Stephin Merritt Talks About How His Love For Shopping Affects His Songwriting
Stephin Merritt isn't the easiest guy to interview. He isn't rude but, at times, it's obvious that he'd much rather be drinking at a bar or playing with his dog than be stuck on the phone with a stranger asking him about his art. But such is life when you are one of the greatest songwriters in indie music. His main musical outlet, the Magnetic Fields, recently released "Love at the Bottom of the Sea" (Merge Records)--its triumphant return to the squealing synthesizer hiss that only The Magnetic Fields can seam together with traditional ukulele pop songs. In anticipation of this Wednesday's show at the Sheldon Concert Hall, we caught up with Merritt to discuss, among other things, shopping.
Courtesy of Merge Records
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Michael Dauphin: Thanks for taking the time to do this. I know you're not much of a fan of touring, doing press and other aspects that come with releasing an album.
Stephin Merritt: Oh, no. I'm ok with press. I just don't like touring.
Are there any steps you've learned to take to make touring more tolerable?
[long pause] No.
Fair enough. Your newest album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, marks your return to using synthesizers. Had you been experimenting with these over the last several years, or was most of the gear brand new?
I think I bought almost all of them since Realism. I really love shopping. I could do it for a living.
People do make careers out of that.
I'd be good at it.
Better than you are at writing songs?
I actually think that shopping is very important aspect of my songwriting.
Shopping for gear, or shopping in general?
Well, for example, books. I have a lot of books; most of which I got while shopping. And many of those books, directly or indirectly, turn into songs. And I have a large collection of Hollywood musicals on DVD. Those are a huge help if I'm writing a musical. Like, I just wrote a carioca song. I would not have known about carioca had I not bought the movie "Flying Down to Reno", featuring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.