Perfume Genius

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Perfume Genius
Hadreas in 2017
Hadreas in 2017
Background information
Birth nameMichael Alden Hadreas[1]
Born (1981-09-25) September 25, 1981 (age 41)[2][3]
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active2008–present

Michael Alden Hadreas (born September 25, 1981), better known by his stage name Perfume Genius, is an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Hadreas's music explores topics including sexuality, his personal struggle with Crohn's disease, domestic abuse,[4] and the dangers faced by gay men in contemporary society.[5]

Early years[edit]

Hadreas is of Greek descent and was born in Des Moines, Iowa, moving to the suburbs of Seattle, Washington[6] at age 6 or 7.[7] Hadreas studied painting in school and took piano lessons as a child.[7] His mother was a special education teacher, and is now an assistant principal at a middle school. His parents divorced when he was a teenager.[7]

Growing up, Hadreas was the only openly gay student at his school, and he received death threats that were ignored by the school administration.[6] He dropped out of high school during his senior year. Two years after dropping out, he was attacked by several young men in his neighborhood.[6] He moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and worked as a doorman for a club in the East Village. In 2005, Hadreas returned home to Seattle and began recording music.[6] In 2008, Hadreas set up a MySpace page under the name Perfume Genius, beginning his music career.[8] The moniker comes from the genius perfume-maker in Tom Tykwer's 2006 movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.[9]


Early releases[edit]

Perfume Genius performing in 2012

Hadreas's debut album, Learning, was released on June 21, 2010, through Turnstile Records in Europe and Matador Records in the United States.[10] Many of the tracks for Learning were recorded in Hadreas's home.[7] The album quickly received critical acclaim, including an 8.2 out of 10 score from Pitchfork.

He performed his first live show at The Vera Project in Seattle, where he opened for A Sunny Day in Glasgow.[7] Hadreas brought on pianist, Alan Wyffels, to play for the album tour.[11] Hadreas would go on to date Wyffels.[11][12][13][14] Wyffels has continued to perform with Hadreas in recordings and live shows.[11]

Hadreas's second album, Put Your Back N 2 It, was released on February 20, 2012.[15] Again, Hadreas received praise from music critics and fans alike for the sonic intimacy his music achieved.

The promotional video for the album, featuring Hadreas and pornographic actor Arpad Miklos embracing each other, was deemed unsafe for family viewing by YouTube.[16]

Too Bright[edit]

On September 23, 2014, Hadreas released his third album, Too Bright, which was co-produced by Adrian Utley of Portishead[7] and Ali Chant, to critical acclaim.[4] The album was a transformative leap for Hadreas and marked a new trajectory in his career. The album received rave reviews from an array of publications. Pitchfork gave the album an 8.5 and commented that "these songs feel less like songs and more like treasures, ones that fill you with power and wisdom."

Following the release of the album, Hadreas toured it and played sold out headline shows. On October 30, 2014, Perfume Genius appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman performing "Queen".[17] In April 2015, Hadreas was featured on the cover and in the pages of Hello Mr.[18]

Hadreas collaborated with Sharon Van Etten to contribute a cover of The Grateful Dead's "To Lay Me Down" to Day of the Dead, a charity tribute album curated and produced by members of The National and released by 4AD on May 20, 2016. All profits from the album are helping to fight HIV/AIDS and related health issues around the world through the Red Hot Organization.

On September 16, 2016, Hadreas released a cover of Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love" in collaboration with Prada. The song was featured in the ad campaign for Prada's La Femme and L'Homme fragrances.

No Shape[edit]

Perfume Genius performing live in 2018

Hadreas was featured on the cover of the March/April 2017 issue of The Fader, which included a lengthy feature on Hadreas and his work on his next album.[19] In the weeks following the article, Hadreas posted a number of video and audio clips teasing new music. On March 21, 2017, Hadreas announced his fourth studio album No Shape and released the first single "Slip Away", which was accompanied by a music video directed by frequent Björk collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang.[20] The single was designated "Best New Track" by Pitchfork.[21] On April 19, Hadreas released another single from the album called "Go Ahead" during a live Twitter Q&A with fans.

