Co-directed by St. Vincent (a.k.a Annie Clark) and Bill Benz, the “Down” clip features its lead in full Candy Darling morning-after regalia, portraying a woman — under the influence? — careening through a narrative that meshes perfectly with the song's urgent, anxious grooves.
The lyrics of the song are confrontational and brutal: "Go get your own shit get off of my tit go face your demons check into treatment go flee the country go blame your daddy just get far away from me."
“Down” followed “Pay Your Way In Pain” and “The Melting Of The Sun” — both performed on St. Vincent’s recent return to Saturday Night Live — as the final song to be released ahead of Daddy’s Home’s arrival.
The early returns on the critical side have been phenomenal:
“… It seems Clark has entered her 'Prince around the time he turned himself into an unpronounceable symbol, and Bowie in his Young Americans phase,' delivering slinky dancefloor grooves to match her angular lyrical provocations.”—AV CLUB
"In an industry crowded with artists who claim singularity, there is perhaps no musician more deserving of the label than St. Vincent… A decidedly retro turn for the forward-looking artist, it is an homage to her father’s vinyl collection, a sonic swirl of Steely Dan, Nina Simone, and Lou Reed.”—INTERVIEW
“St. Vincent’s sound is more electric than ever”—LOS ANGELES TIMES
“(FIVE STARS) It's masterful stuff: a full conceptual realization, filled with great melodies, deep grooves, colourful characterisations, and some sonic detail that reveals itself over repeated plays.”—MOJO
“… surrealistic soundscapes and edgy lyrics in addition to her guitar heroics and exquisite singing. But the most striking aspect of Daddy's Home is its warmth and its reflective mood”—NEWSWEEK
"Clark is the rare artist who can immerse themself in a different concept and aesthetic every couple years, tackle it head-on and totally shred in the process… St. Vincent has gotten to the point where we can’t look away, because there’s just nobody in indie pop quite like Annie Clark.”—PASTE
“(FOUR STARS) … a mutant strain of retro pop steeped in New York lore”—ROLLING STONE
Daddy’s Home was produced by Annie Clark and critically-acclaimed producer Jack Antonoff, recorded by Laura Sisk, mixed by Cian Riordan, and mastered by Chris Gehringer. The music was performed by Annie, Jack, Cian, Thomas, Evan Smith, Sam KS, Greg Leisz, Daniel Hart, Michael Leonhart, Lynne Fiddmont and Kenya Hathaway.
One Music PH recently had an online interview with Annie Clark herself courtesy of the cool folks at Amplified Entertainment...
One Music PH: "I listened to ‘Down’ yesterday and I read the lyrics as well. ‘Down’ seems to come from this place of pain and trauma, do you see it the same way or do you find it as an avenue for vanquishing your demons? How do you approach material that’s as sensitive as this?”
Annie: "Well, ‘Down’ is kind of one song on Daddy’s Home that is not, like, about compassion and change and empathy and is very much like a revenge fantasy basically, you know. And I think what anger is is a reaction to feeling sad, you know, (they) vacillate between those things and anger is kind of a good way for a second at least to get out of sadness. So it’s a song that’s, like, you know, kind of straightforward in the kind of story and sentiment that’s, like, just because you might have had, you know…One, you’re not allowed to treat people poorly, and the fact that you had…Well, you’re just not allowed to treat people poorly and kinda’ who do you think you’re messing with, who do you think you are. It’s a revenge fantasy. It was not hard to write (laughs) because it’s very externalized anger. It’s harder to sort of write about internalized anger in some way.
One Music PH: "Daddy’s Home sonically and visually has this 70’s aesthetic going for it, can you please give us the music, film, TV show or whatever pieces of art that influenced this?"
Annie: "Absolutely! John Cassavettes’ Opening Night, Can’t Buy a Thrill – Steely Dan, Innervisions – Stevie Wonder…Uhm…Gosh…I’ve had music and film…Oh, probably like Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a Joan Didion book, probably those."
One Music PH: "As an artist primarily known for being quote-unquote 'indie', you sure have no qualms collaborating or performing with the likes of artists such as Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift. How did these came about and what were your main takeaways from these unlikely collaborations?"
Annie: "You know, I think I’m kinda’ with Charlie Parker (classic jazz musician from the mid-30’s-early 50’s) who said that if it sounds good, it is good. I don’t really feel too confined by genres and Dua and Taylor are immensely talented and make great music and I was just happy to get to make things with them. And I really wanna make things with people who are interesting and inspiring that goes from the biggest pop star in the world to an obscure Russian artist who I think is rad. I just wanna make things that are great, really."
One Music PH: "When you set out to write the songs and record Daddy’s Home, what was your mindset like? Was there a certain something like a mood or feeling that you were aiming for?"
Annie: "I think that I felt that the mass production world was very strict physically, visually, musically and I think I just wanted to do something that was unlike anything I’ve ever done, which is make a record that was warm from start to finish and has no distortion really, not a bunch of distortion and was very easy to listen to and kinda’ touch on some psychedelia and touch on the harmonic sophistication of the pop music of the 70’s which was really interesting and sophisticated for me as a musician. I think I wasn’t a good enough musician to approach this style of music until now. You know, like (laughs)…It’s deep stuff in terms of, like, being in your body, timing, feel…It’s, like, a bit of heavy lifting and I feel that I was able finally to do it and doesn’t feel like I’m a tourist, I learned this language and I learned how to speak it, you know, and use it in my own way."
