Q&A: Montreal’s Grimes

Claire Boucher, who performs under Grimes, is a solo act signed to Montreal’s Arbutus Records.

Geidi Primes, her latest album, is colourful with an out-of-this-world quality that incorporates space-age piano riffs, slurred lyrics and delayed melodies that have you yearning, but unable to sing along. It’s an intriguing album with a fusion of medieval vibes and sleepy sounds, an intermingling that is truly beyond words. The vocals are at times embracing, enchanting and angelic, and at other times, dark, spooky and otherworldly.

I got the chance to chat with Grimes on an otherwise lazy Sunday, and ask her a few questions about her indescribable musical style, while we were both hopped up on caffeine.

Download Geidi Primes, for free, here.

Listen to a few of her tracks:

Grimes - Rosa

Grimes - Venus in Fleurs

Grimes - Zoal, Face Dancer

When I think of Grimes, I think of words like grimy, raw, gangster and thug. Where did that name come from? Why do you perform under that name?

Haha, I don’t know really where it came from.  I have this problem of deciding on project names. When I was 17 or 18, I was making really crappy music on a tape recorder, like wannabe classical music, and I would just record it and write Grimes because it seemed like a weird contrast that doesn’t seem to fit. Later on, I decided I didn’t want to use my own name, and I already started with Grimes and it wasn’t that embarrassing so I just went with it.

You’re also a visual artist and you designed the cover art for Geidi Primes.  Is it watercolours that you use?

I use ink and food colouring. Food colouring is actually really great as long as you don’t get water on anything.

Your artwork has very unearthly, scary, dark and uncanny elements. How does your art influence your music?

My art is a visual manifestation of my music. If my music would look like anything, it would be my art.

You’ve been compared to a lot of people on the blogosphere including Kate Bush, Bjork, and The Cure... Personally, I got reminded of a little Tracy Chapman while listening to Rosa. As much as bloggers can compare, I've really have never heard anything comparable to your sound. Are comparisons progressive and positive? Or is it more of a burden?

It’s not really either. It’s weird because I never really listened to Kate Bush. Now I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the past couple of days. The Dreaming is my new favourite album, but I’d never even heard it before. I feel like people compare musicians to other musicians because it’s easier to say that people have a similar sound so that readers might be more inclined to listen. It’s the best reference point in order to compare different artists.

A couple of the album reviews say things like, "I can’t describe her music, so I won’t. Just listen." When making your music, do you intentionally make it beyond words and distinct from what's currently out there? Or is that just part of your spirit of making music?

I’m pretty technically limited, so I kind of make the music that I can make, if that makes sense? It’s really simple because that’s the only way I can make music. Like, every song is 4/4, most are 120 bpm and most are in the key of C. I’m trying to move on from that right now. I make music that I want to hear. Or I try to.

What are you working on now? What’s the future looking like?

I want to make a new album that’s more epic. I also want to make a better live show because I’m very inexperienced.

Why do you think you need to improve your live performance? What is it, for you, that makes a live show?

Well, I have a debilitating stage fright. I used to vomit before a show. It's getting a lot better lately. Usually I would only play for 12 minutes because it was really hard for me to make anything longer. I get super-critical of myself when I’m trying to make something live because it’s just so different from how I compose. The songs I’ve recorded aren’t what I think would do well in a live environment. I just want it to be louder, you know?

Grimes has a show coming up on February, 25, 2010 at 8:00 PM at Casa Del Popolo with Blue Hawaii and Pop Winds. Check out her MySpace for more info.