Grimes talks new LP, “scrapped” album, and music industry sexism

In a detailed interview, Claire Boucher discusses her new album's sound and "lost" songs


Photo ​by David Brendan Hall

Grimes, or more accurately Claire Boucher’s Grimes project, is the focus of a new cover story for The Fader. It’s a fascinating read that tackles Boucher’s personal life and public identity, while also revealing quite a few juicy details on her long-in-the-works forthcoming follow-up to 2012’s Visions.

For one, she revealed that the project was never really “scrapped” as was widely reported. At the time, many thought the negative reaction to her single “Go”, originally written for Rihanna, led to Boucher trashing the entire album. “Basically, I was doing a bunch of stuff, and maybe a bit before ‘Go,’” she explained, noting that “Go” was never intended for the record anyway. “I was like, ‘You know, my life is getting a lot better. I’m going to put all this stuff on a hard drive and start again. There were just hundreds of songs — on this album that I’m making now, there’s at least a hundred songs that won’t make it onto this. I think all musicians have songs that don’t make it onto records.”

Boucher detailed how years of hardships and sudden, shocking fame along with the accompanying public misunderstanding of her persona had led to some dark times in her life. She exiled herself in Squamish, British Columbia in 2013 and wrote a lot of what would become the “scrapped” record, including this year’s “REALiTi”. When her life started improving, she realized what she’d recorded was too “gloomy” to match her current state, and decided to move on. Still, she implied that there is an album in this “lost” material and that she’ll “probably put it out for free at some point.”

Of what actually made it onto the new LP, Grimes apparently mined the sounds of her youth, including ’90s rock, punk, and even nu-metal. All the instruments on the album are played and engineered by Boucher herself, who learned to play guitar, drums, keys, and even ukulele and violin during the recording process. Boucher took particular pride in obtaining the same tube condenser mic Taylor Swift used on Red for use on one particular track.

In addition to new music, Boucher will be introducing fans to identities outside of Grimes. “Okay, there’s Grimes, but there’s other ones too now — and they’re like a girl group,” she explained. “There’s Screechy Bat, who’s the metal one. There’s one that’s super vampish and sexy now — I don’t know her name yet, but she’s like the Ginger Spice.”

As for particular songs, the feature described a track called “Flesh Without Blood” as a “guitar-studded power-punk anthem” and a “staccato rocker.” Another “ferocious-sounding club track with twanging subs” will feature three yet-unnamed female rappers and is about being “too scary to be objectified.” She collaborated with female MC Aristophanes from Taiwan on a nu-metal track called “SCREAM”. There’s also a “diss track about male producers” inspired by the lyrical poem Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin. “It’s about a guy who acts like he knows everything and then comes back crawling on his knees, which has happened to me so many times,” Boucher said.

In fact, that kind of sexism is brought up multiple times in the article. She deplored how, when working on other artists’ projects, she’d often enter a studio with male engineers and ask to edit her own vocal performance. “And they’d be like ‘No, just tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.’ And then a male producer would come in, and he’d be allowed to do it. It was so sexist. I was, like, aghast. It made me really disillusioned with the music industry. It made me realize what I was doing is important.”

She also talked about being labeled “a female musician” and being singled out as having “a girly voice,” all of which ignores the skills she brings to the table. “I don’t wanna say I don’t identify as a girl, but I don’t fucking give a shit about gender … It’s like, yeah, but I’m a producer and I spend all day looking at fucking graphs and EQs and doing really technical work.”

What’s worse, she mentioned the threats she, and apparently many female musicians, often receive from fans and detractors alike. “People want to, like, rape and kill you. It’s, like, part of the job,” she said. She went on to explain one particularly troubling incident: “One time I was backstage at a show, and there was this random guy in my dressing room, and he just grabbed me and started making out with me, and I was like, Ah!, and pushed him off. Then he went, ‘Ha! I kiss-raped you’ and left. Shit like that happens quasi-frequently.”

All in all, it’s well worth a full read, so head to Fader for the whole thing. Grimes’ new album, meanwhile, is expected this October from 4AD.