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St. Vincent offers tension, release and sonic 'jump scares'

"Music has given me my whole life," St. Vincent says. "It was hard work, but it's worth it because every night you get to spend 90 minutes with people and go someplace completely out of this world."
Alex Da Corte
/
Nasty Little Man
"Music has given me my whole life," St. Vincent says. "It was hard work, but it's worth it because every night you get to spend 90 minutes with people and go someplace completely out of this world."

The songwriter, guitarist and singer known as St. Vincent didn't exactly name herself after a saint. Instead, she took her stage name from St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, where the poet Dylan Thomas died. She says she assumed the moniker because she felt it would give her license "to be bigger" than Anne Clark — her birth name.

And St. Vincent can go big — in her dark lyrics, her sometimes shredding guitar and how she dresses in performance. "Art, luckily, is a safe place to explore all emotions, all ideas, no matter how dark or complicated," the three-time Grammy-winner says.

In 2012, St. Vincent released Love This Giant, an album of duets with David Byrne. She also co-wrote the song "Cruel Summer" with Taylor Swift and fronted Nirvanaat the band's induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

St. Vincent describes her latest album, All Born Screaming, out April 26, as an exercise in "tension and release" — with some moments that play as sonic "jump scares."

"I'm not playing with persona," she says of the album. "It's really a record about life and death and love. That's it. That's all we got."

We listen to St. Vincent's music throughout this interview, and the artist explains her songwriting process. Click the audio link above to get the full experience

Therese Madden and Joel Wolfram produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Lars Gotrich adapted it for the web.

Copyright 2024 Fresh Air

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