When he first showed up, Justin Vernon was Bon Iver, and Bon Iver was Justin Vernon. At this point, though — between work with Kanye West, Gayngs, and even the Eau Claire Memorial Jazz I Ensemble — it's easier to understand that Bon Iver is just one of the ever-restless Vernon's manifold musical iterations. That's a list highlighted by Volcano Choir, a collaboration between Vernon and his post-rock idols, Collections of Colonies of Bees. Ahead of this week's release of Repave, the second Volcano Choir album, Grantland caught up with Justin.
With 12.4 million viewers, Sunday night’s VMAs broadcast was MTV’s most watched program, like, ever. Equally as impressive: the show actually managed to piss people off! Not about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby, of course (everyone’s pretty psyched on that). But shots were fired in the direction of Lady Gaga’s alter-ego Jo Calderone: Kelly Osbourne, that paragon of creativity, claimed Gaga was ripping off an early eighties Annie Lennox performance; other people just thought she was ripping off Ralph Macchio. (And wait until people hear about her prosthetic penis). But better still: Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, the increasingly reliable troublemaker, took aim at everybody.
Yesterday, James Blake (the ascendant electro-pop musician, not the hard-court-specialist) cryptically tweeted: “24th August 2011 — James Blake & Bon Iver ‘Fall Creek Boys Choir.’” Further details are nonexistent, but this much is presumably clear: James Blake and fellow Pitchfork darling Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon are teaming up! And this pairing is significant not just for its musical potential; it’s also a sign of the times. With Bon Blake (trademark pending), Watching the Throne — that is, the act of two individually successful musicians temporarily joining forces, a la Jay-Z and Kanye West — is now reaching critical mass.