Bon Iver’s latest album, i,i, is a couple weeks old now. Justin Vernon gave an interview about it right around the time that he decided to put the whole thing online a few weeks early — its physical release date is still at the end of the month — and he also recently sat down with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe for an extended interview that took place in Vernon’s home base of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
The interview’s almost an hour long so, naturally, they discuss a lot, but here are some highlights. He talks more about his collaboration style with Kanye West, whose politics he disavowed in another interview. Here, though, there’s none of that and he just gushes on about how great it is to work on music with him:
I definitely witnessed how you can… you can have music be cooking on a stove, like over here, and you can respond to it. If you’re like Kanye, you can wait and there’s going to be cooks in all sorts of kitchens and they’re going to show you all sorts of stuff and you get to react to a lot of things. You get to say no to a lot of things until you’re very sure you like something.
That was very stunning to watch him just to A) hear it all, and have the bandwidth to communicate that well with that many folks. There’s such a thing as too many folks. I remember in Wyoming, we were out there and there was one time where it was really just four of us, and then there was another time where there has to be 45 of us, like in multiple houses. I remember we had a small conversation, he’s like, “I don’t know who’s even here.” You know, like I think there may be too many people here. So there’s all sorts of drawbacks there, but … He cares about music a lot. You don’t get to have made the music he’s made if you don’t, and he puts it very high up.
Vernon also addresses the controversy that ensued after he was featured on a track on Eminem’s new album in which the rapper called Tyler, The Creator a “faggot.” He distanced himself from it at the time, and in the interview he goes into how social media, Twitter specifically, played up the perception of it:
I don’t like that people can be verified or not verified. I don’t want to be verified. I just find it all pretty funny. I was listening to a podcast where they’re like, you know like 75% of retweets are like, people don’t read the articles? You know? They’re just like, “Oh yeah, that’s a headline I can get with.” I do the same shit, it’s like, “Oh yeah, I fuck with that social platform. Yeah, yeah. Retweet.” You know? It’s just like, we haven’t adapted to this shit. I mean, I didn’t have a cellphone or the internet really even in high school. You know, so we’re all adapting and it can get pretty ugly.
Like I made that huge mess out of the Eminem song, and I was just in a carwash, and I just tweeted. It’s like, what was I doing? I should’ve just probably chilled out and actually just said, “Please don’t put this song out.” And it was very rude and I felt really bad about it. I think people have not figured out how to calculate how easy it is to say something on there with how much you should say it.
He also talks about the anxiety he felt leading up to his previous album, 22, A Million, and the importance of therapy:
I love the people we work with so much and I ultimately feel sometimes responsible, or the last buck, if that makes any sense. And if I’m not there, we all lose or something. So that pressure can get to you if you’re not happy daily or something. You know what I mean? And so I’ve just sorted myself out I guess. And just feel a lot happier. It was rough personally in the years leading up to 22, A Million. And it was still rough a year into it, and it bottomed out.
I had to cancel a tour because, I don’t know if other people have this. I know of other people have anxiety and stuff, but it’s just something I feel it’s so important to talk about. Because I couldn’t move, I couldn’t leave the house. It’s so strange. I was sick. You know what I mean? It’s not helpful unless, like I was saying before, you have to be vulnerable to show or to share that you’re feeling an extreme discomfort and you don’t know why. That’s a pretty weird place to start a conversation, but holy hell is super important. I did therapy. I did the SSRI meds. I’ve gotten away from those now, which I’m happy about. Which, it can be dangerous to go on and off of those things.
But, the one-on-one therapy was insanely helpful. Just to unload with somebody that doesn’t necessarily love you or something. They are professionals at helping you sort out what’s wrong. When you look back, I can’t actually feel the pain I felt. And I’m just like, “Wow, I must’ve felt really bad.” Where I had to lay down on the bathroom floor. But I’m so glad that things do feel sweeter on this side. I’ve just been crying to cotton commercials again. “The touch, the feel of cotton.” That’s when you know you’re a happy person, when you’re crying.
Watch the full interview below.