Justin Vernon

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Justin Vernon
Justin Vernon at Jazz Fest 2012.jpg
Vernon at Jazz Fest in 2012.
Background information
Birth nameJustin DeYarmond Edison Vernon
Born (1981-04-30) April 30, 1981 (age 38)
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, U.S. [1]
Years active1998–present
Associated acts
Website boniver.org

Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon (born April 30, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known as the primary songwriter and frontman of indie folk band Bon Iver. [2] [3] [4] Vernon is also a member of the bands Volcano Choir, Big Red Machine, The Shouting Matches, and Gayngs. He was previously a member of the now-defunct band DeYarmond Edison.

The lead vocalist in popular music is typically the member of a group or band whose voice is the most prominent in a performance where multiple voices may be heard. The lead singer either leads the vocal ensemble, or sets against the ensemble as the dominant sound. In vocal group performances, notably in soul and gospel music, and early rock and roll, the lead singer takes the main vocal part, with a chorus provided by other band members as backing vocalists.

Indie folk is a music genre that arose in the 1990s among musicians from indie rock scenes influenced by folk music. Indie folk hybridizes the acoustic guitar melodies of traditional folk music with contemporary instrumentation. The genre has its earliest origins in 1990s folk artists who displayed alternative rock influences in their music, such as Ani DiFranco and Dan Bern, and acoustic artists such as Elliott Smith and Will Oldham. In the following decade, labels such as Saddle Creek, Barsuk, Ramseur, and Sub Pop helped to provide support to indie folk. Artists of note include the Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, the Cave Singers, Loch Lomond, Bon Iver, Or, The Whale, Great Lake Swimmers, and Blind Pilot.

Bon Iver American indie folk band

Bon Iver is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. The name "Bon Iver" derives from the French phrase bon hiver, taken from a greeting on Northern Exposure.


Early life

Vernon attended Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he still resides today. He formed his first band, Mount Vernon, in 1997 after meeting its members at a high school Wisconsin jazz camp. They released their first local musical project in 1998. He graduated from Memorial High in 1999 and attended college at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, spending a semester in Ireland. [5] Vernon majored in Religious Studies and minored in Women's Studies. In an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report , he said that he was not ready to study music. [6]

Memorial High School (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)

Memorial High School is a public high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin that serves grades 9 through 12. It is one of three high schools in the Eau Claire Area School District.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin City in Wisconsin, United States

Eau Claire is a city in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Located almost entirely in Eau Claire County, for which it is the county seat, the city had a population of 65,883 at the 2010 census, making it the state's ninth-largest city. Eau Claire is the principal city of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a part of the Eau Claire-Menomonie Combined Statistical Area.

Wisconsin A north-central state of the United States of America

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.


Pre-Bon Iver

Justin Vernon founded the band DeYarmond Edison in 2001 while still in college. [7] [8] The band, which began performing under the name DeYarmond Edison in 2002, consisted of Vernon, Brad and Phil Cook, Christopher Porterfield and Joe Westerlund. The group saw varying line-up changes during its five years of existence.

DeYarmond Edison is the former band of the members of Bon Iver, Megafaun, and Field Report. Guitarist and vocalist Justin Vernon went on to create Bon Iver; three members formed the freak folk group Megafaun, and Christopher Porterfield began composing, eventually establishing Field Report.

Phil Cook is an American guitarist, banjoist, pianist and singer. He is a member of the freak-folk band Megafaun. Before he became a member of Megafaun, Cook was part of DeYarmond Edison, a band led by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. He also plays in the band Gayngs as well as the Vernon-fronted Shouting Matches. Additionally, he is affiliated with MC Taylor and his band Hiss Golden Messenger.

Christopher Porterfield is an American songwriter, guitarist and singer. He currently leads the folk band Field Report. Porterfield started his music career in High School, co-founding the band, Dinner With Greg. He also previously played with DeYarmond Edison, a band led by Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon. He graduated from Mayo High School in Rochester, MN, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. He has a younger brother named Tim, who graduated and played college basketball for Virtebo University in Wisconsin.

After playing in the Eau Claire music scene, the four bandmates decided to leave their longtime home and move to Raleigh, North Carolina to try their musical hand in a new place. The band released two records themselves, the first self-titled in 2004 and the second titled Silent Signs in 2005, [9] and an EP of unreleased material is available on their Myspace page. [10] After nearly a year in Raleigh, Vernon left for Wisconsin in 2006 after a breakup with the band and a girlfriend. The remaining members of DeYarmond Edison went on to form the folk bands Megafaun and Field Report, and remain good friends with Vernon. [11]

Raleigh, North Carolina Capital of North Carolina

Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina and the seat of Wake County in the United States. Raleigh is the second-largest city in the state, after Charlotte. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city. The city covers a land area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2). The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 479,332 as of July 1, 2018. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in present-day Dare County.

Myspace social network

Myspace is an American social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world from 2005 to 2008. It is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California.

Megafaun is an American psychedelic folk band based in Durham, North Carolina.

