Justin Vernon Explains Song Titles on Bon Iver’s ’22, A Million’
When Bon Iver announced the upcoming release of 22, A Million last month, some people could have looked at the symbols used in the song titles and wondered if their computer or mobile device was having font issues. Yesterday (Sept. 2), Justin Vernon explained how he wants them to be pronounced.
At a press conference covered by Pitchfork, he said that the description of the symbol is a part of the title, and should be called as such. "'29 #Strafford APTS' is pronounced “29 hashtag Strafford apartments,'" he said. "'666 ʇ' is '666 upside down arrow.' '____45_____' is just '45.'”
Vernon also spoke about how he was looking to play around with dynamics more than on the first two Bon Iver records, because he's in a different state of mind. "I think it’s that thing of wanting to bash things apart a little bit and break through some stuff," he said. "And I needed it to sound a little radical to feel good about putting something out in the world. For me, it’s not embarrassing, but the old records are of this kind of sad nature -- I was healing myself through that stuff. Being sad about something is okay. And then wallowing in it, circling though the same cycles emotionally just feels boring. For this one, there’s still some dark stuff and whatever, but I think cracking things, making things that are bombastic and exciting and also new, and mashing things together, and explosiveness and shouting more, I think that was the zone. I think shouting. Whispering was maybe the thing before. But this time—[hits his keyboard and makes a loud robot sound]"
Part of that willingness to experiment led to the creation of a new sound, which happened when Francis Starlite of Francis and the Lights was staying at his house. "I saw him doing this thing with this harmony engine," he explained. "This plug in. Taking a trumpet line and playing it after the fact. I was like, 'Holy cow, that is amazing.' Talking to [studio manager] Chris Messina, my confidant through this entire process. Trying not to get stuck in any ecological toilet bowl. How in the hell could you do that at once at one time? Why you can’t do that exactly is that CPUs don’t have the capacity to do that live as it’s happening."
22, A Million is coming out on Sept. 30. Last week, he released a video for "33 'God,'" which you can watch here.
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