Claire Elise Boucher (; born March 17, 1988), known professionally as Grimes, is a Canadian musician, singer, composer, and visual artist. Her music incorporates elements of varied styles and genres including dream pop, R&B, electronic music, and hip hop.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Grimes began releasing music independently late in the first decade of the 2000s, releasing two albums, Geidi Primes and Halfaxa in 2010 on Arbutus Records. She subsequently signed with 4AD and rose to fame with the release of her third studio album Visions in 2012. It produced the singles "Genesis" and "Oblivion", and received the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year. Her fourth studio album Art Angels (2015) received critical praise, and was named the best album of the year by several publications. Her fifth studio album, Miss Anthropocene, was released on February 21, 2020.
According to the timestamps on her original Myspace page, Boucher began writing music under the name Grimes in 2007. Her performer name was chosen because at the time, MySpace allowed artists to list three musical genres. She listed grime for all three, before knowing what grime music was. Grimes is self-taught in music and visual art.
Boucher's debut album as Grimes, Geidi Primes, is a concept album inspired by the Dune series. It was released by Arbutus Records on cassette in 2010. Later in 2010, Boucher released her second album on Arbutus Records, Halfaxa. After the release of Halfaxa, Boucher began publicly promoting Grimes and started touring beyond Montreal. In 2011 Boucher released five songs on her side of the split 12" with d'Eon, Darkbloom (through both Arbutus and Hippos in Tanks). Beginning in May 2011, Grimes opened for Lykke Li on her North American Tour, and the following August her debut album was re-released through No Pain in Pop Records, in CD and vinyl format for the first time. In 2011, she collaborated with DJ/producer Blood Diamonds.
Following extensive touring and positive reception to her first two albums and Darkbloom contribution, Boucher signed with record label 4AD in January 2012. The subsequent release,Visions, appeared on a number of publications' year-end lists and is considered Grimes' breakout album.NME included it on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2013.Visions won the Electronic Album of the Year Award and Grimes was nominated for the Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the Junos. Grimes also won the Artist of the Year Award at the 2013 Webbys.
[After nine days] you have no stimulation, so your subconscious starts filling in the blanks ... I started to feel like I was channelling spirits. I was convinced my music was a gift from God. It was like I knew exactly what to do next, as if my songs were already written.
The album's second single, "Oblivion", also received critical acclaim and was produced into a music video co-directed by Emily Kai Bock and Grimes.Pitchfork ranked "Oblivion" at number one on their 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far list in 2014. In interviews following the album's release, Boucher explained that she was assigned a strict deadline by which to have her third album finished far before it was complete, resulting in her recording the bulk of Visions while isolated in her Montreal apartment for three consecutive weeks. Notably, this intensive recording session included a period of nine days without sleep, food, or companionship, with Boucher blacking out her windows, since she generally could not make music as readily during the day, and doing "tons of amphetamines" She described the writing process as being "equally enjoyable and tortuous", feeling that its difficulty contributed to its success.
In April 2013, Boucher posted a written statement addressing her experience as a female musician in an industry rife with sexism and expressed disappointment that her feminist stance was often interpreted as anti-male. When speaking about her preference to produce all her studio albums herself, she said, "I don't wanna be just like the face of this thing I built, I want to be the one who built it".
On December 17, 2013, Boucher posted to her Tumblr that she had employed the services of Jay Z's management company, Roc Nation.
On June 26, 2014, Grimes premiered her new track "Go", produced by and featuring Blood Diamonds. It was a track that had been written for and rejected by Rihanna and was premiered on Zane Lowe's radio 1 show.Rolling Stone ranked it number fourteen on their Best Songs of 2014 list.
On March 8, 2015, Grimes released a self-directed video for a demo version of "REALiTi" from an abandoned album. It received critical acclaim from music critics, being named Best New Music by Jenn Pelly from Pitchfork, calling it the "best new Grimes song since Visions."
On March 15, 2015, Grimes and Bleachers released their collaboration, "Entropy" for the HBO TV show Girls. On May 24, 2015, Grimes announced via a series of tweets to her fans that her upcoming album would be "surprise" released sometime in October. She also explained that the album would be a departure from previous singles "Go" and "REALiTi" and was recorded with "real instruments", a departure from the primarily synth and sampler driven composing of her prior releases. In the summer of 2015, Grimes toured with Lana Del Rey for several of her Endless Summer Tour dates. She then toured in the fall of 2015 as the headliner of her own Rhinestone Cowgirls Tour with opener Nicole Dollanganger. On October 26, 2015, Grimes simultaneously released the lead single of the album, "Flesh Without Blood", and a two-act music video featuring both "Flesh Without Blood" and an additional song from the album, "Life in the Vivid Dream." After its November release, the album received favourable reviews, garnering an 88 (out of 100) rating on Metacritic and the Best New Music designation from Pitchfork. Jessica Hopper of Pitchfork described Art Angels as "evidence of Boucher's labor and an articulation of a pop vision that is incontrovertibly hers... an epic holiday buffet of tendentious feminist fuck-off, with second helpings for anonymous commenters and music industry blood-suckers."
