We all know that fashion magazines exist both as businesses to bring in advertising, and creative organs to share inspiring visuals and the latest news - shopping or otherwise - on the subject. And we know that sometimes the advertising can pollute the content, and vice versa. Well, the same goes for music (and for that matter, all) magazines, which is why I am an admirer of journalist and DJ Hanna Hanra who last year created an independent, and free, music magazine called BEAT which tomorrow launches its fourth issue around the UK, and at two New York locations, though content can also be found online.
Hanna created BEAT with the assistance of Katie Grand who is its associate publisher, because "there is no music magazine that isn't entirely self-conscious, too earnest or too driven by advertising. I wanted to create a magazine where only properly talented and relevant people are featured. I would never put someone in the magazine if they looked good but were actually shit. I don't want something inauthentic." Hanna is a girl after my own heart.
Grimes, photographed by Clare Shilland
BEAT is, for me, the real deal of what a music magazine should be, her contacts and her anntenae for the most important new talent and music is to my mind spot on, especially when viewed through a culture and fashion lens. Hanna popped in for tea with a PDF of the new issue last week, and I was basically in awe of the calibre of music talent she has gathered together, not to mention the world class photographers she called on to take pictures. "I guess I just know all these people that do music, take pictures and do fashion," she says, shrugging. "So I just kinda did it. I don't have a title on my mag. Basically I do everything."
The new issue has four cover options, Grimes (you saw her on the blog last week) and The Gossip, both photographed by Clare Shilland. Zulu photographed by Alasdair McLellan, and Girls shot by Ryan McGinley. Yes, the Ryan McGinley (yep, fangirl right here).
Chris from Girls, photographed by Ryan McGinley
Grimes was not jazzed up in Givenchy as she was for Dazed and Confused's most recent magazine cover, but rather as herself. "She would never wear Givenchy in her real life, so we shot her in a T-Shirt."
Photographed by Claire Shilland
It is to the ethereal yet tough Grimes that we return, with Jack Sunnuck's interview with her from the new edition of BEAT.
The best way to describe Grimes’ ethereal, kind of nuts music is in her own words: “Pop through a different circuit”. Grimes, just about the most hyped artist around right now, is Claire Boucher: a tiny, frenetic, husky-voiced Canadian girl who, on her new entirely self-produced album, Visions, whispers and wails her way through beautifully electronic songs such with names like Oblivion, Genesis and Circumambient. In the flesh, her appearance is just the same as her stage persona - like a space girl who just dropped from the sky.
Beat: You’re a big fan of Korean pop music, which for those that don’t know, is like Britney on wild hallucinogens, accompanied by futuristic videos. What’s your favourite K-pop song?
Grimes: Probably Love by FX. I mean, they’re all kind of the same song.
Totally. Part of the appeal is that you can’t understand what’s going on until they shout something vaguely coherent in English for the chorus. Was that mysterious kind of vibe an influence on your new album?
Yeah, definitely! I mean, my songs are about stuff, but one thing I really like about K-pop is that it’s just, like, “Blah blah blah LOVE blah blah blah HEART!” These tropes of pop music, it’s almost like a mantra. You get so used to hearing them, your brain is like, “I understand.” And not so much for this record, but for other records, that was something I wanted to do. I would use weird sounds so it wasn’t even like I was speaking English. The aesthetic of how it sounds is way more important to me than the actual meaning. When I first heard K-pop I was like, “Aha it sounds like Grimes.”
You’re also a big R&B fan and love TLC, but I guess you’re not trying to tell a story in the mode of Waterfalls.
No not at all, it’s not about the story. I was thinking about TLC the other day, wondering if they really thought they had a message and started making music, or started making music and thought they had to have a message.
What kind of clothes do you like to wear? You always look like you’re from another future. I can tell you’re into furs from the delicious one you’re wearing now.
I especially like furs that are falling apart. I wear a lot of military shit; combat boots and all that. I like sci-fi meets military.
On Twitter you wrote that you’ve got a kind of synesthesia, where you look at a person and see what kind of animal they would be. What kind of animal is Grimes?
