in-depth: the life and works of William Cody Watson

In-depth: the life and works of William Cody Watson

Prolific and inspiring, William C. Watson is the creator of Pink Priest. Pink Priest is a particularly dark understanding of the world in which we live, a drone project that takes no prisoners and holds nothing back. His haunting and ethereal noise is disturbingly different from his peers who, while exist within a similar template, offering up burning, saturated tracks with heavily effected vocals, Pink Priest doesn’t necessarily gravitate towards the easy-listening. This is music for contemplation, for deep meditation and lengthy listening sessions. Coupled with this is a seemingly never-ending stream of releases that bear witness to the man’s ingenuity and creative power. I’ve counted at least 26 Pink Priest releases through numerous small-time record labels, mostly distributing on tape (ever popular with drone artists, two sides/cheap to make), within the two years of PPs creation.

Pink Priest’s work span numerous theoretical ideas of drone music, from the hypnagogic ideas of waking dreams through to escaping to some meditative plateau where music becomes like the wind softly humming in the background. You will often find samples deep within there, including a recording from the Jonestown suicide cult deaths that shocked America nearly thirty years ago, resonating with reality in some specific way. Drone covers a space that other music finds it hard to do, because of it’s nature it is contemplative, fitting into a whole number of realities, both dark and light. Field of Orgasms appears on his East Camden tape and vibing off of his previous release Cat Tails//At the Mouth of Swollen Summer is a burnt-out summer-psychedelia track. It’s where Pink Priest finds himself at his most accessible and relaxed as the summer chill fills the record with a warmth rarely seen in his work.

Too offer a contrasting account then is all too easy. This is Sleep Ranger, taken off of Endless Love, it fizzes with a haunting electronic atmosphere, created through dreamy synths and ghostly vocals. It’s atmospheric to an absolute constituting a very pure form of music because it tries to replicate environments that are universal.

William C. Watson has record under a myriad of names too, each reflecting their own character and sound. He has written under the moniker Malibu Wands (two LPs – Crafting and Raw Dagger), an even darker affair full of disorientating noise, high pitched squeals and the trademark haunting sound. Raw Dagger sees Malibu Wands at his most experimental and bewildering. Where the first release, Crafting, was raw and unstable, a dark and brooding experience with two ten minute sides, Raw Dagger finds itself in 6 separate parts all with their own unique soundscape. Disorientation is a big part of the Malibu Wands sound, ironically juxtaposed by the title which sounds all too warming. There’s a kind of continual headache to MW like when comforting environs start exhibiting over-familiar traits that slowly begin to grate with you. Check out Summer Crosses for an intro into that dark world:

Malibu Wands – Summer Crosses

From dark, haunting drone then, to ambient luminous noise. Under the name Wild Safari W. C Watson and Jon Hency (founder of Bathetic records) released Cave Sequins, a tropical, lo-fi psychedelic album similar I think to Ashra’s Sunrain, and perhaps similar to Jeans Wilder’s recent work. With Hency working the live instruments and Watson working on the textual and topographic outlines the result is a more accessible record, a perfect summer sound to trip the hell out to.

And while there are numerous other collaborations/remixes and side-projects to focus on I think it would be most interesting to look at his Hexes mixtapes. Now in it’s third incarnation (1,2,3), Hexes is a slimy approach the world of remixes, as Pink Priest and his sometimes Hexes partner Party Trash collate dark and haunted remixes of PPs work from various artists such as DRUGS, Blissed Out, DLCXVI and the aforementioned Jean Wilder. Introducing elements of dance, dub, broken rhythms and psychedelia to his work brings out unique qualities, and as each artist interprets and changes the style of the track it becomes apparent how natural it all is. Unheard melodies are driven out of the darkness and appear naked in the light just as introduced rhythms find a congenital rhythm hidden within the bleakness.

Epic Lean (JUVE edit) provides a perfect snapshot of this. Bleak and broken rhythms transform the song and find something buried within, a rhythmic beauty hidden in the depths of nature.

Pink Priest – Epic Lean (JUVE edit)

William C. Watson works with Bathetic Records, a drone and noise based label, working predominately with tape releases. He also writes for Impose Magazine under the title Never Waking Up and runs an influential blog entitled God of Blues. If you’re after a wealth of his work, head over to his blog and check out the rest of the side-projects/collaborations not mentioned within this piece.

While you’re doing that you can check out this ghostly/ghost of Christmas past video to his track Wolf Club or Witch Hunt, which appeared on the LP Endless Love.


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