St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, was recently a guest on an episode of Song Exploder. The podcast, hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, asks musicians to break down and analyze their music and how it’s made.
In her episode, Clark discusses her latest single “New York,” and in particular a very specific lyric: “ You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me.” Clark starts off by saying, “I get a lot of pleasure from saying ‘fuck’—I love that word—it’s so satisfying. It just came out, it was very natural.” She continues, “I just like the idea of using really blue language as a term of endearment. ‘This motherfucker, that motherfucker—no way! Motherfucker better get his shit together.’ ‘Motherfucker’ says, like, I know you inside and out. And you know me. Don’t pretend.”
As the episode continues, Clark explains that “New York” stemmed from a text she sent to a friend that said, “New York isn’t New York without you.” She then pulls out her phone during the interview to play an early, guitar-led version of the song which she recorded in a voice memo—she laughs as she explains that her biggest fear is someone hacking into her voice memos and releasing them to the world. “More than like nudes or anything! No one needs to hear these,” she laughs.
The whole interview is intimate and charming—Clark becomes even more relatable as she goes on to discuss the lyric, “I have lost a hero / I have lost a friend,” and its correlation to the “purge” of music legends in 2016. She says, “It’s very silly to make something like David Bowie’s death about me—it has nothing to do with me—but I will say that I was really affected. And I cried. I cried for somebody I didn’t even know. And I don’t know that I’ve done that before.”
St. Vincent’s latest self-titled album came out in 2014 and although there’s still no word yet on a new album, she will embark on her Fear the Future tour this fall. She also made her directorial debut with the release of a short film titled, “The Birthday Party,” a part of the horror anthology XX—proving there really isn’t anything Annie Clark can’t do.
Listen to the full Song Exploder interview here and while you’re at it, watch an exclusive St. Vincent performance archived in the Paste Cloud below.