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Q&A with Annie Clark of St. Vincent

Time for a Closeup

Reality as we know it, never exactly is as it appears. For St. Vincentís Annie Clark, these opposing forces will eventually balance. With her latest album,Actor, Clark was inspired in part by films ranging from Woody Allen to Disney. She spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from her home. St. Vincent performs at The Great American Music Hall on February 8th.

SF Station (SFS): What is the idea behind having a close-up portrait for both of your album covers?

Annie Clark (AC): The idea was not to present it as a glamour shot or sexy. The idea was to have a kind of bizarre portrait where you donít know what expression is being communicated. I was following the lead of album covers in the 70s, with people like Todd Rundgren and Bob Dylan ó throw your face on it and put your name on it.

SFS: I remembered you joking about being the only girl on the bus while touring when you played at Bimboís last time you were in San Francisco. Do you feel like one of the boys on the road? What kind of shenanigans do you get into?

AC: I think I am more pragmatic, not that pragmatic is a male or female trait. I like touring. Honestly, all the guys who I play with are really sweet, and nobody is smelly or gross. Nobody takes their socks off in the van. Itís like boy scouts, and Iím the only Girl Scout on a campout.

SFS: Does the touring routine ever become mundane or is the repetition comforting?

AC: Being on tour is sort of comforting because you have a very clear objective everyday. Those goals are: safely get to the show, play a good show, safely get to the next show. I like that.

SFS: Do you find that in the male-dominated rock industry men remain surprised when you rock out on the guitar?

AC: I try not to really focus on that. I donít often think of my gender, so it surprises me when other people think about it.

SFS: How did movies by Woody Allen and Snow White translate into music for you on Actor?

AC: Woody Allen is such a music fan there is music all over his films ó a lot of Genjo Rinehart, Charlie Parker, and American music from that era. With Snow White and films from Disney, there was something not only with the imagery, but with literally the sound of your childhood or your first ideas of what magic is thatís kind of encapsulated in those scores. The sweeping orchestral thing and the mellifluous melismatic melodies, I really love that kind of thing ó it gets to my heart.

SFS: In the case of Woody Allen films, is it the soundtrack or a scene that you grasp upon first that helped you create Actor?

AC: With each movie it was sort of different. Sometimes I would take a cue from the emotional resonance of a movie, and I would say ďOk this is a complicated story, about complicated people, how can I write my own story about complicated people or a simple story about complicated people?Ē

SFS: You have said that you would love to be in a Woody Allen film.

AC: I would, but I think I would be a little too old to be a love interest.

SFS: That was my question. Would you be the objection of affection, the crazed ex-wife, or someone else?

AC: I would want to play Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories or Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Like I said, Iím twenty-seven and he likes them a little bit younger.

SFS: For the next album, are there any other mediums you are using for inspiration?

AC: Currently, Iím interested in music that sort of invites you to have an imagination along with it, but as far as what the next record will be, I have no idea.

SFS: What intrigues you about contrasts, whether sonic or physical?

AC: I think thatís how life is. The opposing forces are not fighting each other, but fighting to keep the equilibrium. We all are kind of involved in this thing, playing out our roles in order to keep the equilibrium.

SFS: I saw that you performed with Andrew Bird while in France, and toured with Grizzly Bear, is there any chance of future collaborations with these groups?

AC: Nothing is in stone. I donít think I can say, but potentially yes! Howís that for an answer?

SFS: What is your greatest hope for your music?

AC: I just want to keep making music for my life, and never have to do a day job.

SFS: I heard about your past experience as a flower delivery woman. That didnít go over so well.

AC: Yeah, I am woefully inept.

St. Vincent performs at the Warfield on February 8th. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7pm, and the show begins at 8pm.