What to Make of Grimes

Phil Reidy

Displaying a clothing choice that seems to belong in “Heathers,” a knack for composing and directing her own music videos, and a sound so abstract and difficult to categorize, Claire Boucher, better known by her stage name, Grimes, is a breakout artist out of Canada who has started making a name for herself in the (fairly) mainstream circuit, through YouTube. Her music could be described as techno, ambient, electronic ambient, “goth ambient”, dance, or really any combination of abstract sounds and beautiful and melodic tones. Grimes, unlike some artists, devotes a deep and mysterious spiritual and intellectual energy into her music, believing it to be a product of her soul.

Grimes released her first album, “Geidi Primes,” on cassette in January 2010 and has now moved on to CD and vinyl. Her latest works though, have been some of her most notable, both for the content and quality of the sound as well as the strange, yet extremely creative ways the accompanying videos are directed. “Oblivion,” the first video off her 2012 album “Visions,” features Grimes standing alone in the opening scene of the video, in a boy’s locker room, staring down the camera as it approaches her slowly bobbing pink-haired figure. As the video continues, Grimes is seen dancing in a stadium during two separate events, a football game and a monster truck derby. The video is expertly directed and evokes a sort of dreamlike trance in the viewer. Saying this video is simply creative is an understatement. Grimes sports 1980’s garb that would make Judd Nelson proud. In her slightly lisped and high pitched voice, which she uses as an accompanying instrument to the melody, she sings into the camera beautifully as others look on.

Following “Oblivion,” Grimes released “Genesis,” with a music video she directed herself which could be placed in the visual ballpark of terrifying and abstract. She drags a sword through the dirt as she leans    out of a black truck, dangling a huge snake over her shoulder. The sound is hard to define, like most of what comes from Grimes, but it is a strange and hypnotizing one regardless. Not only is Grimes hard to define artistically, but her inspiration is a thing that in of itself is a mystery. She has mentioned in previous interviews that she treats her voice as an accompanying instrument, believing it is not only her job to convey lyrics, but to also act as another part of the melody. It is possible this is the reason why her lyrics seem to be so hard to decipher, “The lyrics are definitely important to me…but I don’t want anyone to know what they are, because I write the lyrics so the songs can mean something to me, so I can perform them with emotion,” Grimes said of her foggy lyrical content. Needless to say, there’s more than meets the eye with Grimes. Whether it’s insanity, true artistry, or a very likely combination of the two, Grimes is sure to make a name for herself as an emerging artist.

The videos mentioned above can be found here: