Band of the Week: St. Vincent

Music Features St. Vincent
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Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Fun Fact: Sole member Annie Clark served as a tour manager for her jazz-musician uncle when she was just 15.
Why She’s Worth Watching: Clark’s clever debut Marry Me comes out July 10, and she’s touring hard through the summer to support it.
For Fans Of: Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright

During a vacation in the early ’90s, the Clark family caught a stomach bug that ruined a family trip

, but may have launched a musical career.

“I managed not to get the stomach flu while we were actually at the vacation, but I got [it] on the way back, in the car,” says Annie Clark, sole proprietor of St. Vincent. “And I remember my sisters were trying to cheer me up, and I was trying to be cheered up, and we made up a song to sing to sort of alleviate some of the pain. I remember getting so into it that I made them sing a part and I would sing a part underneath it. I [made] them do it until they were angry and they started to fight and didn’t want to do it any more.”

The sour-stomach-inspired song was Clark’s first, and she has been writing ever since. The seed of her debut album, Marry Me, can be traced back to a lyric she penned when she was 15, (“Many people want to make money/ make love/ make friends/ make peace with death.”) which shows up on the album’s title track.

Now, having cut her teeth touring with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, Clark, just 23, is quickly establishing herself as a solo artist. She has been on the road for the past six months, supporting acts such as John Vanderslice and the Arcade Fire.

“It’s really totally invigorating to pull off a one-person show,” Clark says of the transition. “I got to know the songs on Marry Me because I recorded them [before touring with them]. It was sort of like putting a sweatband and running shoes on the songs and saying ‘get to work.’”

Marry Me showcases Clark’s multi-instrumental talent, as well as her fine, subtly-spun lyrics. Her voice, seductive yet dangerous, blends jazz inflections with indie-rock sensibility on tracks like “Paris is Burning,” “Your Lips Are Red,” and the aforementioned “Marry Me.” The latter’s haunting refrain “Marry me, John/ marry me, John/ I’ll be so good to you,” is devastating in a way that makes the listener both envy John and fear for his safety.

But despite the accolades from various corners of the music press, Clark speaks unassumingly about her early success.

“I’m just kind of amazed that it’s gone so well, so far,” she says. “It’s kind of remarkable to me that so many people are talking about this record that was my little baby for so long.”

And to think it all started with a belly ache.