Grimes (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Canadian musician. For other people named Grimes, see Grimes (surname).
Grimes in October 2011
Background information
Birth name Claire Elise Boucher
Born (1988-03-17) March 17, 1988 (age 28)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • music video director
  • Vocals
  • synthesizer
  • sampler
  • keyboard
  • guitar
  • bass
  • drums
  • violin
  • ukulele
Years active 2009–present
Associated acts

Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17, 1988), better known by the stage name Grimes, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer and music video director.[8][9][10]

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,[11] was nominated for the Polaris Prize, and received the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year.[12] Her fourth studio album Art Angels was released in 2015.

Grimes' music has been noted by critics and journalists for its atypical combination of vocal elements, as well as a wide array of influences across electronica and pop, hip hop and R&B, experimental and medieval music.

Early life[edit]

Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia.[13][14] She is of Québécois and Ukrainian descent.[15][16][17] 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.[18][19][20] 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[edit]

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,[14][19] 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] In 2011, she collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds.[22][23]

[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[24]
Grimes performing in 2012.

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.[25] 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. 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.[26] 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,[27] 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.[24][28] She described the writing process as being "equally enjoyable and tortuous",[29] feeling that its difficulty contributed to its success.[29]

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.[30][31][32] On December 17, 2013, Boucher posted to her Tumblr that she had employed the services of Jay Z's management company, Roc Nation.[33]

2014–present: Art Angels[edit]

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.[34] On August 21, Grimes posted a teaser for the video, directed by her and her brother, for "Go".[35] 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."[36]

Grimes performing in 2013.

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.[37] 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."[38][39]

On March 15, 2015, Grimes performed lead vocals on a new song by indie pop band Bleachers, "Entropy", for the HBO TV show Girls.[40] 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.[41] In the summer of 2015, Grimes toured with Lana Del Rey for several of her Endless Summer tour dates and toured into the fall of 2015 as the headliner of her own Rhinestone Cowgirls Tour with opener Nicole Dollanganger.[42] 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.[43] 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."[44] After its November release, the album received very favourable reviews, garnering an 88 (out of 100) rating on Metacritic[45] 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."[46]

In the spring of 2016, Grimes toured Asia and Europe with supporting act HANA on the AC!D Reign Tour,[47] and 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.[48] This alternate version of California has not otherwise been officially released for sale or streaming. 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.[49] 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, Boucher (Claire) and Pestle edited the videos in their entirety. "Concept & Art direction" are credited to Claire Boucher.[50]

Musical style[edit]

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."[51] Her work has been likened to various artists, including Björk,[24] Siouxsie Sioux[11] and Enya[52] and she was described by Tastemakers Magazine as an "alien love-child of Aphex Twin and ABBA"[53] 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."[54] Her music has experimented with elements of art pop, synthpop,[1] witch house,[55] baroque pop, dream pop,[56] ambient, and electro-R&B.[57]

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."[58] 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".[54] 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.[52]

Grimes cites the following as influences: Marilyn Manson,[59] Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Enya, Beyoncé, Bikini Kill, Joanna Newsom, Burial,[60] Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel,[61] How to Dress Well,[62] Cocteau Twins,[63] Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Panda Bear, Tool,[58] Dandi Wind,[64] Outkast, the Dungeon Family, New Edition, TLC, Michael Jackson, Black Dice, Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails,[65] Jedi Mind Tricks,[66] Paramore,[67] Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Yoko Kanno, Kenji Kawai,[68] David Bowie, Queen, St. Vincent, Mindless Self Indulgence, Chris Isaak,[69] Salem, Al Green,[70] and Blink-182,[71] as well as the Dune novels,[60] The Godfather Part II,[61] K-pop,[72] artist Yayoi Kusama, The Legend of Zelda, Akira,[68] and medieval music.[70] In 2012, she considered Los Angeles singer and rapper Brooke Candy "a very contemporary muse".[73]


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.[74] 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."[74]

Personal life[edit]

Boucher has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy;[75] they collaborated on the song, "Christmas Song", released on the Rough Trade bonus disc of her album, Visions.


Main article: Grimes discography


  • 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

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Work Outcome
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[77] Artist of the Year Won
MuchMusic Video Awards[78][better source needed] Dance Video of the Year "Genesis" Nominated
2015 Video of the Year "Go" Nominated
Best Post-Production Nominated
Best Director Nominated
2016 Video of the Year "Flesh Without Blood" Nominated
Best Director Nominated
International Dance Music Awards[79] Best Alternative/Indie Rock Dance Track Nominated
Polaris Music Prize Best Canada Album of 2016 Art Angels Nominated


  1. ^ a b Lederman, Marsha (July 30, 2012). "Claire Boucher as Grimes: the coolest girl in Canada". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Grimes". 
  3. ^ "Grimes' new album is called Art Angels, and it's coming out November 6th". The Verge. 
  4. ^ "Grime's Star Shines Online". Montreal Gazette. 
  5. ^ Hall, John (4 June 2012). "Field Day, Victoria Park, London". The Independent. Retrieved 7 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Brown, Helen (November 24, 2015). "Grimes: Art Angels, album review: 'weird and wonderful'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Why Grimes won't 'cringe' when people hear her epic new album". Entertainment Weekly's 
  8. ^ "On Display: Claire Boucher". TVMcGill. 2011-01-18. Archived from the original on 2012-05-28. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  9. ^ "Album Reviews: d'Eon / Grimes: Darkbloom EP". Pitchfork. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  10. ^ "GRIMES & D'EON INTERVIEW: "EVERYTHING IS GAINED."". Dummy Magazine. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  11. ^ a b 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. 
  12. ^ "2014 Nominees & Winners - The JUNO Awards". Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  13. ^ Sound says most to Grimes. Retrieved June 7, 2011
  14. ^ a b Christiansen, Lisa. Today on Appetite for Distraction: Grimes. BBC Radio 3 (live radio broadcast). Retrieved June 7, 2011
  15. ^ "Grimes on Sur Le Vif, interviewed by Fanny Lefort ('oldish')". YouTube. 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  16. ^ Glassberg, Rachel (May 18, 2012). "Six Questions for... Grimes". Exberliner. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Grimes ou l'anti pop / Tout Le Monde En Parle". YouTube. 2015-12-01. Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  18. ^ Sean Michaels. "Grimes admits lifting moniker from grime genre option on Myspace". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Lucas, John (16 February 2012). "grimes-taps-eclectic-set-influences". Retrieved 17 June 2012. [dead link]
  20. ^ Grimes' MySpace profile
  21. ^ Riewer, Brian (12 July 2011). "Grimes Set To Re-Release Debut Album". Sun on the Sand. Retrieved 19 February 2012. [dead link]
  22. ^ Weatherall, Andrew (7 July 2011). "DUMMY MIX 79 // BLOOD DIAMONDS". Dummy Magazine. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "Siren Seduction: Q&A With Electronic Musician Grimes". The Creator's Profect. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  24. ^ a b c Richards, Sam (27 April 2012). "Grimes: nine days without food, sleep or company gave me Visions". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  25. ^ Battan, Carrie (4 January 2012). "Grimes Signs to 4AD, Listen to New Track "Genesis" From Visions". Pitchfork. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "The 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far (2010-2014) - Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Hresko, Lisa (3 March 2012). "In An Altered Zone". CMJ. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "7Digital Interview 2012". Archived from the original on 2014-12-08. Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  30. ^ Grimes. "I don't want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living". Tumblr. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "Grimes Rails Against Sexism: 'I'm Done With Being Passive'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Grimes shoots a feminist arrow across the indie pop battlefield*". Irish Times. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "Grimes Signs to Jay Z's Roc Nation". SPIN. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  34. ^ Nostro, Lauren (2014-06-26). "Listen to Grimes' "Go" f/ Blood Diamonds". Complex. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  35. ^ Phillips, Amy (August 21, 2014). "Grimes Previews Sweeping "Go" Video". Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Grimes, "Go"". Rolling Stone. 
