Music / Role Models

Role Models: Grimes (Ok…And Elon Musk)


“I wish I could be
Your first love the way you were mine
Wish you didn’t remember this feeling
But knew it the way I know it”
Grimes “Pretty Dark (Demo)”

In the gleefully artificial disco haze of 1977, our role model Amanda Lear deadpan announced that she was a photograph. “I am a glossy photograph,” she coos in her song “I Am A Photograph.” “Of course I am a bit retouched and my color has been processed.” Over forty years later, Grimes–otherwise known as Claire Boucher, otherwise known as c, renamed by her billionaire beau Elon Musk for the symbol for the speed of light, otherwise known as another one of my maniacal obsessions–became a hologram.

That’s right. While everyone was too busy mocking the chunky angles of the clearly Blade Runner-inspired Tesla Cybertruck (which fuck the haters…I want. Imagine rumbling through the Manhattan streets in that monstrosity. And given the way I drive (recklessly), I could terrorize a city of 8 million plus people. Ho hum…a girl can dream) and laughing at his smashingly failed window demonstration, Grimes transformed into a Holo-Grimes, I mean Cybergirl.

Though she was speaking in a bizarre, affected Madonna-style British accent and wearing a wig from Ricky’s, Grimes was recognizable by her readily identifiable leg tattoo. The real kicker to this hologram hallucination was her introduction of Elon as “her creator,” who then shuffled awkwardly onstage to laser lights and Vangelis-esque music. Clearly, the duo are living in 3019, while we’re all stuck in the nightmare of 2019.

It was both wholly inspiring and secondhand embarrassing, leading me to fantasize about other potential Holo-Grimes appearances ever since. Grimes became a flickering figment of our imagination, a shimmering image that, like Lear’s photograph, appeared as if beamed from another galaxy. She was, at once, an icon, an idol and yes, a role model. Of course, Grimes has always existed as if she arrived from another planet or even, a different plane of reality. But now with a billionaire who is planning to shoot other billionaires into space, Grimes’s strangest visions seem to have the potential to become a reality. And really, isn’t encouraging extreme behavior exactly what love should be?

Yes, for this role model post, I’m highlighting one of my deepest darkest fascinations that is sure to get me some emailed hatred from people accusing me of loving, as Zola Jesus rage-tweeted at Grimes, “Silicon fascist privilege”: Grimes and Elon’s relationship. Now, other than a few, nearly always intriguingly odd and off-putting public appearances, Grimes and Elon have kept their relationship, at least recently, mostly quiet. Much to my dismay. I am completely enamored by their techno-romance, their alien A.I. love affair.

Now, this isn’t to say Grimes isn’t herself worthy of a solo role model post. She certainly is (Elon less so, but last year’s spiral out of control with copious memes, SEC investigations, and a visit to the Joe Rogan podcast to smoke pot and say we live in a simulation does seem to present an argument otherwise). I mean, this photograph with Grimes wedged between a horrified-looking Katy Petty and amused Rihanna is evidence enough:

And how about her recently updated bio:

“Grimes started producing music when she had to learn the program Logic for her neuroscience class. Shortly thereafter she had a viral Myspace page, which allowed her to start booking shows and focus full-time on music. She lived in a crack den in Montreal with no heat (where she got frostbite twice and her neighbor was bludgeoned to death in the hallway), playing raves until her 2012 breakout, Visions, which was recorded during a 2 week speed binge wherein she did not leave her bedroom.

Upon the success of this album, Grimes attempted to enter society as a regular human, which has clearly not gone super well but has nonetheless been entertaining. She’s since become an award winning music video director as well as a music writer, producer, engineer, singer-songwriter. She’s toured globally to sold out crowds, headlined festivals, and is now moving into the space of corporate surrealism. She recently had experimental eye surgery only available to the upper class. She is putting out her final earth album this year.”

I mean, same. Entering society as a regular human hasn’t gone too well for me either.

Or her workout regiment, posted as a caption on an Instagram photograph promoting the Stella McCartney for Adidas collection:

“My training is a 360 approach. I first maintain a healthy cellular routine where I maximize the function of my mitochondria with supplements such as NAD+, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Magnesium, etc. This helps promote ATP and it’s incredibly visceral. From that point I spend 2-4 hours in my deprivation tank, this allows me to “astro-glide” to other dimensions – past, present, and future.

