Annie Clark is a force to be reckoned with. Going by St Vincent, with her guitar fuzzed records and constant side projects, she is a woman addicted to work. We look back at what makes our feature artist this month so incredibly special.
One look at Annie Clark and you'd think she's got it all down pat. The effortlessly chic goddess of rock is someone you'd look at and wish you could be friends with. So how did Annie Clark become one miss St Vincent?
She grew up Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas, one of 8 children (collectively between her two parents families) and started playing guitar at the age of 12. As a teenager, Clark worked as a roadie for her aunt and uncle, Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart, of the guitar-vocal jazz duo Tuck & Patti. St Vincent the name is said to have come from the Nick Cave song "There She Goes My Beautiful World" where it refers to the hospital in which Dylan Thomas died, "And Dylan Thomas died drunk in / St. Vincent's hospital". Her great-grandmother's middle name was also St. Vincent, a nice coincidence perhaps...
After three years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Clark decided it wasn't for her and moved home where she then joined The Polyphonic Spree and embarked on a European tour. In 2006 she left The Polyphonic Spree and joined Sufjan Stevens' touring band before going on to finally release her debut album Marry Me in 2007. Named after a line from the television show Arrested Development, the album gained traction and people started taking note of this Bowie inspired goddess and foreseeing her future as a cult figure in the alt rock genre.
She followed her debut with Actor in 2009, a well received sophomore album, which she admits to writing a lot of on Garageband and MIDI because at the time as she didn't have a studio and was getting noise complaints from neighbours at home.
Her third full length album, Strange Mercy, was released in 2011 and she followed that with her collaborative album with David Byrne in 2012 titled Love This Giant.
In November 2013 Clark received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts and in 2014 she went on to release St. Vincent, her self titled fourth album. The album named best new music by Pitchfork, album of the year by The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly and NME. In the words of Lindsay Zoladz from Pitchfork, "Over the course of four albums, St. Vincent's Annie Clark has been focusing her vision and sharpening her music's edges. St. Vincent is in a sense the Platonic ideal of a St. Vincent record, executing with perfect poise everything we already know she can do". The album won her her first Grammy for Best Alternative Album and she was the first solo female performer in 20 years to win a Grammy in that category. Speaks volumes considering the recent grammy upset and comments about women in the music industry.
In 2014 she also joined a line up of kick ass women, including Lorde, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett, for the 29th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Nirvana. She fronted the band to perform lead vocals on "Lithium".
Her most recent release from last year, Masseduction, is possibly her most personal and heart wrenching yet. Coming from a very private person, the album is about being left and recovering in the aftermath, mixed with themes of sex, drugs and rock and roll you might say. She had a somewhat public relationship with model Carla Delevinge that ended in 2016 and seems to be the spark to a lot of the material on this album (although Delevingne also guest vocals on the album). In an interview with Rolling Stone she credits pharmaceuticals with helping her move on to the next phase of her career following the stress and anxiety brought on around the time of her previous album. "What sold me on working with Annie was how much she was willing to expose and how ready she was to rip it all apart and go all in," Jack Antonoff (her producer on the album) said to Rolling Stone.
In between albums, Clark keeps busy with side projects, films, other recordings and dreaming up new ideas. She is is one to always watch that's for sure. Catch her in Sydney for a one night only event at Carriageworks, 17 June (info here).