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Interview with Grimes

28 NOV 2012 | Posted By: SineadStubbins

Interview with Grimes

Grimes a.k.a Claire Boucher is a pretty complex individual.

She does things like build a 20-foot long houseboat (equipped with chickens, a copy of Huckleberry Finn and a typewriter) and attempt to sail down the Mississippi River, but is also so earnest and unconcerned with 'indie cred' that she announces on Twitter that her favourite recording artist is Mariah Carey. She's somehow not pretentious because she's so likable; a little bit nuts but in a completely endearing, exciting way (even during our phone conversation she would constantly start a sentence, and then change her thought mid word like she wasn't even sure what she meant).

The 24-year old has also released three incredibly original and ambitious albums, with her latest creation Visions one of the most highly acclaimed of the year. We spoke to her just ahead of her December tour of Australia, and had to decide on the spot whether we would actually call her 'Grimes'.

Sinead Stubbins: Hi... Claire, how's it going?
Claire Boucher: Hello!

First up, how are you feeling? You've been cancelling a bunch of dates lately...
CB: I feel pretty good, I'm actually not sick I just have this hearing problem so I've been told not to... you know, I had to cancel the European tour because it was probably unsafe for me to have been touring for a year straight.

SS: Woah, are you OK now?
CB: Um, in theory.

CB: (Laughs) I mean, I think I have some permanent damage but it's not that bad.

Suffering for your art, etc.
CB: It's more that I like to listen to music really loud in general, I've been doing that since I was 13. So there's probably a lot of damage I did in high school or something.

SS: I feel like our generation will go prematurely deaf because of earphones.
CB: Yeah! I've actually been reading about how our generation is going to be subject to all sorts of hearing problems, because we've just had so many other technologies that other people haven't had, like Walkmans and Discmans and stuff.

SS: I'm laughing because it's so depressing!
CB: Hahaha!

SS: The New York Times called Visions "one of the most impressive albums of the year". Were you ever surprised that so many people actually got it? Do you feel pressure to make a follow up?
I don't feel pressure just because the stuff that I'm working on is much better than Visions. But just having that kind of press is pretty... I don't know I just never, ever thought anything like that would happen. But I feel like just from touring I've become a lot better as a producer and songwriter, I've been studying the craft and I guess I hadn't tried that hard before. So I'm pretty excited to put out some more stuff because it's like the next step, or whatever.

People are kind of obsessed with trying to make your music fit genres... the best I've read is "noise rock combined with medieval music".
CB: (Laughs).

SS: But do you ever sit down and think "Cool, today I'm going to infuse my beats with a smattering of medieval music"?
CB: A little bit actually! I mean, I really like to brainstorm and think of things that seems really unlikely... I think that's key to making something different to everyone else. I'm like "Cool, that reggae song is pretty crazy!" and then I make a reggae song! If you use Enya's production techniques on this reggae songs it would be something completely different to anything anyone has heard! But yeah.

SS: I haven't heard a good Enya reference in a while. Or ever.
CB: I mean, Enya's amazing! People think only parents listen to Enya, so she's not very cool. She has some stupid music but the production she did on her record, that has never been done before or since. I think she's really underrated.

SS: #Enya is so going to be trending on Twitter tonight because of you.
CB: Yay!

SS: You've had some pretty cool press this year, that Dazed and Confused cover you did was amazing. Did you ever have a moment where you thought "Fuck– I'm not just internet famous, I'm actually famous"?
CB: Oh, I still feel like I'm just internet famous!

SS: I think when you get on magazine covers you're officially regular famous.
CB: Maybe that is true... (laughs) Maybe now is the moment! I have this really weird disconnect with the whole press thing, it's so surreal that it's kind of hard to process.

SS: So weird question: you believe in aliens, right?
CB: Yeah, but it depends what your definition of aliens is.

SS: Yeah – wait, what's your definition of aliens?
CB: I mean, I think any life outside of Earth. It doesn't need to be carbon based or intelligent, it's just something that is somehow consuming and producing energy... I mean statistically it should exist. There's this really cool mathematical equation that takes into account factors you would need to sustain life or whatever, and it goes through how many planets statistically could... it predicts like more than a billion places where there might be life.

SS: Wow.
CB: Sorry, I'm not articulating myself well. You're the first person to actually ask.