In the afternoons I do a 1-2 hour sword fighting session with my trainer, James Lew, we go over the fundamentals that work the obliques, core stabilizes, and triceps as well as a few tricks. To wind down from this I spend 30-45 minutes on an inclined hike at roughly 4-4.5 miles per hour, arguably the most efficient workout.

I then spend 45 minutes stretching before heading into the studio where my mind and body are functioning at peak level, with a neuroplastic goal between 57.5 and 71.5 AphC’s (which is my preferred range for my blood type). I’ve outfitted my studio with the highest grade of red light. It is pretty much 1000 sqf IR Sauna.

Hana then comes over and we do a screaming session for 20-25 minutes while I slow boil the honey tea that maximizes vocal proficiency.

I have also eliminated all blue light from my vision through an experimental surgery that removes the top film of my eyeball and replaces it with an orange ultra-flex polymer that my friend and I made in the lab this past winter as a means to cure seasonal depression.

I go to bed with a humidifier on.”

I can’t even tell if she’s kidding. I hope not.

Even before she became Grimes, Claire Boucher was already working on her role model status with the storied tale of her failed Huck Finn adventure down the Mississippi. In 2009, Grimes and William Gratz, a college friend from Montreal, tried to sail the ever-changing, never-changing murky water to New Orleans starting in Minnesota where they constructed a houseboat. Although, boat seems to be a loose definition of the term, which they named the “Velvet Glove Cast in Iron,” and filled with live chickens, a sewing machine and twenty pounds of potatoes. They also renamed themselves “Veruschka and Zelda Xox.” As you do. After many failed attempts to sail and several police interventions later, their boat was impounded. Why did they do this? I mean, why not…

As much as the tech-bros unwaveringly adore him, Grimes is as much of a genius as Elon. Studying neuroscience and Russian in college before dropping out, Grimes’s music constructs psychedelic and surreal sonic landscapes, much of which she mixes, produces and writes herself. She’s got layered vocals, sci-fi futuristic imagery, and at once, dystopian and utopian lyrics. Listening to Grimes feels like soaking in a sensory deprivation chamber–or at least your bathtub–while on ecstasy, whether her breakthrough album Visions with songs like “Genesis,” “Oblivion,” and “Be a Body” to her more recent Art Angels that, while bouncy and pop-influenced, still contained songs like “Kill V. Maim” (B-E-H-A-V-E!).

And she doesn’t show any signs of softening. Her upcoming album, aptly titled Miss Anthropocene, veers heavily into transhumanism as she evolves into a villainous embodiment of unleashed A.I. power, with a love of “Violence.” As she told Cultured, “It’s sort of about this demon of the end of the world, this character that’s like the Voldemort of climate change. She’s relishing the end of the world, and it’s an album about how great fucking climate change is.” This Grimes era began late last year with the release of the song “We Appreciate Power” with her frequent collaborator Hana. With a lyric video that looks as if it contained some Space X b-roll, Grimes boasted, “Simulation is the future,” juxtaposed with the hilariously mundane repeated description of “putting makeup on my face.”

Her transhumanism isn’t just a concept album put-on either since she recently argued on astrophysicist Sean Carroll’s podcast that human art might be at its end. “I feel like we’re at the end of art, human art. Once there’s actually AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), they’re gonna be so much better at making art than us…once AI can totally master science and art, which could happen in the next 10 years, probably more like 20 or 30 years.” This, coupled with her assertion that live music is also nearing its completion, makes me pray that Grimes refuses to appear in any upcoming concerts except as an avatar. I’d pay good money to watch chaos ensue as her new virtual avatar “War Nymph” misanthropically sings to an audience of infuriated concertgoers like an instant replay of the rage and frenzy whipped up by Public Image Ltd’s projection screen performance in 1981 at the Ritz.

Now, whether rightly or wrongly, Miss Anthropocene has Musk’s, well, musk all over it. I don’t like attributing female musicians’ creative output to their relationship with some dude, whether Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain or Courtney Love and Billy Corgan, but Grimes’s current dual fascination and fear of A.I. reflects Musk’s own outspoken warnings about the dangers of A.I. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since together it seems like both Grimes and Elon reach new pinnacles of deranged.

Take, for example, Grimes’s recently released song “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth,” which is about cum possession. Yes, you heard that right. With lyrics like “Cause I’m full of love from you,” Grimes explains in Cultured that the song is about: “Specifically how when a dude comes inside you, you become in their thrall—how it’s an attack on your feminist freedom…It’s sad how love can be this beautiful thing, but then love is the thing that’s fucking up my career…The biggest change for me this year is losing my hardcore masculinity. I used to just be free—free of all this bullshit that it seemed like all the other girls were going through, and now I feel like I’m not.” Ah…romance!

In the recent workshop Happy Endings, held in connection to the the group show Idol Worship curated by yours truly at Smack Mellon, artist and writer Patty Gone and writer and yoga instructor Claire Donato introduced the participants to not only the wonders of romance novelist and author photo auteur Danielle Steel, but the notion of twin flame meditation in which you visualize your “twin flame,” a perfect match, a soul-mate. Now, I’m not sure I was able to access my twin flame, but I do know who has: Grimes and Elon.

Twin flames

Just think of how they met. Elon was going to tweet a joke about “Rococo’s Basilisk,” a bizarre combination of Rococo style and Roko’s Basilisk, a thought experiment that questions if A.I. would kill humans that didn’t work to create it. Turns out Grimes made the same joke years earlier with her “Flesh Without Blood” music video. So he DM-ed her and they lived happily ever after on Mars. Just imagine where it will go from here. Will Elon blast Grimes to space? Will she become the first human fitted with Neuralink? Will they both become holograms? The possibilities are endless.

I wasn’t always a Grimes and Elon stan. In fact, I discovered my love for both of them right when my adoration of Azealia Banks kicked into high gear. Maybe it was Elon supposedly rolling around on acid tweeting about making Tesla short shorts to amuse Grimes and insult investors shorting stocks. Or Azealia waiting alone for Grimes and roasting the couple in their own home. No matter what it was, their mutual shit show gifted me with three new obsessions.

However, my real fascination with the duo probably started a few months earlier with their first startling outing as a couple at the 2018 Met Gala. And no, this wasn’t, in fact, the Camp gala, though their appearance was as camp as can be, dressed as the strangest, most revolting Goth couple in your high school that smoked cigarettes behind the dumpsters. Grimes, with a high black ponytail, markedly different from her normal Technicolor hairdo, wore a dress designed by Elon himself, which included, of course, a choker that resembled the Tesla logo. Juxtaposed with her darkness, Elon sported a white tux. But, my favorite part of their appearance wasn’t their outfits. It was that they both looked completely hammered, but were trying really hard to pretend they were sober. Take a look– and I’ve stared at these pictures way more than I’d probably like to divulge publicly:

Admittedly, I’ve been both of them: chatty Elon and red wine mouth Grimes. Relatable.

Plus, no matter what you think of them, you have to admit that Elon swinging Grimes wildly around priceless antiquities is sweet:

After the burn they received from insult-master Azealia and the subsequent investigation by the SEC, which required Elon to admit that his pot joke (about selling Tesla at $420 a share) had to do with trying to make Grimes laugh (cringe!), the duo seemed to lay low, though their mutual influence on each other was visible to those of us in the know. For instance, Grimes recently posted an image on her Instagram showing her playing with fire, in the form of a Boring Company’s Not A Flamethrower. After witnessing this image, I like to imagine her most recent song “My Name Is Dark” with the lyric “You know me as the girl who plays with fire” to be secretly about her and Elon doing drugs and playing with flamethrowers. Also just the sheer amount of meme-related content on Elon’s page just screams Grimes. As does this Cyber-owl:

The owls are not what they seem

Sure, I know…I know…I know what you’re saying, anti-capitalist whiners: Elon Musk is a billionaire plutocrat! Isn’t Grimes allowing herself to be the de facto Cybertruck model, as well as the self-identified creation of a man like Musk, exactly the opposite of what Grimes ever stood for? The same woman who wrote a feminist manifesto on her Tumblr in 2013 in which she addressed being called anti-men? As she wrote, then: “I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if I did this by accident and I’m going to flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers.” Just think, years later she would become a creation.

And I know…I know…as soon as she started dating Elon, Grimes took the “anti-imperialist” descriptor off of her Twitter bio since it’s hard to claim that stance when dating someone whose tagline is “Colonize Mars.”

And I know…I know…Grimes called Elon’s anti-union actions at Tesla “fake news” and even went so far as to claim she “heavily” investigated the issue herself. Private eye Grimes! She’s on the case!

But, what is love if not an opportunity to sacrifice all your previously long-held beliefs?

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