Editors note: Tonight is when the highly anticipated Full Flex Tour stops by Vancouver and we’re proud to say that one of the artists leading the charge is Vancouver’s very own, Grimes. We take a closer look at her rapid progression under the worldwide spotlight and why Vancouver has all the reason to be excited about tonight and what the future holds for this young star.
It was 110 degrees on the sun drenched El Mirage Lake bed. Claire Boucher had one hand grasping the grip of a sword, resting it outside of the window, the other on the wheel of an Escalade. She has no license and hasn’t driven a car in who knows how many years. The park rangers had caught on that this wasn’t a leisurely sport drive through the flats but rather consisted of something a little more creative. Claire and the film crew were pondering the future state of the music video… something that only lasted a short while for we had southern California to work with. The desert was our oyster, and in many ways the world is opening up to become Claires, or better known under her artists name – Grimes.
The rapid ascension to success for Boucher could be considered incredibly daunting by many, but it has bloomed in such an organic way for her that she is best described as a ‘natural’. Her story is cinematic in its essence. Gifted in almost everything she touched – straight A student, athletic and incredible dancer (she received her tap-dancing teachers certificate at the age of 13) but high school was anything but her stage. Come 18 she moved onto Montreal where she attended McGill University.
Montreal draws an eclectic bunch and it’s safe to say the crowd Claire ran with was one of the most diverse. Experimenting with the arts and media in such flowing volumes that it only took a matter of time before underground shows, galleries, parties transformed into a physical entity all in itself – Lab Synthese; An old warehouse on the other side Mont Royal, the far side of Montreal’s plateau. It was here that Arbutus Records was formed and thus needed artists to fill it’s spaces, Boucher joined the team. This illegal nightclub would become a centre for Montreals young artists and eventually become intertwined in the network of the east coast DIY scene. It didn’t last long however, the police shut it down but Arbutus Records had established itself a base on which to start a tour circuit. Working it’s way up from the bottom.
Two years ago Grimes was a name that was scribbled into pamphlets of festivals that you have probably never heard of. Shows at 5am for the barely human, roadside gigs at bars in towns such as Reno where a crowd of 15 would be considered a success. Boucher paid her dues.
16 months ago ‘Vanessa’ was released along with the music video. The blogosphere woke up as what was once a very experimental artist had broken through into writing a very catchy dance song. Slowly blogs such as ‘Gorilla vs. Bear’, ‘Stereogum’, and ‘Pitchfork’ took notice and the wheels were set in motion. With Boucher’s unique sound, odd but encapsulating fashion sense, and dorky yet energetic interviews, she was quickly turning into an internet sensation and the invasion of record labels, PR companies, Management firms was in full swing. Everyone was trying to get a piece of Grimes by the winter of 2011 as her new album ‘Visions’ was preparing to drop. Taking less money to keep her artistic freedom she signed with 4AD in a move that she believes was the best possible decision.
Los Angeles may seem like one of the most unlikely destinations for Boucher but for now she calls it home. A melting pot of culture, where all the freaks, geeks, creative pushers from all over the world can call home and Grimes doesn’t just fit right in, she’s on the verge of owning it. Fellow roommate, Blood Diamonds performed alongside Boucher at the famed Echo Theatre to a roaring crowd and rave reviews from major publications such as LA Weekly, the Times, and many more describing it in such a way “the patrons of The Echo were witness to a strange and terrifying cosmic experience last night that, quite frankly, defies all attempts at accurate documentation. Throughout it all, Boucher reigned supreme like a maniacal Trimalchio in a decadent fun house at the end of the world.”
Love for Grimes has been spreading in a flurry of international attention. Selling out shows around the world, she performed to her largest crowd of 15,000 at Barcelona’s Primavera music festival and ended up being one of the top acts alongside groups such as M83, The Cure, A$AP Rocky. To features in Magazines such as Rolling Stone, Vogue, to covers on magazines for Dazed, NME, V Magazine and many more. In December of 2011 she was one of the top artists for sales in I-tunes Japan.
Civilization is scarce in this water-thirsty region. This means a whole lot more room to play with, something essential for Claire to dive into her creative improv. Swords, SUV’s, and badass women – one could draw conclusions that this is some rise of neo-feminism, and it could very well be possible but the intent is not for that. Music videos just happen to be another medium in which Boucher wants to branch into – directing. It just so happens she is pretty good at, at least having the vision for aesthetics by finding cool looking people, cool looking places, with cool music. It’s a simple formula yet it is rarely executed in the fashion it should be. As the day of shooting wraps up, it is hard to forget what just happened – metallic armored strippers, fellow musicians, dancers, fashionistas, swords, maces, and an Escalade. Who knows how the video is going to turn out but from the look of it, it should be pretty cool.
Days after wrapping the shoot, the DOP drops off all the files in a terabyte hard drive. Claire scrambles to take a look through everything (as she is planning to edit the video herself) while at the same time has to pack to get ready for a cross-Canada tour alongside Skrillex, Diplo, Pretty Lights, Tokimonsta, KOAN Sound and Hundred Waters. Los Angeles had been good to Grimes and Grimes had been good to LA but in the meantime she returns to Canada and home to Vancouver for her biggest shows yet. Back to reality, if that’s what this could be called.
Written by MNGO from Cascadia Records
Photo Credit: MNGO