Justin Vernon Can’t Hang With Kanye, Can Hang With John Mayer, Wants to Dose Trump With MDMA
Bon Iver is the subject of an excellent new Pitchfork cover story, which opens on a scene of Justin Vernon lighting a blunt while charging his Tesla and proceeds accordingly from there. The piece is mostly about Vernon’s reluctance about his own stardom and centrality to the music, his ongoing efforts to expand Bon Iver from a quasi-solo project to a full-blown collaborative ensemble, and the creation of their great new album i, i. But it’s also peppered with indelible scenes like the blunt-and-Tesla thing, and with Vernon’s musings on his old collaborator Kanye West, Dead & Company, and the president of the United States.
Vernon has been working on Kanye albums dating back to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010, and his open-ended approach to auteurism and collaboration has a lot in common with West’s. The Bon Iver frontman lent his songwriting skills to Kanye as recently as “Wouldn’t Leave” on last year’s ye, but now, he says, he can’t really “kick it” with the rapper, which is understandable given Kanye’s recent behavior. But they’re apparently still friends. From Pitchfork:
Vernon and Kanye’s idea of how to run a highly collaborative recording session may be the same, but they have drifted apart in their politics. “I can’t really kick it with him anymore on a personal level, just the energy,” Vernon tells me, diplomatically. “But I’ve got mad love for him, and we’re still friends.” As opposed to Kanye’s infamous Trump worship, Vernon is more attracted to the progressive ideologies of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Vernon is more enthusiastic about John Mayer, who in recent years has filled in on lead guitar for the late Jerry Garcia in Dead & Co., the reconstituted touring version of the Grateful Dead. At a show in Vernon’s home state of Wisconsin last year, he sat in with the group for versions of the classic Jerry tunes “Bird Song,” “Friend of the Devil,” and “Black Muddy River.” He’d apparently taken acid at some point during the show, which feels appropriate.
Vernon and Fitz, the guitarist, recall their time taking acid backstage at a Dead & Company show, where Vernon joined John Mayer and the band for a song. (“I am fully in on John Mayer,” Vernon says. “Hats off to that motherfucker.”)
Speaking of dosing, Vernon also lets on that he thinks it would might be a good idea to release a cloud of MDMA over the White House in hopes of teaching Donald Trump some empathy. If you’re wondering at this point whether he’s been getting into DMT lately, the answer is yes. Read the full profile here.