Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens
  • Born: July 1, 1975
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Musician, Singer-songwriter

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Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His debut album A Sun Came was released in 1999 on the Asthmatic Kitty label, which he cofounded with his stepfather. He received wide recognition for his 2005 album Illinois, which hit number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the single "Chicago" from that album. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media for "Mystery of Love" from the movie Call Me by Your Name.

Quotes About
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Quotes
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A musician's attempt to summarize his or her work leads to all this prescriptive chatter, or what I call the 'Modifier's Madness.' A lot of adjectives working overtime. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Audacity is central to everything I do. A lot of times I think my work is about just seeing if I can get away with it. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Every time Jimmy Scott sings, it's the same but slightly different. I don't know how he does that or where he gets that from. I think it's instinct. Nothing he does is by chance; he's in complete control of what he's doing. He's just beautiful and unique. Time
I always hated 'O Holy Night.' It's so operatic and overwrought.
I am not naturally inclined to history or geography - maybe that's why I like to sing about it, because it helps me remember. History
I believe that music is a spiritual language. My everyday self is pretty mundane and boring, but when I'm making music it allows for me to communicate a kind of transcendence that I can't communicate otherwise. Music, Chants & Rapps
I come from a folk tradition where you just dance however you feel comfortable.
I don't really have a domestic inclination. Even my apartment has a semblance of a storage facility. It's just stacks, there are no bookshelves, just books and piles of stamp collections and weird little sewing and knitting projects.
I don't think it's so hard to be commercial and interesting. Look at Prince, or Neil Young.
I feel like the Internet needs to be disarmed in some way. There needs to be a philosophical undermining of the Internet. We take it too seriously and too literally. For a reference we go to Wikipedia, which is full of inaccuracies and misinformation. It's kind of beautiful - it's all the product of imagination; it's not reality at all.
I find in music there's a space and a language I can use to express things in ways I can't describe conversationally. Music, Chants & Rapps
I have a love/hate relationship with Amy Grant, but I do go back to her Christmas albums once in a while. They're dated and sentimental and the production is nearly unlistenable, but there's something about her vocal performance that just feels really true. I would take her Christmas albums over Mariah Carey's or Destiny's Child's any day.
I love anything by Tchaikovsky. He was the real pop star of his day. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I remember Detroit feeling really unsafe, feeling scared a lot. Our house was broken into, our car was stolen, we had to get a watchdog, we would get beat up in the street, I had my bike stolen. There was just a lot of real anarchy on the streets and sidewalks.
I still feel like I have a lot to learn in the realm of sound experimentation, and I think I would like things to get noisier and weirder and more distressed and more aggressive, but I don't know if that's something that would be suitable for public consumption.
I think I get a lot of ideas from when I was a kid, listening to Casey Kasem's 'American Top 40.'
I think musicians should stay off television generally.
I was sort of born into a Subud cult that has ties to Islam and Indonesia and Middle Eastern spiritualism. My parents were kind of trial-and-error when it came to religion. Religion & God
I wouldn't mind being popular in other ways, but not with music. Music, Chants & Rapps
I'd like to do a record that doesn't even reference actual places. Because I think it's kind of an open-ended concept. It doesn't have to be taken so literally.
I'm a very self-conscious person; I think we all are, but I'm especially not very comfortable in my body. I always feel really weird and awkward on the street or on the stage. It has nothing to do with circumstances; it's just an ongoing psychological state, like white noise.
I'm pretty involved in everything I do, which isn't always efficient and doesn't necessarily make for the more successful product. But I do feel that, in that sense, everything I do has a comprehensiveness to it.
In third grade, I had to an oral report on the state of Oregon. I brought up Big Foot sightings, and I remember there was an argument about whether or not Big Foot was valid history. Ever since then I've been thinking about how subjective history is. History
It's hard to reconcile my personal beliefs with an entire institution like the Church or the Republicans. Or with people within those political persuasions who have such different ideologies but confess the same things I confess spiritually.
It's hard to say if actual places really affect the way you write.
It's traumatic to meditate on the availability of information through the Internet, or the way we perceive the world as a result. People don't experience things totally or viscerally anymore. It's all through representation, be it a record on YouTube or a post on a blog.
I've been trying to challenge myself to be more explicit. I've always liked punk rock and Sonic Youth. I make that music privately, but I've never released it. Music, Chants & Rapps
I've read in a couple stories that I was raised Episcopalian, but that's not true. I think that's just people assuming things. In some ways, I wish I was raised Episcopalian. I was kind of raised hodgepodge.
Morals, principles and laws are when faith is reduced to standards and those standards basically just bind us, and we become prejudicial, racist, self-serving when we're guided by these laws... When a developed country uses Christianity in its policies, in government, in maintaining corporate wealth, that's a bastardized rendering of a faith. Religion & God ;Government
Musicians are often asked to answer for an entire culture, or for an entire movement. It's a process of commodification. It becomes packaged and summarized in a word like 'emo' or 'grunge'... or 'folk music.' I think that's just language itself, trying to understand the mysteries of the world. Music, Chants & Rapps
My anxiety level of my own work and what I'm doing and focusing on my art and all of that stuff? That's fundamental. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
My music is just about story telling. I don't have much to say, and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. I'm just singing through conviction about what I love and what I care about, starting with the very small. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Music, Chants & Rapps
My only concern about art collaborations is that I never thought of myself as an Artist. My tax forms say Musician/Songwriter. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
One of my strongest memories is my father playing bongos in the living room in Detroit listening to Motown radio. He was this skinny white bald guy, but he was really moved by blues and Motown and funk.
Pop music is so structured, and I'm excited to try and challenge that in my own work. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Public school felt like prison - cinderblock walls, fluorescent lights, metal lockers. It was so sterile and unstimulating.
The best fiction is geared towards conflict. We learn most about our characters through tension, when they are put up against insurmountable obstacles. This is true in real life. Life
The spiritual ambiguity growing up made me really latch onto a faith - Protestantism - that was somewhat conventional. Everyone else was rebelling against traditions and institutions, whereas I was rebelling against the upheaval and uncertainty in my family. Religion & God ;Families, Children & Parenting
The World's Fair was the precursor to theme parks like Disneyworld, and the really sort of cheap, superficial promotional architecture that you see everywhere in the U.S. I think there's a danger when you start creating a civilisation that isn't meant to last.
You know, I don't think my music is important, I don't think it's changing the world, I don't think it's art. I just think it's music. It is what it is. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle