When St. Vincent Met Sleater-Kinney...
IN THIS PHOTO: Sleater-Kinney and St. Vincent (who will produce) chilling in the studio as they prepare a new album/PHOTO CREDIT: @jonny_stills
Why More Superstar Hook-Ups Like This Are Needed
THIS year has already provided some nice surprises...
IMAGE CREDIT: Spotify/Getty Images
regarding new material and possible ventures. I did not even know Sleater-Kinney were working on a new album…but I definitely did not know St. Vincent was producing! I am not sure whether she is producing as ‘St. Vincent’ or ‘Annie Clark’ but, regardless, this is great news! There is no reason why the two parties would remain distant but I was not aware they knew one another. The album is the follow-up to Sleater-Kinney’s 2015 gem, No Cities to Love. That album is masterful and was one of my favourite records of the year. John Goodmanson produced that record and did a great job. I am not sure whether the band likes to switch producers but No Cities to Love is rich and polished but there is ample room for Sleater-Kinney to provide something a little raw and sharp. The strength of that album is how stripped and instant it sounds; concentrating on these fairly short Punk songs that match a professional sound with some jagged edges. It is a pure and nuanced album that will hit you first time around and you’ll come back time and time again to get another blast. The news of St. Vincent hooking up with Sleater-Kinney was reported by Pitchfork:
“Sleater-Kinney will release a new album this year, and it will be produced by none other than St. Vincent, NPR Music has confirmed. Both the band and Annie Clark posted about the team-up on Twitter, accompanied by photos of all of them in the studio...
IN THIS PHOTO: Sleater-Kinney (left to right: drummer Janet Weiss; singer-guitarist Corin Tucker and singer-guitarist Carrie Brownstein/PHOTO CREDIT: Brigitte Sire/courtesy of the artist
“We always planned on getting back in the studio—it was just a matter of when,” Carrie Brownstein told NPR Music. “If there is an overarching principle to this album, it’s that the tools on which we were relying proved inadequate. So we sought new ones, both metaphorically and literally.”
Last year, St. Vincent shared a short clip of herself covering Sleater-Kinney’s “Modern Girl.” 2017 saw her and Carrie Brownstein collaborate on a series of surreal short films for Instagram. The last news of a new Sleater-Kinney album came at the beginning of 2018, when Brownstein told Billboard, “Now, just so you know, we’re going to do this very slowly... It’s an ongoing conversation.” The band’s last studio album No Cities to Love was released in 2015”.
The coolest photo of the two parties is Sleater-Kinney in the background of the studio whilst St. Vincent is in the producer’s chair with her arms out (as shown at the top of this piece) – realising how cool this is and how boss she looks (never understand why she wears sunglasses for her indoor publicity shots!). I am not sure when the album is out or what we can expect but it is good to see things are moving along and we have St. Vincent at the helm!
IN THIS PHOTO: St. Vincent in 2015/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I am casting my mind back and cannot recall when a big musician produced for a big band. There have been these collaborations but most of the albums we see have a ‘traditional’ producer or the artist themselves produce. I like when artists self-produce but finding a good producer, whoever they are, is always cool – so long as everyone is on the same page! One of the reasons why I was excited by this St. Vincent-Sleater-Kinney news is the fact we know what St. Vincent can do! Her albums are always terrific and I wonder whether she will bring some of her sound and direction to the band. I love St. Vincent and always make sure I buy her albums. There is some overlap with Sleater-Kinney but the two artists have their own sound. There is no real need for clashes and any struggle because it seems like there is harmony in the camp. I feel it will take Sleater-Kinney in a new direction and I am thrilled to see where they head. It is also good St. Vincent is producing as, not only will it lead to other big artists doing the same, but she can bring that experience back into the studio for her next album.
It has been a busy past year-or-so for St. Vincent what with her album, MASSEDUCTION (2017), coming out – she reworked it last year as MassEducation – and some tour dates. I am not sure whether there will be another studio album from her this year but I would not be surprised. Knowing about the past work of St. Vincent and Sleater-Kinney; I am pumped to see how they unite and what results. I feel we will get the same sort of sound as No Cities to Love but a slightly more expansive sound that throws in some new elements. Maybe Annie Clark will decide to take the band in a whole new direction and give it a more St. Vincent-like sound. When producers normally come in, they have their own sound and idea and, when the chemistry is right, it can lead to magic. I often wonder what we would get if an experienced musician came into the studio and produced. This collaboration is not the first but it is a big move at an important time. I feel there are some awesome female producers around but they do not get the credit and attention they deserve. Most of the albums in the mainstream have male producers and it seems to disguise the fact there are terrific female producers everywhere. We forget that so many female artists produce their own work and already have that knowledge.
I think a lot of non-musician producers can be quite academic and you do not get the same approach as if a musician produced. St. Vincent is a big artist who has produced and written her own material. She will be a big asset and the collision of these two worlds will be immense. It seems like they have a sisterly bond and the fact St. Vincent is producing will highlight female producers and the fact we need to recongise them. I feel this unity and hook-up will compel other musicians to work with their peers. Who knows what we could see in the coming years? Maybe Sir Paul McCartney will produce Ringo Starr? Maybe Laura Marling will produce the next album from This Is the Kit? Perhaps we will see Beyoncé produce Solange at some point? Those are examples but is interesting to see how a record sounds when produced by a musician. There are so many artists out there who produce and are capable but are often restricted to their own work. I am not suggesting we replace all other producers but I feel there will be more and more big-name collaborations coming. My dream hook-up would be Lana Del Rey producing Lady Gaga. That might sound odd but I think this blending would lead to something sensational. It can be hard for artists to approach one of their peers.
PHOTO CREDIT: @drewpatrickmiller/Unsplash
We all know what they sound like and, as producers, the fear is they might enforce their own sounds too heavily. A St. Vincent-flavoured album might be a good turn for Sleater-Kinney but they will want to stay true to their roots. I think we will hear a lot of mutual respect and, rather than St. Vincent calling the shots too much, she will give the band a new edge and dynamic. Aside from their debut album – their eponymous effort was co-produced by the band themselves – the band has always worked with male producers. John Goodmanson has been in the chair quite a lot and I am sure he will be back soon enough. It seems like the band realise he did a great job in 2015 but they want to take a leap and try something new. I guess there is the worry the sheer hype and mind-melting quality of the unity might lead people to give big reviews before listening. I am sure that will not be the case and I hope, when the new Sleater-Kinney album comes out, people give it a proper listen and appreciate it. I guess, if you are established like Sleater-Kinney, you can attract a big name and do not have to stick with the same producers. I do hope 2019 is a year when we highlight female producers and how essential their voices are.
IN THIS PHOTO: Josh Homme (who produced Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug alongside James Ford in 2009) could add some life and new purpose to Foo Fighters’ music/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Thinking ahead, we will get that Sleater-Kinney album (I guess later this year), but other acts will see the news and think hard. Rather than get a regular, ‘professional’ producer; how about working with another artist and getting their take? I genuinely think this approach could help add some much-needed originality and expression to the mainstream. There were some great albums released last year but there were some letdowns. Whether it was a case of generic material or a band reaching a plateau; a fresh injection would help and getting the mind and voice of a fellow musician could really add something! Whether you are a big band like Foo Fighters – maybe Josh Homme or Jack White could produce them?! – or a relatively rising name like IDLES; I am intrigued by the bucking of trends and choosing a musician to produce for you. I am especially interested in female artists who could produce. This cross-pollination would up their skillset and allow them to bring something into their own music but, for the band/artist who receives this new producer, they get a fresh perspective and a new way of working. I feel the as-yet-untitled Sleater-Kinney album will be a combination of their 1995 debut and St. Vincent’s latest work. That might sound like a bad mix but we will get a youthful, fresh and bare-boned sound that, when you least expect, provides these odd tangents and wonderfully colourful expressions!
IN THIS PHOTO: Sleater-Kinney/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I have not investigated Sleater-Kinney for a bit and, actually, having a big artist producing will bring in more new fans than any other type of producer. Sleater-Kinney do not need that patronage and boost but so many more people will come to their sounds – curious to see what attracted St. Vincent to them. Maybe they will reciprocate and produce the next St. Vincent album! We know for sure all songs will be produced by St. Vincent and the return of Sleater-Kinney after four years (if the new album comes out this year) is brilliant. Everyone will have their fantasy list of musicians producing for other musicians. There are some collaborations crying out to happen and it is so rare to see something cosmic like St. Vincent directing Sleater-Kinney! It adds excitement into music and will actually inspire so many to get into producing. This musician-directed sound is rare and I will be interesting comparing the upcoming Sleater-Kinney album with their previous one. This news is great for music fans and keep your eyes open for track news, release date information and teasers. Until then, this legendary band will be working alongside a newer, if slightly more popular, artist who is stepping out of her world and into theirs. I am not sure what the resultant sound will be of this magnificent hybrid but, knowing the work of St. Vincent and Sleater-Kinney, it is going to...
IN THIS PHOTO: St. Vincent/PHOTO CREDIT: Inez & Vinoodh
BE astronomically good.