Grimes’s first record was a Dune-inspired concept album called Geidi Primes, a reference to the militaristic planet ruled in the recent movie by an enormous Stellan Skarsgård. (She dubbed herself Grimes because MySpace allowed her to associate herself with three musical genres, and she liked the name “grime,” then a nascent British music scene.) Her father read Frank Herbert’s book to her when she was four. She loved it. At one Met gala, she cornered Sting, who starred in David Lynch’s much-derided adaptation, and freaked him out with a heavy dose of Dune fangirling.
For years Grimes harbored a dream of directing her own adaptation of Dune, with the more problematic colonialist elements scrubbed out, but when she heard about Denis Villeneuve’s two-part blockbuster, she fangirled all over again and signed on to help with the rollout, originally scheduled for November 2020. (“I was basically an influencer.”) And then, she adds, she got canceled from Dune because of the Communist Manifesto thing. She was crestfallen, but she understood. “There are things that are deeply not woke in the Dune universe,” she says, so the studio had to be extra-cautious, and she was far from indispensable.
When she finally saw the movie, she realized to her astonishment that this story she’d adored since she was far too young for it, that she knew almost by heart, that inspired her first album—this story was now her story. Specifically Lady Jessica’s story. This goes by fast onscreen, but Jessica (played by Rebecca Ferguson) is not a wife but a concubine. Grimes saw herself in Jessica, and she saw X in Jessica’s son, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). Paul is more than a duke’s son. He’s a chosen one, tasked with becoming a great leader. “When I see X,” she says, “like, I just know X is going to have to go through all this really fucked-up shit that sort of mirrors Paul-type stuff.” Watching it wrecked her. “I was just crying my eyes out the whole movie.”
She knows this might sound absurd. Grandiose. She wishes it felt that way to her too.
“I feel like there’s very few people in the world who could have similar sentiments about their son than Claire with X,” Mac says when I relay this to him. I ask if it’s surreal to watch his sister live this life. “Yes,” he says, laughing. “But I’m also not really surprised? Because she somehow always gets into the most insane possible scenarios.”
By the summer of 2019, Grimes was in the early days of her …….