Grimes in 2012
Claire Elise Boucher
March 17, 1988
Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17, 1988), 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 singles "Genesis" 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.
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Artistry
- 3 Visual art
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Discography
- 6 Tours
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Life and career
1988–2008: Early life
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.
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.
2009–2013: Career beginnings and Visions
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 (through both Arbutus and Hippos in Tanks). 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 in The Guardian, 27 April 2012
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.
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".
2014–2017: Art Angels
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. 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 favourable 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."
Art Angels was named best album of the year by NME, Exclaim! and Stereogum. It 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.
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".
2018–present: Unnamed albums, issues with label, and collaborations
By late 2017 and early 2018, Grimes had revealed on both Instagram and Twitter that she was working on her fifth upcoming album, which she stated would be released by "spring, but realistically fall". However, on February 15, 2018, she updated her status on a previous Instagram post about her delaying the potential release of the unnamed album, stating "well no music any time soon after all... music industry is trash". It was later revealed that this was due to a clash with her label, 4AD, not her management company, Roc Nation. She added, "Yeah but i'm solving it. i just have to take one last hit. it sucks, but i'd rather not make fans suffer thru more unexplained drama. theres some srsly fucked up and crazy shit going behind the scenes in my career this whole time i've never spoken of to protect myself legally. [sic]" She later revealed on an Instagram post that she would eventually be releasing two albums, and that "they would be separated by a period of time", with the first being released with 4AD, and the second with an undisclosed label. Boucher stated that this first album will be "highly collaborative and most glorious light", with the second highlighting themes of "pure darkness and chaos". The release dates of the two albums have not been confirmed.
On April 10, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Pynk" by Janelle Monáe. "Pynk" was the third single from Monáe's album Dirty Computer. On May 30, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Love4Eva" by LOONA yyxy from their EP Beauty & the Beat. On June 15, 2018, she was featured in a video for Apple's Behind the Mac series on their YouTube channel, with a preview of a song from her upcoming album titled "That's What the Drugs Are For". On the same day, she posted two Twitter videos previewing two songs from her upcoming album, "adore u (beautiful game)" and "4 æm". In 2018, Grimes composed the theme music for Netflix's animated series Hilda.
On October 31, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Play Destroy" by Poppy on her album Am I a Girl?. The collaboration had been hinted at in May 2018 through a series of Instagram postings from both artists.
Grimes appears on Bring Me the Horizon's "Nihilist Blues" from their sixth album, Amo. On November 26, 2018 she posted several images of new merchandise on her Instagram, having previously deleted all of her content, stating that new music would be released on November 29, 2018. Grimes released her new single, "We Appreciate Power" featuring HANA, on November 29, 2018.
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Grimes' music draws on an eclectic mix of styles, including electronic music, synth-pop, R&B, dream pop, and hip hop, and has been described as synth-pop and art pop. Her work has been likened to various artists, including Björk, Julianna Barwick, Siouxsie Sioux, and Enya. 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." The Japan Times wrote that Grimes' "otherworldly, Ableton-assisted music is crammed full of hooks fit to sit alongside Rihanna and Taylor Swift in the Top 40". Dazed stated: "In a sense, she’d always thrived on being too pop for indie and too indie for pop". Her lyrics were described by The Guardian as "generally elusive and impressionistic, shying away from specifics". Grimes is a soprano. The Daily Telegraph described her vocals as "sweet, thin and hazy." She 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 described her music as "ADD music", shifting frequently and dramatically – "I go through phases a lot." She said she considers herself "a pop artist in a broad sense". "Most music with traditional verse, chorus and bridge structures can probably be considered ‘pop.’ But I think most people think about Top 40 these days when they use the word ‘pop,’ and I’m emphatically not from that world." She said that Panda Bear's 2007 album Person Pitch "jumpstarted" her mind. She explains, "Up until that point I had basically only made weird atonal drone music, with no sense of songwriting. I barely understood anything about music ... But suddenly all music clicked into place and seemed so simple and easy. I was pretty much able to spontaneously write songs immediately after listening to this album once."
Grimes' influences include: Aphex Twin, Bikini Kill, Black Dice, Blink-182, Blue Hawaii, David Bowie, Burial, Kate Bush, Mariah Carey, Cocteau Twins, Dungeon Family, Enya, Al Green, How to Dress Well, Chris Isaak, Michael Jackson, Jedi Mind Tricks, Billy Joel, Yoko Kanno, Kenji Kawai, Alicia Keys, Yayoi Kusama, Marilyn Manson, Mindless Self Indulgence, Joanna Newsom, New Edition, Nine Inch Nails, Outkast, Panda Bear, Paramore, Queen, Trent Reznor, Salem, Skinny Puppy, Tool, St. Vincent, Dandi Wind, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, also K-pop, medieval music and The Legend of Zelda.
