The Alien of Today’s Music: Grimes

Claire Elise Boucher, known professionally as Grimes, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer and visual artist. Born and raised in Vancouver, Grimes began releasing music independently in the late 2000s, releasing two albums, Geidi Primes and Halfaxa in 2010 on Arbutus Records. She subsequently signed with 4AD, and rose to fame with the release of her third studio album Visions in 2012. It produced the singlesGenesis” and “Oblivion“, and received the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year. Her fourth studio album Art Angels (2015) received critical praise, and was named the best album of the year by several publications. Her music incorporates elements of varied styles, including dream pop, R&B, electronic music, and hip hop. 

Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She is of Québécois and Ukrainian descent. She was raised Roman Catholic, and attended Catholic school. Her mother is Sandy Garossino, former Crown prosecutor and arts advocate. In 2006, Boucher relocated from Vancouver to Montreal to attend McGill University, but left the school in early 2011 before finishing her degree.

grimes 2

Clare in one of her photoshoots, smizing off in the distance.

According to the timestamps on her original MySpace page, Boucher began writing music under the name Grimes in 2007. Her performer name was chosen because at the time, MySpace allowed artists to list three musical genres. She listed grime for all three, before knowing what grime music was. Grimes is self-taught in music and visual art. 

Boucher’s debut album as Grimes, Geidi Primes, a concept album inspired by the Dune series, was released by Arbutus Records on cassette in 2010. Later in 2010, Boucher released her second album on Arbutus Records, Halfaxa. After the release of Halfaxa, Boucher began publicly promoting Grimes and started touring beyond Montreal. In 2011 Boucher released five songs on her side of the split 12 with d’Eon, Darkbloom 

Beginning in May 2011, Grimes opened for Lykke Li on her North American Tour, and the following August her debut album was re-released through No Pain in Pop Records, in CD and vinyl format for the first time. In 2011, she collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds. 

Upon extensive touring and positive reception of her first two albums and her side of Darkbloom, Boucher signed with record label 4AD in January 2012.  Considered Boucher’s breakout record, Visions appeared on a number of publications’ year-end lists.  NME included it on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2013.  Visions won the Electronic Album of the Year Award and Grimes was nominated for the Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the Junos.  Grimes also won the Artist of the Year Award at the 2013 Webbys. “Grimes is the type of music that you listen to when you want to be entranced.”- Jeffrey Austin, sophomore at University of Georgia. 

The album’s second single, “Oblivion“, also received critical acclaim and was produced into a music video co-directed by Emily Kai Bock and Grimes. Pitchfork ranked “Oblivion” at number one on their 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far list in 2014 In interviews following the album’s release, Boucher explained that she was assigned a strict deadline by which to have her third album finished far before it was complete, resulting in her recording the bulk of Visions while isolated in her Montreal apartment for three consecutive weeks. Notably, this intensive recording session included a period of nine days without food, sleep, or company, with Boucher blacking out her windows since she generally could not make music as readily during the day. She described the writing process as being “equally enjoyable and tortuous”,  feeling that its difficulty contributed to its success.

grimes

Clare showing off her playful smile

In April 2013, Boucher posted a written statement addressing her experience as a female musician in an industry rife with sexism and expressed disappointment that her feminist stance was often interpreted as anti-male.  When speaking about her preference to produce all her studio albums herself, she said, “I don’t wanna be the face of this thing I built, I want to be the one who built it”. 

On December 17, 2013, Boucher posted to her Tumblr that she had employed the services of Jay Z’s management company, Roc Nation. 

On June 26, 2014, Grimes premiered her new track “Go”, produced by and featuring Blood Diamonds. It was a track that had been written for and rejected by Rihanna and was premiered on Zane Lowe’s radio 1 show. Rolling Stone ranked it number fourteen on their Best Songs of 2014 list. 

On March 8, 2015, she released a self-directed video for a demo from the abandoned album, “REALiTi“, which received critical acclaim from music critics, being named Best New Music by Jenn Pelly from Pitchfork, calling it the “best new Grimes song since Visions.” 

On March 15, 2015, Grimes and Bleachers released their collaboration, “Entropy” for the HBO TV show Girls. On May 24, 2015, Grimes announced via a series of tweets to her fans that her upcoming album will be “surprise” released sometime in October. She also explained that the album would be a departure from previous singles “Go” and “REALiTi” and was recorded with “real instruments,” a departure from the primarily synth and sampler driven composing of her prior releases.  

In the summer of 2015, Grimes toured with Lana Del Rey for several of her Endless Summer Tour dates. She then toured in the fall of 2015 as the headliner of her own Rhinestone Cowgirls Tour with opener Nicole Dollanganger. “I can only really describe Grimes as ‘dreamy space pop’. Her music is so avant-garde and out there!” – Amy Baker, junior at Kennesaw State University.  

On October 20, 2015 Grimes announced that the name of her upcoming album would be Art Angels by sharing the album’s cover art on her Instagram account.  

On 26 October 2015, Grimes simultaneously released the lead single of the album, “Flesh Without Blood,” and a two act music video featuring both “Flesh Without Blood” and an additional song from the album, “Life in the Vivid Dream.”  After its November release, the album received very favorable reviews, garnering an 88 out of 100 rating on Metacritic  and the Best New Music designation from Pitchfork. Jessica Hopper of Pitchfork described Art Angels as “evidence of Boucher’s labor and an articulation of a pop vision that is incontrovertibly hers… an epic holiday buffet of tendentious feminist f***-off, with second helpings for anonymous commenters and music industry blood-suckers.”

US-ENTERTAINMENT-FASHION-METGALA

Clare is also allegedly dating Elon Musk 

Art Angels was named best album of the year by NME, Exclaim! and StereogumIt peaked at number 1 on the Billboard US Top Alternative Album Chart and number 2 on the Billboard Top Independent Album chart. Grimes won the 2016 International award at the Socan Annual Awards and the 2016 Harper’s Bazaar Musician of the Year Award in October. 

In the spring of 2016, Grimes toured Asia and Europe with supporting act Hana on the Ac!d Reign Tour. Grimes continued touring through the summer of 2016, performing at various music festivals across North America and opening for Florence and the Machine on select dates of the How Beautiful Tour.  

Continuing the series of music videos for songs off Art Angels that began with “Flesh Without Blood” and “Life in the Vivid Dream” (“Act I” and “Act II,” respectively), Boucher released the music video for “Kill V. Maim” (“Act III”) on January 19, 2016 and the music video for “California” (“Act IV”) 

on May 9, 2016. Boucher crafted a slightly remixed version of “California” for the music video in order to achieve a less “dissonant” visual/auditory mix. This alternate version of California has not otherwise been officially released for sale or streaming. On August 3, Grimes released the song “Medieval Warfare” as part of the soundtrack of the summer blockbuster Suicide Squad. 

On October 5, 2016 Boucher with friend and collaborator Hana Pestle, more commonly known by stage name Hana, released “The Ac!d Reign Chronicles,” a lo-fi series of seven music videos including songs by Grimes (“Butterfly”, “World Princess Part II”, “Belly of the Beat” and “Scream”) and Hana (“Underwater”, “Chimera” and “Avalanche”), each starring in their respective segments. Additional appearances include Aristophanes in SCREAM and two of Grimes’ backup dancers, Linda Davis and Alyson Van, throughout the series. “The AC!D Reign Chronicles” were recorded over the course of two weeks during the duo’s time touring Europe and were made with minimal production, shot exclusively on iPhones with no crew aside from Boucher’s brother, Mac Boucher, who assisted with filming. Post production, Claire Boucher and Hana Pestle edited the videos in their entirety. “Concept & Art direction” are credited to Claire Boucher. “ I first heard Grimes when I was a junior in high school and have loved her ever since.”- Josh Gowns, freshman at Kennesaw State University. 

On February 2, 2017, Grimes premiered on Tidal the high budget futuristic music video of “Venus Fly”, starring herself and Janelle Monáe.  The video was uploaded on YouTube on February 9.  She won Best Dance Video for “Venus Fly” at the Much Music Video Awards.  In 2017, Grimes won a JUNO Award for Video of the Year, featuring “Kill V. Maim”. 

All photos are derived from creative commons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: