Conducted by Capt. Obvious
Obvious: For Emma, Forever Ago is absolutely stunning, and you recorded it from the isolation of a Wisconsin cabin. I think the sparse production suits the album perfectly. What drove you to escape to the cabin and what sort of setup were you working with during the recording process?
Bon Iver: Well, I went up there, because I absolutely needed it. Things had been chasing me, and I had been chasing too far from the things that I wanted in my life, in my cradle, my mind. I got up there to the space and the peace, the silence, and felt as if those voices you hear in your head had much more time to work themselves out. They aren’t distracted by the doorbell, the phone, or your roommate walking in. You get to hear them out. I unraveled up there. I unraveled a lot of shit – from a long, long time..
I had a very light set-up, a basic small recording set-up: an Sm57 and an old Silvertone guitar. I had my brother drop off his old drums… some other small things – things I would make or find lying around.
Obvious: The album garnered a lot of favorable attention considering you self-released it, and now you’ve landed a record deal with a very respectable label in Jagjaguwar. Were you expecting so many good things to happen after you finished the album, and how have you dealt with all the newfound attention?
Bon Iver: No. I still don’t expect anything to happen. I feel so fortunate. So lucky. In so many ways. But if it just petered out tomorrow, I’m too small-town of a person, I feel, to feel bad if I just disappeared. I’ve already received so many letters and such, enough for a lifetime of artistic fulfillment…I can’t even measure it.
I knew that when I finished making these songs up there, that I had done something that was more current and pure and honest than anything I had done to that point. I thought it was special in that way. The fact that others seem to understand, from different places all over the world… makes me feel …well, like something good is happening in general.
Obvious: Your lyrics carry a lot of weight, but in a vague and subconscious way rather than being blatantly thematic. How did you pull off such a personal album without divulging any overtly personal secrets?
Bon Iver: Well, I think I’m a pretty overt emotional person, and I think I get addicted to emotion and emotional context. So, if I have an idea… I usually am too quick to get to the point if I go in the conscious way. I usually set the song up, go in and try and get lost somehow…. in it, in sounds, and vocal shapes… And, I usually end up extracting some kind of lyrical idea, that is more folded and obscure but somehow gives ME even more meaning to what I am feeling about a subject. I really actually learn a lot about myself writing in that way.
Obvious: While your music exhibits an undeniable folk aesthetic, I swear you have the voice of a soul singer. You don’t have any old Marvin Gaye and Al Green records laying around, do you?
Bon Iver: Well, man, thank you. I am into more black singers than white, lets just put it that way. I’m not into Al Green, not for any reason… But, I like Marvin, and most of all…I’m into Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Prince, D’angelo. Too much pain in those voices to ignore – even some live Otis Redding shit.
Obvious: I read that you ate a lot of venison while you were in Wisconsin. Have any special recipes?
Bon Iver: Venison tenderloin medallions. Fresh. The real fresh way. It’s the only way to reward yourself after a long day of hunting. If you just toss those in some butter over the cook stove you will never eat anything ever again that tastes that amazing. That’s it.
Obvious: I heard you were a basketball fan. Who’s your pick to win the NBA Championship this year? (I’m going with the Celtics)
Bon Iver: Oh man. Celtics. Love KG, love Ray Allen. unselfish AND astonishing. The best kind. I really am a fan of the Phoenix Suns. I love Marion, Nash and Stoudemire. I think they may be better than the Celtic big three.
I don’t hate Tim Duncan, or anyone on that Spurs squad… but damn, I get bored watching them play.
I really love Dwyane Wade, can’t say much about the Heat though. AND, I love Lebron, but they need Boozer back or somebody that brings a spark in the paint before they win it this year.
I have to say the Mavs will win it all. That’s my guess.