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Bon Iver is the name of indie folk singer-songwriter Justin Vernon’s current band and most notable music project to date. The band now consists of Mike Noyce and Sean Carey. The name, Bon Iver, is a corruption of the French “bon hiver” (good winter), or a misspelling of “bon ivre” (good Drunk). Vernon independently released Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007, the majority of which was recorded while spending three months in a remote cabin in Wisconsin.

While in high school and college, Vernon founded bands Mount Vernon, with indie musician John Barreca, and DeYarmond Edison, both indie-rock bands from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he still resides. DeYarmond Edison consisted of Vernon, Brad and Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund. After a long period of success in the Eau Claire music scene, the four band mates decided to leave their longtime home and move to Raleigh, North Carolina to try their musical hand in a new place. The band released two records themselves, the first self-titled and the second titled “Silent Signs” and an EP of unreleased material is available on their myspace page. After nearly a year in Raleigh, Vernon left for Wisconsin after a breakup with the band and a girlfriend. The remaining members of DeYarmond Edison went on to form a new band called Megafaun and remain good friends with Vernon.

After the breakup of a band, relationship, and bout with sickness (mononucleosis of the liver), Vernon left Raleigh and moved back to Wisconsin spending three months in his father’s cabin in the woods of northern Wisconsin. According to Vernon, it was during this time that the “Bon Iver” moniker first entered his mind; while bedridden with mononucleosis, he began watching the television series Northern Exposure on DVD. One episode depicts a group of citizens in Alaska, where the show is set, emerging from their homes into the first snowfall of the winter and wishing one another a “bon hiver” (French for “good winter”). This was initially transcribed by Vernon as “boniverre”; however, when he learned of its proper French spelling, he elected not to use it, deciding “hiver” reminded him too much of “liver”, the source of his illness at the time.

Vernon did not intend to write or record any music during the time but rather to recuperate from the events of the previous year. Eventually a record began to evolve during this cathartic time of isolation. He had recently finished helping the band The Rosebuds do some recording and had with him some basic recording gear when he made his move to the cabin. Vernon played all the instruments during recording and each song was heavily edited with a large number of overdubs. Vernon wrote most of the lyrics for the album by recording a word-less melody and listening to the recording over and over and writing words according to the sound of the syllables of the melody. In an interview, Vernon said: “Words like decision and intention aren’t words that float in my head because I just went,” Vernon explains. “I left North Carolina and went up there because I didn’t know where else to go and I knew that I wanted to be alone and I knew that I wanted to be where it was cold.” In another interview, Vernon describes what he used to record the album: “I had a very light set-up, a basic small recording set-up: a Shure SM57 and an old Silvertone guitar. I had my brother drop off his old drums… some other small things – things I would make or find lying around.”

The record was almost not released and was originally intended as a group of demos to be sent out to labels and potentially rerecorded. But after getting very encouraging reactions from a number of his friends, Vernon decided to release the songs himself in their present state. After significant positive reception, helped by word of mouth and its popularity throughout the blogosphere, Vernon decided to sign to the indie label Jagjaguwar which subsequently gave the album a proper release. Vernon has said that he will continue to make albums without engineers and producers because he is capable of doing it all himself.

Courtesy of Wikipedia