Grimes: the Fashion Italia interview
Grimes is the protagonist of one of the covers – complementary and twins – of the May issues of Fashion Italia and L’Uomo
With the whole world in lockdown, Miss Anthropocene, Grimes’ new album, has inadvertently become a possible soundtrack for humanity’s decline. Today is known simply as c – cursive, tiny, like the symbol of the speed of light – already in 2018 32-year-old Canadian Claire Boucher, environmental activist and techno-feminist, had decided to take a step back and regain control of the constellation of her alter-egos. Grimes, as he has called himself since 2007, remains his stage name.
Recently, the third piece of the continuously evolving mosaic that represents its identity has remained known: WarNymph, the digital avatar. Now in the ninth month of pregnancy in the house in Los Angeles that she shares with her partner Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, c he created WarNymph to perform, be photographed, travel for him. An idea that, just two months ago, would have seemed to pop out of a Philip K. Dick novel, and which now sounds like a terrible prophecy from the Coronavirus era. In its artistic trajectory of the last ten years there are two orbits: once in the past, made of authenticity and radicalism with low technological intensity, and one projected into a post-human future where pop stars are not referable to a single name, nor to a human form, nor to a single sexual and artistic genre.
MissAnthropocene, his fifth album, is a journey through a labyrinth of digital mythologies that allude to humanity’s self-destructive tendency. And when you listen to it on that hypnotic ethereal techno base it looks sinisterly current. But although Grimes is a tightrope walker who juggles digitally effortlessly, her sequel is all the more nourished the more an exquisitely human element of vulnerability remains alive in her. Grimes fought with his fingernails to obtain respect for the cultural industry, positioning himself as the pop star of the future, engaged in the writing, production, recording and performance of his songs, if necessary also from a closet.
The fashion industry is called to a turning point. Do you think a transition in the near future towards augmented reality and artificial intelligence is plausible?
There is still a technological limit, but it will not last long. Automation is progressing, we will be able to produce objects in a more sustainable way and with less use of professionalism. Potentially our phones will be able to map and recognize our body as they do with the face, allowing us to wear virtually anything. Maybe avatars will start to be used more. I am passionate about digital fashion in video games and I prefer those with many clothing options or in which part of the game is precisely the purchase of virtual clothes. I believe it is a cultural advance, certainly more sustainable than creating and consuming real clothes.
It has been a while since his path has crossed that of fashion. What do you think of this industry?
I think she has been generous to me. Coming from an independent label, at the beginning of my career the fact of being invited to fashion shows or photographed in magazines meant that Grimes could emerge. It allowed me to promote my work and for this I am very grateful to the fashion community. Furthermore, fashion is one of the ways in which the human body can be transformed into a work of art, so I take it very seriously. At the moment, for obvious reasons, I am quite limited from this point of view (laughs). At the beginning of my career many of my clothes came from the Salvation Army and I later modified them. I went through a time when I didn’t care. Today, however, I am very interested, but obviously I also care about sustainability. This is the challenge, to follow fashion and reduce its impact on the environment. I would describe my style as medieval futurist, even technocratic, a sort of rococo science fiction. My favorite designers are Iris Van Herpen, Charlotte Knowles London and Hyein Seo.
With WarNymph, are you pushing yourself totally digital?
I will never be completely digital. Or maybe yes, who knows, maybe before I die I can transfer the content of my mind online. Creating a digital identity leaves a large space of freedom and creativity from an aesthetic point of view. WarNymph can die of violent death, his eyes light up, he can fly. We want the current version to age and eventually die in conjunction with the end of the album cycle and at that point we can make version two and three. It can have a new life cycle on every album or whenever we want. I love the idea that she can become very old and then again a child.
Have you ever thought about creating a digital identity that simply “does” Grimes for you? Or maybe even invent digital characters that work for you?
(Laughs, editor’s note) It would be fun. We have often used artificial intelligence, but I think we are far from the possibility that these identities can actually work together effectively. One of the reasons why we created WarNymph was to have a vehicle that would allow us to collaborate, keeping Grimes “pure”, the only one authorized to create his own music. Don’t write it because it could only be an unattainable dream, but our goal would be to make WarNymph a real pop star, with me and other artists and producers who create his music. While Grimes would remain what it is, making its own songs.
Let’s take a positive look at the future. What could be the turning point for post coronavirus?
I wonder if there will be a reduction in consumerism. If people fly less, it can only be good. The same goes for petrol cars and everything else. This is an opportunity to start thinking about how we live, even if it is painful. We are already observing an interesting change in consumption habits and I see more and more people walking in my neighborhood. It seems to be in the 90s (laughs).
John Ortved collaborated.
You can read the full interview with Grimes on Fashion Italia in May.