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'Alter Ego' judge Grimes reveals she suffers 'really bad mental health effects' from being a performer

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Grimes is opening up in a big way about the “stage fright” she said she harbors each and every time she takes the stage to perform.

The multi-genre music and creative producer, 33, whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher, said that despite being able to let her mind travel to where it wants to – in a creative sense – when it comes to being front and center with eyes peering at her, she ultimately finds performing to be “quite emotionally intense.”

“I love producing, I have huge stage fright,” Grimes – who shares a son with Tesla and SpaceX honcho Elon Musk – told journalists on Wednesday during the “Alter Ego” virtual panel for FOX Entertainment’s Fall Television Critics Association event.

Hosted by music staple and former “106 & Park” co-host Rocsi Diaz, 37, the all-new singing competition series will see people performing as “fantastical” digital avatars known as alter egos. Plus, with cutting-edge technology the judges – consisting of will.i.am, 46, Nick Lachey, 47, and Grimes – along with viewers at home, will be able to see each and every emotion exuded by the real-life singer behind the alter ego.

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“Me and my team have been investing, trying to invest in this technology for the last couple of years, actually, which is one of the reasons when [executive producer] Matilda and them hit us up, we were like, ‘Oh, we really want to do this because we really believe in this technology,'” Grimes explained.

“Because for me, I feel like I’m a writer and a producer and I love designing performances and stuff, but I just lose my – like, I just have really bad mental health effects from being a front person,” she continued. “Like, I find it quite emotionally intense. And I think this show really represents, for a lot of people who might be more of a behind-the-scenes person, but who loves the idea of architecting a performance.”

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The “Delete Forever” songstress maintained that in her experience meeting a variety of people in various industries she has found many of them are introverted in their own lives but often have to display a front on a daily basis that masks who they truly are. 

“I think more people than not – it’s very hard to find a world-class performer in the same body as a person who is making sick beats and writing sick songs – that’s a rarity,” she explained. “And I think the show sort of represents a future in music where there’s a lot more possibility for different types of brains.”

Elon Musk and Grimes share one-year-old son, X Æ A-Xii.

Elon Musk and Grimes share one-year-old son, X Æ A-Xii.
(Photo by Jason Kempin)

The Canadian musician continued: “To a lot of the contestants, I think the show sort of represented a lot of that opportunity of like, ‘OK, we don’t need to be a super-confident, always good on camera, always happy to perform, you know, without anxiety, without having to evaluate about how you look.”

Grimes believes “especially for women in this industry, it’s tormenting” and “it sucks” to constantly have to pin down women’s looks for the enjoyment of others.

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“I want to really care about making beats. I want to really care about all this stuff. And when my career first started, everyone was sh–ting on my appearance because I didn’t wear makeup,” she lamented,” adding, “and then I just slowly started feeling this pressure to be physically beautiful or whatever.”

“Now that I’m getting older, I’m like man, I hate that. I don’t care about that. I just want to make cool stuff,” she noted.

Grimes’ comments came after will.i.am explained that state-of-the-art technology now allows anyone to become a star strictly based on the use of their digital avatars and the idea that if he were to recreate the Black Eyed Peas today, the group would “definitely be more members.”

'Alter Ego' is set to launch with a special two-night premiere on Sept. 22 and 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

‘Alter Ego’ is set to launch with a special two-night premiere on Sept. 22 and 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
(Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

“I like the idea of there being like a glossy girl group in the front of things and I feel like a show kind of – it’s accelerating a lot of these ideas that I think could really democratize the music industry and make it less about people who look the part,” Grimes said while speaking about the “purely artistic” aspect of performing completely outside of one’s human self.

“It sort of makes gender fluidity more casual. I feel like in the real world, there’s so much whatever – violence or hate or distrust or people have different opinions of how people pursue gender,” she told reporters.

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“It’s like if you were born a female and you want to live as a man, it’s like this dramatic thing. You got to tell your family – it’s this or that. And making it this purely artistic expression thing, it sort of removed a lot of the politics that I think have been stifling this country a bit,” she continued. “It’s just people expressing and it was actually really beautiful and profound in a lot of moments watching people just play with gender even if that isn’t something that they want to identify with all day in the real world.”

She added that she has also been dabbling in the idea of stepping outside of her gender simply as a way to get a feeling of what it would be like to be someone else once in a while – a means of liberating her mind, so to speak.

Grimes said she finds performing to be ‘quite emotionally intense’ and has ‘really bad mental health effects’ from being a ‘front stage performer.’

Grimes said she finds performing to be ‘quite emotionally intense’ and has ‘really bad mental health effects’ from being a ‘front stage performer.’
(Charley Gallay)

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“Actually, just yesterday I did a photoshoot where I dressed up as a man and I don’t even do that much,” she said. “And I’m not Trans but I was like, ‘Man, I should do this more. It just feels good.’ And in the show, I feel like people were doing that, just sort of being like, I’m going to try this – changing genders – and I think this is something as a society, it made me feel stoked that we’re moving towards just a vibe where people feel more comfortable expressing themselves in different ways.”

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“Alter Ego” is set to launch with a special two-night premiere on Sept. 22 and 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET after “The Masked Singer.”

A special sneak peek of both “Alter Ego” and “The Masked Singer” will air live across all time zones at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sept. 12 after the FOX NFL Sunday doubleheader which will be followed by an all-new episode of “Fantasy Island.”

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