Profiles: Grimes

Grimes Profile

No Majesty Music Profiles takes a look at artists’ careers from start to present, with the aim of documenting their impact on music culture.

Grimes seems essentially like an ongoing musical experiment; releasing her work initially through Canadian and British record labels, then being signed to Roc Nation, and periodically changing her name to suit her mood or her vibe. 

First Claire, then Grimes, now reportedly know simply as ‘c’, as in the code for ‘speed of light’. Grimes is in constant flux, like a pulsating, metamorphosing energy ball, and the work of her ongoing career reflects that. 

Grimes, whose moniker was born out of a Myspace profile moment, when she put grime as her 3 favourite music genres, before she even knew what grime music was, is a Canadian musician and visual artist.  Her real name is the much less anglo-garage-esque handle: Claire Boucher. 

Grimes released her first two records, Geidi Primes (which was inspired by the Dune novels by Frank Herbert) and Halifaxa both in 2010, before collaborating with d’Eon to release a joint electro-pop record titled Darkbloom. An act that was at once subversive and wise; Darkbloom record generated a certain amount of industry discussion and introduced d’Eon and Grimes to each other’s audiences. 

Since the early days, Grimes has gone from strength to strength, making music that is pop, yes, but not quite as we know it. The music that Grimes makes — and her fans love — is difficult, haunting, exciting and manifold. It is as unexpected and spontaneously changeable as the performer herself, who reportedly used to tote a tattoo gun around with her to extemporaneously, and permanently, decorate herself. A deliberately odd and seditious behaviour that couldn’t be more appropriate for an artist whose career is characterised by its subversive unpredictable-ness. 

After releasing two albums in a year followed by her collaborative project with d’Eon, Grimes put out a record called Visions, which she wrote and recorded at breakneck speed, fuelling herself with amphetamines and treating the album as a blank slate, a new page, a vision for the future. Clash called the album a ‘creative, sensual explosion of humanity’.

After that, Grimes took a closely watched break. Over three years, she toured relentlessly, often becoming unwell with overwork and exhaustion. In 2015, she released Art Angels, another pop album that took from a smorgasbord of influences and blurred all the definitions we thought we understood about pop music. 

In 2018, it was reported in the media that Grimes — gothic, avant-garde, walking art piece, seminal musician — was dating Elon Musk — tech billionaire. This prompted a million Gideon Graves and Ramona Flowers references. The relationship seemed like an odd coupling, and Musk’s political affiliations, and his wealth, was problematic for a lot of Grimes fans. 

The couple’s status now is unclear, but Grimes recently announced a pregnancy, and Musk is rumoured to be the father. Grimes’s attitude towards her pregnancy has been characteristically open, and she has been honest and communicative about the difficulties regarding pregnancy, referring to the experience as ‘wild and feral’.

Although Grimes’s newest record is due for release in February, and we have heard some singles from the album, beyond that, the future is unclear for Grimes. Not because she is at all likely to be unsuccessful, but because she is so unpredictable and headstrong. It will be exciting to see her as a mother, practising the equality she preaches, and to see what kind of musical direction her newest record, Miss Anthropocene, takes.

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