Grimes Tried Wearing Men’s Clothes and Says ‘It Just Feels Good’

Singer/songwriter Grimes revealed on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel that she recently tried on male attire and enjoyed it. The Sept. 8 panel for her FOX singing competition show Alter Ego also involves performers assuming different identities. That inspired her recent memory.

“Actually just yesterday I did a photo shoot where I dressed up as a man and I don’t even do that that much,” Grimes said. “I’m not trans but I was like, ‘Man, I should do this more. It just feels good.’

Grimes performs with headphones on
Grimes | JC Olivera/Getty Images

On Alter Ego, singing contestants get to create a computer animated avatar. However, the judges — Grimes, will.i.am, Nick Lachey and Alanis Morissette — only see the avatars. 

Producers for the show said that some performers used an avatar with a different gender than the one they identify with. Grimes appreciated the opportunity the competition afforded contestants to sing and also experiment with gender.

“It sort of makes gender fluidity more casual,” Grimes said. “It was actually really beautiful and profound in a lot of moments, watching people play with gender, even if that isn’t something they want to identify with all day in the real world.”

Grimes said the Alter Ego contestants reminded her of her photo shoot. She adopted male attire for a photo spread, but contestants experimented with different genders via avatar.

Grimes wears glasses and a fluffy jacket
Grimes | Drew Herrmann/FOX

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“In the show, I feel like people were doing that,” Grimes said. “Like ‘actually no, I’m going to try changing genders.’ I think this is something as a society that made me feel stoked that we’re moving towards a vibe where people feel more comfortable as themselves in different ways.”

The social impact of gender fluidiity was also important to Grimes. She felt society still has a long way to go in open-mindedness regarding gender.

“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,” Grimes said. “Or it’s like if you were born a female and you want to live as a man, it’s this dramatic thing. You have to tell your family it’s this or that. I think making it this purely artistic expression, it sort of removed a lot of the politics that I think have been stifling this country a bit. It’s just people expressing.”

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Grimes’ fellow judges also responded to Alter Ego’s gender flipping. Lachey said performers are already trying to embody their truth.

“As a performer there’s nothing more liberating than being able to be you and to put that out there, whatever that is,” Lachey said. “With this show, you watch performances where people were stepping into an alter ego and feeling truly liberated. Maybe for the first time in their lives, feeling truly liberated as an artist, as a performer. We’re taking it in as judges at face value. We’re watching exactly what’s happening in real time before our eyes. Whatever you can possibly imagine embodied in this show, it happens and it’s mind blowing.”

will.i.am said he already assumes female personas when he writes songs for Black Eyed Peas

“I write songs sometimes pretending to be girls in the studio,” will.i.am said. “When i’m writing songs for Fergie in the past, I’m dialing into my inner femininity, learning everything from my mom, my grandma and my aunt. If I can do that with freedom in the studio, in the comforts of my room and write and thinking about what my mom might feel like or my sister or my cousin might feel like, that’s just me writing a song.”

will.i.am expressed similar hopes to Grimes that Alter Ego would expand society’s idea of gender. 

Alter Ego judge will.i.am holds his fist under his chin
will.i.am | Drew Herrmann/FOX

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“The imagination is genderless and its beautiful,” he said. “It’s a beautiful mix of both feminine and masculine energy all intertwined and the show is a representation of that. It’s freaking fantastic. I was blown away by the capability of females that you didn’t know what was at and males you didn’t know that was what. Without going into details, it’s wild sauce.”

Fox will air a preview of Alter-Ego on Sept. 12 before it takes its regular night Sept. 22.