Harris was born July 15, 1980, in Northern California and grew up around the San Francisco Bay Area. She grew up in a Fourth Way commune there which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff.
The community was known as “The Group”, which would later serve as some inspiration for the moniker Grouper. According to Harris, the kids called each other and the parents 'groupers' sort of as a defiance.
After finishing college, Harris briefly moved to Los Angeles, where she worked with Mayo Thompson at Patrick Painter. Harris’ first album was 2005 ’s Grouper, a self-released full-length CD-R, followed later that year by Way Their Crept on Free Porcupine (re-released in 2007 on Type Records).
Harris made available new material steadily through the years, and continued to collaborate with various artists such as Roy Montgomery and Bela. In 2008, she released Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill.
An Music reviewer Heather Shares praised the album for showing more musical range than Harris' previous work and for “letting more melody, more structured songs, and even a few phrases emerge from the ether.” Pitchfork gave it 8.2 stars calling the work “an arresting album of pastoral psychedelic pop”.
Early in 2012, Grouper performed Violet Replacement in the UK and Europe, a pair of long form tape collage pieces which originally took shape for commissioned performances in New York and Berkeley. Besides, she collaborated with Jess Fortin of Tiny Vipers to release an album Foreign Body under their common moniker Mirroring.
At Berlin's Club Transmediale festival in early February 2012 Harris performed Circular Veil in collaboration with Were Cantu-Ledesma. Somewhere between an installation and a performance, it found her extending her more concise music outward into eight hours of music, designed to mimic one full sleep cycle.
Grouper's studio album titled Ruins was released on October 31, 2014. The album is relatively stripped-down; piano, voice and field recordings.
The majority of the album was recorded in Alter, Portugal in 2011, while Harris was on a residency set up by Valeria He dos Boys. That same year she appeared on The Bug'album providing vocals for the track “Void”.
Her curated program included films La Double Vie DE Véronique by Krzysztof Kielowski and Lighthouse by Paul Clip son and music performances from artists Marisa Anderson, William Basin ski, Marcia Bassett & Samara Labels duo, Boltzmann/Leigh, Skin Film, Meiji Having, Roy Montgomery, Coby SEY, Tiny Vipers, Wolfgang Vogt and Richard Young's. During her days as a part of a Fourth Way commune, Harris' primary sources for discovering music were limited.
With a little help from her parents, whose musical tastes were eccentric and divergent, she discovered Eastern European folk and American avant-pop. Through her father, who himself was a composer, she would later discover contemporary classical and early music.
In 2008, when she released Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, Pitchfork compared it to classic ethereal releases from the British label 4AD, drawing comparisons to Cocteau Twins and early His Name Is Alive. The Portland Mercury described some songs from the album, such as “Wind and Snow” and “Stuck”, sonically reminiscent of the Renaissance period composers Geraldo and Monteverdi.
Collaboration with Jorge Behring er under the artist name “Flashlights" (2006) Visitor,, 10" vinyl. Collaboration with Ilya Ahmed (2011) Foreign Body, vinyl and CD.
Collaboration with Tiny Vipers under the artist name “Mirroring” (2012) Slow Walkers, vinyl. Collaboration with Lawrence English under the artist name “Slow Walkers” (2013) The Event of Your Leaving, vinyl.
Collaboration with Were Cantu-Ledesma under the artist name “RAM" (2013) Felt This Way/Dying All The Time, 7" Vinyl. Collaboration with Jed Lineman and Scott Simmons under the artist name “Helen” (2013) Void and Black Wasp (taken from Angels and Devils and Exit EP), vinyl.
^ Harris revealed her birthdate in a post via her official Instagram account, which reads: “Two months I squealed my way into the world on Ian Curtis birthday” (Curtis was born July 15, 1956). Grouper's Liz Harris Explains the Art of the Paradox and the Beauty of Mistakes”.
“Mt St Helen 40 years ago today. Two months later I squealed my way into the world on Ian Curtis' birthday, who died two weeks after the eruption”.
^ “Listening & Playing Alone: The Strange World Of Grouper ". ^ “Interview: Grouper and Paul Clip son discuss 'Hypnosis Display “.
Grouper (formed in 2005) is the ambient, dream pop musical outlet for American musician Elizabeth Harris, hailing from Portland, Oregon, U.S. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, Elizabeth Harris later moved north up the coast to Portland, Oregon, and made her debut with the self-released, self-titled CD-R Grouper in 2005.
The critically acclaimed release led Harris to sign with the independent label Free Porcupine Society. Grouper ’s debut release on the label was “Way Their Crept” in 2005, which earned significant praise from portions of the musical press.
“The Man Who Died in His Boat”, Harris’ eighth studio album, was issued in 2013 on Cranky Records. Led by the single “Vital” the album, like many of its predecessors earned significant critical acclaim from the musical press, only bettered by Harris’ subsequent full-length “Ruins” released in 2014.
The crowd is silent as all eyes are focused on her and captivated at the moment. This is the kind of concert where you can just sit back and enjoy your smokes and a nice adult beverage.