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Charlotte Gainsbourg

An award-winning actor and singer/songwriter, Charlotte Gainsbourg brings the artistic bravery and emotional openness of her film roles to her music. Recorded with her father, Serge, while she was still a teen, 1986's Charlotte for Ever hinted at the combination of delicate vocals and willingness to challenge norms she explored on her later albums. On 2006's 5:55, her graceful fusion of electronic, orchestral, and rock with dramatic lyrics paid homage to her musical heritage and defined her as an artist and interpreter in her own right, while 2009's IRM broadened her range with psych-rock and dance-pop as well as a more personal viewpoint. This confessional perspective reached a peak on 2017's Rest, where she expressed how to live with loss on songs that were mournful and joyful in equal measure. Along the way, Gainsbourg worked with some of the world's most respected artists, including members of Air and Daft Punk, Beck, and Paul McCartney, and her collaboration with Soundwalk Collective on 2022's futuristic, sensual Lovotic continued the forward-thinking expression in all of her projects. The daughter of British actress Jane Birkin and French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte started singing professionally around the same time she began acting. In 1984, she recorded the duet "Lemon Incest" with her father; the controversial single eventually peaked at number two on the French charts and was certified gold in her homeland. It also appeared on her father's 1985 album Love on the Beat, as well as Gainsbourg's own debut album, December 1986's Charlotte for Ever, which was inspired by the film Serge Gainsbourg directed and in which he and Charlotte starred. "Lemon Incest" mirrored the sexually precocious tone of her early films, which included 1986's L'Effrontée (which won her a César for Most Promising Young Actress), 1988's La Petite Voleuse, and 1991's Merci la Vie. She concentrated on acting during the '90s, appearing in movies as eclectic as Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 adaptation of Jane Eyre to 1999's La Bûche, for which she won a César for Best Supporting Actress. In the 2000s, Gainsbourg returned to music, performing the spoken word introduction to Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl" in 2001 and lending backing vocals to Badly Drawn Boy's 2002 album Have You Fed the Fish? While appearing in films such as Michel Gondry's 2006 feature The Science of Sleep, she began work on her second solo album. For her first music in 20 years, she enlisted Air's Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin as composers, Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon as lyricists, and Nigel Godrich as producer. Arriving in August 2006, the elegant 5:55 fused electronic and orchestral pop, and topped the charts in France, where it was also certified platinum; the single "The Songs That We Sing" reached number 30 on the French singles chart. 5:55 also charted internationally, and hit 196 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S. upon its April 2007 release. Despite film work that included a role in Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, Gainsbourg returned to the studio quickly. To help shape her electronic pop songs, she recruited the help of another A-list producer, Beck. Drawing from the health scare she experienced following a water skiing accident, IRM appeared in Europe in December 2009, the same year that Antichrist -- a controversial horror film directed by Lars von Trier and starring Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe -- premiered at Cannes. A Top Five hit in France (and eventually attaining diamond status in Europe), the album reached number 69 in the U.S., where it was released in January 2010. That April, the live EP Sunset Sound appeared. Issued in December 2011, the double album Stage Whisper offered seven previously unissued studio recordings from the IRM sessions, including collaborations with Conor O'Brien of Villagers, Noah and the Whale, and Connan Mockasin, as well as 11 live cuts that were recorded during her 2010 European tour. The following year, the album was certified double silver in Europe. For several years, Gainsbourg focused on her film career, appearing in 2012's Confession of a Child of the Century with Pete Doherty as well as von Trier's 2013 film Nymphomaniac, which earned her Bodil Award and European Film Award nominations for Best Actress and also included her version of the song "Hey Joe." She was also nominated for the Lumières Award for Best Actress for her performances in 2014's Samba and Three Hearts. Gainsbourg returned to music with Rest, a set of songs about the deaths of her father and her half-sister Kate Barry, childhood fears, shyness, and other challenges that she wrote about in her native French. Released in November 2017, the album included collaborations with Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Paul McCartney, Owen Pallett, Connan Mockasin, and SebastiAn. Rest was a Top 20 hit in France and earned Gainsbourg the Female Artist of the Year Award at the 2018 Victoires de la Musique. On top of this success, she also garnered César and Lumières Award nominations for Best Actress for her work in the film Promise at Dawn. Her other films during this time included Gaspar Noé's 2019 feature Lux Æterna, 2020's Suzanna Andler, and the following year's Jane by Charlotte, an exploration of her relationship with her mother that Gainsbourg directed. In March 2022, she appeared on Lovotic, an album about the potential emotional and sexual relationships between humans and robots by Soundwalk Collective (with whom Gainsbourg also collaborated on 2020's The Time of Night). Released on the collective's own Analogue Foundation imprint, the project also featured Atom™, Lyra Pramuk, and Gainsbourg's Antichrist co-star Dafoe.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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