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St. Vincent at the Crystal Ballroom

Credit: John Rosman/OPB

“Art is about creating the world you want to see…and creating something that is other than your mundane life,” Annie Clark said during our recent conversation at Ringlers Pub in downtown Portland. She’s in incognito mode — sunglasses on, and hair under a beanie, not yet transformed into what she describes as the “near-future cult leader” persona she adopts on stage for her recently released self-titled album. Annie Clark performs as St. Vincent, and opbmusic caught up with her before recording a few tracks from her soundcheck for her sold out show at the Crystal Ballroom.

She spoke about the songwriting process and how it has changed as she’s grown. “With this record, I was in a very confident place, and in an exuberant place, and it’s very much about wanting to connect with other people, whereas with [previous album] Strange Mercy I was in a great deal of personal pain after having lost a number of people and having life fall apart and I was more inwardly focused.”

The new work distills what Clark has been working on over the course of four albums (plus a collaboration with David Byrne of the Talking Heads). “I live on wires,” she sings on “Every Tear Disappears,” capturing two aspects of her work. One is the high-wire act that each St. Vincent song and performance enacts. The pieces are often taut, challenging, full of nervous energy and tricky guitar solos, but they nevertheless manage to hold together as pop songs.

And those wires also reflect one of the major themes of the album: the connections we use not just to access information, but to shuttle our identities, avatars, and profiles through a digital world. “What’s the point of even sleeping, if I can’t show it, if you can’t see me?” She jokingly asks in the song “Digital Witness,” critiquing our “share everything” social media culture.

Listen to the full interview below, and two songs recorded at soundcheck: “Digital Witness” and “Birth in Reverse.”

Credit: John Rosman/OPB




Audio recording: Steven Kray

Interview: Dave Blanchard

Photos: John Rosman

Executive Producer: David Christensen

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