Claire Elise Boucher, born March 17, 1988, known professionally as Grimes, is a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Her early work has been described as extending from "lo-fi R&B" to futuristic dance-pop, and has incorporated influences from electronic music, hip hop, and rock. Her lyrics often touch on science fiction and feminist themes. She has released five studio albums.
Born and raised in Vancouver (later moving to Montreal), Grimes began releasing music independently in the late 2000s, releasing two albums, Geidi Primes and Halfaxa, in 2010 on Arbutus Records. She subsequently signed with 4AD and rose to prominence with the release of her third studio album, Visions, in 2012. Visions includes the singles "Genesis" and "Oblivion" and received the Canadian music industry Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year.Following this, her fourth studio album, Art Angels, was released in 2015 and received critical praise as several publications named it the best album of the year. Her fifth studio album, Miss Anthropocene, was released in 2020.
Outside of music, Grimes had a voice role in the 2020 action role-playing video game Cyberpunk 2077 and is a judge on the music competition game show Alter Ego.
Grimes was born Claire Elise Boucher and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 17, 1988. She is of French Canadian (including Québécois), Italian, and German-Ukrainian descent. She was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic school. Her mother, Sandy Garossino, is a former Crown prosecutor and arts advocate;her father, Maurice Boucher, a former banker, works "in the business side of biotech". In 2006, Grimes graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School and relocated from Vancouver to Montreal to attend McGill University focusing on neuroscience and Russian language, but left the university in early 2011 before finishing her degree.
According to the timestamps on her original Myspace page, she 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, without knowing what the grime music genre was. Grimes is self-taught in music and visual art.
Grimes performing at South by Southwest 2012
In January 2010, Grimes released her debut album, Geidi Primes, a concept album inspired by the Dune series, followed by her second album, Halfaxa, in October of the same year. After the release of Halfaxa, she began to publicly promote her music and tour beyond Montreal. In 2011 Grimes 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, Grimes signed with record label 4AD in January 2012. Her third studio album, Visions, was released on January 31, 2012 in Canada through Arbutus Records, February 21, 2012 in the United States through 4AD, and various dates in March 2012 elsewhere. 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.
Grimes in The Guardian, April 27, 2012
The album's second single, "Oblivion", was named the best song of 2012 by Pitchfork 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, Grimes 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 or food and with blacked out 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. Grimes went on the Visions Tour from 2012 to 2014 with supporting acts Born Gold, Myths, Elite Gymnastics, and Ami Dang. In March 2012, Grimes collaborated with Cop Car Bonfire's Tim Lafontaine and went under the name, Membrain. They released an EP called, Sit Back, Rewind. In May 2012, Grimes was featured on Blood Diamonds's song "Phone Sex". In July 2012, Grimes toured as a supporting act with Diplo and Skrillex on the Full Flex Express Canadian Train Tour. In August 2012, Grimes made her American television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
In April 2013, Grimes posted a written statement addressing her experience as a female musician as 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".
In December 2013, Grimes employed the services of Jay-Z's management company, Roc Nation.
2014–2017: Art Angels
On June 26, 2014, Grimes premiered the 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. In July 2014, Grimes was featured on Bleachers' song "Take Me Away" from their album, Strange Desire. On August 19, 2014, Grimes was featured in the music for the remix of Haim's My Song 5.
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. 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.
Speaking of her upcoming fourth album, scheduled for a "surprise" release in October, Grimes said that record was recorded with "real instruments", a departure from the primarily synth and sampler driven composing of her prior releases. On October 26, 2015, Grimes released the lead single of the album, "Flesh Without Blood", as well as a two-act music video comprising both "Flesh Without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream", another song from the upcoming album. The album, titled Art Angels, was released in November to 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.
Grimes performing at Lollapalooza 2016
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.