Justin Vernon founded the band Bon Iver in 2006. Bon Iver’s released four albums, and won two Grammys, including Best New Artist.
The most recent album, i,i, came out in August 2019, and in this episode, Justin breaks down a song from it called “Holyfields,.” He’s joined by producers Chris Messina and Brad Cook. We spoke to him in July, from his studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where the song started. They finished it at Sonic Ranch studio, in Tornillo, Texas, on the border of the US and Mexico.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
You listening to song exploder, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece tell the story of how they they were me. My name is song: exploder is sponsored by Dave's killer, bread actually love Dave's killer bread, but they gave me a script to read so attention shoppers. We now have taste in the bread, Aisle Dave's killer, bread, that's right, an organic bread, that's no longer a sedative for your taste, buds, Dave's killer. Bread is on a mission to make the most of the loaf to rid the world of Gmos, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients and plant the seeds of good and all that they make killer, taste killer texture, always organic Dave's killer, bread, bread amplified. This episode is sponsored by indeed, indeed makes it easy to.
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six boonie bears released four albums and twelve grammys, including best new artist, the most recent album I come. I came out in August twenty nineteen and in this episode,
just in breaks down a song from cod wholly fields he's doing by producers, Christmas Siena and Brad. Could we spoke to him in July from his studio, and oh Clare was constant where the song started. They finished at sonogram studio in turning your Texas,
on the border of us and Mexico. This is Justin Vernon. My name is Brad Cook and I was a producer for this,
Brad now, go so insanely far back, it's kind of impossible to explain, but
Google language is pretty deep. I think it's
stage in the game. We've been making songs together for twenty years when we
After growing up, we were finding life, meaning out of listening,
all about Marley records and learn
about humanity through his lyrics and through his music and attitude. So that was a really huge impact on me. That was really the high point of seeing.
Music can do in the world and why it's more powerful than maybe we even give it credit for at times I'm Chris Messina and I produced mixed and engineered this record wherein Eau Claire was
it's in and we have our own two year called April base curses
running the studio for what is it seven years? We feel like partners
In this band and a lot of ways, it was just the three of us in the Stew,
everybody's one morning we're just trying to create.
Ireland, in which sounds good guy, have pour out, and we just had a couple of different since hook.
The core of the song is based around an M electro comp, one or one which
this early modular synth things like seventies, ish
and we got a sound out of it that was sort of cool and caught a vibe. It's that sound that goes,
one of the confusing things about it is that YO and fuel hear the word since they often imagine my keyboard sounds, but the email
as this random noise generator, so you're twisting knobs and all the sudden. You have this totally insane weird rhythmic pattern.
So there is no real tone. You just your percussive elements. It was me
Justin sort of learning how to use it. We just turned it on and recorded it for a few minutes and that sort of the drums, if you will or the rhythmic sense in the song and then
you have dragged on top of that right away. Bribe is playing a yamaha CS. Synthesizer playing
conversions of d, the note d,
Has this loop of de going or he's adjusting textures, but it's only one note and he's kind of playing it constantly
but you only hear it based on a gate that we set from the email, so you can
it's following the same rhythm as the email
and so, while that was happening, I was playing the Messina, which is a harmonised.
Machine sort of that Chris and I came up with once years back and it's his last name, because that's how you name things I'll do my best to explain how the Messina works. So Brad was playing one note and then that one note gets FED to the Messina and when you press the keyboard on the machine,
It's like you're playing a full piano version of that one note
so just being able to play multiple tones in harmony with each
of that original, sound source being able to take that exact, sound and spread it out over
keyboard in real time.
so, I was just making up stuff trying to play
courts there was also going through the amount of Emma was sending like a pulse gate. Opening thing to everything so did really only three
happening, but they're all reacting to one another, all simultaneously,
and so all of us were sort of performing
while at the same time as
the recording and improvisation that we stuck with for the whole life of the song.
being in the room when the initial song,
came to life was pretty moving. It felt cosmic in a really cool way. It's a moment.
the three of us kind of just spurred this moment that feels so magical and it's just all of a sudden. It's happening, oh my god that works yeah, it's just a snowball it just
plopped right into reality and in the minutes it took to record it. Basically, we really felt something that day.
like we had something on our record. Whatever their record would turn out to be, we really had something we could gather around.
