Grimes (musician)

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Grimes in 2011
Background information
Birth nameClaire Elise Boucher
Born(1988-03-17) March 17, 1988 (age 26)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GenresElectronic, experimental, synthpop,[1] witch house[2]
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, producer, visual artist, music video director
InstrumentsVocals, keyboards, synthesizer
Years active2009–present
LabelsArbutus, 4AD, Roc Nation
Associated actsd'Eon, Brooke Candy
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Grimes in 2011
Background information
Birth nameClaire Elise Boucher
Born(1988-03-17) March 17, 1988 (age 26)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GenresElectronic, experimental, synthpop,[1] witch house[2]
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, producer, visual artist, music video director
InstrumentsVocals, keyboards, synthesizer
Years active2009–present
LabelsArbutus, 4AD, Roc Nation
Associated actsd'Eon, Brooke Candy

Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17, 1988)[citation needed], better known by her stage name Grimes, is a Canadian producer, artist,[3] musician, singer-songwriter [4] and music video director.[5] Born and raised in Vancouver, Grimes began recording experimental music while attending McGill University in Montréal, where she became involved with the underground music scene.

In 2010, she released her debut album, Geidi Primes on Arbutus Records (based in Montréal, Québec), followed by Halfaxa (2010). In late 2011, she announced that she had signed with 4AD Records, who partnered with Arbutus Records to release her third album, Visions (2012). Visions met critical acclaim and was hailed by The New York Times as "one of the most impressive albums of the year so far."[6]

Grimes' music has been noted by critics and journalists for its atypical combination of vocal elements, as well as a wide array of influences, ranging from industrial and electronic to pop, hip hop, R&B, noise rock, and even medieval music.

In 2013, she was awarded the Webby Award for Artist of the Year.[7] Also in 2013, Grimes was awarded a Juno Award for Electronic Album of the year. [8]

Early life[edit]

Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia.[9][10] She is of Québécois, Ukrainian, Russian and British descent.[11][12][13] She graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School[14] and studied ballet for 11 years.[15] At age 18, she moved to Montréal, Québec to attend Montréal's McGill University, studying Russian literature and later, neuroscience.[10][16] During her studies, she began to record and perform under the name Grimes.[9] However, as Grimes became a more serious endeavor for her, she began to miss a large number of classes, and began only attending to take exams, resulting in the university taking punitive actions against her and ultimately expelling her.[17] While in Montréal she began attending concerts put on by local experimental musicians at Lab Synthèse, a performance space located in an abandoned textile factory that Arbutus Records evolved out of.[18] She also has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy;[19] they collaborated on the song, 'Christmas Song', released on the Rough Trade bonus disc of her album, Visions.

In 2009, Boucher and her then-boyfriend from Tennessee constructed a 20-foot houseboat, named the "Velvet Glove Cast in Iron," with the intention to sail it down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The cargo included chickens, a typewriter, 20 pounds of potatoes and a gifted copy of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Unfortunately for Grimes and her companion, the chickens caught eastern equine encephalitis virus and perished soon into the trip. Boucher and her companion adopted the names "Veruschka" and "Zelda Xox" for the trip. Due to engine trouble and disregard for boating regulations, the journey was cut short and the houseboat and chickens were impounded. Their diet consisted of mainly potatoes.[20][21][22][23]

Boucher has stated that she eats vegan most of the time, but partakes of non-vegan foods under circumstances she deems it inconvenient for others to cater to her nutritional needs.[24][25] She claims to often work without sleeping for extremely long periods of time: She reports she did not sleep for nine days while recording her album Visions,[16] and repeated the feat once more while touring at multiple festivals to promote that album.[26]


Grimes' debut album, Geidi Primes, was released on cassette in 2010 through Arbutus Records. Later in 2010, Grimes released her second album, Halfaxa, also through Arbutus. In 2011, Grimes released a split 12" with d'Eon titled Darkbloom. Her recording name is a reference to Ken Grimes, an "outsider" artist best known for drawings of aliens.[27] In May 2011 she opened for Lykke Li on her North American Tour[9][10] 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.[28] Also in 2011, she made an appearance on Majical Cloudz's single "Dream World"[29] and collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds.[30][31]

