Vancouver, where Claire Boucher grew up, is a ten-hour flight from London. Despite the kind of schedule that would make even a workaholic wince, Claire had agreed to have me tag along with her for the weekend for Dazed’s April 2012 cover story on Grimes. On the plane over, the sun went down and rose again as I traveled through time zones. As I drew closer, the ground below began to resemble Claire’s artwork for Grimes: black and white repeating patterns peeping through the clouds.
We did the first part of the interview in a funny little secret garden in the middle of my hotel, wrapped up against the cold. It got dark while we talked and a guy wearing a tuxedo made us laugh. He couldn’t see us through the window and was using it as a mirror, preening himself.
Later that night we went to a local venue to see her friend Mike, aka Blood Diamonds, play. One of the bouncers got shirty with Claire because Mike had given her an artist sticker. “She’s singing with me,” he lied to the bouncer. “Oh yeah?” says the bouncer. And so she did, just like that.
The whole weekend flowed like that, not least because Claire is just so exhilarating to be around: warm, open and forever running off on tangents. “Have you read The Foundation Trilogy?” she asked me at one point. “In it the human race is so worried about being destroyed so they’re building this library. There is this planet of people and everyone is working to collect all the knowledge that humans have ever come up and write it down in this encyclopaedia. And that’s what the internet is. We’ll be destroyed and die and someone will probably stumble across it in 20 million years and be like, What the fuck? Time is not an issue for the universe; it’s just an issue for us.”
Meredith Monk in her apartment, October 2010 [photo: Erica Beckman]
Meredith Monk is the most striking, strong, and wholly peaceful woman that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. We met in October 2010, when I had arranged for Brooklyn electronic duo Blondes to interview the revered composer for a Dummy feature while I was in town. They’d told me a couple a months previous that they’d sampled her piece Rally in what would become Lover, the first track of their debut album ‘Blondes’. They were interested in her use of vocal, non-verbal communication, and the sheer power of her often-chanted compositions. The interview took place in the beautifully ramshackle rent-controlled apartment she’d lived in since the ’60s. She was very patient, somehow a little sad, yet still so full of wonder. She ended up kind of interviewing Blondes. I was reminded of this extraordinary afternoon today after listening to the On Being public radio programme she recently took part in. It’s a wonderful insight into her approach to life and work, and the importance of art in helping us live our lives and deal with the inevitable loss it entails. I urge you to listen to it here.
Plus here’s the audio from Blondes and Meredith Monk’s interview in October 2010 below.