Bon Iver

Vernon performing with Bon Iver in Black Cat, Washington, D.C. in 2008 Bon Iver.jpg
Vernon performing with Bon Iver in Black Cat, Washington, D.C. in 2008

Vernon came to international prominence with For Emma, Forever Ago , his first album as Bon Iver, which he recorded isolated in a northern Wisconsin cabin during the winter months of 2006 and 2007, while he was going through health and personal difficulties. The album was self-released by Vernon in July 2007 and after it received several positive reviews, including from Pitchfork , the album was rereleased in February 2008 and released internationally in May of that year.

<i>For Emma, Forever Ago</i> 2007 studio album by Bon Iver

For Emma, Forever Ago is the debut studio album by American indie folk band Bon Iver. It was first self-released in July 2007, and later saw wide release on the Jagjaguwar label in February 2008. The album is principally the work of singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Whilst living in Raleigh, North Carolina, Vernon fell ill with mononucleosis and a liver infection, and grew frustrated with his songwriting and life. He left Raleigh and drove to his father's remote hunting cabin an hour northwest of his hometown, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hoping to be alone.

<i>Pitchfork</i> (website) online music magazine

Pitchfork is an American online magazine launched in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber, based in Chicago, Illinois, and owned by Condé Nast. Being developed during Schreiber's tenure in a record store at the time, the magazine developed a reputation for its extensive focus on independent music, but has since expanded to a variety of coverage on both indie and popular music.

Bon Iver won Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards, for their 2011 self-titled album. [12]

On September 25, 2012, Vernon walked away from Bon Iver temporarily, virtually putting an end to the band for the time being. When asked for reasoning, he replied, "[I'm] winding it down. I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There's so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I'll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that." [13]

Collaborations and Side Projects

Vernon is a part of other musical groups, including Volcano Choir, which consists of Vernon and the members of the band Collections of Colonies of Bees. In 2009 Unmap was released. His collaborative group Gayngs, consisting of multiple established artists, including members from Megafaun, The Rosebuds, Doomtree and Stay Gold, among others, released Relayted in 2010. [14] Vernon contributed vocals to seven songs on Anaïs Mitchell's 2010 album Hadestown , based on the Greek legend Orpheus and Eurydice . He is one third of The Shouting Matches, a blues-garage rock trio, along with Laarks and Peter Wolf Crier drummer Brian Moen, and former DeYarmond Edison bandmate Phil Cook. They have recorded but not yet released a 5-track EP, Mouthoil, [15] and released their debut album, Grownass Man, in 2013. [16] At The Shouting Matches' 2013 shows in Milwaukee and Minneapolis, Mouthoil CDs were available as a limited release.

Vernon performing with Bon Iver in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2009 Bon Iver 3.jpg
Vernon performing with Bon Iver in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2009

During the creation of Kanye West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy , Vernon was invited to collaborate on various songs, providing vocals on "Dark Fantasy", "Monster", "Hell Of A Life" and "Lost In The World", as well as the song "That's My Bitch" from West and Jay-Z's collaborative album Watch The Throne in 2011. [17] He was also involved in West's 2013 album Yeezus, contributing to "I Am a God", "Hold My Liquor", and "I'm In It". [18] Vernon has on several occasions served as backing vocalist for West at his live performances, notably at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2011 and Glastonbury Festival in 2015, where West introduced Vernon as "one of the baddest white boys on the planet". In 2009, Vernon collaborated with Aaron Dessner on the song "Big Red Machine" for the AIDS benefit album Dark Was the Night produced by the Red Hot Organization.

In 2010, Vernon played Orpheus in Anaïs Mitchell's album Hadestown.

He has produced albums for other artists, including Land of Talk's 2008 album Some Are Lakes [19] and Kathleen Edwards' 2012 album Voyageur . [20]

In 2012, Vernon began Chigliak, an imprint of Jagjaguwar, dedicated to albums that have had limited or non-commercial releases. [21]

In 2014, Jason Feathers, a collaboration with Vernon, Ryan Olson (member of Gayngs, Poliça and Marijuana Deathsquads), indie rapper Astronautalis and Bon Iver member Sean Carey (known by his stage name S. Carey), released De Oro.

On June 23, 2018, Vernon joined Dead & Company on stage at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. He performed three songs with the band: Black Muddy River, Friend of the Devil, and Birdsong. Given Vernon's Wisconsin roots, it was a special appearance that highlighted the timelessness and versatility of the Dead's music. [22]

In late August 2018, Vernon released the eponymous debut album of duet Big Red Machine alongside The National's Aaron Dessner. The 10 song self-titled album Big Red Machine was co-produced by Dessner, Vernon and Brad Cook, and features approximately 40 collaborators, including Bryce Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, and Richard Parry. [23] The majority of the album was recorded in Dessner's garage studio in Hudson Valley, New York. [24] The album seeks to convey the relational role of people in the creation of music, hence why there were so many contributing artists. [25]

Eaux Claires

Vernon founded and curated the Eaux Claires music and arts festival along with Aaron Dessner of The National. [26]

In August 2016, Vernon and Dessner curated the second annual Eaux Claires festival. [27] On the opening night of the festival, Bon Iver debuted their third album, 22, A Million , in front of a live audience. [28] 22, A Million was released on September 30, 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. [29]


Solo albums

With Mount Vernon

With DeYarmond Edison

With Bon Iver

With The Shouting Matches

With Volcano Choir

With Gayngs

With Big Red Machine

Collaborative albums

Other collaborations

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