Raised in Wisconsin, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon carries himself in a typically mild-mannered Midwestern way, but a conversation with Kanye West may have changed his mind about the idea of being humble. In an interview with The New York Times, Vernon revealed that a friendly debate between the two collaborators about the word's definition helped change his perception.
“I got in a friendly argument with Kanye West about the word humble once,” Vernon explained. “He said, ‘Have you ever looked up the word humble?’ I was like, ‘Actually I don’t know if I have.’ And he showed me the definition of it, and it’s far more self-demeaning, kind of the problematic Midwestern ‘Sorry!’ mentality, than I realized.”
Vernon continued, "I took a lot out of that conversation. Ultimately, I think it’s great to serve others and everything, but I think there’s a certain point where it’s diminishing returns for the people around you if you’re not showing up and being who you are."
Fans of his low-key demeanor shouldn't worry about any Kanye-style outbursts any time soon, however. After the massive success of 2011's Bon Iver earned Vernon heaps of accolades (and Grammies), he says the success "didn’t change anything about me."
He explains, "It did make me realize that there are people out there that really care about monetary success and recognition for the commodity that is music, like way more than I do. Not to say I don’t care about recognition. I like when people like a song, but I certainly don’t care as much as some folks out there."
Read the full interview here, in which he dives further into the creation of Bon Iver's upcoming album 22, a Million (due for release on September 30).