Claire Boucher, the Canadian musician and producer whose miraculous ascent from college dropout to heralded pop innovator mirrors the trajectory of a rocket (like the ones, for example, produced by her boyfriend, obnoxious billionaire Elon Musk), is currently in the throes of an identity crisis that’s as enthralling as it is upsetting.
Since she first emerged from the underground Montreal scene and caught the attention of coastal city culture writers, Boucher—who goes by Grimes, a mononym of indeterminate origin—has defined herself by her boundless intellectual curiosity and reluctance to waver from her moral compass. Her music shimmers like a fluttering veil, allowing the listener intermittent glimpses into the cavernous portal of the psyche from which the sounds emitted.
There’s always been a throb of trauma in Grimes’ work, which anyone not listening closely enough would misinterpret as pounding synths and bass. In past interviews, she’s urged Canadians to vote in opposition to conservative politicians, and a screenshot of her high school yearbook is a scrap of niche cultural ephemera so well-suited for Tumblr it still feels almost eerie. A teenage Grimes smiles ruefully next to her chosen quote from Joseph Stalin: “Gaity is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.”
But the teenage Grimes is long gone, and in her place is a woman who on Sunday tweeted that “every aerospace company has to donate to Republicans in order to function,” due to the fact that this concession is “the price of doing business in America.”
After the backlash to this tweet blew the blogs apart, Grimes clarified that “there is no world” in which she’s comfortable with donations to Republican organizations; she was merely trying to explain the conditions under which her boyfriend, Elon Musk, donated nearly $40,000 to a committee that supports House Republicans.
Musk is the worst sort of garden-variety billionaire: rather than retreat to a secluded island to sip mimosas and leave everyone else alone, Musk chooses to devote himself to the betterment of humanity because he perceives himself to be beatific in the extreme. Of course, in reality he is one of the most infuriating people on the planet, and in recent months especially, Musk has been in rare form.
Earlier in July, 12 children and their soccer coach were at the center of a daring rescue effort after the group got stuck in a cave in northern Thailand. Musk somehow made the whole ordeal about himself from halfway around the world by boasting that his company SpaceX could whip up a state-of-the-art submarine to free the kids in no time, and then calling one of the rescue divers a “pedo” on Twitter.
Musk is also anti-union and has actively discouraged workers at his automobile company Tesla from unionizing; in other words, he’s just as toxic and out of touch as every other extremely rich person alive.
So why on Earth is Grimes not just into Musk, but willing to embarrass herself time and again by going to bat for him in public?
Her transition from radically ambitious intellect to famous musician on the arm of a CEO seems to have occurred distressingly quickly. And even though she recently tweeted (and then deleted said tweets) about her attempts to instigate a Tesla employee union vote in the wake of the ridicule that’s come her way, their relationship seems far from over.
Pictures of Musk, his son and Grimes attending the SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition took off on the internet this week as people pointed out how much Grimes looked like another one of Musk’s children. In the photos, Boucher, wearing a pink gingham dress and hiding her eyes behind mirrored sunglasses, is grinning and flashing a peace sign. Her outfit and disposition suggest the attitude of someone who’s slipped back somewhat into the indulgences of childhood ignorance.