Friday, June 16, 2006


If you've been with the Beard for while now you may remember a previous post I did where I featured an artist that went by the name St. Vincent. Now despite the fact that St. Vincents material doesn't necessarily contain the more common elements of 'heavy' music more frequently seen on this page I did stress that her songs did have a distinct heaviness to them.

So after some communication with the friendly Annie Clark of St. Vincent we now have a Chaosbeard first, a quick interview. Now, for those who read my previous post and thought 'AAAARGGH, this isn't METAL!?' well, fair enough and you're right it isn't, but come back in a few days and I'm sure they'll be something new for you to smash your face against the wall to. For those however that were open to it and hopefully liked what you heard please read on. From her work with the Polyphonic Spree to Hungarian composers and, well, it turns out there's even a touch of Chaos in this Saint.

CB: Firstly, where are you and how did your most recent show go?

AC:I am in Philadelphia, PA, about to jump in a van with 4 lovely men to play
the Knitting Factory (NYC) tonight. The shows have been lovely.

CB: I don't think I'm making a big stretch when I say that the Polyphonic Spree create some, shall we say, happy music. I would assume that the results of your solo material is a reflection of your natural approach to songwriting but do you think that the darker mood of the St Vincent stuff is somewhat triggered by the Spree's poppier optimism?

AC: I thought I was making happy music! Back to the drawing board...There's a
lot of black comedy in my songwriting simply because it amuses me. I
don't think it's a reaction to the optimism of the Spree. On some level,
I wish what naturally came out of my mouth was, "Everything's going to be
alright." But at this point in my life, I need to say, "let's do what
mary and joseph did, without the kid."

CB: When you're an artist that is given the freedom to write and create music on your own terms the idea of 'making it' takes on a different meaning (well that's at least how I see it). By this I mean that it's not so much about the 'fame and fortune' as it is just about being able to go out and play cool places with cool bands and expose your music to as many people as you can. Considering you've been at this for a while are you able to remember what went through your head when a one-in-a million chance suddenly became a reality? Like, ok, I'm going to be doing this for real?

AC: Life is more surreal than real most of the time. I remember playing my
first show with the Spree in Spain on in front of 30,000 people, when a
week earlier I was sitting in my bedroom in Texas
practicing the songs for the audition the next day. Or, one day sitting
in my room singing along to "Marquee Moon" and then getting the call that
Television asked me to open for them. I think it can be a very positive
thing to simply dream your life as you want it, work hard in that
direction, and then be pleasantly surprised. Reality is so fickle anyway.
It begs to be manipulated.

CB: If I pick up a guitar and play without concentrating on what I'm doing my instinct is to plant my palm on the bridge and chug or riff away. What would you say is your natural instinctive approach to the instrument?

AC: It depends on how much caffeine I've had that day. My uncle is Tuck
Andress, one of the world's best fingerstyle guitar players ever, so
genetically, I've tended to be more of a fingerstyle player. The pick is
a new world for me...foreboding, exciting new territory. And it depends
on the guitar. Some guitars beg to be abused, knocked around. Some
require a more delicate approach.

CB: A highlight from an exchange we'd previously had was when you'd mentioned that in high school you did a stint in, and I'm quoting you here 'a maiden/megadeth/metallica cover band'(YES!!). Now, despite the fact that the list of influences on your myspace page doesn't include the names Harris, Mustaine or Hetfield (clearly a mere oversight, clearly) do you think it's possible that that experience may have subconsciously affected the development of your songwriting? If not feel free to lie.

AC: The Metallica documentary on the making of the Black Album has affected me
more than any 8th grade renditions of "Enter Sandman" or "The Trooper"
ever could. Black comedy at it's finest! Truthfully, I've just been
waiting for the right time to throw in the old Hetfield growl and don the
Halford leather.

CB:Your songs are very textured and layered. Is this something that develops throughout the recording process or do you actually hear all those elements in a songs beginning stages?

AC: Some is all part of the grand vision, some is trial and error.
I've found that if I have a clear vision of the song's meaning (lyric,
etc), arranging becomes very easy.

CB: I had said in my original posting that I considered your music to be heavy in its own way. One of the main reasons why I felt this way was because of your ability to create tension. Now tension can be difficult to convey in under four minutes but you have the ability to do this. Is this balance something you're aware of?

AC: I can't say, "people," because maybe I can't speak for everyone, but I
need to freak out once in a while. Right? Tension is only as good as
the release.

CB: Going back to your influences. When my ears hear the song 'All My Stars Aligned' I pick up melodic hints of John Lennon and sonic elements of Brian Wilson, two artists you cite as inspiration. Are these hints intentional or do you think that their styles have been so firmly embedded into you that they are naturally revealed?

AC: I have no qualms about admitting that "All My Stars Aligned" is my love
letter to Plastic Ono band-era John Lennon. I love you, Johnny.

CB: Lastly, is there still a place in Annie Clarks heart for heavy music? If so do you have any examples? Maybe even a song, new or old, that you think rules?

AC: Oh hell yes. It depends on what you mean by "heavy" music. Loud,
distorted guitars? Yes, if the expression behind it moves me. I like
music that scares me and sometimes the scariest words aren't screamed
but whispered with the most frightening intention. Nick Cave's "Red
Right Hand" still gives me chills. Gyorgy Ligeti's music is staggering
and scary as hell. Oh! Some of the most fun I've had was getting
kicked in the shins at a Lightning Bolt concert!

This girl's good, expect to hear more from her.



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