St Vincent: ‘Oh darling, I’d never camp!’
St Vincent is dominating festival line-ups this summer. She tells Grazia about taking her audience to ‘outer space’ and refusing to rough it
it’s not often that Annie Clark, the singer better known as St Vincent, is anything less than bold. She performs in heels most of us would find hard to walk in. Her last album, Masseduction, was a candid look at her relationship with (and split from) the model Cara Delevingne. She performs so intensely on stage that her shows are more ofen described as art, with the singer frequently being hailed as one of this generation’s best guitar players (as well as one of the only musicians today to come close to Bowie).
So it’s something of a surprise to hear her sounding uncharacteristically modest about her performance at this year’s Coachella. ‘ The only people coming out of that festival who you heard anything about were Beyoncé, Cardi B and, like… me,’ she says incredulously, afer a pause (the set was so well-received that Rolling Stone wrote, ‘Clark and her enigmatic crew signed, sealed and delivered an icy yet absorbing spectacle that was part rock show, part performance art’). ‘ Those were the shows people were talking about. I’m looking around and there are so many badass women playing music,’ she says.
In an age where festivals are criticised for a lack of female representation in their line-ups – earlier this year, Annie Mac wrote a piece for Grazia entitled ‘ Time’s Up for male-dominated live music’ – those ‘ badass women’, the singer says, are important. ‘It is getting better because the world is getting cracked open and people are having way more frank conversations about equality for everyone,’ says Annie. ‘I also put my money where my mouth is. There are women in my band, they’re in my crew. When I look at the tour I just put together, the director was female, the lighting director and costume were female, the hair and make-up were female. When I sat around the table and we were dreaming about what this show was going to be, there were two men present. One was my production manager, the other my brother.’
Working that way, she suggests, immunises her from the sexism that still pervades the music industry. ‘In some ways, my view of things is great. I work with women all the time so I have a bit of a different perspective on it,’ she says.
This summer, Annie will perform at festivals across the world, ending with a headline set at the UK’S End of the Road in September. The energy she brought to Coachella, she promises, won’t have waned.
‘I don’t wanna make a show that people will forget,’ she says. ‘I really want to make a show that takes people to outer space. It’s different playing a festival to playing your own show. It’s more wild: some people are high or out of their minds or dehydrated. There’s an element of chaos.’
Yet she admits she’s not the sort to overindulge at the festivals she plays: ‘I love watching some acts backstage, but I don’t wanna hang out at the office.’ So we won’t be expecting to see her trudging around a festival in wellies? ‘Oh bless you,’ she laughs. ‘Darling, no, I’m not super outdoorsy. Camping isn’t my idea of fun to begin with, so the idea of sweating all day long and then coming back where there’s no shower…’ She trails off, clearly horrified.
What she will be doing, however, is ensuring whatever she does next outdoes her current work. ‘ You always get up in the morning and hope that the next song you write will be the best song you write, and that the next thing you do will be better than before. I’m just getting started.’