Interview: St Vincent
I got to chat with the amazing and talented Annie Clark over the telephone.
Interview originally published on For Folk’s Sake. Photo by Tod Seelie.
My name’s Anika
Hey Anika, how you doing?
I’m good, how are you?
Good. Well. Thank you.
Good, good. This is my first ever phone interview, so bear with me.
Oh, wow. I’ll be gentle.
Oh good. Thank you. Have you done any other interviews this morning?
Nooo, you’re my first this morning. We’re in the same boat.
Good. When did you get into London?
Hmmm. Yesterday morning. Yesterday morning, I flew in.
How was your journey?
Oh, it was fine! Actually, I slept through it but apparently it took 3 hours to get from Heathrow to where I’m staying. In London, but I slept through it.
Where are you now?
I’m at the Beggars office.
Cool. So I suppose we should talk about your new album. You excited?
Yeah! I’m very excited.
When did you write the songs for the album, a long time ago or…
No, no, it’s all quite recent. I got off live touring from ‘Marry Me’ in March of 2008 and I pretty much started right to work on the ‘Actor’ record. So it was pretty much all written between March of 2008 and December of 2008. So about 9 months. Like a baby. Like giving birth to a baby.
Haha okay. Do you have a favourite track from the album?
Uhm, oh it’s tough to say. It’s tough to say.
All new and fun?
It’s still new and totally fun. I really like playing Marrow live. It’s pretty much all guitar the whole time… which is very fun. I don’t know, I’m actually fond of all the songs.
Well. That’s a good thing.
What about the album cover? It’s quite bold… gold and orange. Whose idea was that?
A friend of mine was styling the shoot. I guess he took some inspiration from a couple of fashion ads.
So next it’ll be a sideways portrait shot next?
You going to do that next time?
You bet. Every angle. Every angle.
I really like the video for Actor out of Work. Who was the director for that?
It was a directing team called Terri Timely. They’re a couple of Oakland based guys. At first I was a bit hesitant to do something very literal, with actual actors, then I really read the treatment and I couldn’t resist. I just thought it was so strange and kind of… really creepy.
Yeah, it is pretty creepy.
Yeah! It is creepy. But it was especially creepy being 10ft away from the actors as they were…
Haha. The most amazing thing about it was, the guy who cast the actors, who was there as the acting coach, it was really like watching an American football practice. With the coach yelling demeaning things at the actors to get them to cry harder, or work harder. It was reaaaally, really strange, and really hard to keep a straight face. From either laughing or crying.
I’m coming to your show later.
Are you playing with a band or just you?
No no. It’s going to be just me.
I read some recent reviews, you’ve been playing with a band? Who’s in your band and how’d you recruit them?
With a casting couch. No, let’s see. Daniel, the violinist, we actually grew up 5 houses down from each other in Dallas, TX. Where we’re both from. So he’s old school. The other boys are just wonderful little chaps I picked up along the way.
Aww. So do you prefer playing alone or with a band, or how is it for you?
Both have their upsides. Sometimes I really like the intimacy of playing solo and the fact you can take a song everywhere and not have to wildly gesture to your bandmates to move to the left instead of the right. But then there’s also a very nice camaraderie and you can be louder and a bit more ruckus with a band. It’s a trade off.
The venue you’re playing tonight isn’t that big, what’s the biggest venue you’ve ever played?
Maybe, uhm… a toss up between Radio City Music hall opening for Death Cab For Cutie orrr, this outdoor amphitheatre in Vancouver opening for Arcade Fire.
How was that? Nervous?
Are you kidding? Cool as a cucumber.
Haha ok. I saw on your Twitter you mentioned Bonnie Prince Billy, did you go to that show yesterday?
I did, yeah. I went to that show.
How was it? I wanted to go but… I didn’t have enough money.
Oh nooo! I probably didn’t have enough money either, but my friend, Jim White, he plays drums for Bonnie Prince Billy.
It was quite good, yeah.
What was the venue?
Royal Festival Hall.
It’s huge and it was full. Full of… hip-looking, attractive people. He must be doing something right.
I mentioned Twitter. What do you think of Twitter? Over a thousand followers… must be a bit weird.
You know what, I kind of don’t think about it. I’m not thinking ‘oh a thousand people…
Want to know what you’re doing?
Yeah! And I think, for that reason, I’m going to shy away from, you know, ‘I ate a bagel’ and you know ‘I watched the Simpsons’.
If there’s something about a book or a film, or some sort of, potentially culturally or artistically interesting purpose… I’ll tweet about that.
It’s good to share it.
Yeah. Although, I got confused. I was trying to direct message my friend Dan the other day, and I sent it out as a real tweet. I was drinking and it was bad.
That’s the danger of the internet.
Seen any other good bands lately, besides Bonnie Prince Billy?
I’m kind of love with the Dirty Projectors.
Oh me too!! They played here at the start of the month, I missed it, I was at something else.
Now I’m kind of like ‘oh man I wish I went to that show’.
Yeah, I wish you’d gone to that show too. Hahaha.
It would have been awesome, I’m sure.
It would have been awesome for you. Hahah. But I’m sure they’ll be around next time, cos… they’re going to blow up. It’s going to be huge.
Stillness is the move. Good tune.
Anything else you’ve been listening to?
Let’s see.. the new Grizzly Bear is on behind me. Quite good.
I haven’t heard that.
It’s quite good. What else? Oh man…. Van Dyke Parks, Harry Nielsen.These are all old people though. People I already know.
Well. I just got back from a record store actually. It was record store day at the weekend.
Yeah yeah yeah!
Did you do anything special?
No but my friend bought me a Heart record that, uhm, (sings) ‘What about love? Don’t you want someone to care about you?’ That Heart record. I vicariously participated in that.
Do you have a favourite record shop, from Texas or anywhere?
Yeah, there’s a great store in Dallas called Good Records. And there’s another great store in New York called Other Music.
Oh yeah, I tried to go to that one once when I was in New York and it was shut.
Oh it was shut? Why?
I think we were too early.
Oh no. Oh no. Maybe next time. Timings.
Have you ever been to Rough Trade in London?
Oh, no, I haven’t!
It’s near the venue you’re playing at later. Maybe… 20 minutes walk.
Oh cool. Ok.
It’s my favourite record shop, anyway.
OK. I bet it is. No, I feel like every time I’ve been in London I haven’t really had time off.
Yeah, well there’s so much to do. I can imagine it gets tiring.
Really cool talking to you. I only found out about this yesterday. I really hate speaking on the phone, but I thought… chance to speak to talk to one of my favourite singers… might as well!
I’m excited for the show tonight.
Oh good, good, thank you! Me too! I’m glad you braved crippling anxiety and social awkwardness to… have a nice chat.
I read you have a voicemail phobia?
You could pick up the phone and it could be the worst news ever… but, it’s so negative, cos it could be the best news ever!
Hahaha, that’s true. But, I do like the possibility that someone would casually leave the worst news ever in a voicemail.
Hahaha, yeah, it’s an irrational fear.
Haha… it was really nice talking to you, Anika.
Yeah, really nice talking to you. I’ll see you later then.
Yeah, see you later. Bye!
And I did indeed see her later, at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. Her set was incredible. I met Annie after the show and she was friendly and lovely. I love St. Vincent.