60 Seconds With Grimes (We Talk TLC, Bulldogs, & Mists Of Avalon)



grimesIf it were up to us, Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) would be on Top 40 pop radio alongside Rihanna and Kanye — and with every passing release, that pipe dream looks slightly more possible. Her music has evolved from experimental and ambient, to infinitely re-playable, with pop of songs like Oblivion and Vanessa. Yet, even as Grimes has become more accessible, her sound and style exist in a spacey reality all of their own. We were lucky enough to chat with Grimes about her new album Visions (out January 31, on Arbutus Records), which is sure to be one of your favorites next year (honest — it’s genuinely phenomenal). Along the way we talked about bulldogs, The Mists of Avalon, and the avant-garde pop of TLC.

Let me start by saying I love Visions. It sounds a lot more pop-oriented than your past music — maybe with the exception of "Vanessa." Was that a conscious decision or did it just sort of happen that way?
"It definitely just happened. I think I always wanted to make dance music, or pop music — it took me a while to figure it out. 'Vanessa' was the first song where I was like, 'oh yeah!' I achieved that. Really, I’ve just sort of been getting better at making music and I’m getting more able to make the music I want to make. It’s almost more of a realization of what I’ve been wanting to do for a while."

What were you listening to when you recorded Visions? What other artists influence you?
"A lot of TLC, kind of new jack swing-era music. A lot of early '90s. A lot of Mariah. Whitney Houston. TLC, at least vocally, was more influential, because I think they do really cool stuff. And Outkast."

What’s your favorite TLC song?
"It’s really weird. It sounds like Black Dice. It’s this song called, 'If I Was Your Girlfriend,' and it’s really cool. Instrumentally, it’s weird and experimental — digital distortion on the drums and stuff like that."

Do you have a song on Visions that you like to play live?
"Yeah, probably the song called “Be A Body (侘寂).” It’s my favorite song on the album; it’s my favorite song to play."

That’s actually my favorite song on the new album too — I was wondering if you could explain the characters following the title (侘寂)? "[Laughs] It’s really stupid, because I don’t want to seem like some Asia-phile. I’m so embarrassed about that, but it’s the Japanese characters for wabi-sabi, which is a concept that implies, or is about, non-attachment, and not being too attached to physical stuff. The song is kind of about being in the moment. It’s about experiencing the physical world, right now, and not being attached to things."

When you’re on tour is there a ritual or good luck charm that makes you feel ready to go on stage?
"I have this thing where, if I see a bulldog, it means I’ll play a good show that day. So I’m always looking out for bulldogs on the street because they fill me with positive energy, I guess. It sounds insane, but every time I’d see a bulldog I’d play a great show, and then it sort of became psychological. But If I see two bulldogs, then it counts for two shows...."

...You could have a “bulldog bank” where you’ve seen more bulldogs than you have shows coming up...
"Yeah, exactly. And if I got really rich or famous I’d have a bulldog on my rider, so there’s always a bulldog hanging out back stage."

It’s near the end of the year. Have you thought about your favorite albums 2011?
"Maybe the Holy Other EP and the new AraabMUZIK. I dunno, I haven’t actually thought about it, and I always find out about stuff late, so I always say something is my favorite album of the year and it’s from the year before — oh, Wander/Wonder by Balam Acab. I really love that record. Everything Tri Angle put out this year is really good."

One last question: You’ve had a bunch of different, interesting hairstyles. If you could try something new, what would it be?
"I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Mists of Avalon, but one of the crazy Druid ladies has this really cool hair style where she has a single braid coming out of the top of head, and the rest of her head is shaved. I would never do it because I’m trying to grow out my hair, but I always thought that was really cool."

Photographer: Tommy Chase Lucas
Stylists: Laurel St. Romain / Daniel Randell
Makeup: Claudia Lake