  37. ^ "Grimes Says That She Isn't Scrapping Music Because Of Negative Reactions". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  38. ^ "Grimes Shares Video for Previously-Unheard Track "REALiTi"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  39. ^ "Grimes". Pitchfork. 
  40. ^ "Grimes and Bleachers Share "Entropy" From HBO's "Girls"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  41. ^ Evan Minsker (May 24, 2015). "Grimes Says New Album Coming in October". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  42. ^ Grimes announces Rhinestone Cowgirls fall tour dates. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  43. ^ "Instagram". Instagram. 
  44. ^ Hazel Cills (October 26, 2015). "Grimes "Flesh without Blood"". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  45. ^ "Art Angels". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  46. ^ Pitchfork's review of Art Angels. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  47. ^ Grimes announces Acid Reign European Tour. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  48. ^ Grimes' Twitter. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Zhong, Fan (June 2012). "On the Verge: Grimes". W. Condé Nast. 41 (6): 35. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  52. ^ a b Holson, Laura H. (7 March 2012). "Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, Mines Beauty from the Dark Side". New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  53. ^ Fowle, Leslie (14 March 2012). "Grimes - Visions". Tastemakers Mag. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  54. ^ a b Hoby, Hermione (28 January 2012). "One to watch: Grimes". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  55. ^ Jason Lymangrover. "Grimes - Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  56. ^ Ramirez, Erika (March 22, 2012). "Video: A$AP Rocky, SBTRKT, Grimes At Spotify's SXSW Event". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  57. ^ "Grimes, 'Go' – 50 Best Songs Of 2014". Rolling Stone. 
  58. ^ a b Stereogum: Grimes Writes About 5 Albums That Changed Her Life. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  59. ^ "Mr. Style Icon: Grimes on the importance of Marilyn Manson". Electronic Beats. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  60. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (September 28, 2015). "Pop for Misfits". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  61. ^ a b Young, Alex (October 19, 2015). "Grimes' new album is called Art Angels, features a song about Al Pacino as transgender vampire". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 7, 2016. 
  62. ^ Fallon, Patric (1 February 2012). "High Five: Grimes". XLR8R. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  63. ^ Lucas, John (16 February 2012). "Grimes taps into eclectic set of influence". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  64. ^ Elliot, Natalie (16 February 2012). "Grimes Dishes On Her Less Obvious Influences And Her DIY Tattoos". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  65. ^ Hood, Bryan (February 21, 2012). "Grimes on Visions, Anime, and Being the Next Phil Spector". Retrieved October 6, 2016. 
  66. ^ Cam Lindsay (February 13, 2012). "Grimes Talks Her 'Visions'". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 6, 2016. 
  67. ^ Pajer, Nicole (April 18, 2013). "Grimes Offers Precise Update on 'Experimental' Next Album". Billboard. Retrieved September 8, 2016. 
  68. ^ a b Richards, Jason (March 21, 2013). "Japan's influence on Grimes grows deeper". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  69. ^ Renshaw, David (December 12, 2014). "Grimes finishes work on new 'glam rock' song inspired by David Bowie and Queen". NME. Retrieved September 7, 2016. 
  70. ^ a b Kerr, Stephen (August 21, 2010). "Grimes interview: "So many worlds."". Dummy Mag. Retrieved October 6, 2016. 
  71. ^ Maria Sherman (September 11, 2013). "I Was in an All-Girl Blink-182 Cover Band Called Dumpweed". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  72. ^ Hadfield, James (20 August 2012). "Summer Sonic: Grimes interview". Time Out Tokyo. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  73. ^ "Director's Cut: Grimes "Genesis"". Pitchfork. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  74. ^ a b "Grimes' Artistic 'Genesis': Experimental Electronic Musician Flirts With Pop". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  75. ^ Parihar, Christina. "Introducing Jay Worthy [Interview]". HipHopCanada. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  76. ^ Grimes to Open for Florence and the Machine on North American Tour. Retrieved May 7, 2016
  77. ^ "Welcome to the Webby Awards". Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  78. ^ "2015 MMVA Nominees". 
  79. ^ "31st Annual International Dance Music Awards - Winter Music Conference 2016 - WMC 2016". Retrieved 2016-10-15. 

External links[edit]