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St. Vincent on Actor, Strange Mercy, and Being the 93rd Greatest Guitarist Ever

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All hail Annie Clark, indie rock's patron saint of distortion and raw spirit.

Clark, known by fans as St. Vincent, is set to make her Miami debut at The Stage on May 31. But just because she's new to our city by the sea doesn't mean this lady hasn't been around the block.

Three records deep into an already acclaimed career, she was recently recognized for her axe-handling skills, being named the 93rd best guitar player ever by Spin Magazine.

But it hasn't gone to her head one bit.

"If you're going to make a list of 100 greatest guitar players, you're going to leave off thousands and thousands and thousands of amazing guitar players. And you're going to accidentally put on some guitar players who you think, Yeah, maybe. Maybe, not actually. So, a list is kind of pointless," she says. "But I appreciate the nod."

Refreshingly humble nature aside, Clark wasn't put on a fancy list with the likes of Tom Morello, Thurston Moore, and P. J. Harvey for looking cute and dressing well. As a guitar player, songwriter, and musician, she pulls away from the crowd with her penchant for instrumental experimentation.

"I think that with the last record I made, a record called Actor, I was trying to take organic instruments and make them sound and feel synthetic," Clark explains. "With this newest record, Strange Mercy, I was trying to take synthetic instruments and make them feel organic."

Her records are not just a handful of emotional songs played on guitar or half-hearted forays into electronic effects, but rather attempts to challenge the audience's expectations.

"I think anything is fair game with a sonic palette," she insists. "I just want to take some of my favorite bits of music and then try to mix them in a way that feels fresh for your ear."

Though her inclination to push the aural envelope has won the hearts and minds of critics and fans alike, she isn't really seeking awards and adoration. Her creativity is not driven by praise, but an inner artistic vision.

"It's more rewarding for me to take a conventional form and turn it on its ear slightly, and see if you can't breathe a little bit of new life into it," Clark explains.

"I tend to think of songs as people," she says. "If you have a person who has their head, torso, arms, feet, hands, you can kind of put any kind of clothes on it, and you'll still be a sound, solid person. Musically you can do that too. As long as you have the song, you can dress it any way you want. You can style it however you want. And it'll still be whole."

St. Vincent with ANR and Run Sevim Run. Thursday, May 31. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $25 plus fees via completeticketsolutions.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-576-9577 or visit the stagemiami.com.

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