John Grant (musician)

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John Grant
John Grant performing live in Norway September 2013.JPG
John Grant performing live at Byscenen, Trondheim (NO), 7 September 2013.
Background information
Birth name John Grant
Born 25 July 1968 (age 45)
Origin Parker, Colorado
Genres Folk, alternative rock, indie rock
Instruments Vocals, piano
Labels Bella Union Partisan USA, Sena Iceland
Associated acts The Czars, Midlake

John Grant (born 1968) is an American singer-songwriter. Formerly associated with the Denver-based alternative rock band The Czars in the 1990s and early 2000s,[1] he launched a career as a solo artist in 2010.


Prior to forming The Czars, Grant aspired to be a translator in Germany before realizing that his English skills were poor and he would be unable to have the job he desired.[2]

Following the band's break-up, Grant took some time off from making music and returned to recording and performing in 2010 with his debut solo album Queen of Denmark. Released on April 6, 2010, it had been recorded in collaboration with the American folk-rock band Midlake and released on Bella Union. Described as a deeply personal album about his past struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and coming to terms with being gay, it was chosen as Best Album of 2010 by the British music magazine Mojo.[1]

Grant travelled to Ireland in 2011 to play at the Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots Festival and Electric Picnic, and Belgium for the Dranouter Festival in August 2011.[3]

Grant is currently living in Reykjavík, Iceland,[4] where he worked throughout 2012 on his second solo album Pale Green Ghosts with Birgir Þórarinsson, a.k.a. Biggi Veira of Iceland's electronic pioneers Gus Gus.[5]

In 2013, Pale Green Ghosts was released on March 11. He also translated Ásgeir Trausti album Dýrð í dauðaþögn. His work in English appears in the follow-up English version of the same album titled In the Silence released in October. Grant was nominated for a Q Award in the category of Q Best Solo Artist.[6][7]

In 2014, Grant appeared in the 40th Anniversary super deluxe edition release of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" covering the song "Sweet Painted Lady"

Also in 2014, Grant co-wrote the Icelandic entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, "No Prejudice", performed by Pollapönk.[8]

In May 2014, Grant appeared as a special guest on The Feast of the Broken Heart, an album from Hercules and Love Affair issued by Moshi Moshi records.[9]

Personal life[edit]

At a live performance with Hercules and Love Affair at the 2012 Meltdown festival, Grant publicly acknowledged for the first time that he is HIV-positive.[10]

In the album Pale Green Ghosts, John Grant sings about being HIV-positive in the track "Ernest Borgnine",[5] and several other tracks refer to his youth and to a former boyfriend.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Filmmaker Andrew Haigh has used Grant's tracks in multiple pieces. Several of his songs from his album Queen of Denmark are used in Haigh's 2011 movie Weekend.[5] Grant's tracks "Black Belt" and "Pale Green Ghosts" also appeared on Haigh's HBO series Looking.
  • Irish musician Sinéad O'Connor covered "Queen of Denmark" on her 2012 album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?.
  • O'Connor also supplied backing vocals for Grant's second solo album, Pale Green Ghosts.[5]
  • In August 2013 Grant appeared in the popular singer/songwriter Ásgeir Trausti's video for the popular song "King and Cross".



with The Czars
  • 1996: Moodswing
  • 1997: The La Brea Tar Pits of Routine
  • 2000: Before...But Longer
  • 2001: The Ugly People vs. the Beautiful People
  • 2004: Goodbye
  • 2005: Sorry I Made You Cry
  • 2010: Queen of Denmark
  • 2013: Pale Green Ghosts
  • 2013: "Gets Schooled" EP Rough Trade Records with duet versions of five tracks from Rough Trade's Album of the Year "Pale Green Ghosts"


with The Czars
  • 2000: "Val"
  • 2002: "Side Effect"
  • 2002: "X Would Rather Listen"
  • 2004: "Paint the Moon"
  • 2013: 'Pale Green Ghosts", "GMF", "Glacier"


  1. ^ a b "John Grant getting his sad mojo working". Toronto Star, December 3, 2010.
  2. ^ The Czars - an interview with John William Grant by Martin Williams
  3. ^ Dranouter, Program 2011. "Dranouter Program". Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Hull, Robert. "John Grant on Reykjavík". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d LISTEN: John Grant's 'Pale Green Ghosts'. Out, January 30, 2013.
  6. ^ "John Grant Nominated For Q Award". Bella Union. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "THE Q AWARDS 2013 NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCEMENT". Record of the Day. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  8. ^ - About Pollapönk
  9. ^ Lanre Bakare. "Hercules and Love Affair: The Feast of the Broken Heart review – more than just floor-fillers | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  10. ^ "Hercules & Love Affair – Review". The Guardian, August 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "John Grant: 'I wanted to let some of the anger out'" - Interview by Dorian Lynskey. The Guardian, March 3, 2013.

External links[edit]