Marie Helene Gauthier was born on September 12, 1961, in the Montreal suburb of Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada. Her father Max was a civil engineer and her mother Marguerite stayed at home to take care of the children, who also included Brigitte, Michel, and Jean-Loup.
As a child, Marie Helene, who was nicknamed Mylene, was very introverted and secretive. She had a passion for insects and there was constantly an aura of mystery around her.
The Gauthier family decided to move back to France when Mylene was 8 years old.
mylene settles in ville d'avray
Although they settled in the cozy Paris suburb of Ville d'Avray, Mylene had trouble adjusting to her new life. She missed Canada and continued to be withdrawn. She didn't even have friends her own age. Instead, her free time was spent visiting sick children at a local hospital.
As her teenage years rolled around, she discovered a passion for literature and horseback riding, which prompted her parents to enroll her at the Cadre Noir de Samour school in Paris. But schoolwork never excited her and she dropped out of school before getting her diploma in 1979.
mylene meets laurent boutonnat
By the age of 17, Mylene craved an artistic career. She did a little modeling and then participated in a singing contest, which she won. But it was acting that she wanted to do most. She took acting lessons for two years, after which she realized that acting didn't come naturally to her.
To support herself, she worked as a dental hygienist, a gynecologist's assistant, and a shoe salesperson. She was also featured in a publicity campaign for IKEA furniture and did TV commercials for Fiskars scissors and Le Chat laundry detergent.
Then, in 1984, she met the man who would change her life. Music producer and television director Laurent Boutonnat had written a song about teenaged sexual rebellion with his partner Jerome Dahan and they were looking for a young girl to sing it. Fearing they would get into trouble if they used an underage girl, they held a casting session to find someone suitable.
mylene farmer cuts cendres de lune
The woman they selected was 23-year-old Mylene. She then changed her name from Gauthier to Farmer, as a tribute to actress Frances Farmer, the Hollywood legend who was mysteriously defiant and ended up in an insane asylum.
After making the rounds of record labels, Mylene finally recorded "Maman A Tort." The scandalous yet cryptic lyrics made the song a hit and the music video, which featured nudity, was banned. Two more singles followed in 1985, "On Est Tous Des Imbeciles" and "Plus Grandir," a suicidal tale.
In 1986, Polydor signed Mylene and her first album, Cendres De Lune, was released shortly after. It did very well, selling over 800,000 copies and making audiences discover this new talent. The music videos directed by Boutonnat also contributed to her popularity since they were made like short psychedelic movies.
mylene farmer's anamorphosee
Over the years, she released new albums -- Ainsi Soit-Je... in 1988, En Concert in 1989, and L'Autre in 1991 -- and her popularity grew internationally. Her videos for "Desenchantee" and "Pourvu Qu'elles Soient Douces" could even be seen on MTV.
After the 1992 album, Dance Remixes, she disappeared from the spotlight for a while. During that time, she set out to make her dream come true: being an actress in a real movie. With Boutonnat directing, they made Giorgino (1994), a poetic and disturbing film. Unfortunately, the film was a disaster with audiences and critics alike. They only made back 1% of the budget.
Mylene returned to her music and released a string of albums: Anamorphosee in 1995, Live ? Bercy in 1997, Innamoramento in 1999, and Mylenium Tour in 2000.
After seeing some of her songs on the soundtracks for the movies Pedale Douce (1996) and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000), she took a break. She used this time to write an album for the young French singer, Aliz?e. The record, Gourmandises, became very successful in Europe thanks to the song "Moi-Lolita."
Mylene released a greatest hits record in 2001, Les Mots, and followed it with Remixes 2003, which features artists such as David Snell, Junkie XL, and One-T.
When she's not on tour, Mylene splits her time between New York, Paris, and Los Angeles.
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