If you haven’t heard the new Bon Iver record I’d recommend it. Bon Iver, Bon Iver will probably win a lot of awards and solidify Justin Vernon as one of the most important songwriters of the last 20 years. Pitchfork has an in-depth look/interview with Vernon where the songwriter reveals some very interesting thinking about the way he approaches music and how and why he found his own sound.
Vernon: Bob Dylan wrote good words, but the underrated thing about why he is one of the best, if not the best, songwriter is that his words always sounded good with his voice. He rapped them. After growing up in a Neil Young/ Bob Dylan/ Indigo Girls/ John Prine/ subjective-songwriter kind of world, I finally realized I didn’t have what they had, or I couldn’t do it as well, or I wasn’t exploring deep enough.
The subconscious thing I figured out in “Flume” started giving me more meaning. When we play live, “Flume” is still the song I can get lost in the most. The images in that song are more mysterious, yet more visual to me. With this new record, I attempted to build odd landscapes that you could exist in that had weird feelings but also cool-sounding words. That said, I worked harder than ever on these new lyrics. You can really fuck up by not caring about your words. You can’t just say, “As long as it sounds good, it’ll be cool.” I really wanted to go deep– I went as far as writing-out words on the page and making sure they looked good, reading-wise.
Pitchfork: You’ve made solo records before, but you’d change the name between projects. With all the pressure afterFor Emma‘s success, did the thought of dropping the name Bon Iver and starting with something new occur to you?
Vernon: We can make that brand– I hate that word, “brand”– open. You never have to be scared about who you are. You never have to be scared to look to the future for opportunity. You never have to change your scene because you’re always comfortable with evolving. It’s about the opportunity to never have to worry about being something someone expects you to be– you just have to be who you are.
The response to that album gave me the confidence to know that all you needed to do was be yourself. It wasn’t because I thought the record was my chance to be successful; it was because the record actually meant something to me, and I felt like I was actually applying myself. If you are yourself and you don’t become successful, the happiness that you get from creating something that is that truthful to yourself should be enough to propel you forward in life. (More here)