- Sep 12, 1961
- Montréal, Québec, Canada
Bio: Mylène Farmer (French IPA: [mi'lɛn faʁ'mʁ]) (September 12, 1961), born Mylène Jeanne Gautier, is a Canadian-born French singer and songwriter. She is the most successful French recording female artist of all time, having sold some 25 million records.
Mylène Gautier was born in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, a suburb (now borough) of… More Bio: Mylène Farmer (French IPA: [mi'lɛn faʁ'mʁ]) (September 12, 1961), born Mylène Jeanne Gautier, is a Canadian-born French singer and songwriter. She is the most successful French recording female artist of all time, having sold some 25 million records.
Mylène Gautier was born in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, a suburb (now borough) of Montreal. Her parents, originally from France, moved to Canada in the late 1950s as Mylène's dad, Max, pursued an engineering contract on a dam. Her family returned to France when she was eight, settling in the Paris suburb of Ville d'Avray.
In her teenage years, Mylène was passionate about horses and she would devote all her time to riding (going on to pass her riding instructor exam at the famous equestrian centre in Saumur). But at 17, Mylène discovered her other great passion - acting and she would eventually abandon the stables to take a three-year course at the Cours Florent, a prestigious drama school in Paris. Changing her name to Mylène Farmer (after her favourite American actress Frances Farmer), she began to earn a living as a model and even went on to star in several TV ads.
It was then in 1984, Mylène met Laurent Boutonnat, a young film student also enrolled in Cours Florent, when she replied to a newspaper ad he had posted in finding an actress for a small film project he was working on. Farmer and Boutonnat quickly became friends and ultimately forged a lifetime creative partnership, together writing and producing all of her music. Laurent, whose ambition was to become a film director, was also the driving force behind Mylène's amazing videos.
Much of Mylène's fame and success can be attributed to her elaborate and theatrical music videos which often span 8 minutes or longer. Indeed, her concerts and videos are often compared to those of Michael Jackson and Madonna ("Pourvu qu'elles soient douces" lasts 17 minutes, while "California" was directed by Abel Ferrara and cost $700,000).
Farmer also gained fame with songs featuring ambiguous or shocking lyrics, and somewhat explicit music videos: "Maman a tort" was about the love of a young girl for her female nurse in a hospital. "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces" was about a man with an obsession for the buttocks of his lover, with hints of sodomy; the video, set in the 18th century, featured a caning. "Libertine" is said to feature the first nude appearance by a singer on a major music video. "Que mon cur lâche" was about love with condoms in the age of AIDS; the video for the song features a scene in which God tells Jesus he won't send him to Earth again because the last time he did, "it was a disaster."
Mylène is often considered the most successful and provocative female French recording artist, and the only artist to have each of her studio albums sell over a million copies in France. She is also very popular in fellow French-speaking countries Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and Luxembourg, as well as Japan, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.
Among her best-known songs are "Désenchantée", "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces", "Sans Contrefacon", "Libertine", "Les mots", "Rêver", "California", "Ainsi soit je", "L'Instant X", "Je t'aime mélancolie", "C'est une belle journée", "XXL", "Je te Rends ton Amour" and "Regrets".
Boutonnat teamed up with the young songwriter, Jérôme Dahan, and the pair went on to write Mylène's first hit, "Maman à tort" - a single which rocketed straight to the top of the French charts as soon as it was released in March 1984. The video which accompanied the single release, cost the modest sum of 5,000 francs, but it would cause a veritable stir in the music world. Boutonnat cast Mylène as a kind of provocative Lolita figure, and the singer would deliberately cultivate this image in the early days of her career, especially on her début album, "Cendres de lunes". This album, released in January 1986, proved to be an immense success, selling over 1 million copies.
"Libertine", the first single released from the album in March '86, set the tone for the whole Mylène Farmer style. Mylène's sensual, romantic lyrics (which she wrote herself) were very much inspired by the great figures of 19th century literature and set to sophisticated melodies (written by Boutonnat). Boutonnat also took charge of directing Mylène's videos, imposing his distinctive style on them. The video which accompanied "Libertine", for instance, is heavily charged with 18th century eroticism (conjuring up images of the film "Barry Lyndon" and the novels of the Marquis de Sade). Mylène, lit only in the glow of soft candlelight, is shrouded in an aura of mystery and sexual ambiguity. (This mysterious erotic ambience would continue to be the singer's trademark throughout the rest of her career, infusing the following videos "Tristana" and "Sans contrefaçon").
In 1987, Boutonnat & Farmer began recording their second album, "Ainsi soit-je...?" (a play on the English expression "thus I be"). This album, infused with the same dark, erotic atmosphere as the singer's previous work, featured songs inspired by Mylène's favourite authors, the French romantic poet Baudelaire and the American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Upon its release, the album soared to the top of the French charts and sold a staggering 1.8 million copies on the back of the million-selling hits "Sans contrefaçon" and "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces", the latter becoming her first #1 single. At the time it was the best-selling album ever by a female artist in France.
In spite of all her drama courses, Mylène still found it difficult to overcome her natural shyness and perform in front of an audience. It was only after much hesitation that the singer finally agreed to do a live concert in 1989. After singing at a small venue in St Etienne, as a kind of test run, Mylène finally arrived in Paris to perform at the Palais des Sports where fans packed the auditorium out for a whole week in May. Mylène wasted no time in overcoming her stage fright and even appeared to enjoy performing on stage, for she followed the Paris concerts with an extensive tour which included 52 dates throughout France and Europe. A live album documenting the tour was released at the end of the year, simply titled "En Concert".
