St. Vincent Talks “Pills”
Today, (November 17), St. Vincent graces TIDAL with the exclusive premiere of her newest video, “Pills,” off of the album Masseduction.
Directed by Philippa Price — who has worked with the likes of Banks and Pharrell —“Pills” works seamlessly within Annie Clark’s album aesthetic, despite being fully conceived by the director herself. Sexy yet sterile, like some kind of candy-coated kink store, the video features an array of ‘50s-futuristic humanoids taking the titular pills like warped communion, moving with the jerky eroticism of ultra-realistic sex dolls.
The visuals melt easily into Clark’s world of Masseduction, populated by vinyl-clad beauties, plasticine denizens of L.A. milking their young, frenzied role-players, and the aching, living heart that throbs beneath the ultra-sweet shell.
We spoke with Clark before the video’s release to learn a bit more about “Pills,” the darkness she sees in today’s world and her heavy mantle of strangeness.
On “Pills”… I think there’s a mania to the video that feels like a psychedelic Adderall rush. I think it speaks to a very specific kind of Americana — an American anxiety, a uniquely American anxiety. And I love the use of gestural dance, and gestural dance in unison, which I think is very powerful.
There’s an archetype that I’ve been playing with for a long time… the mommy’s little helper archetype. But this is a future version of that, where people’s faces are blue — just like a parallel universe.
On society’s ills… [The easiest fixed unhappiness is] probably some kind of combination of people having a hard time making ends meet, while there’s a culture that tells them that the only way to be anything is to be rich and famous. I think now America has enough money to put a swimming pool in everybody’s backyard, but we don’t take care of our people. We’ve allowed everything to just become greatly privatized, and I think that we have all the means and all the money to take care of our people — and we don’t. It’s inexcusable, and it’s unconscionable. This idea, too, that your own success is based on other people’s failures is so out of whack. I mean, I want the best for all humans. That’s what I want.
On how the public sees her… It’s a funny thing. I’ll give you an example. I follow a Twitter account called ‘Nature is Scary’ — you can look and see a spider eating a snake [and things like that]. I looked at a bunch of that stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ and I just thought it was fascinating.
I came across this picture, and it was a dog that had gotten frozen in the snow somehow, and other animals had come in and ravaged this dog — so it was just like a dog frozen in the snow standing up, but all of its middle was eaten out, and there was just the rib cage. It didn’t disturb me in any way, I just thought, ‘Whoa, that looks like a metaphor.’ Right? I’m always just thinking about things in kind of cannibalistic artist terms.
So I post this picture, and it didn’t even occur to me that it would be upsetting to people. It actually didn’t occur to me, and it turned out lots of people were horrified by this. And I’m just going, ‘I just see a metaphor. I didn’t see… Gee, this is, I mean, this is nature. What do you want?’
The same, I think, a lot of times goes for the work that I make — because I do things because I’d think that they’d be cool or beautiful or they make me feel that kind of effervescence in my stomach, and I get excited about it.
I am usually totally blindsided when people think it’s odd. I guess my short answer is that my needle for what is normal or shocking or strange is so different from, I guess, a number of people. I have no idea what people are going to think or like. I have no idea. I’ve not necessarily ever tried to know, and I’m always shocked by what people do and don’t respond to.
So I don’t know. I mean, I would rather have a mantle of strangeness than a mantle of middle of the road.
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