Grimes Elon Musk baby name

Grimes builds worlds on Miss Anthropocene as Earth goes to hell

The new Grimes LP was inspired by climate change and being portrayed as a villain for dating Elon Musk.

When Grimes signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label in 2013, she compared it to joining the X-Men. When it was revealed that she was dating Tesla/SpaceX founder/CEO Elon Musk in 2018, some people reacted as though Grimes had joined the Legion of Doom.

Being portrayed as a villain, a sell-out and a flake in the mainstream media (not to mention social media) is part of what inspired her fifth album, Miss Anthropocene, released on Feb. 21. Over 10 tracks, she weaves a loose narrative about an “anthropomorphic goddess of climate change” over an intoxicating fog of beats and synths, experimental ballads and pop reverie — with its fair share of sonic left turns (acoustic guitar, high-energy drums, a Bollywood sample).

I spoke to the former Montrealer (née Claire Boucher, in Vancouver) — who is currently nearly seven months pregnant, in case you hadn’t heard — about world-building, revolutionizing live music and the scrutiny she has to deal with as the girlfriend of Elon Musk.

Grimes Elon Musk Miss Anthropocene
Grimes on the cover of our March issue ( (Grimes talks Elon Musk & world-building for Miss Anthropocene)

Lorraine Carpenter: How did the concept for Miss Anthropocene come about?

Grimes: I started doing visual art before I ever made music, so with this record I was getting really caught up with making a comic. I was drawing a lot and thinking about visuals and concepts. I didn’t want to just sit down and write another album — that seemed boring, like, “Oh, here’s another catchy tune guys.”

I was weirdly obsessed with AI and climate change. I was fixated on the existential threat to humanity and I just wanted to pursue some of these ideas in more creative ways. I keep saying “make the climate crisis fun” which is a very ignorant phrase and people keep getting mad at me for saying that, but Lord of the Rings was a metaphor for World War I and people are gonna start making stuff about climate change. I just wanted to do my Lord of the Rings on climate change.

The earliest human art was making gods and goddesses and all the earliest works of fiction revolved around polytheism. It was really compelling to me: what would new gods and goddesses feel like? What would they look like? Instead of the god of war, what about the goddess of climate change? The goddess of AI? The goddess of chemical addiction?

Grimes Cyperpunk 2077
Grimes’s character in upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077 (Grimes talks Elon Musk & world-building for Miss Anthropocene)

LC: Was the making of this record complicated by your relationship status and the scrutiny that came with it?

Grimes: I’m sort of weirdly good at compartmentalizing, and making music is my safe space, or my happy zone. I get into a state of mind that is free and untethered from my environment or my social situation or anything good or bad that is happening. But in other ways it was weirdly tormented as well. [The album’s release was delayed for months due in part to the death of Grimes’s manager in July 2019.]

LC: Given the pregnancy, will you be playing this record live at all? If so, what will it look like?

Grimes: I need to not think about playing this live. It’s very hard to play [2012 album] Visions live; it was created by someone who didn’t think that they would ever have much of an audience. After going through the trauma of trying to perform Visions and having a lot of sketchy moments, I really needed to reorient with Art Angels, that was a primary focus. But in the actual writing process, that was a huge inhibition.

I think with Miss Anthropocene again, a lot of these songs would just be a total nightmare to perform. Towards the end, when I was planning to get pregnant and stuff, I (decided to) just put this out, not tour this one and figure it out after the fact.

I’m kind of bored with live music. I feel like I need to kick it up a notch and make it something else. That’s one of the main things we’re scheming on right now, is how do we make a live show totally different.

I really want to do an art gallery thing, something where you go into an installation and, ideally, motion-capture into an avatar to play simultaneously in multiple locations.

It’s also much better for the environment, if I just figure out how to do that, instead of moving 12 people and a ton of gear everywhere. There’s got to be a better way.

I also want to do raves for babies and kids.

“I understand why people don’t like my boyfriend… There’s so many things that so many people are mad about and so many of them are extremely skewed or incorrect.” —Grimes on Elon Musk

LC: What are some of the misconceptions about you, Elon Musk and your life now that you’d like to clear up?

Grimes: When you’re in the public eye, you just accept it to an extent. When you try to correct things or comment on controversies, it just revives them. But the main thing that bothers me is the idea that I’m detached from reality and that it’s unethical to make art about climate change. I just don’t think censorship in art is wise. I mean, I’m not saying “Climate change rules!” I’m trying to consider whether there’s any way to format this besides just stressing people out with scary talking points.

So much great art, historically has taken super painful concepts and ideas and personified them. The Joker is one of the greatest villains of all time and he’s a manifestation of abusive behaviour and mental illness.

It just seems like that’s an essential part of being human: taking the things that hurt us the most and turning them into fiction or narrative so that they’re easier to digest.

The climate crisis, there’s not a day that it happened and there’s not a person who did it so it’s a really abstract concept that’s hard to wrap your head around. Finding [creative] ways to talk about it is totally valid, and I don’t think it implies a detachment from reality. It’s not like l started dating my boyfriend two years ago and forgot my whole life before that. It’s not like my whole life was erased.

It’s a hard thing to talk about. I understand why people don’t like my boyfriend. A lot of people have problems with Silicon Valley, and it’s complex, it’s not easy to answer in one simple statement.

There’s so many things that so many people are mad about and so many of them are extremely skewed or incorrect.

Grimes Elon Musk
Grimes and Elon Musk at the MET gala 2018. (Grimes talks Elon Musk & world-building for Miss Anthropocene)

I understand that where I’m at there’s just going to be a certain amount of shit-talking forevermore, and I accept that. But the thing that really gets me is that it’s audacious or ignorant to make art about a certain topic. I don’t think art can be moralized. ■

See more about Grimes and preview tracks from Miss Anthropocene here.

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