Jarvis Cocker Talks with Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) on the Talkhouse Podcast

They discuss subverting expectations in songwriting; reuniting with their estranged fathers; “one time only” sexual fetishes; and much more.

On this week’s show, we pair two of the greatest living songwriters, artists who’ve reimagined what the form can look like, and what it can accomplish.

The Magnetic FieldsStephin Merritt and ex-Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker each have great new music in the world; when I heard the latter was coming to NYC, I instantly knew I had to try to get these two together in person for a Talkhouse Podcast convo. Thankfully, when presented with the idea, both were psyched!

Over cups of tea at Hook and Fade Studios in Brooklyn (before the pandemic), the guys sat down for a delightfully freewheeling conversation about songwriting — and how they both love to subvert its norms in different ways — as well as the vastly different approaches they took to making their new LPs. But of course with these two, there’s so much more here, including (but not limited to!): a moving discussion of reunions with their showbiz fathers who had abandoned them; the bad omen that nearly caused Jarvis to quit music in the year 2000; why Stephin’s new sexual fetish might be a “one time only” experience; and their shared love of that “hippy writer” Richard Brautigan.

This episode is dedicated to all you “mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits” — enjoy!

Pick up The Magnetic Fields’ Quickies here, and Jarvis’s Beyond The Pale here. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes of the Talkhouse Podcast, including upcoming talks like Helado Negro with Buscabulla, Black Belt Eagle Scout with Sasami, and comedian Chris D’Elia with filmmaker Amanda Kramer. Make sure to revisit Stephin Merritt and Daniel Handler (aka the author Lemony Snicket)’s 2019 look back on 69 Love Songs on its 20th anniversary.

—Elia Einhorn, Talkhouse Podcast host and producer

This week’s show was recorded by the Talkhouse Podcast‘s producer Mark Yoshizumi. Josh Modell and I recorded ourselves in our respective #stayhome studios.

Our theme song was composed and performed by The Range.

Please direct all podcast-related ideas, vitriol, and compliments to elia@thetalkhouse.com.

(Photo Credit: Mark Yoshizumi; Edited by: Keenan Kush)

Talkhouse curates musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields to speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events. The Talkhouse Podcast offers listeners a unique insight into the creative work of creators across all genres and generations. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes.