St Vincent: ‘I’d been feral for so long. I was sort of in outer space’

St Vincent: ‘I’d been feral for so long. I was sort of in outer space’March 5, 2021

Inspired by her father’s release from prison, Annie Clark’s new album asks where to run when ‘the outlaw’s inside you’. She discusses his incarceration, the delusions of love – and why she remains as perverse as ever

The cover of St Vincent’s 2011 album, Strange Mercy, depicts an open mouth and teeth shrink-wrapped in white latex. It provoked much fascination. Was it Annie Clark’s mouth? She wouldn’t say. One song involved a pearl-handled whip, wielded for pain over pleasure; others negotiated submission and debasement. Perhaps it was a BDSM thing?

The startled questions showed the overnight evolution of Clark’s image from the “asexual Pollyanna” (her words) of her first two records. Over the following decade, she restyled herself as a white-haired “near-future cult leader” and then a “dominatrix at the mental institution”. She transcended her indie-rock origins to work with David Byrne, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa, date the model Cara Delevingne and front Tiffany campaigns. Confounding such a journey into celebrity, her pyrotechnic pop got stranger and stronger.

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