After being crowned the winner of NME‘s 2015 Album Of The Year – for her ambitious fourth studio album, ‘Art Angels’ – Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, is someone whose opinions we shouldn’t take lightly.
So when asked by Tidal to decide upon the five records that transformed her life, the interest of many a Grimes fan – and indeed, music fan – would have been piqued. Ranging from the stank sounds of Atlanta, Georgia to the Roland sampler-indebted avant-garde of Panda Bear, here are Grimes’ choices, listed in chronological order.
Tool – ‘Ænima’ (1996)
The progressive metallers’ second album explored Egyptian mythology and sampled the late comedian Bill Hicks, but this record – which Boucher has “been jamming to since I was 13 or 14; it’s a staple of my existence” – holds particular significance for the 27-year-old due to the LA band’s use of interludes.
“One of the reasons I have interludes on my records is because of the amazing ones on ‘Ænima’,” she said. “This album is such a puzzle, rhythmically, melodically… so complex. It’s hard to jam along until you get to know it well, and yet it’s so easy to sing along. It’s complicated, but very satisfying as pop music somehow.”
Outkast – ‘Stankonia’ (2000)
“The first album I ever bought,” she reveals – not quite the misstep your younger self made by buying that Top Of The Pops compilation album, is it?
Enamoured with the Outkast masterpiece since she was 12 years old, Boucher describes listening to it as “fucking fantastic, idiosyncratic, sonically diverse and super weird. [It] opened my mind in more ways than one.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Fever To Tell’ (2003)
Boucher’s love of Karen O and co. began after a friend gave her an unlabelled tape of ‘Fever To Tell’. “I had no clue what band it was. I put it into my Walkman and walked home from school, and my mind was completely blown to bits. I will distinctly remember that moment for the rest of my life.”
Highlighting how it was “the first time I’d heard female-fronted alternative music”, Boucher maintains that she didn’t know it was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for many years: “It was just kind of this weird mystery… I suppose it foreshadowed my later life interests.”
Panda Bear – ‘Person Pitch’ (2007)
Noah Lennox’s third album made Boucher “completely trip out”, triggering, from a songwriting perspective anyway, her musical awakening.
“Up until that point I had basically only made weird atonal drone music, with no sense of songwriting,” she remembers. “I barely understood anything about music, it seemed like a mystery. 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. I guess it seriously jumpstarted my mind in a freaky way.”
Beyoncé – ‘Beyoncé’ (2013)
Mrs Carter’s surprise-released fifth album would have been a more recent influence on ‘Art Angels’ (“When I’m working on mixes and engineering I usually test my tracks next to this record because it just sounds so incredible”), given how she practically gorged on the album when it initially dropped on iTunes.
“I immediately downloaded the whole thing and listened to it front to back,” Boucher says. “Afterwards, I realised I hadn’t done that in almost 2 years, and I have gotten back into listening to albums since… It definitely revitalised the art of the album for me, and I am very grateful for that.”