St. Vincent talks bringing ‘Daddy’s Home’ to Hollywood Bowl as ‘The Nowhere Inn’ film debuts – Daily Bulletin

“Daddy’s Home,” the sixth studio album from St. Vincent, arrived in May, but Annie Clark, the artist behind the stage name, says it hasn’t felt fully finished until now.

“A record doesn’t really feel complete to me until I’ve actually played the songs for people and with people in real-time,” Clark says on a recent phone call. “Because you get to see how the energy in the crowd changes.

“You get to see, like, ‘Oh, they’re all singing along to that part,’” she says. “You get to know in a real way which parts of the record are really landing for people.

“And that’s not something that you can feel just putting a record into the world and, you know, getting some nice Instagram comments or some mean Instagram comments or whatever it is.”

St. Vincent headlines the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, Sept. 24, a week after the release of “The Nowhere Inn,” a mockumentary about a fictional version of herself she co-wrote and stars in with Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater-Kinney and TV show “Portlandia.”

Clark says that until she’s on stage as St. Vincent, sharing her music with a live audience, a new record remains an ephemeral shadow, impossible to fully know.

“But then, when you get to have the show, everyone is bringing their own kind of personal secret experiences with the music together,” she says. “And in a way, like really kind of sharing. Sharing those experiences with one another. Being vulnerable, being open, and getting to essentially permission to let go for an hour and a half.”

Her tour kicked off earlier this month in New England; these are the first St. Vincent shows since the pandemic except for a small one-off in New Orleans to celebrate the opening of a friend’s hotel.

“And man, that was so deeply joyful,” Clark says. “I mean, I made the mistake of wearing a corduroy suit in New Orleans in June, and everybody was covered in sweat, but it was just such a relief.

“It’s an exorcism of all the crazy stuff we’ve been through,” she says. “I don’t want to overuse the ‘T’ word for trauma, but we’ve suffered a strange, collective trauma over the past, well, over a year.

“So yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to the epiphany side of it, and the alchemy side of it that happens when people are together in one space.”

Big ‘Daddy’ energy

On “Daddy’s Home,” St. Vincent explores new sounds and themes inspired by everything from her love of the grimy funk and dirty soul of ’70s analog rock to perhaps her most openly autobiographical lyrics yet on songs such as the title track, which was inspired by the release of her father from prison after serving time for tax fraud.

Her confident swagger on tunes inspired by artists from David Bowie and Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan and Pink Floyd also fits her broader concept of The Daddy, a transformation she describes in a mock newspaper released with the album as “just simply to become yourself and very comfortable in your own skin. You know you gotta walk around with that BDE, that Big Daddy Energy.”

“Going into COVID I already had the concept,” Clark says. “I already had given myself to speak in the harmonic and rhythmic language of ‘Daddy’s Home,’ this gritty ’70s thing of grooves, and the vibe and feel.

“All those things that I think previous records of mine had are more about rigidity,” she says. “And this one is just more about fluidity in every sense of it.”

Clark, who coproduced the album with Jack Antonoff, says the concept and new direction were inspired by several different things.

“One, I felt like I wasn’t a good enough musician to approach that style of music until now,” she says. “I think that speaks to how much I respect the musicianship during that period of Stevie Wonder, of the Stones, of Steely Dan. It was a period of time when pop music was incredibly sophisticated. There was just this cross-pollination that was happening in popular music that was really exciting.”

The 2019 release of her father from prison also pulled her musical focus to the past, Clark says.

“One story on the album is the one of my father coming home from prison, and this music was the music that he loved, and music that I sort of got to know him through,” she says. “So for me, personally, it was this strange way of having things come full circle and exploring who I am now.

“Exploring how things change and my journey to becoming daddy.”

Putting on a show

Like Bowie, who is a clear inspiration on her career, St. Vincent tends to shift shapes from album to album, tour to tour. For “Daddy’s Home,” expect an entirely new production with fresh costumes, lighting and onstage visuals.

“Well, you’re talking to the former president of the high school theater club,” Clark says and laughs. “I mean, I love a show. I love it when a show is a show, you know? I want to give people an experience that they won’t forget.

“They might love it, they might be befuddled by it, they might hate it in the moment and then be thinking about it still in a month’s time. But I want to give people a show.”

She and Antonoff played most of the instruments on the album, but for the tour, she’ll be backed by the Down and Out Downtown Band, a group assembled with the help of bassist and musical director Justin Meldal-Johnsen , who filled the same role for two decades with Beck.

“Everyone is such an incredible player, and this record requires a specific kind of vocabulary,” she says of the band whose members include musicians who’ve played with everyone from Beck and Bowie to Nine Inch Nails and Air.

And while she’s playing the bulk of “Daddy’s Home” on early tour dates, that still leaves about two-thirds of her set to fill from the five albums that preceded it.

“This particular show, it really vacillates,” Clark says. “I have a lot of material from different eras so it can vacillate and be a bit of a journey from like freak-show, Parliament dance party to psychedelic Butoh to let’s destroy our amps.

“It really kind of runs the emotional gamut.”

‘Actor’ to actor

Many of the songs on “Actor,” St. Vincent’s 2009 release, were inspired by vintage Disney movies and Technicolor classics, Clark has said, and her music video performances have often been small cinematic gems.

“The Nowhere Inn,” however, puts her front and center in a mockumentary/psychological thriller about what happens when St. Vincent hires her friend Carrie Brownstein to make a documentary about her tour.

“I’m so amazed and thrilled that somebody let us, gave us money, to make a crazy film about me, sure, but also just about identity and the pitfalls when someone starts to believe in their mythology and floats off into outer space,” Clark says. “Or becomes craven in an attempt to hold onto their little idea of things.”

It was so much fun writing the script with Brownstein and prepping the film with her and director Bill Benz that Clark says she forgot to worry.

“I don’t know why i wasn’t scared to do any of the acting,” she says. “It sort of never occurred to me that what I was doing really was acting until I think the day before we started shooting.”

Even now, with a movie that presents her character in a not-very-likable light, she’s thrilled to have people see it.

“I am not doing the convention of what these things normally do which is endear you to a pop star,” Clark says. “That’s not the purpose of this film, and maybe that’s dangerous in this day and age. And that’s good.

“Theoretically we only have one life, why do it half-assed?” she says speaking of both film and tour. “Let’s do something crazy that people won’t forget. I think art is supposed to be dangerous. I think it’s supposed to be scary sometimes.

“It’s supposed to help us go to the crevices and recesses of our minds, and be a place where we can play with fire safely.”


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