No Shape was released via Matador on May 5, 2017. It was produced by Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, John Legend, Alabama Shakes) and mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Shawn Everett. The album was praised by critics. Pitchfork awarded it an 8.8 and named it "Best New Album", deeming it "his most realized album yet, a tender and transcendental protest record of love and devotion."[22] The Guardian commented that "No Shape sounds like a unique talent coming into full bloom."[23]

On May 9, 2017 Perfume Genius released the video for "Die 4 You", directed by Floria Sigismondi.[24] That same month, it was announced that Perfume Genius would curate a part of the line-up for Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht in November, for which he invited amongst others Aldous Harding, Mount Eerie, Weyes Blood, and Bulgarian women's choir Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares.[25]

In 2019, the track Otherside was used in the trailer for the film The Goldfinch, adapted from the Donna Tartt novel of the same name.

Set My Heart on Fire Immediately and Ugly Season[edit]

On February 25, 2020, Hadreas released the single, "Describe".[26] On March 16, he released another single, "On the Floor".[27] Both songs were included on his album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, released on May 15, 2020.[28]

On June 17, 2022, Hadreas released his sixth studio album, Ugly Season. The album was originally composed as a musical accompaniment for choreographer Kate Wallich's contemporary dance piece The Sun Still Burns Here.[29][30]

Musical style[edit]

Hadreas' musical style has been described as art pop,[29][31] indie rock,[32][33] baroque pop,[32][34] indie pop,[35] chamber pop,[36] folk,[37] pop,[38] and glam rock.[39]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Work Category Result Ref.
2014 Rober Awards Music Poll Himself Best Pop Artist Nominated
"Queen" Best Promo Video Nominated
2015 Dorian Awards Music Video of the Year Nominated
2017 Music Week Sync Awards "I Can't Help Falling in Love" Best Sync Online Viral Advert Won
Rober Awards Music Poll Himself Best Songwriter Nominated
Best Art Vinyl No Shape Best Art Vinyl Nominated
A2IM Libera Awards Toyatathon 2016 Ad Spot Best Sync Usage Nominated
2018 "Wreath" Video Contest Marketing Genius Nominated
"Die 4 You" Video of the Year Won
GLAAD Media Awards No Shape Outstanding Music Artist Nominated
2019 A2IM Libera Awards "Eighth Grade" Trailer Best Sync Usage Nominated
2020 Goldfinch trailer Won
Rober Awards Music Prize Himself Best Male Artist Nominated
Songwriter of the Year Nominated
"Describe" Best Music Video Nominated
2021 GAFFA Awards Himself Best International Solo Act Nominated
Set My Heart on Fire Immediately Best International Album Nominated
Libera Awards Record of the Year Set My Heart on Fire Immediately Nominated [44]
Creative Packaging Nominated
Marketing Genius Nominated
Best Live Act Himself Nominated
Video of the Year "Describe" Nominated
Queerty Awards "Jason" Anthem Nominated
2023 Grammy Awards "Spitting Off The Edge Of The World" (with Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Best Alternative Music Performance Nominated



