The cult of Bon Iver may be crossing over into the mainstream, but Justin Vernon will never forget his humble indie beginnings. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin resident has been increasingly more high profile in the last year. Starting with a guest appearance on Kanye West’s headline Coachella show last Spring, followed by the release of Bon Iver’s sophomore self-titled album in June.
The success of the album fueled a sold-out headlining tour of the U.S. and Europe. If that wasn’t enough, four Grammy nominations and a slot on Saturday Night Live rounded out a stellar list of achievements. And we can’t forget a Justin Vernon-curated record label called Chigliak. Yes, it’s Bon Iver mania! Justin and company kept the whole experience in check, even turning down a chance to play on the Grammys.
Vernon on playing the Grammys in an interview with Billboard, "We wanted to play our music, but we were told that we couldn't play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else. And we just felt like it was such a large stage. We're getting nominated for this record that we made, me and Brian [Joseph] and a bunch of our fucking friends, and we were given accolades for it. And all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said 'fuck you' a little bit and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don't think they wanted us to play."
Vernon on the Music Industry in an interview with CC Radio’s Q show, “I come from a place, growing up, where music was an expression purely, a journey, a vehicle for self-discovery and things like that. I’ve always been a little bit hesitant of an industrial approach to making music. I don’t think it’s wrong. You know, like Micheal Jackson. Michael Jackson is the best. Everyone loves Michael Jackson. A part of his success became like fuel on top of fire, on top of fuel. Obviously, it didn’t work out well for him personally. The whole system is just sort of bizarre to me.”
Vernon told Vulture Magazine about what he was wearing to the Grammys, “I bought a suit from some really cool guys in St. Paul at a store called BlackBlue. They thought it was cool, and it was made in a good way with handmade shit. It wasn’t imported from whatever. It was made well; it has a nice cloth.”
It’s been reported that Justin has collaborations in the works with Alicia Keys and the Flaming Lips. But the Volcano Choir side project is the most intriguing because it was reported as being “an album for the Japanese market.” Justin explains what that means to Vulture Magazine, “Basically, all the guys in Volcano Choir are very into Japanese culture, Japanese music. We did a tour there that was very successful. All of us in Volcano Choir are from Wisconsin, and we want to be able to go to Japan once a year for the rest of our lives and make music that makes sense to those folks.”
Bon Iver Saturday Night Live videos: