Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is Grimes the Next Big Artist?

Reading Grimes' bio I get this feeling of deja vu. It is almost like my bio, but thirty years later. Claire Boucher, to give her real name, was born in Vancouver in 1988 and moved to Montréal to go to McGill. Here she is doing a song called "Crystal Ball" live on a rooftop in Mexico City:

She's just charming, isn't she? Shows what one person can do with a bunch of sequencers. Lots of stuff is laid down before and then she does some keyboard work and sings. With adroit use of technology, she literally doesn't need another musician. But these days, she is becoming a big star (some of her videos have 10 million views) and she has an actual stage show with two female dancers. Here she is doing a tune called "Circumambient" live with dancers.

Here is a full video production of a song called Genesis:

Those costumes and imagery almost take us into Lady Gaga territory. Now what else does this remind me of? Well, some of the basic approach resembles EDM (electronic dance music) à la Deadmau5:

There's a guy up there with a bunch of pre-sequenced stuff and he hits the space bar and away we go. I talked about Deadmau5 in this post. But I hear other stuff in Grimes. There is a bit of an echo of the Eurhythmics with Annie Lennox:

And maybe there is even a bit of something a bit further afield. Don't all those layered voices remind you of Henryk Górecki?

She herself refers to a "medieval" influence so perhaps she and Górecki simply share some influences. I have to say that this kind of music is not really my thing, but I found myself listening to songs all the way through, which I usually don't do with pop music of any kind, so there might be something here.


Roman Shoehorn said...

Meh. After listening to a selection of Grimes's work on ‘The YouTube’ I have to say I don’t find what she does to be anything that compelling. She is truthfully a pedestrian songwriter, who – I think – has successfully corralled her limited abilities into a very particular, quirky sounding post-modernist pop music pastiche that is compelling to a particular audience in the context of the current cultural climate of popular music. Like Madonna and Lady Gaga, she has clearly has a natural talent for the art of self-promotion, and the crafting of a compelling public image; but does that make her a worthwhile artist?

If I want musically interesting, keyboard-heavy pop music I’ll stick to any of the below:

Bryan Townsend said...

See, this is what I like about blogging: you get interesting comments about all sorts of things. I listened to the links you put up. The music world is huge! The only one I was at all familiar with was Peter Gabriel. Some interesting stuff, especially Dead Can Dance. It reminds me that pop music used to have a lot more awareness of other musics than it does now.

The way you describe Grimes, "a very particular, quirky sounding post-modernist pop music pastiche" is probably fair enough. I just found watching her put together the final product on the spot to be rather charming.