Art Angels was named best album of the year by NME, Exclaim! and Stereogum. It peaked at number 1 on the Billboard US Top Alternative Album Chart and number 2 on the Billboard Top Independent Album chart. Grimes won the 2016 International award at the Socan Annual Awards and the 2016 Harper's Bazaar Musician of the Year Award in October.
In the spring of 2016, Grimes toured Asia and Europe with supporting act Hana on the Ac!d Reign Tour. Grimes continued touring through the summer of 2016, performing at various music festivals across North America and opening for Florence and the Machine on select dates of the How Beautiful Tour.
Continuing the series of music videos for songs off Art Angels that began with "Flesh Without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream" ("Act I" and "Act II", respectively), Boucher released the music video for "Kill V. Maim" ("Act III") on January 19, 2016 and the music video for "California" ("Act IV") on May 9, 2016. Boucher crafted a slightly remixed version of "California" for the music video in order to achieve a less "dissonant" visual/auditory mix. This alternate version of California has not otherwise been officially released for sale or streaming. On August 3, Grimes released the song "Medieval Warfare" as part of the soundtrack of the summer blockbuster Suicide Squad.
On October 5, 2016, Boucher with friend and collaborator Hana Pestle, more commonly known by stage name Hana, released "The Ac!d Reign Chronicles", a lo-fi series of seven music videos including songs by Grimes ("Butterfly", "World Princess Part II", "Belly of the Beat" and "Scream") and Hana ("Underwater", "Chimera" and "Avalanche"), each starring in their respective segments. Additional appearances include Aristophanes in SCREAM and two of Grimes' backup dancers, Linda Davis and Alyson Van, throughout the series. "The AC!D Reign Chronicles" were recorded over the course of two weeks during the duo's time touring Europe and were made with minimal production, shot exclusively on iPhones with no crew aside from Boucher's brother, Mac Boucher, who assisted with filming. Post production, Claire Boucher and Hana Pestle edited the videos in their entirety. "Concept & Art direction" are credited to Claire Boucher.
On February 2, 2017, Grimes premiered on Tidal the high budget futuristic music video of "Venus Fly", starring herself and Janelle Monáe. The video was uploaded on YouTube on February 9. She won Best Dance Video for "Venus Fly" at the Much Music Video Awards. In 2017, Grimes won a JUNO Award for Video of the Year, featuring "Kill V. Maim".
2018-present: Miss Anthropocene and collaborations
In February 2018, Grimes wrote on Instagram, "well no music any time soon after all." It was later revealed that this was due to a clash with her label, 4AD. She later revealed on an Instagram post that she would eventually be releasing two albums, and that "they would be separated by a period of time", with the first being released with 4AD, and the second with an undisclosed label. Boucher stated that this first album would be "highly collaborative and [characterized by] most glorious light", with the second highlighting themes of "pure darkness and chaos".
On April 10, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Pynk," the third single from Janelle Monáe's album, Dirty Computer. On May 30, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Love4Eva" by LOONA yyxy from their EP Beauty & the Beat. On June 15, 2018, she was featured in a video for Apple's Behind the Mac series on their YouTube channel, with a preview of a song from her upcoming album titled "That's What the Drugs Are For", later released as "My Name Is Dark". On the same day, she posted two Twitter videos previewing two songs from her upcoming album, "adore u (beautiful game)" and "4 æm". In 2018, Grimes composed the theme music for Netflix's animated series Hilda.
On October 31, 2018, Grimes was featured on "Play Destroy" by Poppy on her album Am I a Girl?
Grimes also appeared on Bring Me the Horizon's "Nihilist Blues" from their sixth album, Amo.
On August 13, 2019, Grimes posted an advertisement for the Adidas by Stella McCartney Fall 2019 collection on Instagram, of which Grimes is the face. The description announced that the first single from Miss Anthropocene would be released on September 13, 2019.
On September 5, 2019, Grimes released the music video for "Violence", featuring i_o, the second single from Miss Anthropocene. On October 25, 2019, an unfinished version of Miss Anthropocene leaked online. On November 15, 2019, two versions of the single "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth" were released: the Art Mix (6:13, album version) and the Algorithm Mix (3:51). She performed the song the same day at the 2019 Video Game Awards in order to introduce herself as a voiced character in the game Cyberpunk 2077.Miss Anthropocene was released on February 21, 2020. That same month, she released the single "Delete Forever", which was partly inspired by the death of Lil Peep and the ongoing opioid crisis.
Grimes described her music as "ADD music", shifting frequently and dramatically - "I go through phases a lot." She said "Most music with traditional verse, chorus and bridge structures can probably be considered 'pop.' But I think most people think about Top 40 these days when they use the word 'pop,' and I'm emphatically not from that world." She said that Panda Bear's 2007 album Person Pitch "jumpstarted" her mind. She explains, "Up until that point I had basically only made weird atonal drone music, with no sense of songwriting. I barely understood anything about music ... But suddenly all music clicked into place and seemed so simple and easy. I was pretty much able to spontaneously write songs immediately after listening to this album once."
Grimes created the album art for all of her albums, as well as art lithos for each track on Art Angels that were sold with the vinyl release. Her art is influenced by Japaneseanime, manga, and comic artists such as Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes. Grimes illustrates her merchandise, including T-shirts, album art and show posters. Her illustrations have appeared in gallery shows, including at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. She created an alternate cover for Image Comics' The Wicked + The Divine and designed a capsule collection of T-shirts for Saint Laurent in 2013. That year, she also curated a two-day event at the Audio Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery in NYC with a silent auction to benefit the Native Women's Association of Canada's campaign to raise awareness of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada.
Boucher has a step-brother who raps under the name Jay Worthy; they collaborated on the single, "Christmas Song", which was released on the Rough Trade bonus disc of her album, Visions. One of her brothers, Mac Boucher, was involved in the making of some of her music videos, such as "Violence", "Go", "Realiti", "Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream", "Kill V. Maim", "Venus Fly" and "We Appreciate Power".
In 2009, Boucher and a friend attempted to sail down the Mississippi River to New Orleans from Minneapolis in a houseboat they built. Following several mishaps, including engine trouble and encounters with law enforcement, the houseboat was impounded by the city of Minneapolis. Boucher claims that elements of the story, such as the pair having a typewriter on the houseboat, were exaggerated in the newspapers that reported on it at the time. The adventure has been turned into an animated video narrated by T-Bone Burnett.
In the past, Boucher has been open about her drug use, stating during the creation of Visions in 2012, she "blacked out the windows and did tons of amphetamines and stayed up for three weeks and didn't eat anything". In 2011, she and fellow Canadian artist d'Eon spent "a week playing shows and doing acid in Mexico City".
In 2014, Boucher wrote a blog post expressing her aversion to hard drugs, distancing herself from her previous endorsement, saying she does not want "[hard drug use] to be part of [her] narrative". "Losing people to drugs and alcohol is the worst because they destroy any good memories you have of them before forcing you to deal with the empty space they leave behind" she said. "I want people to know that I hate hard drugs. All they've ever done is kill my friends and cause me to be unproductive."
Boucher is a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and usually avoids dairy but says she will eat it on the road if nothing else is available because she "won't starve [her]self." As a singer, Boucher is known for having a lisp; she stated that she "likes it", and has no desire to undergo speech therapy.
From 2007 to 2010, Boucher was in an on-and-off relationship with Devon Welsh, then the lead vocalist of Majical Cloudz. The two met in 2007 at a first-year dorm party while studying at McGill University.
Since 2018, she has been called c (the symbol for the speed of light) in her personal life.
Since 2018, Boucher has been in a relationship with technology entrepreneur Elon Musk. They met after discovering on Twitter that they both came up with the same pun relating to Rococo and the thought experiment Roko's basilisk. On January 8, 2020, Boucher announced that she was pregnant with her and Musk's first child together. Grimes gave birth to their son on May 4, 2020, with Musk announcing via Twitter that both Grimes and their baby were doing well. Boucher and Musk have stated that they named the child as "" (pronounced "Ex Ash A Twelve" or "Ex Ay Eye"), although it has been reported that the name violates the naming law in California, where the child was born. On May 24, Boucher announced the name was changed to "X Æ A-Xii". According to an image of the birth certificate released by TMZ, the letter "X" is the child's first name, and his middle name is "AE A-XII".
In July 2020, Elon Musktweeted "Pronouns suck". Grimes publicly responded with a tweet of her own stating that while she "loved him" she "cannot support hate." Her critical tweet was deleted soon after it was posted.