St. Vincent (musician)
St. Vincent performing at the Moore Theatre in Seattle (2018)
|Birth name||Anne Erin Clark|
September 28, 1982|
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Origin||Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
Anne Erin Clark (born September 28, 1982), known professionally as St. Vincent, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. After studying at Berklee College of Music for three years, she began her music career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree. Clark was also a member of Sufjan Stevens's touring band before forming her own band in 2006.
St. Vincent's work has received consistent praise for its distinct musical style, which blends soft rock, experimental rock, electropop, and jazz influences. Her debut album was Marry Me (2007), followed by Actor (2009), Strange Mercy (2011), St. Vincent (2014), and Masseduction (2017). She released a collaborative album with David Byrne in 2012 titled Love This Giant. Clark also contributed backing vocals for Swans on their 2014 album, To Be Kind. Her fourth solo album, the eponymous St. Vincent, was named album of the year by The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, NME, and Slant Magazine, as well as second best album of the year by Time magazine. The album won her a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, her first Grammy award. She was the first solo female performer in 20 years to win a Grammy in that category.
Anne Erin Clark was born on September 28, 1982 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother is a social worker turned administrator for a non-profit organization and her stepfather works in corporate tax administration. Clark's parents divorced when she was three years old, and she moved to Dallas, Texas when she was seven years old with her mother and two older sisters. Her father lives in Tulsa. Clark is of Irish, and one quarter Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Clark was raised Roman Catholic and Unitarian Universalist.  From her parents' blended families, Clark has eight siblings: four brothers and four sisters. She began playing the guitar at the age of 12 and, as a teenager, worked as a roadie for her uncle and aunt, Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart, of the guitar-vocal jazz duo Tuck & Patti. She attended Lake Highlands High School, where she participated in theater and the school's jazz band, and was a classmate of Mark Salling (who later went on to star in the series Glee). Clark graduated from Lake Highlands in 2001.
Clark attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts for three years before dropping out. In retrospect, Clark said, "I think that with music school and art school, or school in any form, there has to be some system of grading and measurement. The things they can teach you are quantifiable. While all that is good and has its place, at some point you have to learn all you can and then forget everything that you learned in order to actually start making music." In 2003, during her time at Berklee, she released an EP with fellow students entitled Ratsliveonnoevilstar. While in Berklee, she worked with Heavy Rotation Records where "she revealed a much more private and intimate rendering of 'Count' for Dorm Sessions Vol. 1." While attending Berklee, Clark studied with Professor of Guitar, Lauren Passarelli. Shortly after leaving Berklee, Clark returned home to Texas where she joined The Polyphonic Spree just before their embarking on a European tour. In 2004, she joined Glenn Branca's 100 guitar orchestra for the Queens performance, and she was also briefly in a noise-rock band called The Skull Fuckers.
Clark left The Polyphonic Spree and joined Sufjan Stevens' touring band in 2006, bringing with her a tour EP entitled Paris is Burning. It contains three tracks, including a cover version of Jackson Browne's "These Days".
St. Vincent and Marry Me (2007)Edit
In 2006, Clark began recording a studio album, under the stage name St. Vincent. In an interview on The Colbert Report, she said that she "took [her] moniker from a Nick Cave song", which refers to the hospital in which Dylan Thomas died. The reference is to the line "And Dylan Thomas died drunk in / St. Vincent's hospital" from Cave's song "There She Goes my Beautiful World" from the album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. The name is also a reference to her great-grandmother, whose middle name was St. Vincent.
Clark released her debut album, Marry Me on July 10, 2007 on Beggars Banquet Records. Named after a line from the television show Arrested Development, the album features appearances from drummer Brian Teasley (Man or Astro-man?, The Polyphonic Spree), Mike Garson (David Bowie's longtime pianist), and horn player Louis Schwadron (The Polyphonic Spree).
The album was well received by critics, with Clark being compared to the likes of Kate Bush and David Bowie. Clark was lauded for the album's musical arrangements as well as themes and style; in their review of the album, The AV Club noted: "There's a point where too much happiness turns into madness, and St. Vincent's multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark knows this place well". Pitchfork said "at every turn Marry Me takes the more challenging route of twisting already twisted structures and unusual instrumentation to make them sound perfectly natural and, most importantly, easy to listen to as she overdubs her thrillingly sui generis vision into vibrant life."
The songs featured on Marry Me were largely written when Clark was eighteen and nineteen years old, and, according to Clark, "represented a more idealized version of what life was or what love was or anything in the eyes of someone who hadn't really experienced anything." The album featured its one single, "Paris Is Burning", as well as a music video for "Jesus Saves, I Spend".
In 2008, Clark was nominated for three PLUG Independent Music Awards: New Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, and Music Video of the Year. On March 6, 2008, she won the PLUG Female Artist of the Year award.
In 2008, after returning to New York from a lengthy tour, Clark began working on her second album. Her inspiration reportedly came from several films, including Disney movies: "Well, the truth is that I had come back from a pretty long — you know, about a year-and-a-half of touring, and so my brain was sort of all circuit boards that were a little bit fried", Clark said. "So I started watching films as sort of a way to get back into being human. And then it started to just really inform the entire record."
Clark, who did not have a studio at the time, began writing the album in her apartment on her computer using GarageBand and MIDI, because she had been getting noise complaints from neighbors. The songs were largely inspired by scenes from various children's films; Clark has stated that she would imagine a soundtrack for certain scenes from films when constructing the music and lyrics, including scenes from Snow White (1937) and The Wizard of Oz (1939).
The second album, entitled Actor, was released by 4AD Records on May 5, 2009. The album was also well received and gained more commercial attention than its predecessor. Spin gave the album eight out of ten stars, noting its "[juxtaposition of] the cruel and the kind, and here, the baroque arrangements are even more complex and her voice even prettier, with both only underlining the dark currents running through her songs". Entertainment Weekly said the album "plays up the contrasts, [with Clark] letting her church-choir voice linger on lyrics that hint darkly at themes of violence, sex, and general chaos", and branded the album "a uniquely potent cocktail of sounds and moods".
Actor charted well for an independent release, peaking at #9 on Billboard's Independent Albums Chart, and #5 on the Tastemaker Albums Chart. It peaked at #90 on the Billboard 200. Although the album spawned no singles (except in the UK where "Actor Out Of Work" was issued as a 7" vinyl single), music videos for "Marrow" and "Actor Out of Work" were released, and aired on several music channels. A promotional music video for "Laughing With a Mouth of Blood", featuring Portlandia's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (then of ThunderAnt), was also filmed.
Strange Mercy (2011)Edit
Clark spent much of her time in Seattle writing her third album, Strange Mercy, in October 2010. In an interview with Julie Klausner for Spin Magazine, Clark recalled, "[Death Cab for Cutie drummer] Jason McGerr had an office that was closing. He offered me the space for a month, for all of October. I was alone. I stayed at the Ace Hotel downtown, in one of the rooms with a shared bathroom. I would just get up in the morning and caffeinate, and run, and go to the studio for 12 hours, come back, eat dinner alone with a book, have a glass of wine, and go to bed. And do it all over again."
On January 12, 2011, Clark announced via Twitter that she was working on Strange Mercy, which was a follow up to Actor. In early March 2011, producer John Congleton, who also worked with Clark on Actor, commented that he and Clark were nearly a third of the way through recording the new release.
On July 4, Clark stated via Twitter that if enough followers tweeted the hashtag "#strangemercy", she would release a track from the album. On July 22, after the threshold was met, she released "Surgeon" for download and streaming on her official website.
In August 2011, Clark was interviewed and featured on the cover of SPIN magazine. On August 24, 2011, a music video was released for the song "Cruel", and on September 5, the entire album was put up for streaming on NPR Music. On August 25, 2011, she debuted Strange Mercy in the Temple of Dendur room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, introducing Toko Yasuda (ex-Enon), Matt Johnson, and Daniel Mintseris as members of her live band. The album was released on September 13, 2011.
Strange Mercy received widespread acclaim from music critics. The album achieved an overall rating of 8.1/10 at AnyDecentMusic? based on 36 reviews. The album was St. Vincent's highest-charting album yet, peaking at #19 on the US Billboard 200. Regarding the album Annie Clark has stated "I don't think it's the best record I'll ever make, but I think it's a good record." Clark began touring the US and Europe in support of the record in the fall of 2011 and continued a worldwide tour throughout 2012.
St. Vincent (2013–2015)Edit
In November 2013 Clark received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts, and signed to Republic Records. The new label released "Birth in Reverse" the following month, the first single from Clark's fourth album, "St. Vincent", The second single, "Digital Witness", was released in January 2014, and the album was released the next month to critical acclaim. A number of publications, including The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, NME, Gigwise, and MusicOMH, ranked it as the #1 album of 2014, while Time put it at #2 and Rolling Stone ranked it #4. Clark received her first Grammy, as "St Vincent" won "Best Alternative Music Album" in February 2015.
Clark toured the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia throughout 2014, ending the year as the supporting act for The Black Keys. She extended her Digital Witness tour into the summer of 2015, and performed alongside the Pixies and Beck at Boston Calling in May 2015.
In June 2017 St. Vincent released "New York", the lead single from her fifth album. The Fear the Future tour was announced in June 2017, with dates in November and December; the tour schedule was subsequently extended with performances through July 2018. Masseduction, Clark's fifth studio album, was released in October 2017 through Loma Vista Recordings. It was met with "universal acclaim" with an average score of 88 on Metacritic. In the United States, Masseduction debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200, becoming St. Vincent's first album to peak in the top ten of the chart, selling 29,000 units in its first week.
This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (September 2017)
Two soundtracks for The Twilight Saga have featured songs from her. The first, "Roslyn", was in collaboration with Bon Iver and appeared on the 2009 soundtrack for New Moon; her second, "The Antidote", was written for and appeared on 2012's Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
In 2011, Clark composed "Proven Badlands", an instrumental piece based on "The Sequel" from her sophomore release Actor, for ensemble Music's album Beautiful Mechanical.
In 2012, Clark featured on Andrew Bird's album Break It Yourself singing on "Lusitania". On June 14, 2012, "Who", the first single from her collaboration with David Byrne, formerly of Talking Heads, was released. The single came from their album Love This Giant, which was released on September 11, 2012. On September 18, 2012, Clark participated in the "30 Songs / 30 Days" campaign to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's best-selling book. Clark also provided guest vocals for the song "What's the Use of Won'drin'" on the album Who Killed Amanda Palmer from Amanda Palmer, formerly of The Dresden Dolls.
On April 10, 2014, Clark fronted Nirvana performing lead vocals on "Lithium" at the 29th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She also provided vocals on the Swans' album To Be Kind.
A demo of "Teenage Talk", a track she had previously recorded but that was not included on her eponymous album, premiered on the HBO series Girls on March 10, 2015. The song was released as a single on April 6.
Musical style and influencesEdit
Clark's music has been noted for its wide array of instruments and complex arrangements, as well as its polysemous lyrics, which have been described as teetering between "happiness and madness". In response, Clark has said, "I like when things come out of nowhere and blindside you a little bit. I think any person who gets panic attacks or has an anxiety disorder can understand how things can all of a sudden turn very quickly. I think I'm sublimating that into the music." In addition to guitar, Clark also plays bass, piano, organ, and theremin. Her music also often features violins, cellos, flutes, trumpets, clarinets and other instruments. Her unorthodox musical style has been characterized by critics as a mixture of chamber rock, pop, indie rock, and cabaret jazz.
Clark mentioned that singers such as David Bowie and Kate Bush had inspired her, as had Jimi Hendrix and Siouxsie and the Banshees. She said in a 2015 lecture she listens to a Bowie track every day, and that "It's No Game (Part One)" was her favorite. Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Pink Floyd are also influences, as well as guitarists Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew (both from King Crimson), and Marc Ribot.
In March 2016, it was announced that Clark had designed a signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitar. Unique to the guitar was the design, which Welsh singer Cate Le Bon claimed in The Guardian as being made for women's bodies and providing pleasing aesthetic form in support of the guitar's function. However, Clark has since stated that the guitar being specifically for women was not a consideration during the design process.  In 2017, four additional colors were added to the guitar line.
Clark resides in New York City. A 2014 Village Voice profile of Clark describes her as a private person. Former Talking Heads member David Byrne, with whom Clark had collaborated and toured, says, "Despite having toured with her for almost a year I don't think I know her much better, at least not on a personal level ... mystery is not a bad thing for a beautiful, talented young woman (or man) to embrace. And she does it without seeming to be standoffish or distant."
When asked during an interview with Rolling Stone whether she identified as gay or straight, Clark responded, "I don't think about those words. I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don't really identify as anything. [. . .] I think you can fall in love with anybody. I don't have anything to hide but I'd rather the emphasis be on music". In a 2014 interview with the UK's The Sunday Times, Clark further elaborated, "I'm not one for gender or sexual absolutism in the main; I fully support and engage in the spectrum."
- Toko Yasuda – guitar, bass guitar, keyboards (2011–2012, 2014–2015, 2018–present)
- Daniel Mintseris – keyboards, sequencing (2011–2015, 2018–present)
- Matt Johnson – drums (2011–2012, 2014–2015, 2018–present)
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2008||PLUG Independent Music Awards||Female Artist of the Year||Herself||Won|
|New Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Music Video of the Year||"Jesus Saves, I Spend"||Nominated|
|2012||UK Music Video Awards||Best Alternative Video - International||"Cheerleader"||Nominated|
|2013||Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards||Performing Arts||The Totally Original Sound of St. Vincent||Won|
|2014||Q Awards||Best Solo Artist||Herself||Nominated|
|UK Music Video Awards||Best Art Direction||"Digital Witness"||Nominated|
|2015||International Dance Music Awards||Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Alternative Music Album||St. Vincent||Won|
|NME Awards||Best Album||Nominated|
|Best Solo Artist||Herself||Nominated|
|Brit Awards||International Female Solo Artist||Nominated|
|ASCAP Pop Music Awards||Vanguard Award||Won|
|2017||Q Awards||Best Solo Artist||Nominated|
|2018||NME Awards||Best Video||"Los Ageless"||Nominated|
|Best International Solo Artist||Herself||Nominated|
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