“If I record everything dry and put a bunch of plugins on it, I’ve made no decisions”: St. Vincent on the importance of “committing” to sonic ideas

“Instead of building a house on sand, you’re building a house on a firm foundation of an idea.”

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St. Vincent performing live

Credit: Aldara Zarraoa/Redferns

St. Vincent has appeared in a new episode of the Tape Notes podcast detailing her music production approach, and explaining, again, why she prefers not to rely heavily on plugins in the studio.

The musician – who just released her new album All Born Screaming – recently explained why she’s not a fan of plugins in the studio, saying their “flashy” interfaces “make you think they’re doing more than they’re actually doing”.

Now, she has doubled down on her aversion to plugins, saying they don’t allow producers to “commit” to the “firm foundation” of an idea.

“Creative people will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to make cool shit. I firmly believe that,” she says. “Me personally, I like drum machines. I like oscillators that I can mess with. I find that sometimes when I’m working with plugins, you can sometimes hear with your eyes instead of with your ears, and that’s not that cool to me.

“And I like committing things to tape. I like committing the sounds, because instead of building a house on sand, you’re building a house on a firm foundation of an idea. It would make me too crazy, I think, with unexplored possibilities, to record everything dry and then put a bunch of plugins on them. That would make me crazy – because you’ve made no decisions. 

“That’s my approach to things because that’s just how my brain works, and that’s what it is. I don’t begrudge anybody else’s process cause like I said, great artists will make great work on whatever they’re given.”

She concludes: “[I’m] not a snob here, in terms of creation, but I personally prefer to make big sonic decisions and stick with them so that you can actually build upon something.”

St. Vincent – whose real name is Annie Clark – released All Born Screaming, her first entirely self-produced album, last month. Listen to its lead single, Broken Man, below.

And for more Tape Notes episodes, head to tapenotes.co.uk/


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