Grimes in 2011
|Birth name||Claire Elise Boucher|
March 17, 1988 |
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, producer, visual artist, music video director|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, sampler|
|Associated acts||d'Eon, Brooke Candy, Blood Diamonds, Majical Cloudz|
Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17, 1988), better known by her stage name Grimes, is a Canadian producer, artist, musician, singer-songwriter and music video director. Born and raised in Vancouver, Grimes began recording experimental music while attending McGill University in Montréal, where she became involved with the underground music scene.
Grimes named herself after grime music after discovering the existence of the genre via Myspace. In 2010, she released her debut album, Geidi Primes on Arbutus Records (based in Montreal, Quebec), followed by Halfaxa (2010). In late 2011, she announced that she had signed with 4AD Records, who partnered with Arbutus Records to release her third album, Visions (2012). Visions met critical acclaim and was hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most impressive albums of the year so far".
Grimes' music has been noted by critics and journalists for its atypical combination of vocal elements, as well as a wide array of influences, ranging from electronica to pop, hip hop, R&B, noise rock, and even medieval music.
Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is of Québécois, Ukrainian and Russian descent. She graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School and studied ballet for 11 years. At age 18, she moved to Montreal, Quebec to attend Montreal's McGill University to study neuroscience. During her studies, she began to record and perform under the name Grimes. However, as Grimes became a more serious endeavor for her, she began to miss a large number of classes, and began only attending to take exams, resulting in the university taking punitive actions against her and ultimately expelling her. In Montreal she began putting on concerts with her friends at Lab Synthèse, a performance space they started, which was located in an abandoned textile factory that Arbutus Records evolved out of.
Grimes' debut album, Geidi Primes, was released on cassette in 2010 through Arbutus Records. Later in 2010, Grimes released her second album, Halfaxa, also through Arbutus. In 2011, Grimes released a split 12" with d'Eon called Darkbloom. Her recording name was initially claimed to be a reference to Ken Grimes, an "outsider" artist best known for drawings of aliens. However, in December 2014 she revealed on Twitter that the origin of her name was from listing her music on MySpace in the 'Grime' genre multiple times, even though she didn't know what Grime music was at the time. In May 2011 she 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. Also in 2011, she made an appearance on Majical Cloudz's single "Dream World" and collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds.
She signed with record label 4AD in January 2012. The label released her third full-length LP Visions in February in the United States and a month later in other countries. Arbutus released the record in Canada. Pitchfork Media listed Visions in their "Best New Music" category. Her song "Oblivion" received favorable reviews from music critic David Hajdu in The New Republic. Grimes recorded the album in extended isolation at home in Montreal, and described her writing process as being "equally enjoyable and tortuous". She felt that its difficulty contributed to its success. Grimes described her composition conditions as blacking out her windows, taking amphetamines, and staying awake for three weeks without eating. She added that she could not make music during the day. Grimes later clarified that she "hated" hard drugs and their impact on her friends, and did not want to be associated with their use.
In April 2013, Grimes 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 misinterpreted as anti-male.
On June 26, 2014, Grimes premiered her new track "Go" featuring Blood Diamonds in Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show and uploaded it to her official SoundCloud page and website for free download, showcasing a new sound for the artist while she is still working on her fourth studio album. On August 21 Grimes posted a teaser for the video, directed by her and her brother, for "Go".
However, she later scrapped the entire album. It was initially thought that it was due to negative reactions to "Go", but Grimes later clarified this, claiming that people's opinions do not factor in her choices, and that she scrapped the album because it was "too depressing" and didn't want to tour for it, adding that "Go" was not even meant to be on the album anyway. She concluded by saying that the album might still be released someday. On March 8, 2015, she released a self-directed video for a demo of the abandoned album, "REALiTi", which received very positive reviews.
On May 24, 2015, Grimes announced her next album would be out in October, at a purposefully undisclosed date. The album will "probably" be accompanied by two simultaneous single releases, as the songs are very different from each other, but none of them sounds like "Go" or "REALiTi".
Grimes' music is not easily defined. An eclectic mix of styles which she herself describes as "ADD music", it shifts frequently and dramatically – "I go through phases a lot." Her work has been likened to various artists, including Björk, Siouxsie and Enya and she was described by Tastemakers Magazine as an "alien love-child of Aphex Twin and ABBA" The Guardian summarised her musical style: "By sounding a little like everything you've ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you've ever heard."
According to Grimes, she had a "realization" at age 20 as to how music was created, which enabled her to begin recording and experimenting. "One day, I was listening to music and it suddenly made sense to me how it was constructed", she said. She went on to say: "I have a nervous tic. When I was a kid, I would constantly be banging on things with my foot. Making music has been a really good mechanism for releasing some kind of percussive issue that I have. It's usually about finding a perfect beat; I play around until I get a tempo I like and then it's just a matter of filling in the blanks". Grimes utilizes looping and layering techniques, particularly with vocals; many of her songs feature layers of over fifty different vocal tracks which create an "ethereal" sound.
Grimes cites the following musicians as influences: Marilyn Manson, Christina Aguilera, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, Cocteau Twins, How to Dress Well, Swans, Dizzee Rascal, Dandi Wind, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Enya, TLC, Aphex Twin, Outkast, Jedi Mind Tricks, Dungeon Family, Drake, Lana Del Rey, as well as K-pop, medieval music and industrial artists. She also considers Los Angeles stripper/rapper Brooke Candy "a very contemporary muse".
In 2009, Boucher and her then-boyfriend from Tennessee constructed a 20-foot houseboat named Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, with the intention to sail down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The cargo included food (chickens and 20 pounds of potatoes), a typewriter, and a gifted copy of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Unfortunately for the pair, the chickens caught the eastern equine encephalitis virus and perished soon into the trip, so their diet consisted mainly of potatoes. The couple adopted the names Veruschka and Zelda Xox for the trip. Due to their disregard for local boating regulations and houseboat's engine trouble, the journey was cut short, as the houseboat was impounded along with the food.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
- "Genesis" (January 2012)
- "Oblivion" (February 2012)
- "Phone Sex", single by Blood Diamonds, featuring Grimes. (July 16, 2012)
- "Go", single with Blood Diamonds (June 26, 2014)
- "Crystal Ball" (2011, directed by Tim Kelly)
- "Vanessa" (2011, directed by Claire Boucher)
- "Oblivion" (2012, co-directed by Claire Boucher and Emily Kai Bock)
- "Nightmusic" (2012, directed by John Londono)
- "Genesis" (2012, directed by Claire Boucher)
- "Go" featuring Blood Diamonds (2014, directed by Claire Boucher)
- "REALiTi" (scrapped demo from Boucher's 4th album) (2015, directed by Claire Boucher)
Awards and nominations
|2013||Juno Awards||Breakthrough Artist of the Year||Herself||Nominated|
|Electronic Album of the Year||"Visions"||Won|
|MuchMusic Video Awards||Dance Video of the Year||"Genesis"||Nominated|
|2015||Video of the Year||"Go"||Pending|
- "Grimes, 'Go' – 50 Best Songs Of 2014". Rolling Stone.
- List of dream pop artists
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