Grimes created the album art for all of her albums, as well as art lithos for each track on Art Angels that were sold with the vinyl release. Her art is influenced by Japanese anime, manga, and comic artists such as Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes. Grimes illustrates her merchandise, including T-shirts, album art and show posters. Her illustrations have appeared in gallery shows, including at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. She created an alternate cover for Image Comics' The Wicked + The Divine and designed a capsule collection of T-shirts for Saint Laurent in 2013. That year she also curated a two-day event at the Audio Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery in NYC with a silent auction to benefit the Native Women's Association of Canada's campaign to raise awareness of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada.
Boucher has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy; they collaborated on the single, "Christmas Song", which was released on the Rough Trade bonus disc of her album, Visions. One of her brothers, Mac Boucher, was involved in the making of some of her music videos, such as "Go", "Realiti", "Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream", "Kill V. Maim", "Venus Fly" and "We Appreciate Power".
In 2009, Boucher and a friend attempted to sail down the Mississippi River to New Orleans from Minneapolis in a houseboat they built. Following several mishaps including engine trouble and several encounters with law enforcement, the pair's aquatic journey ended before it really began with their houseboat impounded by the city of Minneapolis. Boucher claims that elements of the story, such as the pair having a typewriter on the houseboat, were exaggerated in the newspapers that reported on it at the time. The adventure has been turned into an animated video narrated by T-Bone Burnett.
In 2014, Boucher wrote a blog post expressing her aversion to hard drugs and regretting having lost friends to drugs. "I don't want [hard drug use] to be part of my narrative" she said.
Boucher is a vegetarian for political reasons, and usually avoids dairy but says she will eat it on the road if nothing else is available because she "won't starve [her]self."
- Halfaxa Tour (Canada, 2010) (co-headlined with Pop Winds)
- Darkbloom Tour (North America, 2011) (supported by Doldrums)
- Visions Tour (World, 2012–2014) (supported by Born Gold, Myths, Elite Gymnastics, Ami Dang)
- Rhinestone Cowgirls Tour (North America, 2015) (supported by Nicole Dollanganger)
- Ac!d Reign Tour (Asia/Europe, 2016) (supported by Hana, Aristophanes, Lupa J)
- March of the Pugs Tour (North America, 2016) (supported by Hana, Tei Shi, Christine and the Queens)
- Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes Tour (2011)
- Diplo and Skrillex – Full Flex Express Canadian Train Tour (2012)
- Lana Del Rey – The Endless Summer Tour (2015)
- Florence and the Machine – How Beautiful Tour (2016)
Awards and nominations
|2012||Rober Awards Music Poll||Best Female Artist||Grimes||Won|
|Best Pop Artist||Won|
|UK Music Video Awards||Best Alternative Video – International||"Oblivion"||Nominated|
|Antville Music Video Awards||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Polaris Music Prize||Best Canada Album of 2012||Visions||Nominated|
|2013||Juno Awards||Electronic Album of the Year||Won|
|Breakthrough Artist of the Year||Grimes||Won|
|Webby Awards||Artist of the Year||Won|
|NME Awards||Best International Artist||Nominated|
|MuchMusic Video Awards ||Dance Video of the Year||"Genesis"||Nominated|
|2014||NME Awards||Best Band Blog or Twitter||Grimes||Nominated|
|2015||Rober Awards Music Poll||Best Female Artist||Nominated|
|Best Pop Artist||Won|
|Song of the Year||"Kill V. Maim"||Nominated|
|Album of the Year||Art Angels||Nominated|
|MuchMusic Video Awards||Video of the Year||"Go"||Nominated|
|2016||Video of the Year||"Flesh Without Blood"||Nominated|
|International Dance Music Awards||Best Alternative/Indie Rock Dance Track||Nominated|
|Best Breakthrough Artist (Solo)||Grimes||Nominated|
|Bazaar Women of the Year||Musician of the Year 2016||Won|
|A2IM Libera Award ||Video of the Year||"Kill V. Maim"||Won|
|Polaris Music Prize||Best Canada Album of 2016||Art Angels||Nominated|
|2017||Webby Awards||Online Film & Video - Music||Nominated|
|Juno Awards||Alternative Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Recording Package of the Year (Art Director)||Nominated|
|Video of the Year (Director)||"Kill V. Maim"||Won|
|Canadian Independent Music Awards||Single of the Year||"Flesh Without Blood"||Nominated|
|iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards||Best EDM/Dance Video||"Venus Fly" (featuring Janelle Monáe)||Won|
|Best Pop Video||Nominated|
|Fan Fave Video||Nominated|
|2018||Juno Awards||Video of the Year||Won|
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