Grimes: Sign o’ the Grimes

Sign o’ the Grimes

Grimes: "It's all about the vibe"
Photo: John Londono

Claire Boucher continues her fantastic voyage

From limited releases on Montreal’s Arbutus Records and DIY shows at loft venue Lab Synthèse to international stages and a deal with 4AD, Grimes (a.k.a. Claire Boucher) has come a long way. Charting a course through the electro-pop futurist’s 2010 debut Geidi Primes, her spooky sophomore Halfaxa and last year’s split with D’eon into the big-time breakthrough album Visions, her off-kilter melodies have come into sharper focus with each subsequent release.

"I’m just getting better at it, I guess," Boucher says. "Nowadays when I’m recording, I can get things right in one or two takes. Usually I start with a beat, and then add vocals, then whatever else. It’s all about the vibe – if it sounds good, it sounds good, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Everyone asks me, ‘So what’s the ideological difference?’ I tell them, ‘I don’t know, I’ve just been doing it for a couple of years.’"

For listeners seeking musical escapism, Visions offers a sci-fi soundworld of synths, beats and samples and an otherworldly octave range conjuring Mariah Carey in anime form. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that Boucher looks to the Top 40 superstars of Japan and Korea for inspiration.

"I’ve been listening to J-Pop and K-Pop since I was really young," she says. "It’s just extremely aesthetic. There are gorgeous music videos for every song, but the artists are also pretty creepy because they’re super manufactured. I like that it’s totally devoid of personality and robotic."

Boucher differs here in that she has personality to spare, yet she has run with the concept of filming a video for every song on her new album. So far she’s got six in the bag, but has only released one at the time of this article. The dreamlike clip for Oblivion finds her mugging for the camera at a motorcycle rally, football stadium and house party full of shirtless frat boys, flipping a few video clichés on their head.

"Filming at the football stadium was sort of embarrassing, but also fun because it was embarrassing," she laughs. "People were staring at us and saying, ‘What the fuck?’ The frat party scene was actually all of my brother’s friends. I just asked him, ‘Yo, do any of your buff friends want to be in a music video?’"

w/ Born Gold, Mozart’s Sister
At Cabaret du Mile End
March 31

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