Mylène's spectacular stage shows together with her wacky appearance and piercing vocals, soon began to attract an increasing number of fans. Meanwhile Mylène continued to surround herself with an air of mystery, refusing to give interviews or to appear in the media - but this only served to excite fans' curiosity about the reclusive star.
By the turn of the decade Mylène was a full blown superstar in France, but it wasn't until the release of her third album, "L'Autre", and lead single "Désenchantée" that she became iconic. "Désenchantée" is considered one of the most important songs ever released in France, striking a universal chord with the political and social dissatisfactions of many of the citizens of France. The song debuted at #12 before going #1 and went on to become the best selling French single of all time (both in country and around the globe), according to Guinness Book of World Records and IFOP. Likewise, its parent album "L'Autre" sold more than 2 million copies in France alone, making it the third best selling album of all time in the country. The album also supported the platinum-hits "Regrets", a duet with French recording-star Jean-Louis Murat, and "Je t'aime melancolie", the video for which, portraying Farmer as a professional boxer, received play all around Europe.
In December of 1991 a disturbed man who had been stalking Farmer entered the Polydoor/EMI Record Co. headquarters in Paris and held a group of employees hostage at gunpoint demanding to talk to Mylene. Tragically, the man killed a receptionist and then committed suicide. Following this occurrence Mylene shunned all media attention and left France to live anonymously in California. In the following years, Farmer became almost as famous for her reclusivity as for her recording career, keeping all aspects of her personal life private, and limiting herself to one interview per album.
During her time in California, Mylène began writing her fourth studio album "Anamorphosée" which marked a complete change of pace for the french pop queen. The album had a very American, sheek-rock sound that would divide Mylène's fanbase. The album was launched by "XXL", a mid-tempo rock ballad with blasting electric guitars, and a memorable video featuring Mylène strapped to the front of a moving train. The single became her first to debut at #1, and though its sales were strong, they did not match the expectations established by her previous album. Likewise, the "Anamorphosee" album debuted at #2 and sold half a million copies in its first 3 months of release. The album continued to sell well with the release of "California", a jazzy pop-ballad bolstered with bass guitar, and final single "Rever", which helped the album reach the #1 spot in January 1997 - 16 months after its release. In the summer of 1996 Farmer embarked on her 2nd concert tour, which received rave reviews and set sales records in nearly every city it visited.
After several years of reclusivity, Farmer returned in the summer of 1999 with her 5th studio album Innamoramento. The lead single "L'Âme-Stram-Gram", was a futuristic techno-ballad accompanied by a Chinese-themed video in which Mylène commits suicide to save her twin. The video for the second single, "Je te Rends ton Amour" sparked a firestorm of controversy with its use of religious imagery and was condemned by the Catholic Church and banned by many networks. Mylène's record company quickly released a video single of the song which went on to became the highest selling release of that kind in France. In late 2000 Farmer announced her third concert tour, called the Mylènium Tour, which ran for 43 shows across France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Russia.
In 2000, she recorded the song "L'Histoire d'une fée c'est..." for the animated film Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, and in 2001 released her third live album.
In 2000, Mylène and Laurent Boutonnat had assembled a number of songs and video ideas they felt appropriate for a younger, new star. They immediately began the hunt to break a new female singer into the French pop charts - hence they found Alizée who had gained fame as a contestant on the French television show "Graines de star". Together Farmer & Boutonnat wrote & produced Alizée's albums Gourmandises and Mes courants électriques. Her hit "Moi... Lolita" reached the top of the charts all around the world, and Alizée became the most successful French singer that year. In 2001 IFOP announced Mylène as the top earning French entertainer of the year thanks largely in part to her writing, recording, and producing credits of Alizée's music, which earned her 10.4 million Euros.
Alizée's image was closely guarded and crafted by Farmer and Boutonnat; she was allowed to do few interviews at no more than twenty minutes apiece, and only a limited number of promotional appearances. In 2005 Alizée parted ways with the duo to strike it on her own, her third album is expected in late 2007.
At the end of 2001 Polydor issued Mylène's first greatest hits collection: Les mots, whose title track & lead single featured a duet with Seal. "Les Mots" was the #1 selling album of 2001 & 2002, and remains the best selling compilation album in France with 1.7 million sold.
In December of 2004, Farmer held a nationally-televised press conference announcing the spring release of her new album, Avant que l'ombre..., and single "Fuck Them All", as well as a special 13-night concert engagement at the Palais de Omnisports Bercy in January 2006. The album was a quieter affair for Mylène, receiving no further interviews and only one television performance as promotion, Mylène noting what she had to say was in her songs. Nonetheless, the album debuted at #1 and sold half a million copies.
She returned to the stage in January 2006 for 13 dates in Paris-Bercy, with the final date being January 29. Mylène stated that she could not tour the country due to the complex sets built for the performances. She has released a new live album, with a new concert DVD, Avant Que L'Ombre... a Bercy, in December 2006.
She has recorded a single with Moby, "Slipping Away (Crier la vie)", which was released in September 2006, and became her fourth number one single in France.
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