SS: Well I only asked because I've been kind of obsessed with the Voyager Golden Record lately, and I wanted to know what songs you'd want the aliens to hear?
CB: (Laughs) Yeah! I think about that a lot actually... I remember looking at the track listing and thinking it was kind of bad.

SS: Same!
CB: I do think the practice in general is kind of dangerous, but I would probably send some Enya up.

CB: (Laughs) I would just want to send peaceful things!

But obviously aliens would get down to Grimes! Say Grimes!
CB: Maybe. I'd rather send them something that had better production. Like Timbaland.

SS: For such a beautiful album, the recording of Visions sounded like it was horrible– you were in isolation for days, were crying constantly and started hallucinating!?
CB: When you put it like that it sounds super bad! Um, I just like working in extreme isolation, that's how I roll. I'm kind of doing it now, I'm living in a cabin in the woods in British Columbia just with my brother. It's kind of great. I don't know, when you're around people all the time you sort of internalize how they're going to see your music. I need to completely disconnect myself from the opinions of other people, I start making better stuff at that point.

SS: It's such a sweetly weird, positive album but it was made during a time that you you had a couple of friends pass away and had problems with drugs. Did it feel dark at the time you were writing it?
CB: Hmm. Yeah, but my musical process is kind of about taking things that I feel really emotional about, and kind of trying to turn it into a positive experience. I'm really inclined to making dance music in general, but I don't think dance music needs to be super happy. All of my favourite dance music is kind of sad– George Michael makes sad dance music. Feeling like you want to move to music is a really awesome experience, but when you combine that with something that is more emotionally intense than a regular pop song, it brings it to the next level.

SS: Speaking of party jams, a few months ago you did a song with Kreayshawn, Trajik and Blood Diamonds that you wrote in 10 minutes and filmed in an hour. What?
CB: (Laughs) Um, we were all just hanging out and listening to Le Tigre and riot grrrl music for some reason, and I was like "Man, there hasn't been a good punk song in a really long time!". While we were hanging out I was just producing on my computer...

SS: Naturally.
CB: Yeah, just casually making beats while I was talking to people. And I made that beat– I mean, it's a really shitty beat! And I think Kreayshawn just started rapping, somebody started rapping, and we just made the song. The lyrics are so bad because everyone only got one verse (laughs).

SS: I had "I be that grimey motherfucker" in my head forever.
CB: (Laughs) I was really shocked when it kind of blew up like that, I never thought anything would come of it. We put it on the internet as a joke and thought 'Wow this will be funny if it gets like five thousand views" and then it had two hundred thousand in a week!

SS: I follow you on Twitter, and I like that you're not afraid to say you dig Lana Del Rey or Taylor Swift, even though a lot of other cool, independent musicians may be scared that that would lose them cred.
CB: Yeah. I feel like people are more marketed to than they think. I always tweet about Justin Bieber and people are like "Oh my god this is so terrible, he is the worst!". I just feel like because he's so specifically marketed to young girls, people feel like they can't like him. I mean, his songs are amazing! He's working with all the top songwriters and producers in the industry, and it's undeniably great in my opinion. You know? Maybe everyone disagrees with me...

No, sorry I do! Frank Ocean has written for Justin Bieber, so that's cool.
CB: Yeah! I feel like people are so angry about that stuff, it's weird. I think it's also shitty because a lot of the best music comes from mainstream culture. Mainstream music has to be innovative because they have all the top people in the industry working for them, so obviously it's going to be pretty interesting. Production wise, Outkast are probably one of the most innovative groups of the last 20 years. I think that people feel that if something is easy to like it's not as good. It's the same as people thinking that J.K Rowling isn't as good as Dostoyevsky, because Harry Potter is so likable.

I love Harry Potter.
CB: (Laughs) Yeah!

I know you're a fan of Tavi Gevinson's Rookie too, so it makes sense that would give young women like Taylor Swift props instead of engaging in girl-hate. It's really great!
CB: Oh, thank you. I feel like people especially hate things that are marketed to young girls, that's why Taylor Swift has the most hate. It's like an ageist, sexist thing. It implies that young girls can't have a critical eye and it's really dumb. That's why I like Rookie because Tavi is so articulate. It's awesome that she can take stuff like fashion and say that it's not vapid just because it's associated with young women, or not artistically relevant.

