Radar Band Of The Week No:57 – Grimes

A ctually, I don’t really listen to indie. My influences are hip-hop and industrial,” Grimes, aka Claire Boucher, tells us. She’s a relentlessly positive sprite, bubbling over with ideas in a Shoreditch alleyway, one hour before her first UK performance. “I mean – if you look at what pop music was around the year 2000, it was basically OutKast and Marilyn Manson. So I think a lot of artists have grown up with that as their palette. I listen to something like Salem and I see it as kids like me, having grown up with that music, trying to find a way to replicate the bits of it that fascinate them in a way that seems credible.”

Boucher tried to be like her heroes. But she failed. Because she knew absolutely nothing about making music. That fateful speed-fuelled night when the adoptive Montrealer found her ‘sound’ by making one track for 17 straight hours was also the night that she first learnt what ‘bpm’ stood for. Lucky for her, she failed in an interesting way, setting up a template of trancey, imperfectly looped dream-pop that is, yes, a bit Cocteau Twins: a fluid, free-associating web of synths and her own reedy voice singing broken snatches of melody that sound sweet but carry dark lyrical barbs. On the charge of being ‘Enya on steroids’, she’s not disagreeable.


“I probably have the ‘Best Of Enya’ somewhere. I guess it makes a change from all the Cocteau Twins comparisons.” Cocteau or no, her sound hooked itself around the ears of Lykke Li, among others, who invited her to play support on her North American tour. Since then, underground love for her 2010 debut album ‘Geidi Primes’ has swollen to the point where it’s being given a full UK release. She says she’s also eyeing up film work, but while the going’s good, why not make “like 30 different albums, each with a completely different focus. I want to build a whole world.”


She’s already professing that her next one will be like “New Jack Swing meets TLC”. Given what she’s done for Enya in the kudos stakes, it’s likely that Grimes’ blinding intuition for the musical sweet spot will keep her the right side of the line between genius and madness.

Gavin Haynes

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