose image approximates ordinariness rather than extravaganza do sometimes reject the connotation of artificiality attached to the term persona, resulting in a type of ‘reluctant persona’.
Practicing a form of anecdotal theory (Gallop 2002), I tap into how I experienced Molko’s persona through fan archives, and link his historical negotiation of an ‘ordinary extraordinariness’ with this present-day reluctant persona. A close re-reading of a selection of 1997-1999 music magazine articles in the Placebo Russia archive not only shows how Molko’s music magazine persona curates identity markers of extraordinariness as ordinary, but also demonstrates how the media texts that go into a persona continually perform these anew. Through the lens of performance studies, online fan archives shed light on the intensified correlation between (new) media and music artists’ engagement with performing the ordinary, subsequently entangling the discourses of theatricality and performativity.
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