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Playground magazine


Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Members: Sufjan Stevens

Origin: Detroit, USA

Labels: Asthmatic Kitty, Sounds Familyre, Orchard


Sufjan Stevens is a musician, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit who started his career in 1999, when he founded the Asthmatic Kitty imprint with his stepfather. He released his debut album, “A Sun Came”, on the label. It could be considered a folk record, influenced by music from all over the world. He then moved to New York, where he started working on his second LP, “Enjoy Your Rabbit”. It possesses a more electronic sound and holds the Chinese zodiac as a central theme. After those albums, he decided to embark on his fifty-state project: an album for every state of the USA. The first was “Michigan”, dedicated to his home state, which was very well received, with critics praising the beauty of his compositions.

In March 2004 he released his fourth album, “Seven Swans”. It is a serene record, featuring the banjo, Stevens' soft voice and songs full of references to the Christian religion. A year later he made (according to many) his masterpiece: “Illinois”. It was mentioned by many publications as one of the best albums of the past decade. It was the second episode in the fifty-state series. The LP featured some complex orchestral arrangements, Sufjan playing over 20 different instruments, a choir and some memorable lyrics. Between 2006 and 2009 he released a series of different records: “The Avalanche: “Outtakes And Extras From The Illinois Album”, which, as the title suggests, features discarded and bonus tracks from the “Illinois” sessions; “Songs For Christmas”, a collection of Christmas carols and holiday season-themed tracks; and “The BQE”, containing the compositions for a project he started in 2007, described as a “symphonic and cinematic exploration of New York City's infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway”.

In 2010 he released two more records. Firstly, there was the EP “All Delighted People”, a “homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon’s 'Sounds of Silence'”. Two months later came his last album to date, “The Age Of Adz”, an experimental record - with more emphasis on electronica - inspired by schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson.

Selected discography

“A Sun Came” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2000)

“Enjoy Your Rabbit” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2001)

“Michigan” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2003)

“Seven Swans” (Sound Familyre, 2004)

“Illinois” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2005)

“The BQE” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2009)

“The Age Of Adz” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2010)