Grimes performing in Austin, Texas, 2012
|Birth name||Claire Elise Boucher|
March 17, 1988 |
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Boucher released the studio albums Geidi Primes and Halfaxa in 2010, and signed a recording contract with 4AD in 2011. Her third studio album Visions (2012) and its singles "Genesis" and "Oblivion" received widespread critical acclaim; it was hailed as "one of the most impressive albums of the year so far" by The New York Times, was nominated for the Polaris Prize, and received the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year. Her fourth studio album Art Angels was released in 2015 and like Visions, it received widespread critical acclaim. Art Angels was nominated for the Alternative Album of the Year and the Recording Package of the Year at Juno Awards 2017.
Grimes' music has been noted by critics and journalists for its atypical combination of vocal elements, as well as an array of influences across electronic and pop, hip hop and R&B, experimental and medieval music.
According to the time stamps on her original MySpace page, Boucher began writing music under the name Grimes in 2007. Grimes later confirmed that she took her name from grime music after discovering the existence of the genre on Myspace. In interviews, Grimes explains that she was asked to do backing vocals for a friend, and though at first reluctant, realized it was easier than she expected it to be. After this experience, she asked a friend of hers to teach her the basics of GarageBand in exchange for food and thereafter began writing her own experimental music.
2009–13: Geidi Primes, Halfaxa and Visions
Boucher's debut album as Grimes, Geidi Primes, a concept album inspired by the Dune series, was released on cassette in 2010. Later in 2010, Boucher released her second album, 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. Widely considered Boucher's breakout record, Visions received critical acclaim from music critics and appeared on numerous music 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.
The album's second single, "Oblivion", also received additional acclaim. Pitchfork Media ranked "Oblivion" number-one on their 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far 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 whilst 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–present: Art Angels
On June 26, 2014, Grimes premiered her new track "Go", featuring Blood Diamonds and allegedly written for Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show and uploaded it to her official SoundCloud page and website for free download, showcasing a new sound for herself while she was 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". Rolling Stone ranked it number fourteen on their Best Songs of 2014 list, calling it "a club hallucination somewhere between Rihanna and Skrillex, sung with a ravenous desire that's all her own."
After "Go" had been released, Grimes said in an interview she scrapped an entire album she had been recording. Despite initial speculation claiming that the cancellation was due to negative reactions to "Go", Grimes later clarified that the album was "too depressing" and didn't want to tour it, adding that people's reactions do not factor into her decisions and that "Go" was never intended to be on the cancelled album. She concluded her comments by saying that the album might be released someday. 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 into 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."
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 Big, How Blue, 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 (feat. Aristophanes)) and HANA (Underwater, Chimera, 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.
Grimes' music is varied, including 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 Sioux 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." Her music has experimented with elements of art pop, synthpop, witch house, baroque pop, dream pop, ambient, and electro-R&B.
According to Grimes, around when she first began songwriting she had a realization as to how music was created after listening to Panda Bear's album Person Pitch, which she describes "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, it seemed like a mystery. 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." On her music making process she has also said, "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 as influences: Marilyn Manson, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Enya, Beyoncé, Bikini Kill, Joanna Newsom, Burial, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, How to Dress Well, Cocteau Twins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Panda Bear, Tool, Dandi Wind, Outkast, the Dungeon Family, New Edition, TLC, Michael Jackson, Black Dice, Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, the Spice Girls, Jedi Mind Tricks, Paramore, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Yoko Kanno, Kenji Kawai, David Bowie, Queen, St. Vincent, Mindless Self Indulgence, Chris Isaak, Salem, Al Green, and Blink-182, as well as the Dune novels, The Godfather Part II, K-pop, artist Yayoi Kusama, The Legend of Zelda, Akira, and medieval music.
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. Mimi Wong of ABC News wrote that "Boucher only started developing her fine art techniques because she wanted to mimic the drawing styles of anime and manga like the Sailor Moon series that became popular in the United States in the 90s."
Boucher has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy; they collaborated on the song, "Christmas Song", 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", "Kill V. Maim", "Venus Fly".
In 2014, Claire Boucher wrote a blog post expressing her aversion to hard drugs and regretting having lost friends to drugs and alcohol "I don’t want [hard drug use] to be part of my narrative," she said.
- Darkbloom tour (Canada/US, 2011)
- Visions Tour (World, 2012 - 2014) support by Born Gold, Myths, Elite Gymnastics, Ami Dang
- Rhinestone Cowgirls Tour (US/Canada, 2015) support by Nicole Dollanganger
- AC!D Reign Tour (Asia/Europe, 2016) support by HANA, Aristophanes
- March of the Pugs Tour (US/Canada, 2016) support by HANA, Tei Shi, Christine and the Queens
- Opening act
- 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 Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour (2016)
Awards and nominations
|2012||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||Nominated|
|Webby Awards||Artist of the Year||Won|
|MuchMusic Video Awards[better source needed]||Dance Video of the Year||"Genesis"||Nominated|
|2015||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|
|Bazaar Women of the Year||Musician of the Year 2016||Grimes||Won|
|Polaris Music Prize||Best Canada Album of 2016||Art Angels||Nominated|
|2017||Juno Awards||Alternative Album of the Year||Pending|
|Recording Package of the Year (Art Director)||Pending|
|Video of the Year (Director)||"Kill v Maim"||Pending|
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