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The confounding creativity of Grimes


Grimes is the artist that has many people scratching their heads and puzzling over her aesthetic and practical choices, but there’s never been any doubt: it’s entirely by her own design.

The Canadian singer-songwriter was born and raised in Vancouver and began posting music on MySpace under the name Grimes in 2007. With music that’s been described as dream-pop, art-pop, future-pop, electronica, experimental pop, and more, it’s clear that although she leans on the conventions of pop, there’s something intentionally odd about her.

From her very first album, Geidi PrimesGrimes’ bedroom indie-synth and ghostly vocalisation were enough to catch the attention of the wave of women taking over the alternative scene. Although not directly comparable, her presence within the space of alt-pop occupies one similar to Lana Del Rey, Sky Ferreira, or Marina and the Diamonds—an off-the-beaten-path feminised pop ushered to share the alternative space.

However, it was her third album, Visions, that shot Grimes even further into success, producing the wistful, dramatic bangers like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Genesis’ that she’s best known for. Even with her clear evolution, Grimes still maintained a uniqueness that proved important.

One might not even be able to argue that the conventions of her music are entirely pop-centric, as they do veer into ambient, experimental territory. And although many artists who began in this neighbourhood have since drifted towards the mainstream, one of the beauties of Grimes is that she has done the opposite—she’s gotten weirder with time.

Of course, her music isn’t the only way that she’s captured this. In fact, one of the primary ways that Grimes has shaped the artistry of her life is through the art of persona. However, the creation of her persona isn’t as simple as Lana Del Rey, for example. Grimes has an eclectic, genuine, and deeply odd air about her that she doesn’t mind exhibiting on the biggest scale. It’s a severe thing to commit to, especially as it involves showcasing some of her more esoteric qualities.

But the simple “persona” doesn’t do this justice either, as some of Grimes’ deeply involved life choices seem random and intriguing. In 2009, she and a friend built a houseboat and attempted to sail down the Mississippi River. In her personal life, she goes by the name c, which is the symbol for the speed of light. She married Elon Musk and has two children with him, whom they named X Æ A-Xii and Exa Dark Sideræl.

Grimes is a confounding person, and it seems that every question about her can be answered with yet another question. Somehow, in an almost unexplainable way, this fits with the spacey, unpredictable quality of her music. Yes, it’s digestible pop music, but there’s a robotic and futuristic quality to it, swinging so far into electronica that everything feels intentional.

From her fashion sense to her naming preferences, Grimes has so much going on beneath her music, and that’s a part of what makes her such a confounding character, and therefore, a confounding artist. And her commitment to sharing that is a part of what sets her apart from the world of pop, though certainly not alienated from it.

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