The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Interview: St. Vincent

By Melanie Haupt, March 12, 2014, 5:45pm, Earache!

“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” Let’s go ahead and apply that to music journalism, particularly in reference Ann Powers’ interview with Annie Clark – St. Vincent.

It’s totally normal to say stupid shit like “dance is the most freeing form of art” when interviewing an artist; people say fatuous things in conversation all the time. Plus, it’s the writer’s privilege to leave her dumb comments on the killing floor, letting the artist’s insightful answers shine instead.

Unfortunately, there’s no editing out the conversational flab in a live interview, and Powers’ convoluted questions served as distractions in her interview of the gracious and game Clark. There were, of course, a few diamonds in a talk spanning everything from True Detective to the role of technology in Clark’s work as St. Vincent.

On having a choreographed live show: “Having a show that is organized allows me way more freedom. I’m not in my head, wondering, ‘Does it look stupid when I do this with my hand?’ When I’m hitting my mark, I’m just able to be in the moment with the music.”

On how she portrays sexuality in her music: “It’s all about exploring power. I wasn’t thinking about that in a political way, but as an empowered woman.”

Ultimately, what could have been an enlightening chat, had it been more tightly controlled on Powers’ end, ended up as a messy first draft.

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