The Story Behind Bon Iver and Kanye West’s Collaboration

'I think he liked that I had a similar emotional approach to music,' says Justin Vernon

Walik Goshorn/Retna
Kanye West & Justin Vernon perform at the Kanye West secret show at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Novenber 23, 2010
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Most musicians would jump at the chance to fly to Hawaii and help Kanye West cut his new record. Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver) tells contributing editor Josh Eells in the next issue of Rolling Stone that he had a different response: "Can't you see if he wants to come here?" Today, he laughs at the fact that he asks West to travel to Wisconsin. "I don't know why I said that," he says. "It was kind of dickish."

Amazingly, West was up for traveling into Wisconsin from Hawaii – until a snowstorm canceled his flight. "He called the next day and said, 'Why don't you just come here? It's, like, nice.'"

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Vernon decided that recording with West in Hawaii might not be a bad idea after all, and before he knew it he was smoking weed with Rick Ross, eating breakfast with Nicki Minaj and playing basketball with West at the Y. "I think he liked that I had a similar emotional approach to music," says Vernon. "And that I used Auto-Tune as a kind of texture. It made sense." 

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For much more on Vernon – including info on his long-awaited new self-titled LP – check out the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands and in the digital archive on June 10th.