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Wednesday 14th March, 2012 9:00AM

Canadian experimental pop artist Claire Boucher A.K.A Grimes has been relentlessly releasing material over the last couple of years. Her new full length album, Visions, out now on 4AD has been gaining popular and critical acclaim for its eclectic influences and kooky, psych-electronica sound. UTR caught up with Boucher to discuss the new album, growing up in a punk / D.I.Y scene in Canada and how we're all controlled by robots these days.

Hey Claire how are you?

Hey I’m good.

Where are you at the moment?

I’m in San Francisco, California right now.

Are you touring?

Yep, we’re touring through the States and we had the best show ever last night so I’m totally shaking and buzzing!

Was the best show ever in San Francisco?

Yeah! I’ve been playing with a band and it was the first night that everyone got it together and everyone was super onto it so it was really cool.

Is it exciting to be touring the new album with a band?

It feels great. I always kind of hated touring but this is so nice because it’s so social this time. I feel like I have a team or something; it’s just a lot easier when you can split up the tasks with four people and I feel like there’s much more going on onstage. It’s a lot easier onstage, too.

How has the sound changed with a full band?

The band are all my friends who I respect as musicians and I just let them do whatever they want. I’m just like ‘just go for it’. So the songs get different because a bunch of people are jamming whatever they want. You know it’s cool, way more dancey. My vocals are running through my friend who’s putting these crazy live effects on them.

It must be nice to have unexpectedness in the live show when you’re used to doing everything yourself.

It’s awesome because every show is different. It’s a lot more dynamic and it’s a lot more fun and it feels less like work which is awesome.

What drew you to the type of sound you're creating?

Um, there were so many factors. I grew up in an experimental scene and went to a lot of punk shows and stuff like that. Then I moved to Montreal and everyone else had grown up in a D.I.Y punk scene, but it’s freezing in Montreal so we’d always go to house parties - everyone just looked forward to the weekends to go to these parties. People started making dance music but it had this punk edge and mentality. Everyone was super broke and living on a tiny budget and in a shitty space so we sort of became desperate and passionate for pop music. It was like pop music was our saviour or something; a remedy for the problem. It’s cold and so hard to live but then you have this thing that happens on the weekend which is both super pop and super experimental and crazy. Everyone is doing weird shit and trying to push boundaries but still making it really fun.

It's interesting that you came from a really strong subculture. What do you think is happening to subcultures these days; do you think because of the internet they exist less because there is less time and space for them to grow and develop?

I almost think that because of the internet the way that bands get famous now is online and the way fans find out about bands is online so you don’t get scenes coming up together, rather you get one band that gets picked up by a blog. But people don’t realise that they’re from a scene - music doesn’t happen in a vacuum, music happens in subcultures. I feel if anything that’s the way the music industry is working now; most bands that I know are coming out of these subcultures that are super interactive.

Moving onto your new album, Visions, tell us a little bit about writing and recording it.

I just wanted to make something that was really emotionally evocative but still really experimental; something that was spiritual and kind of overwhelming but at the same time was also super gratifying and dancey. I listened to tonnes of different kinds of music – dance music, hip hop – and I wanted to bring these sentiments together. It’s an intellectual sentiment before anything else because while stuff does manifest in production it's all about the mindset. You can make an amazing song but if you don’t feel passionate about it while you’re making it it’s useless. I have tonnes of music that I don’t feel anything about so I don’t want to release it. So yeah.

And you mention you want to combine intellectuality with pop music. Describe the ideas you’ve imbued Visions with.

It’s really about science fiction and the internet and our experience these days; trying to navigate human experience in this kind of world. People are really emotional and at the end of the day people come back to these biological instincts but they’re being run through servers and computers and screens and electronic music and all this crazy shit, so this album is about mediating man and machine because we’re sort of becoming machines but if that's the case, what happens to our emotion and feeling?

You combine a pretty strong performance and visual element with your music. Tell us a little bit about that.

I don’t know why it's important to me it just is. I’ve always been a visual learner and when I listen to music I always think about what could be happening visually; a music video or whatever. The ultimate experience for me is being able to add something visual to what I’m doing musically because I feel like it completes the idea or something. It’s the fulfilling aspect of what I’m doing. It’s like making the music is doing this thing I’ve always wanted to do but making the music videos is like this fantasy coming to reality.

In a video interview with Fadar you argue that new bands are as good as ever. Tell us a little bit about why you think this?

I feel like the internet has opened up this world and there’s this new renaissance happening in the music community; that’s what’s going on in my mind anyway, and it's awesome.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

I'm going to be touring a lot but I’m also working on an album. The way it works is once you’ve done an album it takes six months to put it out, and so I want to get working on the next one now because I want it to be way better than this. So working on the album, touring and making music videos.


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