St. Vincent Becomes St. Vincent

Interview

Friday, February 14, 2014

In the tradition of self-titled albums like The Velvet Underground (that band’s third record) St. Vincent titled her fourth solo record St. Vincent. “I was reading Miles Davis’ autobiography and in it he talks about how the hardest thing for any musician to do is to sound like yourself,” she tells Kurt Andersen. “And I thought, ‘You know what? I sound like myself on this record’ and so I just self-titled it.” The songwriter, singer, and guitarist Annie Clark has used the name since 2006. "Annie Clark sounds, to be frank, very, very boring," she admits. Good name for a country singer, though, Kurt suggests; "or Christian contemporary,” she counters. “That's my next career."

If there’s such a thing as indie rock royalty, St. Vincent is definitely among it. Her last record, Strange Mercy, appeared on pretty much every best-of list for 2011. The Smithsonian gave her an American Ingenuity Award for “having a revolutionary effect on how we perceive the world and how we live.” And David Byrne hand-picked her to collaborate on an album with him. “I've always tried to live at that intersection of accessible pop music and lunatic fringe music,” she tells Kurt Andersen.

Clark is also known for the characters that emerge in her songs. “Different archetypes appear in different records,” she explains. “Strange Mercy was the archetype of a repressed housewife on barbiturates and white wine.” Her new record “is a different archetype, the near-future cult leader. But it’s all incredibly personal, it’s all very much me.”

Born and raised in Dallas, Clark got her start playing guitar with The Polyphonic Spree. "I was a kid and I was suddenly in a rock band, and there was Jagermeister and not showering,” she remembers. “Which sounds disgusting to me now, but at the time I was just like 'Oh my god, I'm on the road, I'm opening for Brian Wilson!'" Around that time, Clark started experimenting with guitar effects and cultivating the sound she is known for today. "Tim [DeLaughter, the group's lead singer] would come over and go, 'Hey, can you make that sparkly?' And I'd run to Guitar Center and buy whatever pedal I thought might make a sparkly sound."

    Music Playlist
  1. Lazarus
    Artist: David Byrne & St. Vincent 
    Album: Love this Giant
    Label: 4AD / Todo Mundo
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Cruel
    Artist: St. Vincent 
    Album: Strange Mercy
    Label: 4ad Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Birth in Reverse
    Artist: St. Vincent 
    Album: St. Vincent
    Label: Loma Vista/Republic
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Bring Me Your Loves
    Artist: St. Vincent
    Album: St. Vincent
    Label: Loma Vista/Republic
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. I Should Watch TV
    Artist: David Byrne & St. Vincent 
    Album: Love this Giant
    Label: 4AD / Todo Mundo
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. Severed Crossed Fingers
    Artist: St. Vincent
    Album: St. Vincent
    Label: Loma Vista/Republic
    Purchase: Amazon
  7. Cowboys from Hell
    Artist: Pantera
    Album: Cowboys from Hell
    Label: Rhino
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Annie Clark

Produced by:

Julia Lowrie Henderson

Comments [3]

Ash from Brooklyn, NY

I have heard St. Vincent's song "Cruel" before. I think that's the only music of hers that I have had the pleasure of hearing. I will certainly be picking up the newest album. Perhaps even "Love This Giant".

Feb. 16 2014 11:30 AM
Seth from UWS

So I self-titled it...with a fake name.

I love St. Vincent, but what was all that high falutin' BS from the Smithsonian?! They're pop song ferchrissakes!

Feb. 16 2014 11:23 AM
Miss Mindy from Santa Fe

Wow, thank you for such an inspiring interview and playing Pantera on public radio... My life is colored better for this experience.

Feb. 14 2014 11:56 AM

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