38. Creating Your Coven: Dance in 7 GRIMES Music Videos

When Grimes drops seven music videos one October evening, you stop what you’re doing for all seven music videos. I didn’t get much work done on that night and I knew I had to write about each of them extensively. Buried under many other things though, I haven’t gotten around to posting this one. I won’t be following her extensive dance path in music videos like I did with my Flo post and Kate Bush post. But since I couldn’t write about this unholy amount of choice music videos for Nerdist, I’m going to spill my guts here.

Gone are the days of music videos attached with pre-rec dance routines that look like a drill team on acid; overflowing with back-up dancers and a horde of endless outfits. Music videos can also be a lot more subtle now. Filmed on a cell phone, cut and created in a day, styled and conceived by the musician alone? Welcome to 2016.


It’s a casual constancy that comes with this era of “millennial” musicians, much like filmmakers and photographers of this generation. Most of them are collaborating, which certainly isn’t new in the music and dance world. But they also lean towards working with friends and people they genuinely admire more often than not.

Grimes (Canadian supreme witch in training Claire Boucher) has always been one of these creatures.tumblr_mn4fdd7vxb1s7mwiio1_500

Art Angels (2015) was a shock to the system for long-time Grimes fans. “Flesh without Blood/ Life in the Vivid Dream” was released with a vibrant music video to showcase this new side of the same woman we’ve come to admire. Her artistry is still there, but this era of Grimes started out slaying in very interesting ways. Pop combined with industrial, punk, and new wave to form these empowering tales of art. And I’ve come to love Art Angels immensely because it’s first and foremost pretty fucking empowering.

So now the Art Angels saga is complete; almost all the songs have a music video attached to them. But these music videos are special in the same way that Flo has a special aversion to music videos. Grimes has also steadily released her own genre of music videos much like Flo. Details. Simplicity. Sincerity. Experimentalism.animation

So we had surreal and superb music videos for “Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream,” “California,” “Kill V. Maim,” and “REALiTI.” Now we have the rest, the four remaining tracks from Art Angels: “World Princess Part II,” “Belly of the Beat,” “Scream (feat. Aristophanes),” and “Butterfly” with the additional three tracks featuring the raw power of HANA: “Chimera,” “Underwater,” and “Avalanche.”

See below:

Grimes X HANA – The Ac!D Reign Chronicles {Director’s Cut}

“Grimes and Hana come 2 gther w Mac on a 2 week tour in Europe where they film 7 music videos. watch them in their intended order here.”

Directed by Claire Boucher
Starring Grimes, Hana, Aristophanes, Linda Davis, Alyson Van
DP Mac Boucher
Concept & Art direction by Claire Boucher
Post Production by Claire Boucher and HANA

The AC!D REIGN tour was an extremely creative time for Grimes, alongside fellow artists HANA Aristophanes, Linda Davis, and Alyson Van–I saw HANA, Linda, and Alyson together live during the Flo concert in May, but it would awesome to get to experience Aristophanes too one day.


Lots of decisions about her general live set-up were morphed during this time. Pre-Art Angels, Grimes was a ball of budding ideas and constant exploration, plagued with understandable stage freight and stress. Now it feels like she’s not just exploring at the earliest stages; she’s birthing new ideas sprung from previous ideas.

These 7 videos where done with no extensive crew including no makeup, camera, or lighting teams. And that in itself is a bold testament to her live performance persona, and general artistic life. In one superb Elle post about these new music videos and working with her brother Mac, Grimes said,

“They’re like, ‘Can you make us a Grimes video?’ He’s like, ‘She directs the videos.’ No one has ever called me about a directing job. Women just don’t get those calls, I think.”

I’m writing about these music videos because of their visual presentation of empowerment. This coven of creatives dancing for the screen aren’t objectified, over-sexualized GIRLS. They are instead what they present themselves body and soul IRL-empowered, energetic, insightful WOMEN.


The power of dance helps amplify Grimes’ musical investigation into power and how women create around the limitations of power in today’s world.

A really powerful music video or powerful visual to me is some of my favorite art, period.”

She runs her own socials from Twitter to IG, and posts constantly about life things from getting tattooed to the decision to cut her hair shorter and shorter after subsequent IG posts. She’s honestly improving most of her way through social media, and I’d rather follow those kinds of pure posts than the projection of perfection and idealism that most artists post, especially on IG. She also slays on Tumblr.


And if there’s one thing that’s essential to dance, it’s improvisation. Break dancing has it. Lindy Hop and Tango had it ages ago in mainstream dance halls. Grimes’ ability to modify on the spot reminds me of so many dance pioneers and current artists. I’d go out to say that she is amongst our beloved dance legends in a Madonna kind of way.

“Like, ‘Okay, I’m going to try a really fucking weird thing right now and it might be really stupid,’ I think you’re going to get a more interesting product if you’re not worried about trying things.”

It’s noted that “Dancers Alyson Van and Linda Davis, who tour with Boucher and are “incredibly essential to the show,” improvised new choreography for the short films.” I loved seeing this coven on stage in such a empowered position of creativity. You could tell that Alyson and Linda weren’t just props that Grimes had demanded to be placed around her, worshipping any ego she might have gained during Art Angels. Their performance space is magically woven with genuine trust and spontaneity, and dance was a leading factor to help conjure this ethereal realm IRL and for the AC!D REIGN music videos.


In today’s world, we need more artists who are creating their own covens with room for expansion and freedom, invoking their own magic for their art, and empowering the generations of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Long live Grimes and her coven.


More on Grimes:

NPR Interview

Rolling Stones Interview

NME Interview

Bust Interview

ELLE Interview

More on HANA:

Fader Post

NYLON Interview

I-D Interview


Here’s the next video in the saga!


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