‘I‘d rather people scratch their heads than yawn’: St Vincent on death, Dave Grohl and dividing her fans

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Despite its unflinching title, the artist’s new album, All Born Screaming, is a deeply romantic record. ‘She always takes you somewhere new,’ says collaborator Dave Grohl

Midway through my interview with Annie Clark, AKA critically lauded, Grammy-winning, art-rock experimentalist St Vincent, a thumbs up emoji appears next to her head. We’re talking& via Zoom, and Clark is mid-flow, waxing lyrical& about& her emotionally lacerating new album, the self-produced All Born Screaming. It doesn’t feel like the appropriate time for an emoji. Clark lets out a& sigh, mumbling something about a setting on her computer she can’t change. She tests it again by doing an exaggerated double thumbs up, Macca-style, only for the screen to be filled with poorly animated fireworks. It all feels very& surreal. “Maybe next time I say a solid quote, like a ‘Let’s make it the pullquote’ one, I’ll just put two thumbs up,” she laughs.

It’s not the first time Clark, 41, has attempted to subvert the interview experience, albeit accidentally this time. Around the release of 2017’s Masseduction, her “morbidly funny”, sad and sexy fifth album, she& asked journalists to crawl into a freshly painted neon pink box to ask her questions. “I was sitting in& paint fumes for 12 hours – as sadistic as it seemed, trust me it was way more masochistic,” she laughs, referring to that time as the “latex era” due to how strict& she was being on herself. It was an attempt to continue both the severe nature of the album – a reaction& to a painful dalliance with the tabloids following her& high-profile relationship with model and actor Cara& Delevingne in 2015; an aftershock that exploded& her& carefully curated mythos – and its postmodern playfulness.

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