Music

Grimes Is Dead, And Other Things We Learned From Her Weird Wall Street Journal Interview

She can't seem to say Elon Musk's name without groaning, and her new album is going to "make climate change fun".

Grimes album review photo

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Despite only releasing one song, 2018 might have been one of Grimes’ biggest years on record.

Her relationship with technocrat Elon Musk catapulted her from indie-royalty to mainstream celebrity, and that was before her recording session-gone-wrong with Azealia Banks inadvertently inspired a government investigation into Musk’s potential stock-market tampering.

Now that she’s gearing up to release her fifth album Miss_Anthropocene, Grimes — aka Claire Boucher, aka c, the symbol for the speed of light — has given a rare interview to The Wall Street Journal Magazine.

In it, she dives into the concept behind the new music, her relationship with Musk, and why she’s planning to “kill off Grimes”.

The full piece, written by Ryan Bradley, is well-worth your time, but here’s a run-down.


#1. Grimes Will Die Soon

In the feature, Boucher says she feels restricted by ‘Grimes’ as a brand, and is planning to “kill ‘Grimes’ soon” via “public execution”. This is why she announced last year, via Twitter, that she would legally change her name to ‘c‘, italicized and lowercase.

“I’m super bound by the limits I’ve set for myself [with Grimes],” she says. “It would be easier for me if I wasn’t stuck with the branding I made in 2009, you know?”

Throughout, Bradley paints a portrait of an artist undergoing a change, where their own brand and creative output is working against their intentions.

[The WSJ Magazine] paints a portrait of an artist undergoing a change, where their own brand and creative output is working against their intentions.

2014’s ‘Go’, an unashamed (and therefore maligned) pop single originally written for Rihanna, is given as an example of a moment where ‘Grimes’ as an idea limited c, and she explains that she wants to create a massive “lore” for herself as an artist.

She explains that ‘c’ is merely an “intermediate name”, and she plans to write a book which features her new name at the centre — and music too.

“Like J.R.R. Or George R.R,” she says. “Only, the songs will come first. It’ll be like Sailor Moon and Game of Thrones, and yeah, it’s super, super pretentious….”

Elaborating on this, she says she wants to create a “lore” around herself, comparing it to the work of Prince or Rihanna.

“I call branding that is art, lore,” she says. “Prince has lore. Rihanna has great lore. It’s essentially world building. It’s my favourite art form.”

She plans to do so largely via high-production, elaborate music videos, saying she “will regret” the self-directed 2015 video for ‘Flesh Without Blood’ “until the day” she dies.

“I f—ed with my lore, you know?,” she says. “Lore is sacred.”

#2 She Can’t Say Elon Musk’s Name Without Groaning

While Grimes is still dating Musk — the couple made their public debut at last year’s Met Gala in May — she is reluctant to talk about him in the interview.

As per Bradley, “when his name is mentioned, she nearly collapses on the floor in a long, pained groan”.

“Don’t tell him I groaned just now,” she says. “I groaned out of, I don’t know, feminism. I mean, he’s a super-interesting goddamn person.”

Grimes describes herself as being “simply unprepared” for the attention dating Musk has brought her. Repeatedly, Grimes Tweets about Musk have become news stories — most notably, one in which she defended him from claims he was refusing to let Tesla workers unionise. She claimed to have talked to Tesla employees directly about it.

When she elaborates on Musk, she is unwilling to say much. Bradley says Grimes won’t say his name, but says she ‘loves him’ and speaks in fragments.

“Look, I love him,” she says, “he’s great. There’s got to be some reason. I just think…. I wish… Yeah. It doesn’t matter… Cool.”

Cool cool.

#3 Her New Album Will Make Climate Change ‘Fun’

Grimes pre-emptively announced Miss_Antropocene on social media yesterday ahead of this profile’s release, which the feature elaborates on.

In her statement, she explains it’s a concept album “about the anthropomorphic Goddess of climate change” who is “composed of ivory and oil”. Each song will “be a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a pop star demonology”.

She describes the album’s sound as “etherial nu-mutal (ish)”, which is bang on with what we’ve heard so far with ‘We Appreciate Power’.

On that topic, we learn a bit more about the concept behind that song and where it fits into the album. According to Grimes, it ‘”introduced the pro-AI-propoganda girl group who embody our potential enslavement/destruction at the hands of Artificial General Intelligence”.

Through the WSJ Magazine piece, Grimes elaborates to explain that ‘We Appreciate Power’ was inspired by North Korea’s answer to K-pop, Moranbong. She also says that song ‘represses her spirit’.

We also learn that Miss_Antropocene aims to change perception of climate change as a depressing topic.

“It’s fun. I want to make climate change fun,” she says. “People don’t care about it, because we’re being guilted. I see the polar bear and want to kill myself. No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful.”

That includes plans for big visuals, such as “apocalyptic PSAs” for TV that would see her eat an elephant head.

Bradley describes one song we haven’t heard, ‘So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth’, as a “revelatory” step forward for Grimes. According to him, it centres her voice, something which she has never really done before.

Grimes has also shared her artworks of the Miss_Anthropocene character on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Welcome to the end of the world

A post shared by Grimezsz (@grimes) on

#4 “I Am Whatever U Want Me To Be”

Grimes has responded to the interview by Tweeting she’s “mildly peeved abt 1 thing”, which we’re going to guess is the moaning about Musk. She also evoked post-truth rhetoric to say that the article is both correct and incorrect.

Miss_Anthropocene doesn’t have a release window yet, but Grimes has promised that she will release “synth-based stuff” before the album, either via an EP or demos.

Last week, she dropped demo ‘Pretty Stuff’, reportedly from an “AR musical” she’s working on, and not related to the upcoming album.

Before that, she popped up on Bring Me The Horizon and Poppy’s latest albums and released a track with Mindless Self Indulgence frontman Jimmy Urine.


Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.

Feature image by Eli Russell Linnetz via Grimes’ Facebook.