Sufjan Stevens

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Sufjan Stevens

Stevens in concert at the Pabst Theater in 2006.
Background information
Born Detroit, Michigan
Genres Indie folk
Experimental
Folk rock
Baroque pop
Instruments Vocals
Multi-instrumentalist
Years active 1999–present
Labels Asthmatic Kitty, Sounds Familyre, Orchard
Associated acts Marzuki, My Brightest Diamond
Website www.sufjan.com

Sufjan Stevens (pronounced /ˈsuːfjɑːn/) (born July 1, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter and musician from Petoskey, Michigan.

Some people think he is part of the folk revival in indie pop, but he gets ideas from many things. His music is similar to electronica[1] and the minimalism of Steve Reich.[2] Stevens says that he has plans to make a concept album for each of the 50 U.S. states. He began with Michigan (2003) and Illinois (2005).

Stevens was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Petoskey.[3] He went to Harbor Light Christian School as well as the Interlochen Arts Academy. He also learned at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

Sufjan is an Arabic name[4] that famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a man from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the person who founded Subud, a spiritual community.[5] Stevens said in an interview, "It sounds like Devendra Banhart kind of grew up in this strange kind of cultish environment, and I don't mean that word in a demeaning way. I think we probably come from similar backgrounds. There's a little bit of that in my history."[6]

Stevens is a multi-instrumentalist, a person who can play many musical instruments. He is well known for his use of the banjo, but also plays guitar, piano, drums, and several other instruments, often playing all of these on his albums by using multitrack recording. When he was in school, he learned the oboe and English horn, which he also plays on his albums. He is one of the few musicians in pop music to use these instruments. A lot of instruments are played in unison to give his songs a "symphony-like" sound. Strings and horns are used very often in many of his songs.

Stevens lives in the Brooklyn part of New York City in the neighborhood Kensington[7] where he makes up the Asthmatic Kitty Records staff of the Brooklyn office.[8] His brother Marzuki Stevens is a marathon runner.[9]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Pattison, Louis. "Avalanche Review". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000FJGR5S/202-9611120-9415865?v=glance&n=229816. Retrieved 2006-11-29. "Part psychedelic bluegrass, part extra-terrestrial electronic ambience, and part tribal percussion-fest"
  2. Gill, Andy. "Illinoise Review". Uncut. http://www.uncut.co.uk/music/sufjan_stevens/reviews/8640. Retrieved 2006-11-29. "All rendered in a weird, pan-stylistic blend of alt.country, minimalism and American brass band music"
  3. Vander Plaat, Heather (April 2006). ""A distinctive musical voice"".
  4. Harrington, Richard (September 23, 2005). ""Sufjan Stevens's Musical States of Mind"". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/22/AR2005092200655.html. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  5. Odland, Jeffrey (May 12, 2004). ""Junkmedia: An Interview with Sufjan Stevens"". Junk Media. http://www.junkmedia.org/index.php?i=1031. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  6. Bemis, Alec Hanley (August 28, 2005). ""The Soft Revolution"". Los Angeles Times Magazine. http://www.brassland.org/ahb/writing/archives/2005/08/the_soft_revolu.html. Retrieved 2007-02-11.
  7. Guarino, Mark (July 2006). "Sufjan Stevens: Wonder Boy". Harp Magazine. http://www.harpmagazine.com/articles/detail.cfm?article_id=4452. Retrieved 2006-11-29.
  8. "About Us". Asthmatic Kitty Records. http://www.asthmatickitty.com/info.php. Retrieved 2006-11-29.
  9. "Sufjan Stevens". Asthmatic Kitty Records. http://asthmatickitty.com/musicians.php?artistID=5. Retrieved 2007-12-22.