Annie Clark is excited about a lot of things right now, and rightfully so.
Her third album, Strange Mercy, is having an impressive run on the Billboard charts since its release on September 13. It reached #19 on the Top 200, and broke the top 10 on four other charts.
“It’s exciting, it’s surprising,” Clark, better known as St. Vincent, said. “I’ve been doing this thing for a while, but I feel like for me, I’m proud of it and I’m glad people like it.”
Still riding the wake of Strange Mercy‘s success, she just started off on a tour that will take her all over the U.S. and a good part of Europe.
“I am really excited. Everything feels as it should,” she said.
It’s also worth mentioning that one of her favorite TV shows, Arrested Development, is returning for another season and a movie. She wrote a song named after the show for her debut album, Marry Me — the title of which is a reference to one of the show’s running jokes. Her reaction to the news?
“I’m so excited… I’m so excited.”
Clark’s intensity creates a distinctive sharp edge to her songs, and it’s also what got her going in the first place. When she first picked up a guitar at 12 years old, she found something worth channeling her energy into.
“I was always kind of an obsessive kid. I would find one thing that I really liked and be all about it… but it would sort of fade away,” she explained. “I discovered playing guitar and then I was kind of just inseparable from it for a long time.”
Actor, her second album, was a definite departure from that attachment. She wrote the entire record on a computer, without ever picking up an instrument. The biggest pitfall, she realized, was that she could never hear everything come together until she was in the studio. So for Strange Mercy, she decided to return to her first love.
“With this record I thought, ‘OK, I’m gonna go back to my roots as a guitar player and try to write a guitar-centric record,'” she said.
It seems contradictory, then, that in making Actor she was using warm instruments like clarinets and violins and made them sound cold, and on Strange Mercy, she used synthesizers and made them sound warm. On the surface it’s a bit baffling and convoluted, but it actually makes perfect sense.
Such complexity makes for an intense live show. In her videos and interviews, Clark is always calm and poised, but on stage she convulses over her guitar, black curls in her face.
“Music still sounds like magic to me. Like even though I know I technically have the ears or the know-how to figure out a song that I like, if I hear something it’s still like, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to figure that out — that’s magic.”