Grimes, aka 24-year-old Montreal-ite Claire Boucher, creates vocally intricate, sample-heavy home recordings, though her music is eminently more danceable than that of fellow Pitchfork loop gurus Nite Jewel and Julia Holter. Boucher isn’t afraid to show off her more mainstream influences: her crystalline soprano hooks recall mono-monikered pop princesses like Aaliyah and Ashanti. She echoes through Berghain on Friday, May 25.
What makes your new disc Visions (4AD) different from your previous two albums?
I mean, I wanted this album to be a lot more about something than my other albums, you know? My other albums are definitely about shit, but it’s just so abstract. I definitely don’t want to go too much into it, but the album’s like the catharsis of everything shitty that’s ever happened to me in my life. It feels good to draw from emotional shit, addressing it, constantly being exposed to the stuff that freaks you out. “Be a Body” is definitely the best live song. It’s so hard to sing normally over tonnes of heavy drums onstage. It’s just so loud, I usually can’t hear myself. So I just started yelling. It’s a lot less trouble.
You have all these international influences – do you still identify as a Canadian, or Montreal, artist?
I guess socially I feel like a Canadian, or a Montreal artist, in the sense that I feel really involved in the scene. When I’m around other people, I recognise that there are certain things Canadians do that I definitely do. Like, apologising too much, saying “eh”… that shit is definitely real. But I feel like I don’t actually care about Canada. I’m glad I’m Canadian, I appreciate the health care and the administrative benefits, but given the choice, I would live in the States.
What was behind the choice to put a Russian poem on your album cover?
My grandma’s Ukrainian, and because my parents worked a lot I basically grew up with my grandparents, hearing Russian spoken a lot. They’re actually lines from two different poems by Anna Akhmatova, two different approaches to death. I kind of identified with her – she wrote a lot of poems about being a girl in the scene, all that shit. She’s a pretty cool lady. I also just wanted to put some writing on the cover, because I like the way fonts look.
And you did the cover image yourself.
I painted that while we were watching [Gaspar Noé’s 2009 film] Enter the Void, and I was just having a terrible time. It was like the day after and I was just trying to watch horrible movies. So the drawing… I wanted it to be kind of like a Bosch painting: very modern, but kind of reminiscent of surreal medieval shit.
You’re a known sci-fi/fantasy fan. If you could live in any fictional universe, which one would it be?
Hmm… probably Dune, I guess, as lame and obvious as that is. Although maybe Hyrule [from The Legend of Zelda video games]. That’s a pretty sweet universe.