MUSIC PREVIEW | Claire Boucher of Grimes: Minneapolis likes the way she looks


Reading about Grimes makes you want to let out a giant “WTF?” You see phrases like “blog catnip,” “the convergence of tumblr and music,” “elf-like,” and “Tom Sawyer” to describe the electro-dance project from 23-year-old singer/producer, Claire Boucher. All of it suggests that her persona is perfect blog fodder to complement her buzzed-about music.

On Tuesday, March 13, the current indie pop starlet brings her act Grimes to Minneapolis. Grimes’s glitchy, yet lush, album Visions (Arbutus Records, 2012) was written and produced entirely by Boucher. Upon its release last month the album started receiving praise across the Internet, including a Best New Music tag from Pitchfork.

Her music creates a bridge between her diverse influences, shimmering Aphex Twin electronics, Mariah Carey’s R&B pop sensibilities, and the pastoral vocals of Enya. The beats pulse and bump like a Top 40 dance anthem while the swirling and looped vocals, sung mostly in falsetto, give it an organic sense of intimacy. It sounds like how it must feel to have your heart broken by in Middle-Earth by an elf.

Boucher’s return to Minneapolis ought to be much different than when she was here in the summer of 2009. A Star Tribune article was uncovered telling the tale of Boucher and her friend trying to navigate a houseboat made of trash down the Mississippi river and the three weeks they spent marooned in Minneapolis after a motor malfunction.

Over the past few months Grimes has started to sell out shows, has embarked on an international tour that includes some of the summer’s biggest festivals, and asked to pose in Vogue Magazine. The journey of living on an island north of the Lowry Bridge on a broken down raft called the “The Velvet Glove Cast In Iron” to being asked to appear in Vogue is almost too prêt-à-porter for rock star lore.

Despite her recent success, not much has changed. “I’ve noticed there are a lot more people out at the shows, and the shows are getting rowdier,” says Boucher.  At a recent show in Phoenix, while experiencing technical difficulties, she says:
“The crowd was getting really crazy. My in-ears were cranked and kept popping. I was getting really angry, but it was kind of good because the set was really, really aggressive. The crowd was moshing and people started fighting because the venue was over sold so a bunch of police had to come. It was horrific but the audience’s response was really good. Obviously violence isn’t a good thing but I kind of liked that it got violent.”

What about this houseboat story? Boucher told me not to believe everything that I read:

“Well I did build a boat out of garbage but it was totally licensed, it had a working motor, I knew how to fucking fix the motor, I knew what was going on, and we were following the laws in every respect. Officer Mooney arrested us and attacked our boat with sticks. I was sleeping in the boat and cops started hitting the boat with sticks shattering glass over me. That story is so pro police. They impounded all of our stuff, they took my passport, took my chickens, and they told me to my face, ‘We don’t give a shit about your safety; we don’t like the way you look.”’  

When Boucher returns to Minneapolis, it appears there are plenty of people in the Twin Cities that are excited to welcome her back. The March 13th concert at the 7th St. Entry is already sold out. 

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.