  1. ^ "Songwriter/Composer: Hadreas Michael Alden". BMI. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  2. ^ Barton, Laura (February 16, 2012). "Perfume Genius: 'I've learned not to trust myself'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 17, 2012. Hadreas is 30 now [...]
  3. ^ @turnstilemusic (September 25, 2015). "Penblwydd Hapus / Happy Birthday @perfumegenius x" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ a b Wright, Matthew (June 11, 2015). "Perfume Genius / Jenny Hval, RFH". The Arts Desk. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Crawford, Anwen (June 22, 2015). "Soft Apocalypse". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d William Van Meter (September 17, 2014). "Lashing Out at His Tormentors, At Last". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Sasha Frere-Jones (September 22, 2014). "Growth Spurt". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Perfume Genius – Biography, AllMusic
  9. ^ Smyers, Darryl (March 26, 2012). "Perfume Genius: "I Think All Gay Men Are Used To People Saying No To Them, To People Not Giving Them Choices."". Dallas Observer. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Perfume Genius – Learning,
  11. ^ a b c "He's 39! How Perfume Genius set my heart on fire immediately". January 8, 2021. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  12. ^ "Perfume Genius Live". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  13. ^ "Perfume Genius: 'I thought I'd grow up to be a woman'". The Guardian. May 8, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  14. ^ Leiber, Sarah Jae. "Perfume Genius Releases Full Concert Event via YouTube". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  15. ^ "Put Your Back N 2 It: Perfume Genius", MP3 Downloads, ASIN B006WH8VOM
  16. ^ Michelson, Noah (January 25, 2012). "Perfume Genius Video Gets Banned From YouTube For Not Being "Family Safe"". Huffington Post.
  17. ^ "Perfume Genius Performs "Queen" on "Letterman"". Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  18. ^ Nichols, JamesMichael (April 11, 2015). "Hello Mr. Lands Perfume Genius' Mike Hadreas For The Cover Boy Of Its New Issue". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  19. ^ "How Perfume Genius Grew Up And Started Thriving". Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  20. ^ "Perfume Genius Announces New Album No Shape, Shares Video for New Song "Slip Away": Watch | Pitchfork". March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  21. ^ "Best New Track "Slip Away"". Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Perfume Genius No Shape". Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  23. ^ "Perfume Genius No Shape Review". May 4, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  24. ^ "Perfume Genius Die 4 You". YouTube. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  25. ^ "Perfume Genius, Grouper, Shabazz Palaces Curate 2017 Le Guess Who? Festival". May 30, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  26. ^ Torres, Eric (February 25, 2020). "Perfume Genius: "Describe" Track Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  27. ^ "Perfume Genius shares new track and video 'On The Floor'". DIY. March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Minsker, Evan (February 25, 2020). "Perfume Genius Announces New Album, Shares Video for New Song "Describe"". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  29. ^ a b Mitchell, Matt (June 17, 2022). "Perfume Genius's Unknowable Ecstasy". MTV News. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  30. ^ Tipple, Ben (June 17, 2022). "Perfume Genius - Ugly Season". DIY. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  31. ^ Margasak, Peter (May 18, 2017). "Perfume Genius reaches out with bigger, bolder arrangements on the new No Shape". Chicago Reader. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  32. ^ a b Ragusa, Paolo (March 21, 2022). "On the Road Again With Perfume Genius: "When I'm Performing, I Just Try To Get Everything Out"". Consequence. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  33. ^ Sharples, Grant (June 6, 2022). "Perfume Genius' Mike Hadreas Finds Resolution On Ugly Season". Uproxx. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  34. ^ Bloom, Madison (May 18, 2020). "Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  35. ^ Weiner, Sophie (September 23, 2014). "Perfume Genius: Too Bright". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 8, 2022. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  36. ^ "10 Best Albums of 2014". Entertainment Weekly. December 5, 2014. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  37. ^ Hall, Andrew (March 3, 2012). "Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It". Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  38. ^ Petridis, Alexis (May 14, 2020). "Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately review – pop poet discovers new powers". The Guardian. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  39. ^ Phares, Heather. "Perfume Genius Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  40. ^ "A2IM Announces 2019 Libera Award Nominees". Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  41. ^ "2020 Nominees". Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  42. ^ "The Rober Awards 2020 Music Poll". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  43. ^ "GAFFA-PRISEN 2022". Archived from the original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  44. ^ "A2IM names 2021 Libera indie music awards nominees [the full list]". Hypebot. March 23, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  45. ^ "The QUEERTIES 2021 / Anthem Winners". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  46. ^ "2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List". Grammy Awards. Recording Academy. Retrieved November 15, 2022.

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