When an artist, or anyone for that matter, comes to the end of a busy period in their life, you'll often hear them saying they're going to take a break to reset, or change gear, 'reconnect' with nature.

However, for Annie Clark, or St Vincent to use her stage name, it wasn't so much a question of going back to nature...

"Reconnecting suggests you were connected in the first place," she explains. "I might have grown up in Texas, but I'm from the suburbs and have only lived in cities. Everyone thinks the state is one big ranch, but it's not like that at all. I'm not a cowgirl."

When her collaboration with Talking Heads' David Byrne had almost come to an end, though, she decided it was time for a taste of cowgirl life, taking a short break on a family friend's Texas cattle ranch.

She and Byrne had become acquainted in 2009 and started working together on what was initially meant to be one song, before writing and recording a whole album, 2012's Love This Giant, which they then toured around the world, on and off, for the following year.

Byrne's influence, she says, changed her general outlook. "David's inexhaustibly creative, he never looks backs and always looks to the future, completely fearlessly," she says. "That's not something you can just turn on, but it did mean I approached this record with a lot of confidence. I had a lot of stories to tell, and trusted myself to tell them."

The record in question is St Vincent - her self-titled fourth album - which she originally began writing around October 2012, and started recording on May 1 last year, after the duo's final tour, a month-long trip around Australia.

Really, she now realises, she should have taken a break after the tour with Byrne too, but admits she "doesn't really know what holiday is", and just 36 hours after their final date, she was in the studio.

"I have a romanticised version of who I am. I think we all do," she says. "While I was on tour, I had an idea that I was going to find a beach somewhere just to readjust to normal life again, and then learn some simple life skills. I don't have any of that, you know, making coffee, making soup.

"But the reality is, I just don't care. I'm not interested in any of that stuff, and luckily I have a job where I mostly get to do things that interest me, and I can buy coffee and soup every day. I don't care. And I can make coffee, it's just not good, it's not anything I'd offer another human being. It's caffeinated and brown, and that's about it.

"There are so many things that you think you'll learn," continues the 31-year-old, "or should learn, gardening or whatever, but I really don't care about those adult things that all adults are supposed to know how to do."

Her time on the ranch a few months earlier had been a great chance to stock up on ideas for the album. Clark may not have an aptitude for menial household tasks, but she can most definitely write a good song. St Vincent is her most approachable work to date - less erratic musically, and less introverted thematically than her first two albums, Marry Me and Actor - and a step on from breakthrough-of-sorts Strange Mercy.

"This album is my move from introspection to extroversion," she says.

Album opener Rattlesnake signifies this transition perfectly, a song that came to Clark in a particularly natural setting.

"Anyone who has read Cormac McCarthy's The Border Trilogy will know what I mean; the landscape was exactly as he describes in those books - a gigantic sky, scrubland that's not a desert but desert-y, if that makes sense?"

In the relative wilderness, Clark had no mobile phone reception, so, feeling cut off from the rest of the world, she decided to take off her clothes and walk nude.

"I wanted to experience what nature felt like," she explains. "It was really beautiful but then suddenly I heard a sound. My mind went to rationalise it, thinking it might have been the wind or whatever, but there was no wind, it hadn't blown in hours. It was a rattlesnake."

She was "consumed by fear" at the sight of the slithery creature, but must've composed herself long enough to take in the snake's sound and slippery rhythms, before "running off like a Kenyan Olympian" for a medicinal shot of tequila.

"I felt really stupid, telling my friends back at the ranch. I did a number of other stupid things, like picking up old cow bones, not knowing that's where anthrax comes from. There were also cows around and I didn't know whether they were going attack me. It dawned on me that without my phone and the internet, I don't know anything."

And there came a large theme for the remainder of the album; technology, and our relationship with it.

"It's not so much a study of the psyche, it's just trying to speak directly to people. On Strange Mercy, I was taking the proverbial flashlight and shining it on myself, reporting on all the flaws, frankly. On this one, I made peace with that, and I'm exploring the grit and gristle of humanity and nature," she continues. "Where are we now and where are we going. It's bigger in its purview."

The album's not, she stresses, condemnation of our reliance on technology, merely an exploration. "Humans are endlessly fascinating and conflicted and conflicting," she says. "It's an inexhaustible subject matter, the difference between what people think they are and what they actually are. Who you try to make yourself, how we treat each other and what we say to each other.

"I wondered too about our interactions with technology, based on the fact that I was too drawn into my phone."

Clark's grateful to technology, the advances in home recording that allowed her to make her debut in her bedroom, and to Myspace - remember that? - which gave her a leg up in the late Noughties.

"But I also wanted to think about the flip side of that, this obsessive desire to document the mundane, even though we know we're being spied on. What's it doing to our brains in the long and short-term? There's a generation of people now, and every generation from now on, who'll grow up only knowing the internet.

"That self-awareness is awesome, and I think younger people are more fully formed as a result, but there was something very valuable to me in being alone as a teenager," she adds. "Not physically alone, but alone with your thoughts and going to the far reaches.

"There's a richness there that I wouldn't want to see lost, and I wouldn't say people don't do that now, but it was a lot easier before."

EXTRA TIME - ST VINCENT :: Annie Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 28, 1982. She later moved to Dallas, Texas.

:: She took the name St Vincent from the Nick Cave song There She Goes, My Beautiful World, which references St Vincent's, the New York hospital where Dylan Thomas died.

:: Her 2007 debut Marry Me was named after a catchphrase uttered by a character in US sitcom Arrested Development.

:: When Nirvana were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame earlier this year, she performed with the remaining members of the band, singing their song Lithium.

:: She duetted with Bon Iver on the song Roslyn, which featured on the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Another of her own songs featured in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

:: St Vincent's self-titled fourth album is out now. She tours the UK from August 19, full dates below TOUR DATES August: 19 - Cambridge Junction 20 - Leeds Metropolitan Lounge 21 - Bristol O2 Academy 26 - Glasgow O2 Academy 27 - Gateshead Sage 29-31 - End Of The Road Festival 29-31 - Electric Picnic, Stradbelly October: 22 - Manchester Albert Hall 23 - Eastbourne Winter Gardens 24 - Birmingham Institute 25 - London Roundhouse