Her self-titled album won a 2015 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Her music has been described as “bold and almost jarringly confident.” In 2016, she worked with Ernie Ball to design a signature series of Music Man guitars designed to fit her form and playing style.
Her name is Anne Erin Clark, but anyone with ears and a penchant for guitar music knows her as St. Vincent. Sweetwater and many others know her to be a ground breaking artist and musician. We recently caught up with St. Vincent to talk music, performing, and of course, gear.
You’re known to use a wide range of guitar pedals — what’s on your current pedalboard?
What piece of music advice forever changed your way of thinking?
“If it sounds good, it is good.” — Charlie Parker
How much writing happens on the road?
Artists are like bowerbirds: Constantly building elaborate plumage to attract mates.
You teamed up with EBMM to create your signature guitar… what are you most proud of when it comes to your guitar?
We just set out to make a guitar that addressed my concerns and experience as a player and performer of over 20 years: designerly, ergonomic, lightweight, tone flexibility. What I didn’t expect was the disruption the retro-future design would cause in the guitar market. I consider it a success and honor to have created something so polarizing.
What is it about the guitar that inspires you?
It really is a democratic instrument, an instrument for the people. It’s highly portable and the barrier to entry is low, financially and artistically.
What do you look for in a producer/studio when choosing where to record?
I do most of my recording in my own studio, which has a small selection of good mics, preamps, compression, and eq., but more than that, the vibe is good and I can work for hours and still feel inspired.
What piece of gear has had the biggest impact on your professional life?
Wunder Audio CM7 and a Shure SM7 for liberated vocal takes.
Where do you draw inspiration to write songs?
All of my work is 100% autobiographical — the fictional and the non-fictional parts.
Other than your main rig, what “must-have” piece of gear do you keep on the road?
1960’s Kalamazoo 6v6 amp, for vibe.
What are each of your preshow warm-ups/rituals?
Vocal and guitar warm ups. It just helps to have the guitar in your hands before a show. It grounds you. It rests close to your heart when you sit. It’s a weapon, or a shield, or a portal, depending on the moment.
What defines a “successful” St. Vincent performance?
No one can see themselves objectively, but it is a worthy and egoless goal to try to bridge the gap between how you think you sound and how you actually sound. Therein lies a path to the kind of transcendence you can only have on a stage in front of an audience. It’s also important to note that you really cannot control an audience’s reaction to a show. You just try to think through and be as generous with the myriad of variables that you can control, and then hope for the best.
What do you think will be the next evolution in the music industry?
Augmented reality shows.
What’s on top of your musical bucket list?
Hanging out with the remaining members of Pink Floyd.
Hear St. Vincent demo her Signature Model: Fuzz Tone…