The twenty-three-year-old one-woman DIY dream-pop maven Grimes (nee Claire Boucher) is somewhere in Amsterdam right now, according to her blissfully erratic Twitter feed. Her pop-tastic full-length album, Visions, arrives later this month, and she’ll be touring stateside throughout the spring in support. She spared a few moments to discuss her preoccupation with The Fifth Element, her influences and limitations as a female performer, and her collection of stick-and-poke hand tattoos.
Stylistically, what are you favorite movies? Do you draw any musical inspiration from them?
Yes, I am extremely influenced by films, probably more than I am by other music.
Stylistically, my favourite movies are like, The Fifth Element, Enter The Void, Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, Princess Mononoke, Metropolis, etc…. I also really like all of Werner Herzog’s documentaries.
What do you think is the most significant thing about growing up in Vancouver? By that I mean, what characteristic or personality quirk do you have that you believe comes from your environment?
I think there was a really heavy goth community there hahaha. So, I was pretty ‘goth’ for most of my high school life and that’s definitely influenced me pretty significantly, both musically and stylistically.
What are your favorite albums from the ’90s?
Jesus…. Haha. Probably everything that Marilyn Manson put out… and everything Outkast put out.
Your track “Eight” kind of reminds me of “Father Figure” by George Michael. What pop song would you most want to cover?
Omg! I love George Michael. I don’t know that song though. I would cover a lot of pop songs… hmm. The most guilty pleasure would be “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey. Of course, I would never do that because it would just never be as good. Or like, “Sweet Dreams” or something.
If you had to choose between music and making your paintings, which would you choose?
Do you do your own hair? Have you always?
Always have, always will.
Can you tell me about the tattoos on your hands?
I did them all myself, I have a Greek meander that is often mistaken for a square wave on my finger (very telling of the times), an alien head because I believe in aliens, an “8” because its my lucky number and a wrist band my friend designed for me that I did in the woods in Minnesota.
Can you describe what kind of rig you’ve put together for performing live? Is it different gear than what you use to record?
All the same gear I use to record—a Roland Juno-G, a Roland SP 404 sampler, a BOSS VE-20 vocal looper, and a Line 6 M9 pedal.
Have you always secretly known you were supposed to be a musician? Were you in bands before, or is this your very first foray into music?
This is my first musical project, but the “career test” I did in high school said I would be a musician, so I figured it would happen. I’m in a couple of other bands but they’re mostly live bands.
I’ve read where you speak about your complex relationship with femininity. You seem to resent people thinking it’s special that you’re a one-woman-show, but at the same time you really enjoy celebrating femininity and female beauty. Do you think there’s a way to gain attention and celebrate beauty in today’s popular culture without the sex?
It’s definitely hard, but it happens. I definitely don’t push that in any traditional way, and never would. I want any recognition I might receive come from being skilled and innovative, because beauty fades and then you’re fucked if that’s what you’re known for. But I also look like a fucking baby and like, am totally awkward, so it doesn’t work when people try to make me look sexy. I think music is inherently sexual, and I don’t think sex needs to be about wearing a pushup bra or anything. I feel like it’s most effective when it’s subtle, and meaningful.
I don’t really resent anyone, or think gender should be an issue when it comes to what I’m doing. I think gender issues are still super relevant, but for me personally I don’t really feel particularly feminine or masculine, it’s interesting for me to see my music interpreted as one or the other.
Who are your female pop idols/influences?
Mariah Carey, Dandi Wind, Beyonce.
I’ve read that you intend to defy genre categorization and that you want to create a type of music that encompasses, well, everything. I know that you’ve just completed Visions, but can you give us any idea of where you plan to go with the next album?
I dunno, I feel like I’m going in two directions for the next album and I need to like, get a bit more of a handle on it before I say too much in that way, but its sort of like NIN + Jigglypuff so far.
Would you ever consider doing a film soundtrack/score, like Vangelis or something? If so, what kind of film would you want to score?
That would be like my dream job, I would love to work with David Lynch or something crazy like that. I would do anything as long as it was crazy enough to warrant being scored. I feel like I could make a sick soundtrack to The Fifth Element.
Do you make your own clothes, or are you friends with any burgeoning designers? Who or what impacts or enables your fashion sense the most?
I make some of my own clothes, but I think it would be more apt to say I buy used clothes and then cut them with scissors until they fit.
I’m friends with a lot of designers I really admire—Dane Richards and Renata Morales are two Montreal designers who are also sick people.
I usually just dress for comfort and for shit that can handle my life because I often have to wear the same clothes for four days in a row or something. I really like military stuff for this reason, it can handle anything.
Photo Credit: John Londono