Enthusiasm

St. Vincent on his Grammy Nods, the love of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’


“Can we talk Sidewalk for a second? “

The catalyst for our call with St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) is a recap of 2021, reviewing her mountain of accomplishments over the past year: the release of her sixth LP, daddy’s house; touring the United States and several festivals, covering Metallica and remixing Paul McCartney, winning a Grammy nomination. But the art-pop maverick is very excited to discuss Larry David’s social misadventures.

“Hhere’s the thing, she said TOURNAMENT, her voice lights up with excitement. “I know the premise is ‘Oh, Larry is such an asshole’, but I feel like I agree with him most of the time.”

Like any rational human being. And it makes sense, at least creatively, that Clark enjoys Calm your enthusiasm: HBO’s comedy originally sprung from a kind of mock-documentary meta-special – a setting similar to its recent film The hostel out of nowhere, a surreal project she co-wrote with her good friend Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia).

“I didn’t want to manipulate people into loving me,” says Clark, detailing his evolution from a typical musical documentary to something more experimental and lynchial, exploring darker ideas about fame and identity. . “It actually went against the grain in me and Carrie was like, ‘Let’s get incredibly unfriendly. It’s more fun.

TOURNAMENT told Clark about The hostel out of nowhere, daddy’s house, her busy year – and, of course, Sidewalk.

SPIN: It’s been a pretty hectic 12 month period for you. Do you have a minute to take a break?
Saint-Vincent:
It goes well! Everyone is finishing the year, I guess. I’m working on my studio, which is fun. Lots of cable hookups.

Where are you? And how did this happen?
I’m nearing the end of the process. I’m here for the “If you build it, they’ll come” kind of thing. I needed a workspace more suited to my own workflow, a place that would be inspiring and comfortable and everything in between. And also a place where other people could come. [Before] I had a perfect location for me to work, but it was more difficult to bring in other people because of the way the space was set up. I hope I can do more production for other people – and perform and write.

You recently won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. A lot of artists try to be too cool for these big ceremonies – people won’t attend the Grammys or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have a feeling, at least from your Twitter feed, that you don’t feel like that. Do these rewards seem rewarding to you?
I shudder at the thought of what’s on my Twitter feed. [Laughs.] [Editor’s note: just a tweet of some exclamation points.] The Grammys are not a popular vote. It’s a vote of the people at the Recording Academy. It’s a vote of engineers, songwriters, composers – not just performers and the people you see on stage. It’s all the many craftsmen in my arena. It’s really cool that these same people who are doing a version of the same as me, and we’re all in this weird fuss together, are like, “We love this. We appreciate what you have done. We respect it.

All your albums move away from the previous one, but daddy’s house is more of a left turn than usual. It has been interesting to see how the critics reacted. And now that you’ve been living with the album for a while (and even turned behind it), what do you think? Have you been listening to it for a while?
I rarely go back and listen to my own records, but just a few days ago, for some reason, I was like, “Uh, I wanna go back and listen to this.” I played some of the songs live but not all of them, and obviously these evolved and were so fun to play. Also, I wondered what choices I had made. That’s what a record is: a series of decisions you make in the moment. The peculiarity is that they happen then, and these are not the decisions you would have made two years ago or the decisions you will make in a year or 10 years. I went back and listened, and I love it. It’s like a comfortable, worn-out leather chair from a record – it says, “Come in”. And that’s what I intended to do. I approached everything with generosity of spirit, whether to myself or to others, and I find that magnificent. It’s hard to do something beautiful, and I think I did something beautiful. I’m happy.

I really enjoyed your version of “Sad But True”. Did you have a lot or no interaction with Metallica about your cover? How did it all work?
It was very cool of them. I had gone to see them do their orchestral concert in San Francisco a few years ago and had the opportunity to speak to [guitarist] Church [Hammett] and get to know him a bit. He is adorable. They just let me do my thing. It’s not like I have to send them spec demos and then they give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I just did it. It’s funny: as a guitarist you think you know a solo, then you sit down and put it in your body and learn it, and you’re like, “Whoa, that phrasing isn’t instinctive to me. It’s really cool. Let me figure out how to do it. So I did my version of Kirk’s solo, and then I did what I would – my own kind of version – in the second part. It was very fun.

I recently watched this interview with Larry David, and he explained how Calm your enthusiasm started off as a documentary – like, “Let’s show her behind the scenes, and then it all turns into a comedy special.” But he thought it would be boring, so he fictionalized things behind the scenes, which basically makes it sort of a mock documentary. It reminded me how The hostel out of nowhere blurs the line between fiction and reality.
I think it’s really interesting. I didn’t know how it was Sidewalk came to life. But that’s one of the things Carrie and I ran into when we conceptualized how to make a musical movie. It was my original idea: “It will be a concert film, but Carrie can help me write little interstitials to connect it because… my life is boring! ” Not all the time. But we realized that the vanity of almost every documentary about a musician is, “Hey, I’m just a normal person, but I also happen to be extremely famous and successful. There are all these tropes that they hit: they [might] have a hard time finding love. They always go back to where they came from, so there’s this stark contrast.

We hit all of those tropes, but we just did it in a scripted fashion because, ironically, it felt more authentic scripting it than taking actual footage of me and building a narrative around it. When you take a few steps back, you are spreading propaganda to people. [Laughs.] I would have the final cut. I wouldn’t let things come out that I didn’t want people to see. So in the end, I would do a big propaganda promotional piece to get people to like me. I was like, “Nah!” [Laughs.] One of them would probably have been much better. It would have been like, “Wow, she’s just really sweet and normal”, which I actually am! But it’s not art, I don’t think so. We wanted to explore a bunch of other ideas. I didn’t want to manipulate people into loving me. In fact, the opposite in me and in Carrie was like, “Let’s get incredibly unfriendly. It’s more fun.

It’s definitely more original!
Also, can we talk Sidewalk for a second? i am obsessed with [Sofia Maria] to Sidewalk. She just makes the craziest actress choices all over the world. [Laughs.] She’s so good at being such a bad actress. [Larry] had a good piece in the New Yorker – “Notes for his biographer”. Check this out. And hHere’s the problem: I know the premise is, “Oh, Larry is a real asshole,” but I feel like I agree with him most of the time.

Same, at least 90% of the time.
Absoutely. Just the handshake – I think, if my story is correct, we used to shake hands and say, “Hey, I’m unarmed. I’m not gonna hurt you. Let’s meet in the middle to prove that neither of us are armed. In today’s world, it’s just a dirty and dirty thing to do.

Getting away from handshakes is one of the only developments in the pandemic era that I can support.
I’m so for it. But hey, listen: I was wiping airplane seats with Lysol long before the pandemic. I would like that to be clear.

It’s random, but I recently listened I love this giant, your 2012 collaborative album with David Byrne, for the first time in forever. I had forgotten how awesome it is. Did you talk about doing another one?
This is one of those experiences and tours where I sincerely wish there was a break in the space-time continuum and that I could go back and relive it. It was so much fun. We didn’t talk about doing anything else, but I did [recently] be able to have lunch with him, and he is simply the best. I haven’t listened to this record for a long time.

Apart from the tours, what have you planned for next year? Any idea what the next Sonic Movement could be like?
Usually the music will tell me what’s next – I’m just following the threads. I don’t mean to be that opaque, but you might think you’re going to do one thing and then… You start at A and end at Q. But I’m still working and collecting – kind of like being a bird something.