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St Vincent: ‘My guiltiest pleasure? Ultimate Fighting Championship’

Born Annie Clark in Oklahoma, St Vincent, 37, released her debut solo album, Marry Me, in 2007. Her fifth album, Masseduction, was released in 2017 to critical acclaim; this year she won Grammys for best alternative music album and best rock song.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
In high school, working as a stage manager for a local theatre company, I was assigned the duty of telling patrons before the show where to find the emergency exit and bar. I took the opportunity to do a little impromptu standup routine. It did not go over well.

What is your most treasured possession?
A guitar signed to me from David Bowie.

What would your superpower be?
The ability to mute cruelty in myself and others.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Civility among people who disagree with one another.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Isabelle Huppert and Gena Rowlands. It would be a strange film.

What is your favourite smell?

Which book changed your life?
Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty.

What do you owe your parents?
Currently, $43 for a traffic ticket.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I love Ultimate Fighting Championship. When truth is putty and all things seem up for sale, I like that two athletes can get in a ring, and whoever has worked harder, has more grit, and wants it more, wins.

What does love feel like?
I used to think it was the manic dance of desire and need, of want and have, of possessed and dispossessed. I don’t think that any more.

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Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Once, accidentally, to pest control on the telephone.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
100 per cent.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Delivering flowers on Valentine’s Day. I had to tell people with sad, wistful expressions that the flowers were not for them, but for their more desirable neighbour.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The Weimar Republic, but I’d duck out, Bill and Ted style, before fascism took hold.

How do you relax?
I don’t really.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Less reliance on technology.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I live with the hope that the next thing I make will be the best thing I make. It keeps me always pushing and humble and hungry, and the ego quiet in the back seat.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
I landed in Texas with some long-expired magic mushrooms in my checked bag that I’d forgotten about. My bag didn’t appear at the baggage claim and, when I went to retrieve it, it was in a sectioned off area with a police officer and a German shepherd waiting. I was walked towards them thinking, “These are my last few breaths of freedom; it has been a good ride; tell Mama I love her.” When I reached to grab my bag, the officer and dog moved toward me… and then past me and continued their sweep.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Say yes to opportunities (and figure out how to do them on the fly).

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Where would you most like to be right now?
In my studio, working on a song that’s starting to take shape.

St Vincent’s Souvenir, a pop-up bar with Veuve Clicquot, is open on 22 and 23 November in London.


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