Pitchfork talked to some of the people (other than Kanye West) behind Yeezus, and everyone had some interesting things to say, but Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon was especially open about his work on Kanye’s latest album. Read some excerpts below, and read the entire piece, which includes insight from Hudson Mohawke, Travi$ Scott, Mike Dean, and others, here.
On getting asked to help on Yeezus:
“After Twisted Fantasy, I kind of assumed that I’d get the call again at some point. I get along with Kanye really well and I think his musical decisions are exquisite. He feels otherworldly—he talks about being a god and shit, and his confidence in himself is inspiring. But at the end of the day, he’s a musician working in the lab. We have fun. So when the call came for this album, I was like, ‘Shit yeah!’”
On “I’m in It” and being sensitive toward women:
“I don’t even know what I’m singing on ‘I’m in It’—I’d have to look at it. Kanye’s talking about a bunch of really violently and stunningly visual sex shit in there, but it’s not like he’s saying stuff like that to his friends 24 hours a day. I mean, sitting around the studio, we all have intelligent conversations about the state of women in the world—I wouldn’t say we had a conversation about feminism, necessarily, but we’re sensitive to it.
“The imagery of the song is definitely intense, but so is American Psycho. I loved that little American Psycho clip he did– it puts things into context, because Kanye feels like a director, and I don’t think everything he’s saying in the songs is actually him saying it every time. It’s like a movie, or a concept. On “I’m in It”, it seems like I’m playing a character in the song, but I’m not necessarily guiding who that character is—Kanye’s editing creates the character.”
On what it’s like to work with Kanye:
“Kanye’s a world-famous star, but it’s just like working on music with friends: You’re trying to do the coolest shit. Just being around motherfuckers who have been doing this for a long time and are getting better—like, there actually aren’t that many of them in the world. There’s no pedestrian fuckery on this album. People are working their asses off to make the best shit, and Kanye’s leading the pack.”
Also, an interesting quote from producer Hudson Mohawke:
“The last four months have been the hardest-going of my life. Actually, in the middle of the whole process, I died and was resuscitated—I almost joined the 27 Club. [laughs] I just had a few silly nights out and overdid it with various things. So I spent a week in intensive care in the middle of making the record, next to people who were literally on their deathbeds. Then I got out of the hospital and got right on a plane to New York– I was like, ‘I’ve gotta get on with this fucking record.’ It’s character building stuff—to get thrown into the deep end can be the best way to approach things. I wouldn’t change any of it.”