One Music PH: "Let’s talk about a couple of my personal favorites from Daddy’s Home, first is 'Somebody Like Me'…"
Annie: "Absolutely! It came about…Uhm, I was thinking about love, and I was thinking about how that usually people think about love as something that happens to them. They don’t know…It’s just something that happens to them that’s beyond their control and it just happens. And I was thinking about love (in terms of) it’s not something that just happens, it’s something that you build. It’s, like, you agree to dream the same dream and it’s an immense leap of faith. What’s the difference between being an angel and painting yourself white and dressing up the clothes and putting a halo on is not that far, you know, it’s a matter of belief that you are something. So, I was thinking of love that way and thinking about all the ways myself and probably many other people have a hard time accepting love or don’t feel worthy of it and kind of go, like, 'How did I get so lucky?!' and what happens is that if somebody sees you in a better light than you see yourself, it actually can change that way that you view yourself. You think, 'Oh, I like what you see!' and you start to kind of change the way you see yourself and be a bit more generous, I guess, with yourself. And yeah, it’s a little bit of a Harry Nilsson homage and I’ve always thought of the end of 'Layla' Derek and the Dominoes, it’s just, like, such a beautiful outro to a song and I was trying to kind of channel that beauty. It’s melancholy, but it’s wistful and beautiful and kind of trying to have that big outro like 'Layla', you know (laughs).
One Music PH: "My other big favorite is '…At the Holiday Party'…"
Annie: "Yeah! '…At the Holiday Party', I mean, I could write that song ‘cause I’ve lived every side of it, you know, I’ve definitely been the girl who’s trying to hide her pain behind a bunch of different masks and a bunch of things that aren’t gonna really help. And I’ve also definitely been in a position of seeing the ways that somebody tries to hide their pain and, uhm, again I know I’m referencing songs from the 70’s, but it’s kind of like a modern version of 'You Can’t Always Get What You Want' (The Rolling Stones) in terms of the setting and, like…But it sort of…I think it’s a little…A more feminine version of that sentiment in a way. It’s, like, not necessarily the romantic song, it’s about seeing a sister, a friend, a brother going through it and having empathy and also…You know, you have those relationships (where) one look in someone’s eye and you know they’re not okay."
One Music PH: "It’s quite clear that your father had a big influence on you. It’s something that has popped up in different stages of your career, can you please share stories of the kind of influence he had on you?"
Annie: "Yeah, I mean, I grew up when I was with him ‘cause I grew up (inaudible…) with my mom. My memories are, like, being along car trips and listening to Steely Dan, listening to Traffic, listening to jazz, listening to the Jazz Crusaders, I dunno, all this stuff from that time and even as a little kid, I was probably seven and was obsessed with Steely Dan even though most seven year olds weren’t into that (laughs). But I was just really obsessed with it, you know, it was just so musical and really sophisticated even though you don’t know that but it just sounds good. Just soulful music. So I definitely had memories of that. And because he was a bit of an elusive kind of figure, I didn’t necessarily feel that I knew him that well. I knew him through the things that he liked. I knew him through the French movies, the French new wave that he would have us watch. I knew him through the books that he read and the music that he made, and he was kind of like when a parent is elusive you kind of create an amalgam of who they are, and a lot of that was (pop) culture. So yeah, the record was definitely a product of a lot of those influences and memories."
One Music PH: "How has the pandemic affected the way you create, the way you work, especially on this album and in general as well?"
Annie: "Ya, you know I think as you can see I’m in my studio right now…I think that I became a better producer and a better writer making this record because I started it before quarantine and (producer) Jack (Antonoff) and I were in the same room, about half of it or more was done with just me and myself in my studio and an endless online back-and-forth with Jack who was in New York so I think that I really got to kind of go in deep and try and get to try different things with my voice, even like my physical voice, stretch and see if I could scream like this and see if I could see just how slinky I could make something. I was really playing in the voice world and do it. I definitely got better at Pro-Tools too, you know what I mean?"
One Music PH: "You strike me as somebody who enjoys playing different characters or different personas with every release, kind of like David Bowie. Is this something that you plan out or is it more of a spontaneous thing for you?"
Annie: No! Especially with this record, everything always come from the music. You know, I’m a musician, I’m a writer, I’m a storyteller, that’s what I do for a living. I want to continue the story of the album through what I look like, the world that I live in, how I move, you know what I mean? Like, different music comes from different parts of the body, you know, you feel it through the body, like so much of this music comes from the pelvis and the gut, so I’m, like, the way I move is different and it’s all an organic extension of the music. And it’s also, like, a lot of different things in me, I’m not, like, putting on a quote-unquote 'character' exactly, it’s just me playing with my own personality and turning up some aspects and turning down others and having a lot of fun, you know…Like believe it or not, I don’t take myself…I take the music incredibly seriously, obviously, but I don’t take myself that seriously. ‘Cause we live in an absurd world and I wanna be able to play with that absurdity, and be self-effacing and make a joke, kind of play with identity, you know, and acknowledge that all identities are some kind of performance, why don’t we just acknowledge and run with them. I think some people perform off authenticity, and I think I authentically perform."
Photos: Zackery Michael