St. Vincent on the 'True and Very Disturbing Story' That Inspired Her Horror Directorial Debut

Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Annie Clark

Rock chanteuse St. Vincent, also known as Annie Clark, 34, talks making her directorial debut with horror anthology XX, which premieres at the festival on Jan. 22.

Did you ever see yourself making a horror movie?

I never saw myself even seeing a horror film. I can’t watch them, because everything disgusting or violent just gets seared into my retinas. I’ll obsess over those images for a long time. Watching horror movies with me is so annoying — I’m the one screaming, “What’s going to happen next?” But it was very amazing when I got asked to direct one. Surprisingly, I had the best time.

What can you reveal about your chapter of the film, “The Birthday Party”?

It’s partially based on a true and very disturbing story that a friend of mine told me. It’s about a woman who’s trying to give her young son a nice birthday when things turn very macabre. I thought, “How can we make this a black comedy?” Though I don’t do well with blood and guts and gore, I love things that are absurd. Comedy and horror actually have a lot in common, like the tension between the setup and the punchline. That dynamic is something I certainly include in my music. I hope it’s a laugh, because I’ll be covering my eyes for the rest of the movie.

XX is the first horror anthology made by all female directors. How was that significant for you?

Even beyond that, there were just a whole lot of women on set. I hadn’t worked on film sets, but I think it’s similar to music in that the crews tend to be male. When I’m touring, I make sure to have women around — not as some sort of quota, but because it makes the ecosystem nicer. There’s more balance — yin and yang.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of Billboard.