In January 2012 Grimes signed with record label 4AD. The label released her third full-length LP, Visions, in February 2012 in the United States and March 2012 in other countries with Arbutus releasing in Canada.[32] Pitchfork Media listed Visions in their Best New Music category.[33] Her song "Oblivion" from the album received favorable reviews from noted music critic David Hajdu in The New Republic.[34]

Grimes described writing the new album as being "equally enjoyable and tortuous but I feel like the fact that it was really hard was part of the reason that it was really good, y'know? I definitely look back on that time with fond memories, even though I remember crying and being like 'I hate everything!' at the time! But I recorded it in my room in Montreal and it was a really good way to work."[35] According to Grimes, she wrote the album after spending nine days in isolation: "[After nine days] you have no stimulation, so your subconscious starts filling in the blanks", she said. "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."[16] According to another interview with Grimes, she stated that Visions was written during a period of 3 weeks in isolation, where she consumed nothing but amphetamines: “I blacked out the windows and did tons of amphetamines and stayed up for three weeks and didn’t eat anything.[36]

In April 2013, Grimes 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 misinterpreted as anti-male.[37][38][39]

Grimes has stated via her Tumblr that she is currently working on her fourth album.[40]

On December 17, 2013, Grimes posted to her Tumblr that she had signed to Jay Z's management company Roc Nation.,[41] whilst still signed to 4AD Records.

Musical style[edit]

Grimes' music is not easily defined. An eclectic mix of styles which she herself describes as "ADD music", it shifts frequently and dramatically – "I go through phases a lot."[42] Her work has been likened to various artists, including Björk[16] and Enya[18] and she was described by Tastemakers Magazine as an "alien love-child of Aphex Twin and ABBA"[43] 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."[44]

According to Grimes, she had a "realization" at age 20 as to how music was created,[44] which enabled her to begin recording and experimenting. "One day, I was listening to music and it suddenly made sense to me how it was constructed," she said.[44] She went on, saying: "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."[44]

Her primary instruments are keyboards and synthesizers, sometimes accompanied by drums and occasionally guitar instrumentation. 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.[18]

Grimes cites the following musicians as influences: Marilyn Manson,[45] Skinny Puppy,[46] Nine Inch Nails,[46] Cocteau Twins,[9] How to Dress Well,[47] Swans,[16] Dandi Wind, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey,[48] Enya, TLC, Aphex Twin, Joy Division,[49] Outkast, Nirvana, Jedi Mind Tricks, Dungeon Family, Drake, The Weeknd,[50] as well as K-pop,[51] medieval music and industrial artists. She also considers Los Angeles stripper/rapper Brooke Candy "a very contemporary muse."[52]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
Geidi Primes


Music videos[edit]


