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The Grime on Grimes

Written by Jacinta Govind on 16th April, 2012

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As I prepare for my first Skype interview, I can’t help thinking of Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip singing, “Yes I love technology, but not as much as Grimes you see…”. Obviously replacing ‘you’ with ‘Grimes’, the Canadian beauty nuzzled me into her arduous interview schedule. It was 9pm Montreal time, her ninth hour of interviews.

If you’re unfamiliar with Grimes, she is Canada’s sparkling diamond of futuristic pop music. Born in Vancouver, Grimes grew up admiring the underground music scene, sneaking into shows at age 11 and thriving on alternative culture. If she were a character in the unforgettable Canadian series “Degrassi High: The Next Generation”, she would be “the Goth guy. I remember it being so awesome”.

Grimes’ alternative look and lifestyle has perhaps been the cause of some unnecessary trouble in the past. A recent rant on Twitter indicated that Grimes was questioned for drug smuggling at a Houston airport earlier this year. Travelling from a music festival in Mexico, Grimes spent 24 hours in airport custody: “It was really fucked up. The dogs found nothing and they kept insisting I had drugs. They were looking up my records, like with the FBI and shit, and even went through my whole Twitter account! They just didn’t like the way I looked”.

Drugs and Degrassi aside, we discuss Grimes’ latest music video for her single Oblivion from her third and most recent album Visions. Filmed at a university and Olympic stadium in Montreal, the video for Oblivion shows Grimes wandering through crowds, miming to the song as it plays through her headphones. Simple cinematography is used to create an effortless, disconnected journey through a cliché football crowd — but this wasn’t exactly the plan: “The film was very expensive, so we had to use everything we shot. We didn’t have any permits, so it has a very documentary feel. That’s why people are walking in front of the camera at times.”

Boasting ethereal layered vocals, electronic popping sounds, and a shuffling drum beat, Oblivion presents itself as a groovy and girly experimental pop song. Given the song title and a video demonstrating her alternative style while depicting isolation, initially the song reflects self-seclusion. However, its lighter qualities mask a dark story. Grimes, who never discusses her lyrics, opened up about the song’s true meaning: “The song is about being violently assaulted and it made me crazy for a few years. I got really paranoid walking around at night and started feeling really unsafe. The song is more about empowering myself physically amongst a masculine power, and the hate of feeling powerless, making light of masculine physical power, making it jovial and non-threatening. I took a typically violent cultural situation and made it pop and happy.”

2012 sees the Mariah Carey and Cut Copy fan very active. Grimes plans to release music videos for Genesis and Circumambient after “taking a break to record a fourth album. It will be recorded in my bedroom again but I’ll record the vocals in a studio. It’s going to be very electronic and I want it, more the vocals, to be very polished.”

So when can we experience Canada’s newest talent live? Unfortunately Grimes won’t be performing at Splendour in the Grass as she “will definitely be in the states at that time”, but she “may be coming (to Australia) in November or December.”

For now, connecting with grimes696969 (badass, I know) over Skype will suffice. Although we were strangers worlds away, we spoke like old friends, who will probably never speak to each other ever again. Sure, my scope into Grimes’ life was momentary, but our fifteen minutes spoke volumes of her gentility and placid personality, proving her raw talent and welcoming nature will glide her into popularity. So, still I love technology, always and forever.

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