I love Beyoncé. She’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s got a rockin’ bod and an even more rockin’ career. But it’s because of all those things that I can’t relate to her at all. I’m an awkward, often-mistaken-for-teenager (in a few days, I will turn 25) with weird hair and anxiety issues. As such, the biggest influences on my life so far have been people who reflect back one or more of those things and have “made it big” in spite of, or rather, because of them. Some examples include Patti Smith, Harmony Korine, pretty much any underrated British comedian and, of course, Grimes.
Producer, musician, singer, songwriter, director, illustrator, wearer of excellent hats…the credits are endless, suffice to say that Canadian-born Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, has quickly become one of my favourite humans to have ever lived. Don’t get me wrong, when I see Beyoncé perform I drop to my knees and pledge allegiance to the wind machine along with everyone else, but when I watch Grimes perform, I feel relief.
Here’s the thing: mainstream music is a machine (obviously). It builds and thrives off all the things that will make you feel bad about yourself by way of comparison. When you look at women like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Adele, Ella Eyre… you’re looking at stars that have almost every second of their lives styled, polished, airbrushed and choreographed. I’m not saying that that’s all they are or there’s anything wrong with it, but in a world where appearance is essentially everything, they are tailor made to appear better than you in every way. They are individuals to look up to as god-like figures rather than fellow human beings.
So I feel relief that a female artist like Grimes can exist at a mainstream level on her own terms. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but Grimes does not look like she constantly travels with her own personal stylist. Her live set does not contain a perfectly timed slut-drop (more’s the pity). When she performs live, she is pouring with sweat and moves like a witch dancing around an invisible cauldron. She looks real, basically. And just by doing that she reverses the dialogue imposed on women not just within the music industry, but in every aspect of life. She’s like hey, you know what, the best part of She’s All That was when Rachael Leigh Cook fell up some steps and dropped her art shit everywhere.
To support the notion that I’m not taking liberties here, this is how Grimes describes herself in her Tumblr bio: “surrealist yuppie, urban faery, aspiring warrior poet, CEO of Grimes Corp, Dolly Parton fan, herbivore”. Far be it from me to suggest that she’s an introverted soul, but generally the kind of person who uses the “faery” spelling has spent a lot of their teenage years on deviantART. And I mean that as an enormous compliment. It is essential that we have a goofy Sailor Moon gif-reblogging vegan to balance out the fascination en masse with Rihanna’s nipples (though both are equally worthy of immense respect). There are thousands of people like me who need reassurance that all those pre-pubescent years spent indoors trying to find out everything there was to know about Mark Ryden and/or growing emotionally via panic attacks may not have been a total waste of time.
Grimes managed to launch her career off the back of a pop classic about being afraid to go out alone at night, which you have to admit is impressive even if you don’t like it. We may not all go on to make two albums whilst studying Russian Literature and Neuroscience at University before singing to a major record label and then becoming both a feminist and fashion icon, but because of artists like Grimes, awkward teens everywhere can rest a little easier in the knowledge that it is possible to wear an oversized Marilyn Manson shirt and premier a song originally written for Rihanna on Radio 1.
This is rapidly becoming an essay on how much I wish Grimes was my girlfriend, so I’ll just leave you with a selection of her finest moments before I veer off into unabashedly erotic fan-fiction:
1. This video for ‘Genesis’ ft. Brooke Candy
2. This sketch with Steve Buscemi
3. Every time she has ever drawn anything
4. When she teamed up with Blood Diamonds, Kreayshawn and Tragik under the name L$D and recorded a song called “DON’T SMOKE MY BLUNT BITCH” in under ten minutes.
5. That time she trolled Boiler Room by playing relentless ’90s school disco anthems including Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ in the middle of summer…at Ritchie Hawtin’s villa…in Ibiza…
Originally published on The 405 here