The Magnetic Fields are the music of songwriter- producer-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt, who lives and records in New York City. Adept at computer music programming and production, Merritt records his own albums and plays almost everything on them with help from cellist Sam Davol, banjo player/second guitarist John Woo, and percussionist/pianist Claudia Gonson.
Merritt’s first two CD’s, “The Wayward Bus” and “Distant Plastic Trees”, came out in 1991 and 1992 with singer Susan Anway, formerly of the early 80’s Boston punk band “V.” The album included the early-90’s college radio single,”100,000 Fireflies,” which first appeared as a single on Harriet Records.
When Susan Anway decided to relocate to Arizona, Stephin Merritt took up the vocal duties and remains the singer of The Magnetic Fields. In the early 90’s the band released several vinyl seven-inch singles, including “Long Vermont Roads” (Harriet Recs) and “The House Of Tomorrow-EP” (Merge), which is now available on CD.
The Magnetic Fields have released six full-length CD’s between 1993-1999, all on Merge Records. “The Charm of the Highway Strip” (1994) is an electro-country meditation on life on the open road. “Holiday (1994) has a more euro-pop sound, with songs about escape and nightlife. “Get Lost” (1995) has a mixture of styles and moods, including the intimate cabaret sound of “With Whom to Dance?”
In 1999, the Magnetic Fields released their 3-disc set, “69 Love Songs”. The album has sold 130,000 copies worldwide, and has brought Merritt’s music to the mainstream eye. In addition to Merritt’s singing, “69 Love Songs” also features vocals by pianist Claudia Gonson, as well as three additional singers, LD Beghtol, Dudley Klute, and Shirley Simms. The album also included instrumental contributions of Future Bible Hero Chris Ewen, and novelist Daniel Handler on accordion.
In 2002, The Magnetic Fields signed a worldwide record deal with Nonesuch (Warner Brothers). Their first album for the label, “i,” was released in May, 2004. Their follow up album “Realism” was released in January 2010.