Grimes on not being a pop star and ignoring the press

Categories: Interview
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Photo By John Londono

Claire Boucher is in every sense a product of buzz. Two years ago Grimes (Boucher's stage name), though already active and putting out material, didn't quite hold the same resonance that it does today. She signed to 4AD records and proliferated quickly through blog endorsements without all that much to back it up--virally manifesting into a dubious micro fame that demanded further investigation. But it was okay.

The release of Visions not only lived up to its hype, but also asserted the staying power of the endearingly awkward, synth-driven trip that is Grimes. Though even more intriguing than the music, is the candid, sci-fi loving thinker behind it all. Gimme Noise caught up with Grimes approaching her show at the Varsity Theater (with one-time Minneapolitan Elite Gymnastics) this Monday.

Note: Due to hearing loss and tinnitus Grimes canceled weekend tour dates in Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. As of now the Minneapolis show is still on.

Gimme Noise: The past year has been huge for you in the realm of your career. How has undergoing such monumental change affected your personal outlook on music?

Claire Boucher: I have a much better understanding of the industry that I really had no understanding of before doing this so, uh, that's been the biggest difference in how I perceive music in general. Overall I haven't really changed anything. I really go out of my way to avoid changing too much with media about me or shit like that. I don't wanna change my outlook on things too much. I don't wanna get cynical.

GN: Inevitably, though, you've had to leave a lot behind (e.g. family, friends, home). Does this ever take a toll?

CB: Um it would for a while but then I kinda started to... I don't know, like, it's really hard for me to not be happy about this. Regardless of the things that may be negative about it it's something that most people don't get to do and it's pretty awesome. Now I'm actually at the luxury of bringing people on tour who I like. So it's not that lonely or weird. I can still be around my best friends.

GN: Your album Visions is one born out of considerable torment and personal struggle. Has there been catharsis through its success or even just its completion? I'd like to hear your thoughts on that experience.

CB: Just it's completion, really. Everything that I do artistically, anything that has to do with like promo or touring or that kind of thing... its very unrelated for me with the personal side. I don't know. I just don't associate actually working on stuff with anything that happens after the fact. That's the kind of thing that can make it worse or pollute it or make it weird.

GN: Have you adopted this mindset from the beginning?

CB: Yeah. Separating them is pretty easy.

GN: How singular do you think that pain or struggle from that relationship was to the musical product you produced on Visions?

CB: I mean it totally depends. This album was very helpful but I don't think that art necessarily needs to be motivated by things that are depressing or painful.

GN:  You recently tweeted that you find it insulting that so many people ask to produce your music. What is it that frustrates you so much? Do you feel like you aren't taken seriously as a producer?

CB: I think I'm taken seriously when people realize that I produce my own music.  But I feel like people assume often that I don't. That's something that's really annoying to me because I constantly have to deal with people who want to produce for me or direct my videos or stuff like that. I don't know, it just couldn't be. My projects couldn't be my projects if I didn't actually do them. That's just my thing, I guess. It can be really annoying sometimes. But, again, I also expect people to do that.

GN: Frustrations aside, will you collaborate in the future? Any names topping that list?

CB: Collaborating is something that I'm interested in its just like: there's something specifically insulting about someone offering to produce your music as if you're incapable of doing so yourself. But it's something that could be neat. I also don't want to get pinned as a just a singer. I think a lot of times collaboration suggestions, it's always just someone who wants me to sing on their track or whatever. But I'd love to produce for other people. I'd like to produce for rap music because it's not necessarily vocally melodic so it can go in a lot of different directions. You can take vocal aspects from rap music and pretty much do anything with it and that's awesome. Mykki Blanco would be awesome.

GN: That's a route that's inherently different than what we know of Grimes. Are you striving to test your comfort zone?

CB: Maybe. I mean, I don't really have a comfort zone.  Maybe I do but I'm definitely not uncomfortable with the thought of doing other things.

GN: So, your line of "Pussy Rings" (Pretty literal--Google it if you must) garnered a lot of attention, much of it pretty irreverent. Where do you think everyone missed the mark?

CB: I think that stuff just went wrong in a lot of ways. I mean there was no press release or anything. I think that people thought that I designed everything and I didn't. My friend Morgan Black did so that was kind of shitty because he did a lot of work and I don't want to be necessarily seen for that. I wasn't trying to make a scene or be or sensationalist. I'm actually shocked that it was a scene at all because I didn't think it would be a big deal. I never really read much of the stuff so I don't know exactly what people got wrong. Everything I did see was very childish and sensationalist. I was trying to support local artists and make something that was not typical.

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