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St Vincent. Picture: Supplied

Sometimes outside influences deliver a subtle directional shift that makes all the difference. In the case of St Vincent's self-titled fourth album, released next week, that shift came via her collaboration with Talking Heads great David Byrne. The two released the Love This Giant album in 2012, initially inspired by 2010's Mount Wittenberg Orca collaboration between Bjork and Dirty Projectors.

A hectic touring schedule followed, seeing Byrne and St Vincent, real name Annie Clark, creating a dance vibe new to Clark's aesthetic. It led to a rethink on her direction for the new album, from the heavier route she had been taking back to the dance floor.

"After (third album) Strange Mercy, I did a seven-inch that was pretty loud with songs like (2012 Record Store Day single) Krokodil, a blast beat kind of tune. The David collaboration was definitely lighter in tone," Clark says.

"The thing I found really inspiring about (the Love This Giant) shows was people would dance. I took that idea to my new record. I wanted to get that kinetic energy, dance-ability and accessibility in there but I also wanted to have the heart that you don't necessarily think of when you think 'dance music'."

Clark, who splits her time between New York and Texas, took her alias from the 2004 Nick Cave single There She Goes, My Beautiful World, specifically the lyric: "Dylan Thomas died drunk in St Vincent's hospital".

"It's the grandeur and squalor of being an artist," she laughs. "There's the myth and there's the man, or woman. That song really encapsulated the sexiness and humiliation of being a creative person."

In creating the artwork for St Vincent, Clark created a design placing her in a photograph, styled futuristically upon a pink throne.

"Every record I make, some archetype tends to emerge. On Strange Mercy it was a housewife on phenobarbital and white wine, checked out and looking out the window," she reveals.

"With this record, which is about reaching for people to connect with, the archetype was one of a near-future cult leader. So I took that coupled with this phrase I kept thinking: 'The power is in the pose'. I wanted a cover that read as unflinching, unwavering and powerful."

The lyrics reference everything from a deep connection with Black Panthers founder Huey Newton to questioning society's obsession with social media (Digital Witness). Clark says her relationship with the latter is complicated.

"I have a career thanks to the fact technology evolved to a point where I could make my first record in my bedroom," she says. "And I recently judged a talent show and asked them 'How did you get into this and where did you learn how to do it?' And all of them were, like, 'YouTube'. It has really amazing, empowering aspects to it.

"Another aspect that is less interesting to me is that obsession with documenting the mundane. That's fine if you can make it into some art-piece that turns the mundane into the sublime. But the glut of demystifying everything - I feel like there's a new narcissism at play."