Mylène Farmer, whose birth name is Mylène Jeanne Gautier, is a French singer, songwriter, occasional actress, writer, and entrepreneur. Farmer is considered one of the most successful recording artists in France, having sold more than 30 million records in the country. She holds the record for the most number one hit singles in the French charts, with a total of twenty-one, eight of which were consecutive.
Mylène Jeanne Gautier was born on September 12, 1961, in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, which is now part of Montreal’s Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough. Her father, Max Gautier, worked as a dam engineer, while her mother, Marguerite (née Martin), was a homemaker. The family relocated to France when Mylène was eight years old due to her father’s work responsibilities. They settled in the Parisian suburb of Chaville.
Upon arriving in France, Mylène had to take speech classes because her school considered her Québécois accent to be “improper.” At the age of 17, she discovered acting and enrolled in a three-year course at the Cours Florent, a drama school in Paris. It was around this time that she changed her name to Mylène Farmer as a tribute to Frances Farmer, a Hollywood actress from the 1930s whom she idolized. Mylène began her career as a model and acted in various television advertisements for companies such as IKEA, Fiskars, and Caisse d’Epargne. She also appeared in a local stage production of “Le père Noël est une ordure.”
In 1984, Mylène answered a newspaper advertisement for an actress in a small film project, which was being directed by Laurent Boutonnat, a young film student. The two became friends and creative partners, with Boutonnat producing and co-writing music for Farmer. He also became the creative force behind her music videos. That same year, Farmer recorded and released “Maman a tort,” a song co-written by Boutonnat and Jérôme Dahan. The trio continued to work together on what would eventually become Mylène Farmer’s first studio album.
Mylène Farmer’s music career began in 1984 when she released her debut single “Maman a Tort” (Mom is Wrong). The song was an instant success and established Mylène as a unique and provocative artist. Her second single, “Libertine,” released in 1986, was a massive hit and catapulted her to fame in France and other European countries.
Over the next three decades, Mylène released numerous albums and singles, selling over 30 million records worldwide. Her music combines pop, rock, and electronic influences, and often features dark and introspective lyrics. She is known for her elaborate and theatrical stage shows, which include intricate costumes and choreography.
In addition to music, Mylène has also pursued an acting career. She has appeared in several French films and television shows, including “Giorgino” (1994), “Ghosts of the Titanic” (2003), and “Arthur and the Invisibles” (2006).
Mylène has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources throughout her career. She has acknowledged that her stage name is a tribute to Hollywood actress Frances Farmer, whose character has always been a source of fascination for her. Farmer has also cited Greta Garbo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Spielberg, and Andrei Tarkovsky as cinematic figures who have influenced her. In terms of music, she has named Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, and Jacques Brel as her inspirations.
Farmer’s poetic songwriting is characterized by philosophical ideas, symbolism, transgression, religious imagery, alliterations, double entendres, and neologisms, which have contributed to her unique style and widespread acclaim. Her lyrics frequently explore subjects such as sex, death, religion, and love. Among her literary influences are Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, Pierre Reverdy, Stefan Zweig, and Søren Kierkegaard.
It is worth noting that Farmer’s work has also had a significant impact on other French recording artists. Christine and the Queens, Damso, and Gims are among those who have been inspired by her artistry.
Musically, Farmer is usually described as a pop and French pop artist; nevertheless, she is known for reinventing her style with every album cycle. All her albums between 1984 and 2008 were produced by her collaborator, Laurent Boutonnat.
Her first albums, Cendres de lune, Ainsi soit je… and L’autre… feature dark synth-pop and new wave instrumentation. 1995 saw the release of Anamorphosée, which features more simplistic lyrics and pop rock-influenced music. Innamoramento and Avant que l’ombre… are often described as merging acoustic instruments with electronic beats. Farmer then experimented with electronica and club music on 2008’s Point de suture.
In 2010, Farmer released her first album without Laurent Boutonnat, Bleu noir, featuring songs produced by RedOne, Moby and British alternative band Archive. The album saw Farmer return to the darker synth-pop and Europop production of her debut album. For 2012’s Monkey Me, Farmer collaborated with Boutonnat in the studio one more time. Interstellaires, the singer’s tenth studio album shows influences of pop rock and adult contemporary styles, produced by French DJ The Avener and Martin Kierszenbaum. On Désobéissance, Farmer collaborated with French DJ Feder, American singer-songwriter LP and American producer Mike Del Rio, marking a return to electronic dance music.
Mylène Farmer’s net worth is estimated to be around $50 million. She has earned her fortune through her successful music and acting career, as well as various endorsement deals and business ventures.