In our intimate new cover story, Grimes—aka Canadian artist Claire Boucher—got real with Deputy Features Editor Emilie Friedlander on industry sexism, personal relationships, drug use and her upcoming fourth studio album. Expected in October via 4AD, the same label that released her last LP Visions, the Roc Nation-managed leftfield popstar gave us plenty of tantalizing snippets to go on in the feature, despite declining to play the songs in full. If you're in too much of a hurry to read the whole piece, bookmark it for later and get the essential low-down here.
1. She's 100% in control
Boucher wasn't willing to relinquish a single element of creative control on this album, so she played all the instruments (including guitar, drums, keys, ukulele and violin) herself, in addition to recording and engineering every finished sound. She notes that her drive to do this came partly from her experiences working with sexist studio engineers: “Going into studios, there’s all these engineers there, and they don’t let you touch the equipment. I was like, ‘Well, can I just edit my vocals?’ And they’d be like ‘No, just tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.’"
2. It was recorded mostly at home, and at night
Friedlander's story notes that Boucher tracked the new songs mostly in her own home, in addition to some time at Blood Diamonds' L.A. studio. At the time of reporting, she was working out of the vocal booth of his rented studio—mostly at night, after he'd left for the day, so as to avoid his bass-heavy productions bleeding into hers. Determined to get the record finished, she'd also been pulling 12—16 hour shifts: “It’s important to be cognizant of making sure that you eat every day, and eat enough food, and sleep at night...[Remembering to take care of myself] sounds really basic, but for me, it’s not basic."
3. It almost didn't happen
The whole Grimes project could have come to an end after two years of almost non-stop touring following the release of Visions, which Boucher claims left her with chunks of her hair falling out. "It was at the point where it was going to destroy Grimes," she says. Thankfully, after changing management in late 2013 and taking some time out of the spotlight in the mountains of British Columbia, she found the support to carry on.
4. It features a Taiwanese rapper called Aristophanes
...Who Boucher found on SoundCloud, and met for the first time via Skype during Friedlander's interview.
5. (And a mic once used by Taylor Swift)
It's a tube condenser mic, it was used to record Red, and Boucher's super pleased she got to use it for one of the tracks on her new album.
6. "There's a lot of diss tracks"
In Boucher's own words, diss tracks rule this record, which she describes as overall "happy and angry." One track is a "diss track about male producers." Another, which Friedlander describes as "a ferocious-sounding club track" with planned verses from three as-yet unnamed female MCs, is (in Boucher's words) about “being too scary to be objectified.”
7. It sees Boucher trying out some new alter-egos
“There’s Screechy Bat, who’s the metal one. There’s one that’s super vampish and sexy now—I don’t know her name yet, but she’s like the Ginger Spice.”
8. There might be another album for free "at some point"
Remember all that chatter about Grimes' scrapped album earlier this year? In Friedlander's cover story, Boucher clarifies: “It wasn’t so much a scrapped album...It was just [songs] that didn’t make it onto this album. Basically, I was doing a bunch of stuff, and maybe a bit before ‘Go,’ I was like, ‘You know, my life is getting a lot better. I’m going to put all this stuff on a hard drive and start again. There were just hundreds of songs—on this album that I’m making now, there’s at least a hundred songs that won’t make it onto this. I think all musicians have songs that don’t make it onto records.” She adds later that she will “probably put [the scrapped album] out for free at some point.”