Annie Clarke, better known as St Vincent, is one of many guitarists interviewed by Matt Sweeney in Noisey’s series ‘Guitar Moves’. Interviews range from the late Motorhead front man Lemmy, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Ace Frehley of Kiss and Keith Richards – who receives not one but two 15min interviews.
Although she is of a fresher generation of guitarists, she takes her place in the cannon of “rock music’s most singular voices” (Noisey, 2015), as quoted on the Noisey website.
At the very beginning we see the two jamming together; Sweeney providing rhythm to Clarkes unique riffing style. A repour is built instantly, as there is an assumed knowledge shared between them. We can also gather that our focus of the interview will be on guitar playing more than anything.
Although a peer relationship is established, Sweeney’s questioning style is different. His questions are quick and sharp, and it does not leave much room in the interview for her to reciprocate in much depth. The responses we get from Clarke are then limited to autobiographical yet impersonal answers. We could gather that this was the do with time constraints, or the fact that this interview was about technique rather than creativity.
Either way, focusing on the playing gives us fantastic perspective into Annie Clarke’s personal history with guitar and we learn about how she developed her signature style and on top of that we get to hear some techniques first hand.
One YouTuber comments, “No doubt her style pisses off a lot of trad-guitar guys” (Craig Carr, 2017), and this opinion is not unfounded. When Clarke demonstrates a particularly angular and non-traditional funk riff, Sweeney attempts to mimic her mistakenly within a blues scale. Perhaps a default position for his own style.
Her approach to guitar breaks down the stereo-type that the sphere of electrified rock music is a “boys only club” and she contradicts the whole idea of the “technophallus”, a term Steve Waksman used to describe the guitar as an extension of male anatomy (Bourdage, 2010).
For some reason, the interview does not appear in Vices YouTube playlist, but instead the video is accessible through an illegal upload. At least we can be certain Keith Richards two-part interview is always available.
Bourdage, M. (2011). “A Young Girls Dream”: Examining the Barriers Facing Female Electric Guitarists. IASPM@Journal, [online] 1(1). Available at: http://www.iaspmjournal.net/index.php/IASPM_Journal/article/view/334 [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].
Craig Carr (2017). Re: St. Vincent – Guitar Moves (Noisey) FULL [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vRPmJx8bYs.
Noisey. (2017). From the Archives: Guitar Moves – Noisey. [online] Available at: https://noisey.vice.com/en_ca/article/from-the-archives-guitar-moves [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].
YouTube. (2017). St. Vincent – Guitar Moves (Noisey) FULL. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vRPmJx8bYs [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].