  1. ^ Lederman, Marsha (July 30, 2012). "Claire Boucher as Grimes: the coolest girl in Canada". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Grimes" at Allmusic
  3. ^ "On Display: Claire Boucher". TVMcGill. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2011-06-07. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Album Reviews: d'Eon / Grimes: Darkbloom EP". Pitchfork. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ "GRIMES & D'EON INTERVIEW: "EVERYTHING IS GAINED."". Dummy Magazine. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d Sound says most to Grimes. Retrieved June 7, 2011
  10. ^ a b c Christiansen, Lisa. Today on Appetite for Distraction: Grimes. BBC Radio 3. Retrieved June 7, 2011
  11. ^ "Grimes on Sur Le Vif, interviewed by Fanny Lefort ('oldish')". YouTube. 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  12. ^ Glassberg, Rachel (May 18, 2012). "Six Questions for... Grimes". Exberliner. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ countess, dowager (August 22, 2012). "Twitter: culturally, historically etc. i love russia, there is a lot of russian blood in me. any negative statements i made were concerning putin". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Francois Marchand (2012), Grimes in the Spotlight with Brilliant Visions, Vancouver Sun, archived from the original on May 9, 2012, retrieved April 15, 2013 
  15. ^ Grimes of the Heart. Interview Magazine, interview with Grimes by Durga Chew-Bose.
  16. ^ a b c d e Richards, Sam (27 April 2012). "Grimes: nine days without food, sleep or company gave me Visions". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Battan, Carrie (16 October 2011). "Montreal's Claire Boucher makes featherlight GarageBand pop as Grimes.". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c Holson, Laura H. (7 March 2012). "Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, Mines Beauty from the Dark Side". New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  19. ^ Parihar, Christina. "Introducing Jay Worthy [Interview]". HipHopCanada. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  20. ^ url=
  21. ^ "The Tale of Grimes' Insane 2009 Houseboat Adventure: The Best Thing You'll Read All Day". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  22. ^ "Grimes: Rollin' down the mighty Mississippi with 20lbs of potatoes in a DIY houseboat". CBC Music. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Claire Boucher Mines Beauty From the Dark Side". New York Times. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Boucher, Claire (27 April 2013). "yummmmm too bad im a vegan now". Tumblr. Retrieved 19 July 2013. [dead link]
  25. ^ Boucher, Claire (18 July 2013). "another vegan ice cream review". Tumblr. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  26. ^ McPhee, Lachlan (April 17, 2012). "Grimes: Her Own Format". Acclaim Magazine. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  27. ^ Jones, Lucy (2012-03-19). "SXSW 2012: Grimes on drugs, religion and the secret behind her unusual name – Telegraph Blogs". Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  28. ^ Riewer, Brian (12 July 2011). "Grimes Set To Re-Release Debut Album". Sun on the Sand. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  29. ^ "video: Majical Cloudz (featuring Grimes) – "Dream World"". Gorilla vs. Bear. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  30. ^ Weatherall, Andrew (7 July 2011). "DUMMY MIX 79 // BLOOD DIAMONDS". Dummy Magazine. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  31. ^ "Siren Seduction: Q&A With Electronic Musician Grimes". The Creator's Profect. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  32. ^ Battan, Carrie (4 January 2012). "Grimes Signs to 4AD, Listen to New Track "Genesis" From Visions". Pitchfork. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  33. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (17 February 2012). "Grimes Visions Album Review Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  34. ^ Hajdu, David (2012-03-12). "Hajdu: What's The Matter With Girl Groups? | The New Republic". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  35. ^ "7Digital Interview 2012". Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  36. ^ Hresko, Lisa (3 March 2012). "In An Altered Zone". CMJ. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  37. ^ "I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living". Grimes. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "Grimes Rails Against Sexism: 'I'm Done With Being Passive'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  39. ^ "Grimes shoots a feminist arrow across the indie pop battlefield*". Irish Times. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  40. ^ Grimes. Retrieved 9 November 2013.[dead link]
  41. ^ "Grimes Signs to Jay Z's Roc Nation". SPIN. 
  42. ^ Zhong, Fan (June 2012). "On the Verge: Grimes". W (Condé Nast) 41 (6): 35. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  43. ^ Fowle, Leslie (14 March 2012). "Grimes - Visions". Tastemakers Mag. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  44. ^ a b c d Hoby, Hermione (28 January 2012). "One to watch: Grimes". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  45. ^ "Mr. Style Icon: Grimes on the importance of Marilyn Manson". Electronic Beats. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  46. ^ a b Williams, Alex Taylor (21 February 2012). "Catching up with Grimes' Claire Boucher". Out. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  47. ^ Fallon, Patric (1 February 2012). "High Five: Grimes". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  48. ^ Elliot, Natalie (16 February 2012). Dishes On Her Less Obvious Influences And Her DIY Tattoos "Grimes Dishes On Her Less Obvious Influences And Her DIY Tattoos". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  49. ^ "4AD - Grimes". 4AD. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  50. ^ Watson, Eli (1 March 2012). "INTERVIEW: Grimes". Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  51. ^ Hadfield, James (20 August 2012). "Summer Sonic: Grimes interview". Time Out Tokyo. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  52. ^ "Director's Cut: Grimes "Genesis"". Pitchfork. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 

External links[edit]