“You’ve all been so caring, supportive, and thoughtful on my birthdays, and so this time, I thought I would give you something!” Taylor Swift tweeted on Dec. 10, days before she turned 31. That “something” was evermore, her second surprise album of 2020 and the follow-up to the critical and commercial smash, folklore. Like the previous album, evermore will feature appearances from Taylor’s “musical heroes,” including The National, Haim, and Bon Iver. The celebrated folk and alternative band joined Taylor for her song “Exile,” with frontman Justin Vernon helping Taylor turn the haunting ballad into a duet.
“He’s so versatile and has such a crazy range, and puts so much emotion,” The National’s Aaron Dessner told Rolling Stone when discussing Justin. “Every time he sings when I’m in his presence, my head just kind of hits the back of the wall. …You feel like, in a weird way, you’re watching two of the greatest songwriters and vocalists of our generation collaborating.” Before evermore arrives, here’s what you need to know about Justin and his collaborators in Bon Iver.
1) Bon Iver appeared on Taylor’s past album folklore. Taylor shared with her legions of fans in a slew of posts on Twitter and Instagram how truly thrilled she was to have collaborated with many of her “musical heroes” despite being in isolation when she recorded the album. Bon Iver appears on the track “exile” with Taylor. She described how the group not only features their musical talents on the tune, but also co-wrote the song.
Surprise 🤗 Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my 8th studio album, folklore; an entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. Pre-order at https://t.co/zSHpnhUlLb pic.twitter.com/4ZVGy4l23b
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 23, 2020
2) Bon Iver is a band comprised of several members. Despite Nicki Minaj claiming Bon Iver is “a white man,” Bon Iver is actually a group of white dudes. It was founded in 2006 by lead member Justin Vernon. The name “Bon Iver” actually means “good winter” when translated from French to English, although the spelling is different. Through the years, Justin has seen band members come and go, but during the group’s critically acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago album era, the troupe was comprised of Justin, Mike Noyce, Sean Carey, and Matthew McCaughan. As the years would go by, more members would be added and subsequently depart. But three of the four original members — Justin, Matthew, and Sean — have appeared on all four albums together.
3) This isn’t the group’s first collaboration. Having been a well-established band for over 10 years, Bon Iver has made music with a number of well known and underground groups. Among the artists that Bon Iver has collaborated with are Beck, Kanye West, James Blake, Jason Feather, and many more.4) Bon Iver is a Grammy Award recipient. The band has been nominated for a total of eight Grammy Awards and won two from the Recording Academy. Bon Iver’s wins came in 2012 for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for their self-titled album. Fans were slightly surprised by the win for Best New Artist, considering the group had been together and released their first album four years prior in 2008.
5) They’ve made four albums thus far. Since their 2006 founding, Bon Iver has released four studio albums — For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008, Bon Iver, Bon Iver in 2011, 22, A Million in 2016, and I, I in 2019.