22, A Million: Lighting a dark room

Shannon Hoyt-

“It might be over soon.”

These are the five words bearing an inspiring new way to create music. They’re a sliver of hope for Bon Iver, a light flickering on a burnt wick.

22, A Million is the product of years of patience, improvisations, moments and misguided journeys. Justin Vernon, frontman of Bon Iver, recently debuted an album of both unique and “bombastic” nature. Supplemented with samples, symbols and intricate sounds, Vernon has brought a new, but familiar face to music.  

So why is this album so significant to one of Eau Claire’s pivotal figures?

It had been years since Bon Iver’s last unifying soundtrack. Bon Iver, the self-titled, second studio album, provided a slightly experimental edge. However, what was next for the group?

“If you just go and you’re not replenishing yourself with reasons to make music, or you’re not necessarily figuring out ways to change the music you have…you burn out on that,” said Vernon.

Burnout was exactly what happened. Vernon was sitting in a dark room. Well, more like getting lost on the Greek Islands during the off season, but that’s another story. However, at a weak and vulnerable state wandering Greece, Vernon spoke five words, “It might be over soon.” These are the words that sparked the flame.

 

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Vernon often prefers to hide his face in photos.

“As you get older, not that it’s like dire, but I think you start to realize that time and all of these moments are really part of a longer moment,” added Vernon.

And it is these moments–getting lost, doubting, creating memories and collaborating–which make up 22, A Million.

It’s not as much about changing a local legend’s sound, but rather building on what we and they know to be Bon Iver. Vernon’s experimental craze built off of Bon Iver, bringing us to hear new musical discoveries. Though, the creation was no easy task. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

Just six months before our first look into 22, A Million, Vernon was going to hang up the album. He was going to quit, regarding his work as convoluted.

“This one was so much more of like a chainsaw sculpture or something. A metaphor for something ‘Wisconsin-y,’ really having to chip away and add pieces and taking literally moments out of an improvisation,” noted Vernon.

An improvisation is exactly what we are given; a layered soundtrack of new discoveries, ones found through productive mayhem.