Claire Boucher’s alien-pop persona Grimes can be a challenge to comprehend. Often blurring the lines between earnestness and humor when she’s not making music, bending notions of gender with her otherworldly dress and fringe bangs, and wrapping her falsetto around synthetic beats making it nearly impossible to untangle the two, Grimes is pushing listeners and viewers into an unfamiliar place — and the push has been inescapable since the release of her third album Visions, with Boucher receiving attention from every major online indie outlet as well as the glossy pages of Vogue and W.
Whether or not you connect with her futuristic art-school aesthetic and demeanor, Boucher has admirably expanded her creativity into more realms than most of her contemporaries. She’s clearly thinking about every facet of her artistry: Her music, artwork, videos, and her current line of “pussy rings” and forthcoming line of chainmail in collaboration with fellow Montreal artist Morgan Black. Her music videos have a distinct sense of absurdism, as in the cartoonish one for “Genesis,” which she conceived and directed herself. Earlier this year she told Hive: “When I make music it’s a pretty visual process. I’m thinking a lot about how it’s going to look and sometimes the music can be extremely evocative of color.”
The same can be said about her kaleidoscopic style, which takes influence from the same places her music does: the ‘90s and Japanese culture. She’s said both “[feel] related because it all comes from the same place.” Practicing maximalism in her music and style, she layers her vocals as thickly as she does her bangles and strives for volume both in her songs and in her shoes (her preferred kind of heel? Platforms.) Her take on ‘90s raver trends like creepers, stuffed animal backpacks, leotards, candy-colored hair dye jobs, camouflage and bindis can come across as being so youthful, she might have pulled her current clothes from her childhood wardrobe. Within the context of contemporary fashion, though, her stylistic impulses are de rigeur. Creepers and pastel hair coloring were staples of Chanel’s resort ‘13 collection; teddy bear-plastered pants and shoes comprised Jeremy Scott’s fall ‘12 collection for Adidas; and chainmail had a runway moment in YSL, Versace, and Christopher Kane’s fall ‘12 collections. And even in festival summer mode, Boucher maintains her signature sense of style. Hive spoke to her about her attachment to her Totoro backpack and her touring essentials.
What pieces are the foundation of your wardrobe?
I would normally say combat boots, but I just wore mine all the way through — hence the creepers, which are hard to deal with at a festival. I always wear bodysuits too; bodysuits, combat boots, and some kind of shorts.
I dig the creepers.
Someone just gave me them. They’re dirty. I slept in these clothes last night at my friend’s house on the kitchen floor. I can sleep anywhere, under any conditions: upright, at concerts.
When we last talked you were homeless.
Yeah, I’m still homeless.
What are you carrying in your backpack?
My wallet, sunglasses case, hair elastics. Probably nothing that interesting, but [my backpack] is so soft, I use it as a pillow; that’s why I have it. I got it in Tokyo Jungle in L.A. You can find lots of anime action figures and Pokemon cards and comics and stuff there. I wanted to go to AnimeCon in L.A., so I went there to get an outfit for it and I saw the Totoro backpack. I don’t wear it on stage, but I usually bring it up and hang it on my keyboard stand.
How come you’re not wearing a Grimes pussy ring?
They’re really sweaty and huge. I’m in festival summer mode right now, so I’m not stylish right now. I’m very homeless.
What are three things that you always have on you?
A Swiss Army knife, sunglasses and water of some kind.
What’s the most sentimental thing you travel with?
I used to always travel with my teddy bear, but I was getting really worried about losing him so I left it at my parents’ house. Totoro is a replacement because it’s practical. I’m really attached to him because I have no consistency in my life, as far as people and places. My stuffed animal is the only thing I have. It sounds really dark, but it’s not.