Stephin Merritt

Best known as the mastermind behind the Magnetic Fields, singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt has juggled multiple projects throughout his career, releasing a string of acclaimed albums with the Magnetic Fields while also working as a solo artist, a magazine journalist, and a member of several different bands. Raised by his countercultural mother, he spent much of his youth moving from house to house throughout the Northeast. It was during that time that Merritt became enamored with Top 40 pop, specifically ABBA. His interest in music began to take on a physical form at the age of 14, when he made his first recordings with a cheap synthesizer and an old four-track recorder. That sound -- a blend of electronics and lo-fi pop -- still captivated the artist in later years, prompting him to form the Magnetic Fields in 1989. Based in Boston, the group initially resembled a solo project more than an actual band, with Merritt playing all the instruments himself. Claudia Gonson, who'd played with Merritt during the pair's high-school days, eventually signed on as drummer and manager, and the band's membership swelled during the 1990s. The Magnetic Fields released numerous records during that decade and earned the most acclaim with 1999's 69 Love Songs, an epic three-disc set that catapulted Merritt out of the underground and into the upper crust of indie pop.