Vanessa // Grimes

“I just have an intense desire to surround myself with beauty, and I feel like the best medium for that currently is music,” explains multi-disciplinary artist Claire Boucher, aka Grimes. When Arcade44 recently got a few moments of her time, what immediately became apparent is the care and tenderness Boucher has regarding her art—she talks about her music and painting as if it were a close friend. For her, she explains that painting and music “come from the same person and so there are common threads. I feel like any art I make isn’t limited to music or visual art, that’s just what I’m known for and probably best at.” After checking out some of Boucher’s visual art, it’s actually tough to say that her talent in one medium outweighs the other.

Boucher prefaces her influences by saying, “I listen to a lot of music, but it changes pretty drastically with time… My life is all about cycles and they rotate, I guess.  During [the recording of my album] Halfaxa I was writing a thesis on Hildegard von Bingen and getting pretty obsessed with medieval music… getting over goth/industrial, as well as moving into an R&B phase, which is now fully blooming.” For her next album, Boucher is delving into the worlds of R&B, new age, and noise. She clarifies, “Like, Mariah, Enya and Black Dice all at once.” The music video for “Vanessa” is yet another nod to Boucher’s penchant for R&B and pop music. “Well, I fucking love Rihanna, Beyoncé and Justin Bieber so so much,” Boucher declares proudly. “I listen to more mainstream radio music than experimental music probably, and so the song [and] video is kind of an homage/parody at the same time.” She also admits that sometimes she won’t “listen to any music for a long, long time, and then things can get pretty weird.” Which of course, is what we love so much about Grimes.

Coming out of the music scene in Montreal, Boucher has massive respect for her peers, surroundings, and community. “The Montreal music scene is incredibly vibrant,” explains Boucher. “The only downside,” she points out, is “that it’s increasingly difficult to find underground venues because the police are cracking down, and our area of town is getting pretty gentrified.” But regardless, there are clearly so many good things coming out of Montreal. “Most of the musicians I know are extremely talented and there’s a lot of cross-pollination.  Almost everybody is an expat. There’s just a lot of outside sources—so it’s very diverse and hence things change often. Biologically speaking, it is a very healthy community.” Boucher offers us some insight into Montreal’s French/English background, which is so unique to the city’s culture—“The (home) French community also gives a lot and yeah, the mingling of French and English is healthy as well, I think.  A lot of the best studio- jam- and show-spaces are bilingual,” like local hotspots La Brique and Torn Curtain.

Grimes will begin to tour with Lykke Li in two weeks, where they will travel across North America, crossing east to west and ending in LA. “I really really want to go to San Francisco, Portland…West Coast cities. I love the West Coast so much.” says Boucher. Graciously, she adds, “but more importantly I want to meet Lykke Li, and study her, I guess.  We are very different musically, but in terms of format (solo female experimental pop-star) she is the closest artist to me that I have met, so I feel like I will learn a lot from her.” If you haven’t been able to tell, Grimes is the real deal—an artist that is so easy to get behind because she has an infectious love for what she does. Do yourself a favor, and check Ms. Boucher out.

Annick Mayer