the first time i heard a grimes song, i’ll admit i was on the fence. i was browsing on the cbc radio 3 website ages ago and came across some of her demos… but i was compelled enough to press the “like” button, so now the internet tells me i’ve been a fan since january 2010. even in may 2011 i wasn’t quite sure.
but after seeing her perform in july, i was sold. she was a fantastic performer, and seeing her on stage helped me get a better sense of what i think she’s trying to do. i’ve got a lot of admiration for pop stars who will play with the abject. not to mention, what talent! i’ve seen many a more seasoned musician tackle that many looping pedals and beat machines and trip up (*cough* owen pallet *cough*) but boucher did not miss a beat. not to mention the fact that the crowd was kind of mostly a bunch of talkative dicks, and she still doled out a great set.
lately, her name and face is popping up everwhere. she’s getting a lot more mainstream attention, thanks to a tour with lykke li and signing with 4AD. well, that, and the fact that her new album is kind of incredible. it was being streamed for free on NPR, and made for perfect background music as i tackled reading a handful of interviews with her… and some of the questions just struck me as so assinine. and i loved the way she responds to them. read for yourself:
Pitchfork: I feel like there’s something patently feminine about the way Visions sounds.
Claire Boucher: I hope not. I don’t want to think it’s patently girly. Vocally it is, because that’s where my capabilities lie, and my influences as far as pop goes are female stars. But production-wise and instrumentally, my biggest influences are primarily men: Aphex Twin, the Dungeon Family, OutKast, that kind of shit.
I also feel like those [gender] lines are changing. A couple of years ago, it wasn’t nearly as OK for guys to like girly-sounding music. But all of a sudden a lot of my guys friends who would like have been really disdainful of female singers are way more accepting. My brothers’ friends are all basketball jock-bros, and they really like Lykke Li and Robyn.
part of me agrees with her, but mostly i hope she’s right. i really hope the days of people saying “i don’t like music made by chicks” can be the way of the past. why do we need to constantly remind music journalists, reviewers and fans that ‘woman’ is not a genre of music? can’t we talk about her music, the inherently nostalgic quality of such a young person’s music, her creative ways of playing with her appearance on stage rather than whether or not she is “patently feminine?” what, because she has a high-pitched voice? fuck that.
aaaaand this brings me to my final point – i fucking love her style. she’s messy, surly, playful, and seems like someone i’d really like to hang out with and have a living room dance party with. for her press photos and magazine shoots, she’s worked with a lot of montreal designers including one of my favourites, renata morales (who is also known for working with regine chassagne of arcade fire).
here’s how she describes her own style, from an interview with out magazine:
You’re also a pretty snappy dresser. How would you describe your style?
Tank Girl or sci-fi punk. I’m always wearing skirts that I’d cut shorter and just don’t hem. I always wear combat boots at all times—that’s the basis of everything, the combat boots. I have this really sick trench coat from the Korean war that I always wear, but when I do photo shoots that not my clothes really its what they bring.
hey guys! surprise! photoshoots are the mainstream equivalent of playing dress-up. i love it when pop stars and actors pop the bubble of fantasy illusion that they look and dress how they do in photoshoots in their real lives. in the end, i recommend you check out her new album visions, and catch her live if you can.
- The Visions & The Voice: an Interview with Grimes at electronic beats (february 13th, 2012)
- Grimes: Montreal electro-pop prodigy Claire Boucher on her quest for pure aesthetics. at pitchfork (february 16th, 2012)
- Catching up with Grimes at popnography (february 21st, 2012)
- ‘Woman’ is not a genre of music by daniel jones at electronic beats (november 11, 2011)