Interview: Grimes - Electronica artist
The Canadian musician shares the intense creative process that spawned new album Visions
The stunning future pop masterpiece Visions by Claire Boucher aka Grimes is inspired by Enya, Japanese anime, TLC and Aphex Twin and samples Renaissance composer Palestrina. Her dream? To be Timbaland and Lydia Lunch simultaneously and leave a mark on culture that will go down in history. And if all that sounds a little deranged that’s probably because she’s a former-goth and neuroscience student turned art maker and fashion icon, whose most creative periods are fuelled by copious cigarettes, solitude, speed and no sleep.
So when The List calls Boucher at her Montreal base we’re expecting a hyperactive, occasionally nonsensical but ultimately super smart eccentric, and that’s exactly what we get; with a little bit of ‘sweetly precocious’ thrown in too. ‘I like going crazy,’ she giggles, wired as ever, down the line. ‘And not just for art, I like extremes in general. I’ve been awake since 2pm yesterday (it’s 7pm now) and I feel like that headspace I go into when I work is incredibly meditative. You are totally emptying your world of any stimulation at all and so your desire to full up that empty void is intense.’
Boucher’s background is in ballet and visual art but after she posted a few early ‘experiments with sound’ online, blog hype hit and she decided to ‘go hard’ on music, releasing a plethora of records – Visions is her fourth in a two year period. ‘People were into it so I was like right, I’m going to dedicate my life to this,’ she explains. No half measures when it comes to Grimes. ‘I’ve always been like that, though,’ she adds. ‘Even as a kid, as soon as I was able to read I would pretty much stay up all night reading. I’ve always been very intense about everything I do. With Visions I went really deep into it for three weeks because if you snap out of the mindset it fucks it up. Go back to real life and you lose the spirit.’
The challenge for Boucher is not being able to create, she does that constantly, prattling excitedly at The List about various video and painting projects she’s currently working on as well as a new album. But it’s how she refines her impulse-driven art that proves the most trying. ‘I find making something that is emotional and bringing logic into it really hard. Because, when I’m in the zone, it’s so anti-logic and the opposite of being explicit … but you bring it to the next level artistically if you can actually make it be meaningful … so it’s this difficult balance to get right …’
On the buoyantly catchy and cleverly constructed Visions, which documents the painful breakdown of a relationship, Boucher has balanced it beautifully and she’s become the talk of 2012 – something she’s intent on ignoring in case it affects her future output. Self-confessed loners with crippling stage fright make for awkward stars, right? ‘Well, I was incredibly unpopular in high school but also extremely notorious,’ she laughs, ‘there were all these rumours about me being a lesbian Satanist hooker, so I guess I was my own kind of celebrity at the time. I’ve always had this weird thing where I’m really introverted but also very extreme to the point of drawing a lot of attention to myself. And I don’t really like the attention but I still feel compelled to carry on. It’s complicated,’ she sighs, before racing onto the reason why she does it: ‘To change the way that women are perceived in music, the way that beauty is perceived, the way that music and fashion interact and the way that pop music and DIY interact. I just feel like there’s a lot to do and that I have a lot of ideas.’ No biggie, then.
Grimes plays the Berkeley Suite, Glasgow, Mon 7 May (SOLD OUT) and returns to play The Arches, Glasgow, Wed 29 Aug.