Indie-pop sensation Grimes ponders sensory overload
The rising electropop star talks fasting and onstage booty-shaking
Mon Oct 22 2012
Photograph: John Londono
Since Claire Boucher—known as Grimes—put out her crystalline tour de force, Visions, last January, she’s become an indie cult phenomenon, posed for Vogue, attracted about 3 million viewers on YouTube and been handpicked by Skrillex to join him on tour. We chatted with the subversive artist over the phone before her four-night, very sold-out NYC run.
We hear that you wrote Visions during a period of self-imposed isolation and sleep deprivation.
At the time I was reading a lot of stuff about cloistering and fasting and the effects of extreme sensory deprivation on the artistic process. I was curious to see how far I could push that, because I’d done shorter purges in the past. I thought I would take it to the next level.
So how long did this go on?
Around three weeks [of isolation]. I would do two- or three-day fasts, and then I would eat for a couple days.
How many days passed before you started to feel altered?
Like, a day. Not talking to people and everything, you definitely start going insane pretty fast.
How does a song come out of that state of mind?
It’s not that drastically different for me from making a song regularly, it’s just that you’re so removed from your concept of other people’s judgment that it makes it easier to try the craziest things. I think my album would have been less pop if I hadn’t been doing that. There was some part of my brain that didn’t want to make music that was very transparently pop, because I thought people would judge that or something, but… I don’t even remember most of it, really.
Grimes has a really defined personal style. Is this something you always had, or do you wake up and put on your Grimes persona?
I really don’t like the idea of being a band that has a persona. I think that’s unclassy. I’ve been a visual artist my entire life, and music’s just a thing that I started up. I like the idea of being able to perceive any possible scenario as an artistic experience; being creative doesn’t stop at recording music or performing.
You were flanked by two bodacious dancers at your last NYC show. How did that happen?
I did this crazy tour over the summer, this Canadian train tour with Skrillex and Diplo. They’re Diplo/Major Lazer’s dancers. The first time I met them, it was really awesome, because I was wearing combat boots and camo and a hat that said PUSSY on it, and I was just sitting on the train, and two girls walked in wearing combat boots and camo, and one of them had a hat that said CUNT, and the other one had a hat that said… I can’t remember what it said, but it was just like, we were all wearing the exact same outfit. We immediately became very good friends.