“Daddy’s Home”, the sixth studio album by St. Vincent, arrived in May, but Annie Clark, the artist behind the stage name, says it hasn’t felt completely finished so far.
“A record doesn’t feel really complete to me until I play the songs for people and with people in real time,” Clark said on a recent phone call. “Because you can see how the energy of the crowd is changing.
“You can see, like, ‘Oh, they’re all singing on that part,’” she said. “You get to know in a real way which parts of the record really land for people.
“And that’s not something you can feel just by setting a world record and, you know, getting good Instagram comments or mean Instagram comments or whatever.”
St. Vincent made headlines at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, September 24, a week after the release of “The Nowhere Inn,” a mock documentary about a fictional version of herself that she co-wrote and stars with Carrie Brownstein. from the Sleater-Kinney group and the “Portlandia” TV show.
Clark says that until she is on stage like Saint-Vincent, sharing his music with a live audience, a new record remains an ephemeral shadow, impossible to fully understand.
“But then when you have the show, everyone brings their own kind of personal secret experiences with the music,” she says. “And in a way, like a kind of sharing. Share these experiences with each other. Being vulnerable, being open, and basically getting permission to let go for an hour and a half. “
His tour kicked off earlier this month in New England; these are St. Vincent’s first shows since the pandemic, with the exception of a small, unique event in New Orleans to celebrate the opening of a friend’s hotel.
“And man, that was so deeply happy,” said Clark. “I mean, I made the mistake of wearing a corduroy suit in New Orleans in June, and everyone was covered in sweat, but it was such a relief.
“It’s an exorcism of all the crazy things we’ve been through,” she says. “I don’t want to abuse the ‘T’ word for trauma, but we’ve had a weird collective trauma in the past, well, over a year.
“So yes, I can’t wait. I look forward to the epiphany side and the alchemy side that occurs when people are together in the same space.
Great energy “daddy”
On “Daddy’s house”, St. Vincent explores new sounds and themes inspired by everything from his love for grimy funk and dirty 70s analog rock soul to perhaps his most overtly autobiographical lyrics to date on songs such as the title track, which was inspired by her father’s release from prison after serving time for tax evasion.
Her confident swagger on artist-inspired tunes from David Bowie and Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan and Pink Floyd also matches her larger concept of The Daddy, a transformation she describes in a fake diary published with the album as ” just to be yourself and feel good about yourself. You know you have to walk around with this BDE, this Big Daddy Energy.
“Coming into COVID, I already had the concept,” says Clark. “I had already given myself to speaking in the harmonic and rhythmic language of ‘Daddy’s Home’, that rocky 70s thing of grooves, and the ambiance and the feel.
“All of those things that I think my previous records had more stiffness,” she says. “And this one is just more about flow all over the place.”
Clark, who co-produced the album with Jack Antonoff, says the concept and new direction were inspired by several different things.
“First of all, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to approach this style of music until now,” she says. “I think it shows how much I respect the musicality during this time of Stevie Wonder, the Stones, Steely Dan. It was a time when pop music was incredibly sophisticated. There was just this cross pollination that was happening in popular music that was really exciting. “
His father’s release from prison in 2019 also brought his musical attention back to the past, Clark says.
“One story on the album is about my dad coming home from prison, and that music was the music he loved, and the music that I kind of got to know him through,” she says. “So for me, personally, it was this weird way to come full circle and explore who I am now.
“Explore how things are changing and my journey to becoming a dad. “
Put on a show
Like Bowie, who is an obvious inspiration to his career, St. Vincent tends to change form from album to album, from tour to tour. For “Daddy’s Home,” expect a whole new production with new costumes, lighting and visuals on stage.
“Well, you’re talking to the former president of the high school drama club,” Clark laughs. “I mean, I love a show. I love it when a show is a show, you know? I want to give people an experience they won’t forget.
“They might like him, they might be baffled by it, they might hate him right now and then think about it again in a month.” But I want to put on a show for people.
She and Antonoff played most of the instruments on the album, but for the tour, she will be supported by the Down and Out Downtown Band, a group put together with the help of bassist and music director Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who filled in the same role for two decades with Beck.
“Everyone is such an amazing player, and this record requires specific vocabulary,” she says of the band whose members include musicians who have performed with everyone from Beck and Bowie to Nine Inch Nails and Air. .
And while she plays most of “Daddy’s Home” on the first tour dates, that still leaves about two-thirds of her set to fill on the five albums that came before her.
“This particular show, it really wobbles,” says Clark. “I have a lot of material from different eras, so it can falter and be a bit of a trip like a freak show, a parliament dance party to psychedelic butoh to destroy our amps.
“It really covers the whole emotional spectrum.”
“Actor” to actor
Most of the songs on “Actor,” released by St. Vincent in 2009, were inspired by vintage Disney films and Technicolor classics, Clark said, and his music video performances have often been little cinematic gems.
“The Nowhere Inn,” however, puts her front and center in a mock psychological documentary / thriller about what happens when St. Vincent hires his friend Carrie Brownstein to make a documentary about her tour.
“I’m so amazed and delighted that someone left us, gave us money, to make a crazy movie about me of course, but also just about the identity and the pitfalls when someone starts to believe in its mythology and flies into space, “says Clark. “Or becomes cowardly in an attempt to hang on to their little idea of things.”
It was so much fun writing the script with Brownstein and prepping for the movie with her and director Bill Benz that Clark says she forgot to worry.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t afraid to take on the role of an actor,” she says. “It never occurred to me that what I was doing was actually acting until I thought about the day before filming started.”
Even now, with a movie that presents her character in an unfriendly light, she’s thrilled people are seeing him.
“I don’t make the convention of what these things normally do, which makes you love a pop star,” Clark says. “That’s not the point of this film, and it may be dangerous these days. And it’s good.
“Theoretically, we only have one life, why is she making it half-silly?” she said, talking about both the movie and the tour. “Let’s do something crazy that people won’t forget. I think art is supposed to be dangerous. I think it’s supposed to be scary sometimes.
“It’s supposed to help us get into the crevices and nooks and crannies of our minds, and be a safe place for us to play with fire.”
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