First broadcast: Sat 2nd Dec 2023, 23:06 on BBC World Service Australasia
Repeat broadcast: Sun 3rd Dec 2023, 18:06 on BBC World Service News Internet
Running out of melodies with Beirut, Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields
Zach Condon, AKA Beirut, Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields discuss the myth of self-expression as an artist, the influence your location, and particularly New York, has on songwriting, and what unexpected genres we might get musical influences from.
Zach Condon, AKA Beirut, grew up in the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and from a young age absorbed a vast array of musical influences. When he was 14 his older brother moved to New York and left behind a strict musical education of minimal German electronica, hip hop and mix tapes of Neutral Milk Hotel. From ther,e he began recording little tunes with a trumpet, a drum machine, a synthesizer and his father’s acoustic guitar. He was finally convinced to try playing a few concerts when he was around 17, and has since gone on to release eight studio albums and tour all over the world. His new album Hadsel came out this year and is named after a northern Norwegian island where he spent time in 2020.
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt is best known for fronting The Magnetic Fields, one of the most important indie rock bands of the last 30 years. He is renowned for his beautiful melodies and rich lyrics, meticulously crafting soundscapes using a variety of acoustic, electronic and improvised instruments.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are members of one of punk and pop’s most influential bands, Blondie. They formed in 1974 in New York and were pioneers of the city’s new wave scene, going on to top the charts around the world with hits such as Atomic, Heart of Glass and Hanging on the Telephone. They’ve gone through many line-up changes over the years, but been held together by the two amazing musicians we have with us today.