Let us remember our union can improve workers on it for a while, just let's just leave it as an instrumental
It was so moving and then just
I hear this thing
come on immediately. I did. I sang like a scratch idea.
He's kind of go in there and get weird and try to find little patterns that work in the cuts. I suppose things been stepping in
I'm happy I love you.
I don't know where the lyrics come from. It's a mystery.
To me as well, but there's meaning in it, couldn't tell you the cadences
It's folded in the evidences.
There's a lot of like me:
here are, the singer. The song talking to people with a lot.
A disdain or a little anger, or little impatience
So you want to leave a mark.
You're horning in on meadow park
Do you want to leave a mark to me is: do you want like.
As the ranks in work and tall buildings,
you're honing in on meadow park. You know you found a cool neighborhood to live. Oh, I heard you guys are very safe. Caught up with the featherweight.
other people that aren't pulling their weight
as others save and caught up with the federal way.
the song definitely sort of speaks to a general rejection of status quo.
I just think the narrator like Justin is pretty restless and not very
satisfied with passively in a passive existence,
I think I only like concrete feeling that I get is the the lyrics there are in the chorus
the dawn, is rising with the landing rising.
No, you know it's just like European
at the dawn's, rising you're, going to work or you're wasted your life or whatever with the land is
arising, the water keeps rising like you know, when are you going to figure this out, like figure out pollution and climate change? You know like when? Are you going to stop denying the certain things in your mind
and accepting the hard things.
The next step in the development of the song Rob Moose. You done arrangements for a different string and horn parts, since the second by record.
and he's truly just unbelievable in the way he's able to add to the music we give him. The way we were
Rob is that he'll just come and hang out at at April base for a couple of days and we'll set him up his own little recording space cause he's pretty comfortable recording himself. These days, we just would feed him stuff,
And he would go away and record different ideas with his violin and viola. He just really pulled out some interesting harmonies
onyx with his violin, which is incredibly difficult to do. I find buddy's slide to the harmonics up and it gives it this really scratchy sort of sounds like weird violins from the 20s or something and he's so creative and thinking about the layers. Now, there's probably twenty parts, thirty parts of himself playing such a cool part comes in there and then the third section of the song. What I call the bridge
He comes in with this really strange kind of seventh corridor. Whatever the hell is, Canada's like minor darker element kind about a nowhere,
when he solidified his part. He pulled something
out of me. Melodic lead it. It was written around in
There was an interim string part
I certainly that whole section of the song was really the inspiration to get me through writing in finishing the lyrics through. This is the way that was at Sonic Ranch turnover taxes as when we finish the record
then the finishing and recording the final vocals. While we were down there
any one of these verses.
Fields. I could pretend one day or imagine one day that I'm singing as another person straight to me, like, maybe I'm a little mad at myself for not follow.
Through or being a better person. Being that close,
that border and bringing with it? Oh everyone was mexican at the studio almost except us, and so I think being that close to that during this time and in our lives.
that just influenced everything on one line. Not you know, this is just influenced everything trying to gain perspective and trying to be as good as artists as we can be, while things like that are going down so geographically close Texas, a heavy vibe right now, yeah, I mean damn it's quite clear. It's pretty emotional.
There is a lot of pain, their ring and to build a dual. We want to do just such a simple safe if you consider it it's not very
it's not immediately necessary for survival and to build a to do it is just a blessing. You know, I think, all that energy really really touched. All of us,
we can never not be all of us. We're always sharing the moment that we are here living in time, and so it's really hard to separate and really true
Try to decipher what one person really is, because you don't really have one person without the other and that
It's just like seems to be sacred math for figuring out our problems as human beings is just understand that there's always the other that we kind of responsible for and now here's holy fields by blood
be there in its entirety.
in Gaza. There is a caught up with.
we have to learn
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.