Only Love is All Maroon: An Interview with Bon Iver

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver / Photo by Tim Lytbinenko

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon first released For Emma, Forever Ago on his own, after writing and recording an album's worth of material in an isolated cabin in Wisconsin over three months. The nine songs have since been re-released by Jagjaguwar in the US and on 4AD in the UK. After several stellar performances on high-profile shows like Later...With Jools Holland, and at festivals like SXSW, Bon Iver is already an integrated and influential presence in indie music.

I haven't listened to an album this many times since Kings of Convenience released their last album in 2004. For Emma is full of introspective songs that never wallow or depress, with sharp word play and melodies that are instantly hummable and important.

Am I allowed to ask about the "the garment" that you refer to in "Flume"?

I'm not sure. Just any clothes, really. But it's what you are allowing the other person to see, by the "way" you wear it.

Is Bon Iver a permanent name that you're going to use in your future endeavors, or is it more a name for a particular project, time, and place?

It's a name for a project. This project. This lineage of songs. It may stretch a lifetime.

Do you have any difficulty revisiting the themes of this album, considering the inspiration for it? Is the album bittersweet for you?

No. The album is a record of the event of me writing music during a certain time and place; I don't know if it could be bittersweet.

Has music always been a way for you to clear your head or work through the issues in your life, or was this project a sort of revelation?

Music has always been a kind of "way" of understanding myself.

What music did you grow up listening to? Do you feel that your sound now incorporates the music of your upbringing, or denounces it?

John Prine. Tom Waits. It doesn't denounce it, but it doesn't hinge on it exclusively.

What are 3 things that you love?

Time. Music. Family.

What makes you unhappy?

Being unhappy. Living days as regrettable, unenjoyable things, as opposed to doing what you love EVERYDAY. Not just as a hobby.

What recent albums or artists are you enjoying?

I'm not sure if you mean recent or for me, recenty, but I have been listening to a songwriter by the name of Willis Alan Ramsey. He wrote "Muskrat Love" for Captain and Tennille. His album rules.

More from Bon Iver

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Identity Theory's recommended listening: "Flume" and "Blindsided" by Bon Iver

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