St. Vincent (musician)

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St. Vincent
Annie Clark DFL.jpg
St. Vincent performing at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon on February 6, 2010
Background information
Birth nameAnnie Clark
Born(1982-09-28) September 28, 1982 (age 31)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
GenresIndie pop, baroque pop, art rock
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, theremin
Years active2003–present
LabelsBeggars Banquet, 4AD, Republic, Loma Vista, Caroline International
Associated actsThe Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens, David Byrne, The National, Bon Iver
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St. Vincent
Annie Clark DFL.jpg
St. Vincent performing at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon on February 6, 2010
Background information
Birth nameAnnie Clark
Born(1982-09-28) September 28, 1982 (age 31)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
GenresIndie pop, baroque pop, art rock
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, theremin
Years active2003–present
LabelsBeggars Banquet, 4AD, Republic, Loma Vista, Caroline International
Associated actsThe Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens, David Byrne, The National, Bon Iver

Annie Erin Clark (born September 28, 1982),[1][2] better known by her stage name St. Vincent, is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She began her music career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree and was also part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band before forming her own band in 2006. Clark currently resides in Manhattan.[3]

Her debut album was Marry Me, and was followed by Actor (2009). Her third album, Strange Mercy, was released on September 13, 2011. On September 10, 2012, she released a collaborative album with David Byrne titled Love This Giant.

Clark has opened shows for such acts as Television, Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird, Jolie Holland, John Vanderslice, Xiu Xiu, Death Cab for Cutie, Cristina Donà and Grizzly Bear. She worked with Bon Iver on the song "Roslyn", which appeared on the film soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Her track "The Strangers" was sampled by Kid Cudi on the song "MANIAC" for his album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager along with rapper Cage.

Early life[edit]

Annie Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[4][5] She began playing the guitar at the age of 12 and, as a teenager, worked as the tour manager for her uncle's band Tuck & Patti.[6] She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and 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).[7] Clark graduated from Lake Highlands in 2001.[8]

Clark attended the Berklee College of Music for three years before dropping out.[9] 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."[10] In 2003, during her time at Berklee, she released an EP with fellow students entitled Ratsliveonnoevilstar.[11] 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."[12] Shortly after leaving Berklee, Clark returned home to Texas where she joined The Polyphonic Spree just before their embarking on a European tour.[13] In 2004 she joined Glenn Branca's 100 guitar orchestra for the Queens performance.[14]

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]

Clark on stage in 2007

In 2006, Clark began recording a studio album, under the stage name St. Vincent. Her stage name is a reference to Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died in 1953. “It’s the place where poetry comes to die,” she has said. “That’s me.”[6] The name is also a reference to her great-grandmother, whose middle name was St. Vincent.[15] In an interview on The Colbert Report, she said that she "took [her] moniker from a Nick Cave song, which references the hospital where Dylan Thomas died."[16] 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" off the album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus.

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,[17] 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.[18] 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".[19] 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."[18]

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."[10] 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.[20]

Actor (2009)[edit]

St. Vincent performing in San Diego on May 30, 2009

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."[21]

Clark, who didn't 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.[3] 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,[3] 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.[22] The album was also well received and gained more commercial attention than its predecessor.[10] 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".[23] 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."[24]

Actor charted well for an independent release, peaking at #9 on Billboard's Independent Albums Chart, and #5 on the Tastemaker Albums Chart.[25] 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]

On January 12, 2011—according to her Twitter account— Clark stated that she was working on her third album, Strange Mercy, a follow up to Actor.[26] In early March, 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.[27] 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.[28]

In August 2011, Clark was interviewed and featured on the cover of SPIN magazine.[29] 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.[30] On August 25, 2011, debuted Strange Mercy in the Temple of Dendur room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York,[31] introducing Toko Yasuda (ex-Enon), Matt Johnson, and Daniel Mintseris to her live band. The album was released on September 13, 2011.[32]

Strange Mercy received widespread acclaim from music critics. The album achieved an overall rating of 8.1/10 at[33] AnyDecentMusic? based on 36 reviews. The album was St. Vincent's highest-charting album yet, peaking at #19 on the US Billboard 200.[34] 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."[35] Clark began touring the US and Europe in support of the record in the fall of 2011, and is continuing a worldwide tour throughout 2012.

St. Vincent (2013–present)[edit]

On November 18, 2013, Clark announced dates for a European tour in 2014 via her website.[36] The following day, Republic Records announced that Clark had signed to their label.[37] Her fourth album, St. Vincent, is scheduled to be released on February 25, 2014.[38] On December 9, Clark released the album's first single, "Birth in Reverse", for digital streaming.[39] The second single, "Digital Witness" was released for digital streaming on January 6.[40]

Other work[edit]

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 comes from their album Love This Giant, which was released on September 11, 2012.[41][42] 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. [43] 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. Clark appeared on the film soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.[44] On May 28, 2013, David Byrne and St. Vincent released Brass Tactics, which includes a previously unreleased Love This Giant bonus track, two remixes, and two live tracks.[45] St. Vincent was the 2013 recipient of the Smithsonian magazine American Ingenuity Awards in Performing Arts.[46]

Clark's vocals will be featured on Swans' upcoming album To Be Kind, which will be released on May 13, 2014.[47]

Musical style[edit]

Clark is augmented onstage by a full band

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".[19] In response to this, 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."[10]

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.[48] Her unorthodox musical style has been characterized by critics as a mixture of chamber rock, pop, indie rock, and cabaret jazz.[3]

