Grimes (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about Claire Elise Boucher. For other musicians named Grimes, see Grimes (surname).
Grimes in 2011
Background information
Birth name Claire Elise Boucher
Born (1988-03-17) March 17, 1988 (age 27)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, producer, visual artist, music video director
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, sampler
Years active 2009–present
Labels Arbutus, 4AD
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,[4] musician, singer-songwriter[5] and music video director.[6] 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.[7] 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".[8]

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.

In 2013, she was awarded the Webby Award for Artist of the Year.[9] Also in 2013, Grimes was awarded a Juno Award for Electronic Album of the year.[10]

Early life[edit]

Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia.[11][12] She is of Québécois, Ukrainian and Russian descent.[13][14] She graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School[15] and studied ballet for 11 years.[16] At age 18, she moved to Montreal, Quebec to attend Montreal's McGill University to study neuroscience.[12][17] During her studies, she began to record and perform under the name Grimes.[11] 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.[18] 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.[19]


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.[20] 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,[11][12] 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.[21] Also in 2011, she made an appearance on Majical Cloudz's single "Dream World"[22] and collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds.[23][24]

[After nine days] you have no stimulation, so your subconscious starts filling in the blanks ... I started to feel like I was channelling spirits. I was convinced my music was a gift from God. It was like I knew exactly what to do next, as if my songs were already written.

Grimes in The Guardian, 27 April 2012[17]

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.[25] Pitchfork Media listed Visions in their "Best New Music" category.[26] Her song "Oblivion" received favorable reviews from music critic David Hajdu in The New Republic.[27] Grimes recorded the album in extended isolation[17] at home in Montreal, and described her writing process as being "equally enjoyable and tortuous".[28] She felt that its difficulty contributed to its success.[28] Grimes described her composition conditions as blacking out her windows, taking amphetamines, and staying awake for three weeks without eating.[29][30] She added that she could not make music during the day.[29] Grimes later clarified that she "hated" hard drugs and their impact on her friends, and did not want to be associated with their use.[31][32]

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.[33][34][35]

Grimes has stated via her Tumblr that she is currently working on her fourth album.[36]

On December 17, 2013, Grimes posted to her Tumblr that she had signed to Jay Z's management company Roc Nation,[37] whilst still signed to 4AD Records.

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.[38] On August 21 Grimes posted a teaser for the video, directed by her and her brother, for "Go".[39]

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.[40] On March 8, 2015, she released a self-directed video for a demo of the abandoned album, "REALiTi", which received very positive reviews.[41]

On March 15, 2015, Grimes performed lead vocals on a new song by indie pop band Bleachers, "Entropy", for the HBO TV show Girls.[42]

Musical style[edit]

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."[43] Her work has been likened to various artists, including Björk[17] Siouxsie[44] and Enya[19] and she was described by Tastemakers Magazine as an "alien love-child of Aphex Twin and ABBA"[45] 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."[46]

According to Grimes, she had a "realization" at age 20 as to how music was created,[46] 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.[46] 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".[46] 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.[19]

Grimes cites the following musicians as influences: Marilyn Manson,[47] Christina Aguilera,[48] Skinny Puppy,[49] Nine Inch Nails,[49] Cocteau Twins,[11] How to Dress Well,[50] Swans,[17] Dizzee Rascal,[51] Dandi Wind, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey,[52] Enya, TLC, Aphex Twin, Outkast, Jedi Mind Tricks, Dungeon Family, Drake, Lana Del Rey,[53] as well as K-pop,[54] medieval music and industrial artists. She also considers Los Angeles stripper/rapper Brooke Candy "a very contemporary muse".[55]

Personal life[edit]

Boucher has stated that she eats vegan most of the time, but partakes of non-vegan foods under circumstances she deems it inconvenient for others to cater to her nutritional needs.[56][57][58]

In 2014 Boucher wrote a blog post expressing an aversion to hard drugs and regretting having lost friends to drugs and alcohol.[59][31]

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.[60][61][62][63]

She has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy;[64] they collaborated on the song, "Christmas Song", released on the Rough Trade bonus disc of her album, Visions.


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions
Geidi Primes
  • Released: September 30, 2010
  • Label: Arbutus Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download, vinyl
  • Released: January 31, 2012
  • Label: 4AD, Arbutus Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download, vinyl
46 65 67 98



  • "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)

Music videos[edit]

  • "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[edit]

Year Awards Category Work Outcome
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


  1. ^ "Grimes, 'Go' – 50 Best Songs Of 2014". Rolling Stone. 
  2. ^ Lederman, Marsha (July 30, 2012). "Claire Boucher as Grimes: the coolest girl in Canada". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Grimes" at Allmusic
  4. ^ "On Display: Claire Boucher". TVMcGill. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2011-06-07. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Album Reviews: d'Eon / Grimes: Darkbloom EP". Pitchfork. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  6. ^ "GRIMES & D'EON INTERVIEW: "EVERYTHING IS GAINED."". Dummy Magazine. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 20, 2012). "Reviews of Albums From Grimes, Galactic and Tyga". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Welcome to the Webby Awards". Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  10. ^ "2014 Nominees & Winners - The JUNO Awards". Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  11. ^ a b c d Sound says most to Grimes. Retrieved June 7, 2011
  12. ^ a b c Christiansen, Lisa. Today on Appetite for Distraction: Grimes. BBC Radio 3. Retrieved June 7, 2011
  13. ^ "Grimes on Sur Le Vif, interviewed by Fanny Lefort ('oldish')". YouTube. 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  14. ^ Glassberg, Rachel (May 18, 2012). "Six Questions for... Grimes". Exberliner. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ Francois Marchand (2012), Grimes in the Spotlight with Brilliant Visions, Vancouver Sun, archived from the original on May 9, 2012, retrieved April 15, 2013 
  16. ^ Grimes of the Heart. Interview Magazine, interview with Grimes by Durga Chew-Bose.
  17. ^ a b c d e Richards, Sam (27 April 2012). "Grimes: nine days without food, sleep or company gave me Visions". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Battan, Carrie (16 October 2011). "Montreal's Claire Boucher makes featherlight GarageBand pop as Grimes.". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c Holson, Laura H. (7 March 2012). "Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, Mines Beauty from the Dark Side". New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  20. ^ Jones, Lucy (2012-03-19). "SXSW 2012: Grimes on drugs, religion and the secret behind her unusual name – Telegraph Blogs". Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  21. ^ Riewer, Brian (12 July 2011). "Grimes Set To Re-Release Debut Album". Sun on the Sand. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "video: Majical Cloudz (featuring Grimes) – "Dream World"". Gorilla vs. Bear. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  23. ^ Weatherall, Andrew (7 July 2011). "DUMMY MIX 79 // BLOOD DIAMONDS". Dummy Magazine. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "Siren Seduction: Q&A With Electronic Musician Grimes". The Creator's Profect. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  25. ^ Battan, Carrie (4 January 2012). "Grimes Signs to 4AD, Listen to New Track "Genesis" From Visions". Pitchfork. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  26. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (17 February 2012). "Grimes Visions Album Review Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Hajdu, David (2012-03-12). "Hajdu: What's The Matter With Girl Groups? | The New Republic". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  28. ^ a b "7Digital Interview 2012". Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  29. ^ a b Hresko, Lisa (3 March 2012). "In An Altered Zone". CMJ. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Jones, Lucy (19 March 2012). "SXSW 2012: Grimes on drugs, religion and the secret behind her unusual name". Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Gorton, Thomas (August 19, 2014). "Grimes pens anti-drugs note on Tumblr". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Grimes Asks 'Asshole' to Stop Inserting Drug Quote on Wiki Page". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Grimes. "I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living". Tumblr. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Grimes Rails Against Sexism: 'I'm Done With Being Passive'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  35. ^ "Grimes shoots a feminist arrow across the indie pop battlefield*". Irish Times. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  36. ^ [1][dead link]
  37. ^ "Grimes Signs to Jay Z's Roc Nation". SPIN. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  38. ^ Nostro, Lauren (2014-06-26). "Listen to Grimes' "Go" f/ Blood Diamonds". Complex. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  39. ^ Phillips, Amy (August 21, 2014). "Grimes Previews Sweeping "Go" Video". Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Zhong, Fan (June 2012). "On the Verge: Grimes". W (Condé Nast) 41 (6): 35. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  44. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 20, 2012). "Reviews of Albums From Grimes, Galactic and Tyga". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  45. ^ Fowle, Leslie (14 March 2012). "Grimes - Visions". Tastemakers Mag. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  46. ^ a b c d Hoby, Hermione (28 January 2012). "One to watch: Grimes". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  47. ^ "Mr. Style Icon: Grimes on the importance of Marilyn Manson". Electronic Beats. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  48. ^ "Grimes Of The Heart". Interview Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  49. ^ a b Williams, Alex Taylor (21 February 2012). "Catching up with Grimes' Claire Boucher". Out. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  50. ^ Fallon, Patric (1 February 2012). "High Five: Grimes". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ Elliot, Natalie (16 February 2012). "Grimes Dishes On Her Less Obvious Influences And Her DIY Tattoos". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  53. ^ Watson, Eli (1 March 2012). "INTERVIEW: Grimes". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  54. ^ Hadfield, James (20 August 2012). "Summer Sonic: Grimes interview". Time Out Tokyo. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  55. ^ "Director's Cut: Grimes "Genesis"". Pitchfork. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  56. ^ Boucher, Claire (27 April 2013). "yummmmm too bad im a vegan now". Tumblr. Retrieved 19 July 2013. [dead link]
  57. ^ Boucher, Claire (18 July 2013). "another vegan ice cream review". Tumblr. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  58. ^ McPhee, Lachlan (April 17, 2012). "Grimes: Her Own Format". Acclaim Magazine. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  59. ^ "losing people to drugs and alcohol is the worst …". Tumblr. August 17, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  60. ^ Pabst, Lora (June 26, 2009). "This boat don't float". Star Tribune. 
  61. ^ Pelly, Jenn (February 20, 2012). "The Tale of Grimes' Insane 2009 Houseboat Adventure: The Best Thing You'll Read All Day". Pitchfork Media. 
  62. ^ Paolozzi, John (February 20, 2012). "Grimes: Rollin' down the mighty Mississippi with 20lbs of potatoes in a DIY houseboat". CBC Music. 
  63. ^ Holson, Laura M. (March 7, 2012). "Claire Boucher Mines Beauty From the Dark Side". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. 
  64. ^ Parihar, Christina. "Introducing Jay Worthy [Interview]". HipHopCanada. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 

External links[edit]