Back in the summer of 2007, reeling from the break-up of both a band and a relationship, Justin Vernon headed to a cabin in Wisconsin to ruminate, and wound up writing and recording a series of songs. He originally only meant to pass the tracks around to friends, but when they started to draw attention online, he signed a deal with indie label Jagjaguwar and released them as “For Emma, Forever Ago” in February 2008.
The album garnered critical acclaim, and Vernon’s career grew slowly -- until Kanye West came calling. The rapper sampled Vernon’s “Woods” for his track “Lost in the Woods,” and Vernon also collaborated with him on “Monster.”
For his follow-up, “Bon Iver,” Vernon declined to invite any rappers, but drew on various influences to create an ethereal album that recalls some of the best music of the ’80s.
Given the notoriety you gained from working with Kanye West, why did you decide not to work with hip-hop artists on the record?
Most of the record was pretty set by the time the Kanye thing happened, and there was nothing on the album that really made sense for him to be a part of. But he’s down to work together if I do come up with something that would be a good fit. In general, though, I’m stepping away from the collaborations for a little while because I want to really focus on the new album.
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