Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and indie rapper Astronautalis have donned new identities for a collaborative album billed to Jason Feathers called De Oro. Vernon’s alter ego is guitarist-singer Ephasis – “a heavily-seasoned guitar-crooning lost-cowboy,” according to a press release posted to Stereogum – while Astronautalis is listed as the vocalist “Creflo aka Jason Feathers,” “a red-chested god-bassed Southern rapper in a fancy white suit.” Bon Iver’s S. Carey also handles drums, keyboards and vocals under the name Toothpick. De Oro, which finds the musicians pairing 808s and Heartbreaks–style vocoder vocals with hip-hop and electro rock, is streaming now at Pitchfork.
To support De Oro, the band members have all crafted elaborate backstories for their pseudonyms, revolving around the idea that “De Oro” is a building in “Flori-bama,” where the members of Jason Feathers converged and crafted the LP. It seems as though everyone in Jason Feathers (meaning the characters, not the real-life musicians) have fallen out of touch, though.
“You see, way back (we’re talkin’ ’98 thru ’01), Creflo was well known locally down south,” reads the press release. “He’s now washed-up and out-of-touch. Since his rappin’ days, he’s gotten into some dark black market shit but has always carried that little torch of local fame he got with him, which kind of diluted his mind. He’s not quite one of those dudes you see rapping to himself loudly on the sidewalk, but he’s close. He’s still got some cool left in him.”
Earlier this year, Vernon put out a new track, “Heavenly Father” – bolstered by an overdubbed chorus of looping, angelic coos – with his main gig, Bon Iver, on the soundtrack to Zach Braff’s movie Wish I Was Here. The soundtrack also featured their song “Holocene.”