Mylène Farmer

Quebec-born French pop singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer is in the history books as one of France's most successful artists with sales of over 30 milion albums, while achieving a record number of 18 number ones. Yet through all the years of fame, she remained a somewhat mysterious and alluring character with a reputation for tackling taboo subjects—including sex and death—but has rarely given interviews and closely guarded her privacy. Born on 12 September 1961 in Pierrefonds—a former city in southwestern Quebec, which was merged into Montreal in January 2002—where her father was working as an engineer, she was eight when the family moved back to France and gave her speech lessons to get rid of her Quebecois accent. Initially working in equestrianism, she moved into acting at the age of 17 and changed her surname from Gautier to Farmer, in tribute to Hollywood actress Frances Farmer, going on to appear in several television advertisements. A meeting with Laurent Boutonnat helped launch her music career, which began in 1984 with "Maman a Tort", written and produced by Laurent Boutonnat, who also directed radical videos of her often controversial and explicit songs. "Je Te Rends Ton Amour" went on to become France's top video single. She was even pictured nude on the 1986 single "Libertine"—her first top ten hit—partially inspired by the work of the Marquis de Sade, and her subsequent work carried a strong literary and cinematic influence. She scored her first number one in 1988 with the synth-pop song "Pourvu Qu'elles Soient Douces" and during the 1990s and 2000s her music evolved to further embrace dance beats and electronica. In 1991 she had one of her biggest hits with "Désenchantée" from the album L'Autre, which took her to a new level of fame in France. That year, a fan stalked her and killed a receptionist as he attempted to meet her at the offices of her record label Polydor in Paris, leading to her withdrawing even further from public life. Her appearances became increasingly rare but this only served to increase the intrigue surrounding her as her music became increasingly challenging, notably with Anamorphosee (1995) and the electronic album Point de Suture (2008). She reappeared in 2010 to work with producer RedOne on Bleu Noir., her first album without her long-term collaborator Laurent Boutonnat, and on which Moby also worked. She duetted with Sting on the song "Stolen Car" in 2015 from yet another hit album Interstellaires, and in 2018 scored more French number ones with "Rolling Stone" and "N'oublie Pas" and a duet with American singer LP as she proved as fascinatingly durable as ever on the album Désobéissance. The following year, her seventh live recording, Live 2019, appeared. In 2022, she returned to reclaim her place at top of the French charts for the seventh consecutive time with her 12th studio album L'Emprise, which achieved gold status in France.

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