Observations: Duke Special is boxing clever

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The Independent Culture

Musicians need to box clever in the digital age to make up for declining sales, and Peter Wilson, aka Duke Special, is proving an expert at it. The Northern Irish artist recently expanded his profile by playing on-stage for the National Theatre's Mother Courage and Her Children, starring Fiona Shaw. A soundtrack to the production is due out in March as part of a box set, The Stage, a Book and the Silver Screen, which includes songs from Kurt Weill's unfinished Huckleberry Finn and an album based on the Paul Auster novel The Book of Illusions.

It seems a perverse move when album sales have nosedived, but Wilson is determined that art should triumph over commerce. "Since my first EPs, I've always loved the artwork and physicality of what I produce – it's a signpost to how people should approach the music," he says. Duke is providing more than recordings: his offerings range from lyric sheets to private gigs over dinner.

Duke needs funds to promote his triple-disc set and has so far achieved 90 per cent of his target. Less of a concern, though, is forging deeper relationships with his fanbase. "I used to be on a major label, V2, so got used to doing things like promotion at a certain level," he says. "At a time when the music industry is so uncertain, I want to show that artists don't need to feel restricted."

Duke Special's offerings are available at Pledgemusic. com/projects/ 131

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