Justin Vernon, cabin-dwelling woodsman and the genius behind Bon Iver, told Billboard that he’s hard at work on new music. The whole interview is fascinating, but the key passage for fans who crave more sweet music comes after a short discussion of the Eaux Claires Arts Festival, where he’ll be performing in August:
What’s the current status of Bon Iver? Are you still writing music? Do you still feel like you’re winding down?
I’m no longer winding down. I’m not exactly sure where I am with it. I’ve been winding down for a number of years for numerous reasons. For exhaustion, exposure. It’s never died or anything to me. It’s one of those things that needs to be protected in my own spirit. This Asian tour that we’re doing, playing Eaux Claires last year, playing Eaux Claires this year. You know, we’re not just gonna play the same set we did last year. I’ve been working on music, you know, man. It takes a long time, and I’m not sure exactly what it is or what it means to me, and until that happens I won’t really know exactly what sharing it will look like or feel like or when. There’s sort of this internal pressure, not from anybody but myself, to come out with new music for the festival. But I’m not gonna make myself do anything. I really have to take it step by step and have patience and know that the music — if it comes out, it’s gotta be really true, it’s gotta really live with the other records and extend from them and be reborn and all that. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’ve definitely been working on music.
And finally, he explains his absence from the scene in recent years, and his difficulty with the reality of fame, with an apt nautical metaphor:
Are you looking forward to the short tour in Asia?
I really am, man. I had to proverbially step off the train. Like I said, exposure is tough for me. I never grew up trying to be somebody that was a recognized person, and that sort of happened. The metaphor that I’ve been using lately is like, “I was looking for a fishing boat.” Like, I was looking for a really nice fishing boat to go through life in. To just have enough success to be happy and play music and to share my feelings and thoughts and express those things in music. And then one day rather than a fishing boat showing up in my front yard, someone just pulled up with a yacht. And it took me a while, I was like, “Oh, of course. I’ll drive a yacht around for a while.” I had to trade that in. I’m looking for a new boat on my own terms a little more. The last few years have given me a lot of perspective. It’s been valuable. But I’d rather be busy, and I’d rather be engaged. I learned a lot of lessons. I learned a lot about what this stuff can do to people and how it can change how people set their priorities. I’m not interested in having my priorities all screwed up.
No word yet on when any of the new music will be released, if ever, but for the full list of his Asian tour dates, go here.