Wednesday, April 28, 2021


I've got a lot of time for Annie Clark aka St Vincent - not always, or indeed often not, solely due to her own music - but she's not done herself or her public image much good with her latest headline act. Which is ironic, really, given that it was all about protecting her reputation.

The story in a nutshell: freelance journalist Emma Madden interviewed her in the run-up to the release of new album Daddy's Home, Clark subsequently decided that she objected to the line of questioning and asked for the piece to be spiked, the publication that commissioned Madden agreed, the affronted journalist posted the unedited transcript and her thoughts on the incident online but soon took the post down.

So, who was originally in the wrong? From what I've seen, Madden's questions were persistent but ultimately fairly tame. The revelations about Clark's father's conviction and jail sentence for his part in a multi-million-dollar fraud surfaced a few years ago (albeit against her wishes, admittedly), so were already common knowledge. And given that the forthcoming record appears to tackle the topic head-on, Madden was (to my mind) perfectly within her rights to probe Clark on the subject.

The fact that there only seems to be one article on the episode in the mainstream(ish) music press (this one) is indicative of the extent to which PR teams rule the roost. No doubt other publications and websites are too afraid of displeasing Clark's crew and jeopardising any future contact with their client to even risk reporting on the story. It's worth stressing that journalism shouldn't be confused with PR - something that other musicians regularly fail to grasp (hello Amanda Palmer!) - and that journalists don't exist simply to uncritically regurgitate pre-prepared narratives.

Clark's frequent prickliness in relation to the media and her previous stunts - an "interview kit" created in collaboration with Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein, making journalists crawl inside a bright pink cube to be able to speak to her - have been excusable as the behaviour of someone with a low tolerance for tedious or inane questions. But that won't wash this time. If she doesn't want to play the game, then she should just refuse to do press altogether.

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