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 “.
The way the slowly reverberating sounds morph from abstract pleasure to pop bliss and then smudge themselves back into an ambient smear is surprisingly cathartic. As Grouper, Liz Harris combines aspects of ambient and dream pop into ethereal, reverb-heavy music that is equally mysterious and moving.
She uncovers different nuances within this approach on each of her many releases, which range from the lush and relatively poppy territory of 2008's widely acclaimed Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill to 2012's sprawling double-album A A to more intimate works like 2018's Grid of Points. A resident of the Pacific Northwest, Harris was born in Northern California and grew up in a Fourth Way commune in the Bay Area.
It was a term that reflected Harris' identity as well as how she loosely organized the free-flowing elements in her music, and she adopted the name Grouper for her self-titled, self-released 2005 debut album. Grouper continued to issue music at a steady pace, and in 2007, Harris delivered the single Tried and the full-length Cover the Windows and Walls.
The label also released 2008's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, a slightly more structured set of songs that earned Grouper widespread acclaim and became Harris' breakthrough. A string of short-form releases that included a split single with City Center and collaborations with Roy Montgomery and Bela preceded 2011's A I A, a double album that spanned the most experimental as well as the most accessible sides of Grouper's music.
Another double album, 2012's Violet Replacement, showcased two expansive tape collage pieces that were created for commissioned performances in New York and Berkeley. During this time, Harris also collaborated with Tiny Vipers' Jess Fortin as Mirroring, who released their debut album, Foreign Body, in 2012, and with Lawrence English as Slow Walkers, whose self-titled EP arrived in 2013.
In 2015, Grouper worked with filmmaker Paul Clip son on Hypnosis Display, a film about American myth-making commissioned by Leeds Opera North. Ambient project of Portland's Liz Harris, who makes remarkably emotive, hypnotic music often using only a handful of elements.
2013 The Man Who Died in His BoatKranky Curated by Hundred Waters, the event also promises Courtney Barnett, Fleet Foxes, Blood Orange, Dirty Projectors, Daniel Caesar, Bombing, Mount Zombie, and more.
Featuring Explosions in the Sky, Oneohtrix Point Never, Gary Human, GPA, Blood Orange, and more. Grouper ’s Liz Harris tries out dream pop, but her new band’s debut lacks focus.
Swans, Flying Lotus, Laurie Anderson, members of Wilcox and The National to play Knoxville festival. Between the return of Damien Rice and a brand-new song from Grouper, this week saw fall get off to a melancholy start, even by the standards of a season whose main thing is that everything dies all the time.
“I’m always trying to do 10 other things at once.” (In addition to 10 solo albums released since 2005, she regularly collaborates with other musicians and, recently, avant-garde filmmaker Paul Clip son.) In the case of Ruins, the stretch of time enabled Harris to see that the album’s eight hushed, intimate songs were already complete.
“I initially thought that I was going to go back to these recordings and add a bunch of things to them, because they felt bare,” she says. To create Ruins, Harris spent a week in total solitude, in a rural Portuguese cabin with intermittent electrical problems.
“I hadn’t written anything before I got there, but as soon as I was there with a piano, they just came out.” The change of scenery proved fruitful and afforded her the chance to work through long-gestating, unprocessed emotions. “I was immediately able to think in a new way; you can step into this little side room and look back on the place that you’ve come from.” Once she was in that space, the rest came naturally.