Stephen Raymond Merritt (born February 9, 1965), better known as Stephin Merritt, is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the principal singer and songwriter of the band The Magnetic Fields. He is known for his distinctive and untrained bass voi...
Stephen Raymond Merritt (born February 9, 1965), better known as Stephin Merritt, is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the principal singer and songwriter of the band The Magnetic Fields. He is known for his distinctive and untrained bass voice.
Merritt created and played principal roles in the bands The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, The Gothic Archies and Future Bible Heroes. He briefly used the name The Baudelaire Memorial Orchestra as an attribution for a song written for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, entitled "Scream and Run Away". Further music was recorded for the audiobook versions of the series and is attributed to The Gothic Archies. The Tragic Treasury was released by Nonesuch Records in October 2006 along with the 13th and final book of the series.
Under his own name, he recorded and released the soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April. The soundtrack to the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete featured many of his songs.
He and director Chen Shi-zheng have collaborated on three pieces of musical theatre; Orphan of Zhao (2003), Peach Blossom Fan (2004), and My Life as a Fairy Tale (2005) Select tracks from these works have been released on Nonesuch Records under the title Showtunes.
Additionally, he is one-third of the infrequent, live-only ensemble the Three Terrors, whose other principal members include the 69 Love Songs album's Dudley Klute and LD Beghtol. Past themes of these performances have included French pop music, movie themes (including the title song from Deep Throat), intoxication, and New York. Kenny Mellman (of Kiki & Herb), James Jacobs, Daniel Handler, Jon DeRosa and others have performed with The Three Terrors at these sporadic gala events.
Merritt wrote and sang "I'm In a Lonely Way" in a television commercial for Volvo that aired in the summer and fall of 2007. He also performed "The Wheels on the Car".
Merritt penned the music and lyrics for a 2009 Off-Broadway stage musical adaptation of Coraline, a novel by Neil Gaiman. In the MCC Theater production, his music will be performed by a piano "orchestra" – complete with a traditional piano, a toy piano, and a prepared piano (a piano that has had its sound altered by attaching objects – such as tin foil, rubber bands and playing cards – to the strings).
He produced a score for the silent film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that was performed at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco on May 4, 2010 as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Growing up, Merritt used different spellings of his name for different purposes. Stephin was one such pseudonym that he used to sort his junk mail, and that became the spelling he used for his life as a musician.
Prior to 2013, Merritt had never met his father, folk singer Scott Fagan, who had a brief affair with Merritt's mother, Alix Merritt. The three met at a screening of the film AKA Doc Pomus in 2013, and Fagan is planning a cover album of his son's songs pending the outcome of a Kickstarter campaign. Merritt attended Massachusetts high school The Cambridge School of Weston and briefly attended NYU before moving back to Boston. He has worked as an editor for Spin Magazine and Time Out New York. Merritt had a chihuahua named Irving, after Irving Berlin.
Merritt is known for having a dry personality, embracing a persona and life that is very different from the traditional rock star image. In a September 2005 interview conducted by The Onion 's The A.V. Club, alternative rock musician Bob Mould was reminded of an interviewer who once referred to Mould as "the most depressed man in rock". Mould's response was, "He's never met Stephin Merritt, obviously."
Merritt suffers from a hearing condition known as hyperacusis. Any sound heard louder than normal begins to "feedback" in his left ear at increasingly louder volumes. This has largely influenced the reserved live setup of The Magnetic Fields, which usually consists of acoustic instruments and little to no percussion. Merritt also wears earplugs during performances, and typically covers his left ear when the audience applauds.
Merritt is the subject of a documentary, Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, which premiered in March 2010.
Merritt wears only brown clothing.
Merritt is openly gay.
Eban and Charley (Merge, 2002)
Pieces of April (Nonesuch, 2003)
Showtunes (Nonesuch, 2006)
Obscurities (Merge, 2011)
The House of Tomorrow – The official site of Stephin Merritt, The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, The 6ths, and The Gothic Archies
Stephin Merritt Biography (mixed English and German) h
Aging Spinsters: A Stephin Merritt Fan-Blog
The Distant Plastic Treehouse - "a hangout for Stephin Merritt fans"
Stephin Songs – The music and lyrics of Stephin Merritt