Our very first stop at Coachella last Saturday was a trailer in the artist’s section, where a relaxed Annie Clark was waiting in her eggshell shades, red shorts, and black tights. She’d been giving interviews since she arrived at the Empire Polo Grounds earlier that day, and would barely have any time to eat and catch up with friends before hopping on stage and playing her own set as the porcelain rocker, St. Vincent. When Clark, who makes sprawling music that is at once angelic and sinister, first played Coachella a few years ago, it was in the afternoon, a time of sparse crowds reserved for acts with great promise and small followings. That night, however Clark would be taking the stage at sunset as a true rock star, crowd surfing into a sea of fans who can mouth the lyrics from all three of her albums. We spoke to Clark about her Coachella ascension, her upcoming record with David Byrne, and why the now-famous Tupac hologram might have failed.
When was the last time you committed a sin?
I’m an expert at sin. Let me see. There’s Vanity, Sloth, Envy, Lust, Greed, Pride. And then, what’s the other one? Wrath! Wrath seems like a non-sequitr in the realm of sins.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone?
Something I certainly wouldn’t print in a magazine.
So you’re not a saint?
I mean, technically speaking, no. No, I’m not. Try as I might.
So when did you get to California?
Were you playing a show there?
What’d you do last night?
I went out to dinner with friends in L.A.
Is there anything you’re obsessed with at the moment?
Skip that question, let’s come back to it.
How do you feel about being back at Coachella?
I feel great about it! It’s a little awkward to do two weekends of it.
Why do you feel weird that there are two weekends?
Just because I wonder what the experience will be like next weekend. Will people be doing the exact same sets, or will the crowd be completely different? It’s just funny to have such a singular event be doubled. Do you replicate it? Or do you have to reinvent the wheel? It’s like the Groundhog’s Day festival.
Have you moved up in the Coachella hierarchy, in terms of set times?
Yeah, the later the set, the better. Some people don’t even show up to Coachella until like 7.
Why do you you’ve moved up?
I have more records, I have more fans. I’ve played a million more shows.
What time was your first Coachella set, like 9 am?
Uhhh, no actually I played the Wednesday before Coachella. I was just busking outside of Coachella.
Now you’re playing during sunset, which is beautiful here.
We’ll have the lights in full effect, so it should be a good show.
So what are you planning for this show? Will it be your average St. Vincent show?
I mean, it’s shorter, it’s the monolith rock set, there’s no real subtlety in a festival, you kind of just have to go out, hit ‘em hard. You’re not gonna play your sensitive love ballads at a festival. People’s attention spans are short. You gotta get in there, catch ‘em, keep ‘em interested for 50 minutes.
Talk to me about your collaboration with David Byrne?
We actually just finished our record, it should come out in the fall. It was like working with my hero. I was a huge Talking Heads fan, and it’s really a down-the-middle collaboration. We both wrote songs, we both wrote music, we both wrote words, we’re both singing.
Have you heard about tomorrow night?
The holographic Tupac?
Yeah, will you be around for that?
Yeah, I might be around. I heard that the holograph or hologram only works in very specific sound stages, and if there’s any kind of inclement weather, it will look totally weird. I hope those guys have it figured that out.
Photography by Myles Pettengill