As of late 2011, her electric guitar pedal board included the following: Korg PitchBlack, DBA Interstellar Overdriver Supreme, ZVex Mastotron Fuzz, Eventide Pitchfactor, Eventide Space, BOSS PS-5 Super Shifter, Moog EP-2 Expression Pedal. All her pedals are controlled by a MasterMind MIDI Foot Controller. She frequently plays a 1967 Harmony H17 Bobkat electric guitar.[49]


Studio albums
YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
2007Marry Me-
  • Released: May 4, 2009
  • Label: 4AD
2011Strange Mercy
  • Released: September 12, 2011
  • Label: 4AD
2012Love This Giant (collaboration album with David Byrne)
  • Released: September 10, 2012
  • Label: 4AD
2014St. Vincent
  • Released: February 25, 2014
  • Label: Loma Vista/Republic


  1. ^ Clark, Annie. A Glimpse of St. Vincent. Interview with Nell Alk. Interview. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  2. ^ "St. Vincent – Q&A". Rag & Bone. 2012-09-28. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "St. Vincent and Her Mutant Sounds: An interview with Annie Clark". Retrieved November 19, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Treble : Album Review : St. Vincent – Marry Me". Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ "BBC profile". Retrieved July 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Ryzik, Melena (May 7, 2009). "NY Times feature, May 6, 2009". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  7. ^ Clark, Annie. Interview with Marko Prelic. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  8. ^ "Dallas Observer feature, July 5, 2007". Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  9. ^ "LA Times feature, May 27, 2009". Los Angeles Times. May 27, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d Murphy, Tom (February 12, 2010). "Q&A With Annie Clark of St. Vincent". Denver Westword. Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Early St. Vincent EP at Who Killed the Mixtape?". Retrieved February 24, 2008. 
  12. ^ Mana, Toshio. "Heavy Sessions". Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ryzik, Melena (May 7, 2009). "NY Times feature, May 6, 2009". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2009. 
  14. ^ Interview: Annie Clark (of St. Vincent) – News – Evri. Retrieved on November 30, 2011.
  15. ^ Chris Barrett, "Annie Clark Discusses Her Band, St. Vincent, and the Art of Whole-Body Guitar", Metro Pulse, October 7, 2009.
  16. ^ "November 01, 2012 - David Byrne & St. Vincent". Comedy Central. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "Pitchfork Guestlist Feature". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  18. ^ a b Klein, Joshua (July 27, 2007). "Marry Me review". Pitchfork. 
  19. ^ a b O'Neal, Sean (July 10, 2007). "Marry Me". AV Club. 
  20. ^ "2006 PLUG Independent Music Awards nominees". Retrieved February 24, 2008. 
  21. ^ St. Vincent (2009). All Things Considered: Annie Clark, shredding to The Wizard of Oz. (Interview). National Public Radio (NPR).
  22. ^ "St. Vincent profile at 4AD". Retrieved May 7, 2008. 
  23. ^ Suarez, Jessica (2009). "Actor Review". Spin. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  24. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (May 6, 2009). "Actor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  25. ^ "St. Vincent Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. 
  26. ^ "Twitter / st vincent: Did I mention I'm working". Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  27. ^ Hopkins, Daniel (March 2, 2011). "Between Production Work With St. Vincent and David Byrne, Paper Chase Mastermind John Congleton Launches New Band Nighty Night – Dallas Music – DC9 At Night". Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  28. ^ Maples, Jillian (September 9, 2011). "St. Vincent goes Twitter Happy". Billboard. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  29. ^ Klausner, Julie (August 14, 2011). "Style Issue: St. Vincent". SPIN. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  30. ^ Katzif, Michael (September 4, 2011). "First Listen: St. Vincent's Strange Mercy". NPR. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  31. ^ Anderson, Stacey. "St. Vincent Debuts New Album at NYC's Metropolitan". SPIN. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  32. ^ "St. Vincent Strange Mercy Details". Stereogum. June 2, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Reviews of Strange Mercy collated by AnyDecentMusic?". Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  34. ^ Strange Mercy – St. Vincent. Retrieved September 22, 2011
  35. ^ Carlick, Stephen. "St. Vincent Is Ambitious • Interviews •". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  36. ^ Battan, Carrie. "St. Vincent Previews New Music, Announces Tour Dates". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  37. ^ "NEWS ROUND-UP: All The Day’s Music News You Need". Republic Records. Retrieved 4 December 2013. [dead link]
  38. ^ "St. Vincent Wraps Fourth Album for February 25 Release". Direct Current. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  39. ^ "St Vincent unveils new track 'Birth In Reverse' and confirms new album details – listen". NME. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  40. ^ "St. Vincent Takes on Sharing Culture in Brassy 'Digital Witness'". Spin. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  41. ^ Adams, Gregory. "David Byrne and St. Vincent Detail Collaborative Album, Announce North American Tour". Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  42. ^ Love This Giant by David Byrne & St. Vincent, September 07, 2012. Retrieved 2010-9-1.
  43. ^ "30 Songs / 30 Days for Half the Sky | Half The Sky". 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  44. ^ McDaniel, Matt. "Exclusive: 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2' soundtrack song list revealed". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  45. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Download David Byrne and St. Vincent's Free Brass Tactics EP". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  46. ^ Wilonsky, Robert. "St. Vincent receives Smithsonian’s American Ingenuity Award in D.C. ceremony". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  47. ^ Minkser, Evan. "Swans Announce New Album To Be Kind Featuring St. Vincent, Michael Gira Announces Solo Tour". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  48. ^ Marry Me (2007). Beggers Banquet (liner notes)
  49. ^ Ross, Michael. "St. Vincent". Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Chart Stats - St. Vincent". Retrieved 2012-09-24. 

External links[edit]