Imagine if Tiffany took a handful of LSD, smoked a Snoop Doggy Dogg-sized blunt and then performed her 1987 hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” over Knife-like rave beats and spooky synth atmospherics. That’s what Visions, the third album by 24-year-old Montreal musician Claire Boucher’s solo project Grimes, sounds like. Sung with a disorienting but wonderfully elegant lisp, her lyrics are often incomprehensible, and the music is gorgeously robotic, bizarro dance-pop that sounds galaxies away from everything else in the indie market.
Everyone from Pitchfork to Vogue has suddenly taken notice of Grimes (deservingly, as Visions is one of the most fascinating albums so far this year), and Boucher’s been on a press roller-coaster ride for the past few months. PW talked to her on the telephone for a few minutes right before her gig in Austin, Texas. She’d just eaten some chocolate bacon.
Ever wish you were still an anonymous musician making cassettes in your basement?
No, but I don’t want to be famous. I just want credibility. At least now I don’t have to sleep in a tent when I go on tour.
What’s been the worst consequence of the recent ascension?
It’s strange to show up at the venues and they think you’re just someone’s girlfriend, but you’re actually the headlining musician. Every photo shoot is like, “Take off your shirt,” and crap like that. Nobody would ever say that to a male musician. That shit pisses me off. I guess people think that if you’re a female performer you automatically want to be a sex object. Somedays I go home and I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to be seen that way. But in the end, it actually does provide me with more power.
As Heavy D once asked about love, now that you’ve found power, what are you gonna do with it?
I want to promote my friends, promote music that’s really good. I just want to do things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I do have ideas and values, so maybe some people out there will listen to what I have to say. Probably not, but you know ...
Interestingly, Visions seems torn in two directions at once: it’s very introspective/private and incredibly danceable/public.
Grimes exists in two different worlds, so I wanted it to be both. One of them is me doing shit in my room alone and dealing with heavy shit. That’s more introspective, but then I normally play raves and dance parties. I don’t think dance music needs to be sad or emotionless. Sad dance music is the best music ever. It’s so melancholic, but the fact that you’re moving is so human. It captures this fundamental human need to move and to respond to something.
Grimes performs Thurs., March 22, 8pm. $12. With Born Gold. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 215.821.7575. r5productions.com
PW's Music Issue 2014