A self-taught musician and visual artist, Grimes has spent almost a decade capturing fans’ hearts with her eclectic, experimental sound. After recent issues with her original record label, 4AD, Grimes has continued to make music, collaborating with artists like Janelle Monáe and working on a fifth, yet-to-be-titled studio album. We sat down with the beloved alternative artist to ask about her experience in the music industry, her visual art, and her high-profile relationship with billionaire Elon Musk.
1. You’ve been critical of the male-dominated pop music production system. Can you give us your thoughts on that?
Absolutely. Given the current skewed industry ratio, all you hear on the radio are pop songs about sex, money, and beautiful women. I’m tired of that—I want to hear more songs about hair braiding, bed sheet thread counts, and flushing sanitary napkins down toilets even though you know you’re not supposed to.
2. Along with being a musician, you’re also a very accomplished visual artist, and you’ve done the cover design on each one of your albums. Do you find that being involved in the visual design of an album is important in achieving the aesthetic you want?
Not really. I mainly do my own design work because I know that if I don’t, my friend who studied graphic design in college will offer to do it, and he’s fucking terrible. Whenever I’m coming out with a new album, I have to tell him shit like “I wouldn’t let Picasso himself design my album art because only I know what I want it to look like,” but the truth is that I’m just trying to let him down easy because he always picks the stupidest-looking script fonts and has pretty much no idea how to cut things out in Photoshop. I’d love to get another artist to contribute artwork for my albums, but it would hurt my friend’s feelings too much, so I just design them myself.
3. A lot of people have been critical of you, an indie artist who frequently touts leftist stances, dating Elon Musk, a billionaire with a reputation for mistreating workers and busting unions. What is your response to that criticism?
I don’t want to speak too much on that because I’ve always liked to let my music do the talking for me, but I will say that once my new album, The Kindness Of The High Prince: He Gives Us Fast Trains, is released, people will better understand where I’m coming from. Once my critics hear the songs I’m working on, like “An Unholy Union (Find Your Own Bootstraps)” and “You Don’t Need A Bathroom Break When You Got A Bedpan,” I think they’ll see that Elon’s actually a really great guy who’s doing important work.
4. On a personal level, are there any other downsides to dating a very famous tech billionaire?
It’s not too bad. The only thing that sucks is when Elon holds me up in the air onstage at a tech conference, claims that I’m the new Tesla model “Girlfriend,” and launches into a PowerPoint presentation about all my specs and features. Other than that, it’s pretty much like any other relationship.
5. Your given name is Claire Elise Boucher. How did you come up with the stage name Grimes?
“Grimes” is a combination of “Grieg,” which is the name of a Norwegian composer whose music was my favorite thing to listen to growing up, and “Sorry, but our theater’s no-outside-food policy extends even to your bag of fresh limes,” which was my least favorite thing to hear growing up. My art deals with joy as well as sorrow, and I thought my name should be a reflection of that.