A hyena and a beluga. The hyena’s crazy - female hyenas have penises! And they laugh all the time - like Puck, they’re the holy fool of the animal kingdom. And the beluga is kind of the same; it’s always smiling, huge and fat but beautiful and glowing white. It’s the lava lamp of the sea.
The beluga swims in pods. What other bands do you feel a kinship with?
Current bands would be Blue Hawaii, How To Dress Well, Picture Plane. These are like my friends. I mean, I’m kind of friends with all the bands I really like. I used to live with Blue Hawaii but then there was a third wheel situation because they’re dating. They’re also really clean and I’m really messy. So that had to end. But I love them forever. All the gear I use they showed me how to use. Historically, I love Marilyn Manson.
It’s only three years since you started making music, which seems a pretty steep curve to where you are now. How did you progress so fast?
I mean, I live in Montreal and my rent’s $200 a month. I live right by a bunch of bulk food places and a bunch of very plentiful dumpsters. And I ride a bike. I incur no costs. And I don’t work; I dropped out of school, so all I do is work on music. That’s all I do. Everyone in Montreal does music all the time. There’s a huge downside too - it’s -40 for half the year. I got frostbite in my house last year because it was so cold.
As well as the music you also directed the video for your song Vanessa, which features lots of writhing women. Is directing something you like and want to do more of?
I’ve actually shot five videos! Vanessa is the only one that’s released. Be A Body [a song on the new album] I’ve edited and directed all myself. That’s my favourite. I demanded that one. For Oblivion I did football video. The Grimes brand is about doing pop through another circuit.
I’ve had so many opportunities to shoot videos with mainstream directors but my friends just do a better job. It’s so much better to work with small people who care than people who’ll throw money at it. It’s so much better to break into a fucking football field and get chased out! SO much better. Because then you’re like, ‘We’ve only got one shot let’s make it great’.
From looking at Vanessa and hearing you talk about these other videos, you seem a bit obsessed by the physicality of dance and sports.
I mean, girls. Women. What is the most beautiful thing? What do people want to see all the time? It’s girls! It’s always been that way and always will be. Like, the film Melancholia, I was wondering why it’s so magnetic to watch. And it’s because Kirsten Dunst is naked! With Vanessa I was like, what do people want to see? Girls, obviously. So I got all my hot friends to be in it. For Be A Body I went back to Vancouver and I got two ballerina friends from there to come. They’re really well trained and covered in tattoos. The only costs for that were the two hundred dollars we spent on lights. We went and shot everyone in pitch black using straight-on lights, so it’s these incredible, tattooed bodies moving in the pitch black. Quite rave.
What’s your favourite futuristic film?
The Fifth Element! I have the tattoos on my hand! Everyone’s like, ‘that move sucks’, but it doesn’t matter when it looks so good.
Oh my God it’s mine too! Growing up I really fancied Bruce Willis.
Yeah, I loved Leeloo.
What are the best shows you’ve played?
Every time I’ve ever played on E it’s been great! But there are different kinds of good shows. This one time, I played a show in Chicago, and it was flawless. People danced - I love people dancing. Another time I played this show at a rave in some woods near Portland and it was definitely not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but it was fucking fun. So that’s two kinds of good shit.
You’ve just got back from a little sojourn to Berlin, how was that?
Great. My friend’s little brother lives there, and he’s very handsome, and he’s going to drum for me when I do a show there in May. We’re going to wear nothing but black body paint.
I love your song Crystal Ball. If we were to look into your crystal ball, what would it say about the future of Grimes?
I want the visual presence to be flawless. And just crazy. I want to work on the visual half not as promo, but as art. Really good art. Oh, and start working on the next album. Obviously.
You can pick up BEAT in various record stores and vintage shops of the Rough Trade/Beyond Retro ilk throughout the UK, as well as Marc Jacobs on Mount Street, and Dover Street Market, Opening Cermony and Supreme in the US. It's also available in all Diesel stores and from the BEAT website.