Canadian Bands You Should Know—Grimes

March 24, 2017

Grimes refuses to be a pretty face for someone else’s ideas. The 28-year-old Vancouver-native (now living in L.A.) is unapologetic in her resistance towards a sexist industry that often sees women taking a backseat to their own projects.

Claire Boucher (a.k.a. Grimes), began her musical career in 2010 with the release of two albums—her debut Geidi Primes, as well as her self-described “medieval” album, Halfaxa. Since the birth of the Grimes moniker, Boucher has managed to successfully establish herself as a multi-faceted artist. She holds producer and writer credits on all her albums, along with multiple director and editor credits on several of her music videos. Indeed, her imaginative concepts are felt in everything she touches and are paramount to the Grimes experience.

In the wheelhouse of other witchy synth-popsters like Purity Ring and Austra, Grimes remains a force all her own. Known for her DIY-approach and spellbinding compositions—airy falsettos looped and layered atop rhythmic beats—Grimes continues to push her own boundaries of experimentation with the use of new technologies, instruments, and a willingness for collaborations (hear her latest collabs with Blood Diamonds and Bleachers). In doing so, she has broken molds and any form of categorization that her critics have attempted to use.

In 2012, Grimes signed with the independent label, 4AD, and released her third album, Visions. The album’s standout, “Oblivion,” signalled Grimes’ affinity for infectious pop signatures and her still-germinating creative force. Recorded over a three-week period using only GarageBand, Visions won a 2013 JUNO for Electronic Album of the Year, marking the beginning of her journey towards wider commercial success.

Grimes’ latest album, 2015’s Art Angels, is a “call-out album” against the tired obstacles most female artists still face in the music industry. The album was self-produced and engineered by Grimes at her home studio in L.A. It’s a final word against the male producers who would prefer to see her as a prop for their own mastery. The track list consists of aggressive lyrics juxtaposed with dreamy, light-as-air sounds and danceable electro tunes that scream out through the speakers, while track “California” aptly captures her troubles in paradise with the line, “California, you only like me when you think I’m looking sad […] I didn’t think you’d end up treating me this bad.”

Meanwhile, Grimes’ latest video for “Venus Fly,” directed and edited by the artist and filmed at Toronto’s Pie in the Sky Studios, serves as a full buffet of visual indulgences with the use of vibrant fashion, outlandish props, and creative editing. The song and video both feature Grimes’ collaboration with Janelle Monáe, another highly creative and versatile musician, who notably performs using the alter-ego Cindi Mayweather the Android.

“Venus Fly” premiered on February 2, 2017 through Tidal (a streaming service spearheaded by Jay-Z, who claims to support a more equitable and sustainable payment structure that values artists, producers, and songwriters). Grimes shows her appreciation for Tidal’s involvement within the opening sequence. The high-budget video was a clear departure from her preceding set of videos from Art Angels, which were released throughout 2016 as part of The AC!D Reign Chronicles collaboration between Grimes and Hana Pestle (a.k.a. HANA). The project consisted of seven minimally-produced DIY videos shot exclusively on iPhones that were filmed as Grimes and HANA were on tour in Europe. Grimes contributed four of her songs to the project, including, “Butterfly,” “World Princess Part II,” “Belly of the Beat,” and “SCREAM (feat. Aristophanes).”

Grimes’ desire to do it all is indicative of the anxiety felt by our information overloaded society. With so much exposure to different sounds, techniques, influences, and ideas in this post-internet world, it can be difficult to set our collective lens to focus. But just as Grimes can seamlessly switch from producer to singer or from big-budget to DIY, she is also able to maintain a deep sense of integrity no matter her artistic choices. Grimes will always be in search of the new and the different, which is what makes her an artist worth watching.

About the Author

Hilary Stamper

Raised in Toronto, grounded by Halifax, Hilary Stamper is a moonlighting writer who now calls Calgary home. Send her a tweet @hilarystamper.

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