Annie Clark has been the guitarist for the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Steven's touring band, but she tells the Bryant Park Project that she doesn't even own an acoustic guitar.
The beautiful Gibson she brings to the BPP is a loaner, but she definitely owns it for the hour she occupies the studio and plays "Human Racing" and other songs. She debuted in 2007 with Marry Me.
Clark, whose stage moniker is St. Vincent, is full of surprises. She says St. Vincent is a middle name passed down through her family. "It's old, it's back in the generations," she says.
Her lyrics are equal parts serious and whimsical, and she's just as comfortable referencing a broken heart as she is an episode of Arrested Development.
Playing along is a far cry from her work with sprawling collaborations such as Polyphonic Spree, whose sheer size threatened to render the quieter instruments inaudible. "It's a little Darwinistic," she says.
On her own, Clark likes to tinker with computer sounds and a capella renderings of drums. "I feel like my songwriting process is inextricably entwined with computers," she says. "You get this shocking self-awareness from computers, because you don't just have the luxury of hearing what you think you sound like in your head. You listen to the tape and you're like, 'Oh, dear, we've got to go back to the drawing board.' " You can also fully orchestrate a song, she says, without have to call in a herd of musicians. For her, that's working out just fine.
Watch St. Vincent Perform 'Human Racing' Live at the Bryant Park Studio