Home > Interviews > Interview – St. Vincent

Interview – St. Vincent

Het was een vreemd interview, dat met Annie Clark van St. Vincent. Haar antwoorden waren kort en soms leek het wel of je de antwoorden eruit moest sleuren. Bovendien was er bijzonder veel rumoer in dat cafeetje in Brussel. Het origineel van het interview op daMusic vind je hieronder.

St. Vincent is Annie Clark and Annie Clark is St. Vincent. So why the alias?
It creates a little bit of distance. Not necessarily from the audience, but distance in my own mind between myself and the art that I can make. I can’t see myself making music under my own name. And it’s not that I change the art that I make because I change my name.

In the bio it is mentioned that you wrote all your songs on your guitar. Why was that so important?
The last record I made all on my computer. I never touched an instrument. For this one I went the completely opposite way and went back to my roots as a guitar player, to find out what my hands and voice could do.

You’ve made yourself quite a name as a guitar player. Have you got any guitar heroes yourself?
My uncle Tuck Andress (Tuck & Patti). Steve Albini is definitely a guitar hero. Marc Ribot I like because it’s clear that he can play. What he plays is so expressive, so easy and perverse. Albini too: It’s guitar, but not classic guitar. It’s like metal on metal. There’s absolute brutality in it. It hurts to listen to.

Is that what you’re going for as well?
I’m not as exteme as Albini. My songs are different, have more melody. Albini doesn’t care about melody. But I do like it when it hurts a little.

How do you know what is a good guitar solo?
When you start bleeding, literally. Then you know you’ve done a good job. It means I’ve gone all the way.

You’ve played in Belgium a couple of times, but always by yourself. Do you prefer to play with a band?
There’s more power in playing with a band. You notice by the reactions of the audience it’s a good show, but the connection with your band is also an important factor.

David Bowie is a name that is often used when journalists refer to your music. Any idea why that is?
I like David Bowie: he’s amazing. Maybe it’s because Mike Garson, who played that amazing solo on Aladdin Sane played on my first record. Maybe that’s where they got it from.

What exactly is the idea behind Strange Mercy?
We sometimes find we have to be cruel to be kind. Sometimes you want to protect someone and say: “I think it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be great.” when you know it might not be the case. But we all do it. How do you mitigate how to deal with how to cause less suffering. On this album there are a lot of songs where strange mercy comes in. In Chloe In The Afternoon there is an epiphany through pain situation in a sexual way, that’s strangely merciful. Then you have the song Strange Mercy where I tell you good news that I don’t believe. I’m telling you a little white lie. In Surgeon you’ve got somebody begging for a release from depression. And it goes on.

There seems to be a vast difference between a song like Champagne Year and Chloe In The Afternoon.
You need that kind of variety. You can’t have all songs on an album sounding like Chloe In The Afternoon. For me it’s coming from a similar place emotionally. But I don’t consider them to be very different. The thing that I feel that ties them is more an emotional core.

Has it been a Champagne Year?
2011 has been quite good. It was a good productive year. I was able to spend a lot of time close with friends and family. And I could continue working. I had such a devastating year in 2010 that I kept telling myself that next year was going to be a good year.

Cheerleader is a typically American phenomenon. Does the song carry an opinion about America?
I was never a cheerleader. But America really is a strange place. There are so many parts of America. I’m disillusioned about this factory pressed idea about America that’s broadcast to us all. But it gets more interesting when you’re looking at America as a weird place where it’s oppressive here and liberating there. How do we make sense of this all?
I’m not that political really. In order to be political you have to believe that you can change something through the system. And I don’t have a lot of faith in the system.

Can music make a difference?
Music can change people. Music is a very powerful force. There have been times in history when it has changed things: the Beatles in Russia, … It’s still a way of being idealistic. And in what country is there idealism with regard to the government?

Not over here, that’s for sure, but maybe music will change it all.

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