Home Featured Articles Grimes Is Not A Troll - She's A Genius

Grimes Is Not A Troll - She's A Genius

Short URL to this article: http://weeklypodcast.net/ojv
Grimes Playing on Stage

Is Grimes a troll? Image via NRK P3

(From Wikipedia) Grimes: Canadian experimental electronic artist.

(From Urban Dictionary) Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument

(From My Brain) Boiler Room: A trendy organisation who invite trendy DJs to play trendy music to trendy people trendy-ly.

Here's a video about it:

Right, that should be all our definitions out of the way, so let's get to the news story. Basically, Grimes got invited to DJ at Richie Hawtin's house as part of a Boiler Room party thing in Ibiza, and rather than play the same techno noone's ever heard of for a million hours from an expensive, unnecessarily complicated set of decks, Grimes Djed with her iPod and played some of musical history's choicest cuts, including:

this:

this:

this:

and this,

And I think it's exactly what the Boiler Room needs.

Naturally, noone really knows how to react to all of this so most people have defaulted to one of two reactionary states:

  1. OMG WTF is she doing. GTFO.
  2. LOL. Grimes FTW. Epic trolling skillz.

To which Grimes has replied, via the Tweet machine:

and finally,

To which people have responded with reactionary state number 2 again.

In-fact, both dominant responses are incorrect, and to describe Grimes' actions as 'trolling' runs the risk of belittling Grimes' intentions or if-not-intentions, potential achievements.

Now, objectively speaking, the Boiler Room is a great thing: it allows people all over the world to stream stuff they can't see anywhere else and seeks to promote new music above all, making it one of the most egalitarian musical projects out there - you don't need to live in one place, or be rich to enjoy what it has to offer, and its launched plenty of talent which wouldn't have been launched otherwise. What a shame, then, that's it become an intimidating, nepotistic organisation, more interested in gaining cool points than truly exploring freedom of expression, which can only be explored where judgement is virtually non-existent. How can people feel free in their musical honesty in an environment which is only interested in one kind of expression?

How can people feel free in their musical honesty in an environment which is only interested in one kind of expression?

Now, whether or not this is the fault of the organisers is a separate matter. To be fair, it probably isn't. As with so many things, the fault probably lies with the so-called 'fans' (I'm not talking about actual fans here: I'm talking about people who go there to have hipster-offs and stand motionless with ironic bass faces, which is most of the people.) But given that the whole thing is 'invite-only', the organisers do have something to answer for.

Fact is, the Boiler Room has lost its sense of humour and discovery. If you're genuinely interested in enjoying as much music as possible - you can't place limits on the kind of music you hear according to some prescribed idea of cool and whether or not Grimes had explicit intentions regarding this, that's exactly what she drew attention to. Or, rather, what the fan response has demonstrated.

As Grimes herself has said, it wasn't ironic: she likes those songs, and why the hell not? Call them crap all you want, assuming you have grounds other than the principle, but it was her DJ set and she was allowed to do whatever the fuck she wanted.

Boiler Room has lost its sense of humour and discovery.

(In this sense, describing the whole thing as a joke is more offensive to music than saying Grimes has crap taste and what-not, because what you're basically saying is this:

"It is beyond my comprehension to imagine that someone for whom I have some respect could possibly find this music anywhere near approaching 'good', therefore, within my world-view, it must be a joke. HAHA.")

Now one obvious response to all of this could be: "I agree, but there's a time and a place for this etc. etc." Well, yeah. This time and place. If the Boiler Room fans are pro-music, then disregarding any music according to what looks suspiciously like snobbery is a pretty weird thing to do.

Antwerp Pride Closing Festival

Do Boiler Room fans think The Venga Boys are shit? Image Via William Helsen

I'm sure all Boiler Room fans think The Venga Boys are shit. And maybe they are. But that doesn't necessarily have any impact on the music they put their face too.

Frankly, how music was produced or why it was produced is only minutely relevant to the assessment of it, as far as I'm concerned and pointing to manufactured musicians isn't going to gain you any points from me. Such things should affect your appreciation of the creators, not the creation itself.

Judging music should only be based on the features the music itself possesses; external factors like context, are just that: external. They're related to the music, sure, but they're not features belonging to it and while they can affect understanding, they shouldn't affect critical assessment.

Judging music should only be based on the features the music itself possesses

I'm sure I'm probably reading way too much into all of this, but I think Grimes, whether deliberately or not, taught 'serious' music fans a lesson with her set: take your pleasures seriously, sure, but in doing so, go into everything with an open mind and don't assume independent or underground music is good because it's independent or underground and vice versa - don't disregard mainstream music because it's mainstream. This kind of extreme positive discrimination is an insult to music, and not only does it exclude great music from the mainstream, it implicitly assumes that all underground music is created equal. Would people have been so vitriolic towards Grimes had she played some crap independent music? I suspect not, but that stuff definitely exists, and there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that.

By all means, go out of your way to promote the independent - hell, that's what I do all day long - but don't do it at the risk of excluding everything else.

And Boiler Room: perhaps go over your mission statement again and remember why you're doing what you're doing. Unless you secretly only care about cool points. In which, case, kindly go fuck yourselves.

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