An artist truly unlike any other, Claire Boucher – or Grimes as you probably know her – shows us all what magic can happen when you do you.
If you’ve spent any time listening to Grimes’ work, you’ll know that celestial, ethereal sound that permeates throughout her discography. Her 2012 album, Visions, is certainly a perfect example of the classic Grimes sound that we might associate with her, though you can almost guarantee that she herself would disagree!
One of the most special things about Grimes, both in her music and her whole approach to being a “pop star” figure, is that she is consistently taking the lead with her image and sound. She has written and produced almost every track she has ever released, meaning that she has full power over her ever-evolving direction, never relaxing into one box for too long and keeping her listeners on their toes.
In an article by the Guardian, her music was described as:
“By sounding a little like everything you’ve ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard”.
With elements of so many styles thrown into the mix, including all the “pops” you can think of – dream, synth, art, electronic – Grimes creates a whole new sound of her own, and the only thing staying consistent is that she is leader of it all.
It was with the release of Visions that the world truly started getting to know Grimes. The album shot her into the limelight, receiving a Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year and included on the NME 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2013. One of the most fascinating elements of the album for us is the setting in which she wrote it. Grimes had isolated herself away from the world, in her apartment, for three weeks (feels a little too relatable at the moment, right?!). This included a period of 9 days where she didn’t eat or sleep! Probably unsurprisingly, Grimes described this writing process as being both enjoyable and torturous. We wouldn’t recommend trying this at home.
When RSL were considering the artists that we’d want to feature on the covers of the RSL Music Production syllabus, choosing Grimes was a pretty easy decision to make. There’s a LOT of technique involved in creating that ethereal sound. On some tracks, her mystical voice is the result of over 50 different vocal tracks layered on top of each other! Combine that with a whole lot of looping techniques and you’ve got the beginning of a Grimes hit!
If becoming a producer sounds right up your street, or if you want to learn the skills needed to have complete control over your sound, the RSL Music Production grades will see you through that process. In Grade 2 specifically – with our wonderful Grimes as cover star – you’ll get the theory side of things under your belt first, intimately getting to know what will become your new best friend – the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). You’ll then get on to the practicalities of the studio, thinking about the best mic for the job, cables and equalisers too. On top of all that, you’ll be getting to grips with genre and, perhaps like Grimes, thinking about which elements you can take with you into your own musical ventures.
As well as writing hit after hit, Grimes is consistently rewriting what it means to be an artist, pop star and producer in the modern world, taking on both the behind the scenes role whilst being a wonder on stage too. Though opinion of her over the years has been split, one thing is for sure – her ability to shapeshift and stay true to herself has made her something of a role model.
If you enjoyed this dive into the life and work of Grimes, then be sure to check out some of our other blogs on music production, linked below.