A Field Guide To Bon Iver

Last night, Bon Iver took home the Grammy for Best New Artist, and almost immediately the Internet began asking, “Who the fuck is Bon Iver?” Thoroughly charmed by his self-aggrandizing, slightly annoyed acceptance speech (hipsters don’t let hipsters win awards)? Yeah, we thought so. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about Bon Iver to seem like you care. Which you totally don’t, right?

Bon Iver–or, as some on the www have been erroneously calling him, Bonnie Bear — looks like a substitute teacher, or a part-time tax preparer. But he is actually Justin Vernon, a musician who’s been around for quite a few years. Vernon got his start in a band called Mount Vernon in his home nabe of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He then formed another band with the inexplicable name DeYarmond Edison before releasing his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago under the name Bon Iver in 2007. The music is folky, but pop enough that it can be sung along to. His vocals are often doubled or tripled to create an airy, light affect. Oh, and the name Bon Iver? He got that from watching an episode of “Northern Exposure” in which residents of the town wished each other “bon hiver” or good winter. Bon Iver watched “Northern Exposure.” Hahaha.

After his debut release received accolades, music superstars started taking notice. In 2010, he collaborated with Kanye West on two tracks for Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album.  He also sold his music to Miller for use in a commercial. Beer commercial success!

In 2011, he released his self-titled sophomore effort, and racked up four Grammy nominations including that totally inaccurate Best New Artist nom (the Grammys are notoriously slow on the pick up) . But that made Bon Iver anggggggry. He called the Grammys “ridiculous” and “not important.” After that, of course, he couldn’t really be expected to play the event, despite being asked by organizers. Vernon turned down the Grammys appearance, because:

We just felt like it was such a large stage — we’re getting nominated for this record that we made. Me and Brian [Joseph] and a bunch of our fucking friends and we were given accolades for it, and all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said ‘fuck you’ a little bit, and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don’t think they wanted us to play.”

That didn’t, however, prevent Vernon from showing up to the event, or coming prepared with an irony-tinged speech. Just in case, you know.