SS: On that note, well done for weighing in on the Rihanna/Azealia Banks seapunk thing. That was some weird internet backlash!
CB: (Laughs) I know! I mean I kind of see where they're coming from, but because there's not really any art associated with the scene in the first place it's not relevant as an argument. Maybe I just got too involved!

SS: Are you ever scared that that sort of internet backlash will happen to you? Were you scared that all that Tumblr love initially would mean you that you were hated a few weeks later?
CB: I didn't even notice the Tumblr thing until quite recently actually. I'm totally out of the loop in terms of how I'm perceived publicly, I just try and avoid it. I just found all the Grimes Tumblrs like, three weeks ago.

SS: You're a pretty big deal to Tumblr girls!
CB: It was insane! But kind of funny and nice, I haven't been keeping my press, so it was cool seeing all these pictures of things that have happened. But also a bit weird.

And what about the girls that copy your outfits?
CB: Ah, it's kinda cool (Laughs). I kind of like that, it's neat.

SS: Those Pussy Rings you designed with Morgan Black were pretty sick. What gave you the idea of putting vaginas on your hands?
CB: Well he'd been making custom ones for people and one time I was at his house, and we were doing this ghetto photo shoot. And I was like "Where did all these vaginas come from?"  and he goes "Yeah, I make them for clients". I thought "Fuck, this would be awesome merch". We were running out of t-shirts, and it was way cooler than anyone else's merch... it's also a loaded statement, which is cool.

SS: Yeah they're rad! In terms of business stuff like that, I read that you get pissed when dudes offer to do things like produce for you, despite the fact you've always done it yourself. Do people still think you're not as capable because you're so young?
CB: Not so much recently, but yes. It was just a weird thing where I would be constantly approached by guys saying "Hey we should set you up with a real producer, it'll be awesome!". And I was like "What do you mean a real producer!?". It's just kind of insulting, the assumption that I would rather give up that artistic aspect of what I'm doing. Maybe it's because I'm a girl or something.

SS: Ugh. Gross.
CB: I know! I don't know, it never happened to my male friends. It was happening literally everyday for a while. Especially when I was talking to labels.

Now you're like "How do you like me now?"
CB: (Laughs).

SS: I'll probably be cut off soon, so I've gotta be quick. I know you're a film nerd because The Fifth Element tattoos, so how do you feel about them making a Blade Runner sequel?

: Oh– yeah! Ridley Scott is directing it and everything!
CB: Oh my god, that's insane! What's it about?

SS: They're going to have a female lead! In the same universe!
CB: Woaaahhhhh. I really hope it doesn't suck. Or maybe it'll be amazing!

SS: You should put your hand up to do the soundtrack!
CB: (gasp) I should. I'm going to. I'm going to look into this!

Grimes will be playing Meredith Music Festival.

Wednesday 5 December 2012 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Tickets online at http://pennydrop.oztix.com.au/ and the Corner Box Office, www.cornerhotel.com, by phone 9427 9198 and 57 Swan St, Richmond.

Thursday 6 December 2012 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne.
Tickets online at http://pennydrop.oztix.com.au/ and the Corner Box Office,www.cornerhotel.com, by phone 9427 9198 and 57 Swan St Richmond 12-8 Mon-Sat.

Friday 7 December 2012 – Meredith Music Festival, Victoria.
More info. www.mmf.com.au.

Saturday 8 December 2012 – The Zoo, Brisbane.
Tickets from OzTix, online at http://pennydrop.oztix.com.au/, by phone 1300 762 545, from the venue, online at www.thezoo.com.au and the usual outlets.

Monday 10 December 2012 – OAF, Sydney.
Tickets from Moshtix, online www.moshtix.com.au, by phone 1300 Get Tix (438 849), on your mobile via www.moshtix.mobi and Moshtix outlets.

Tuesday 11 December 2012 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Tickets from Moshtix, online www.moshtix.com.au, by phone 1300 Get Tix (438 849)

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Comments on this Post
There are "2" comment(s) on "Interview with Grimes "

Senior Member sallytabart
sallytabart  -  2 years ago
Reply  |  Report
Advanced Member GoldPox
BRAVO!! Yes.
GoldPox  -  2 years ago
Reply  |  Report

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