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Love Letter To A Record: Xavier Dunn On Bon Iver’s ‘To Emma, For Forever Ago’

Written by Xavier Dunn on May 18, 2018

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Xavier Dunn: Bon Iver – To Emma, For Forever Ago

I first heard Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma Forever Ago’ back in 2010 when I was still in uni. My friend gave me the CD saying I “would probably like it”. Turns out, it become a love affair of sonic integrity.

I hadn’t really found my voice until I heard Justin Vernon sing. I was always trying to push my voice to be like what I heard on the radio, and it was difficult, and I sucked. I always felt more comfortable in my falsetto range, but didn’t know anyone else singing like that at the time and I thought people would just think I sounded like a girl.

But after hearing Justin Vernon sing in his glorious tones covering his whole range, it opened the door and made it ok for me to also sing like that. And that’s when I felt really comfortable with my voice, using it how I wanted to up in that range. I rinsed the CD and still play it today when I’m zoning out of making music. I always hear new things in this album and it inspires me to hopefully one day create something that inspires somebody else.

From the first day of listening to his album, he had acquired a new loyal follower. The way he sang his lyrics with such throw-away nonchalance was new to me, and I liked it. How he could create such tension and loss with such little instrumentation in his song ‘Lump Song’ was fucking sick.

If I hear someone say that they loved Birdy’s song ‘Skinny Love’, I’d make a point to go up to them and slap them in their communist face. If I hear someone mispronounce his name as ‘Bon I’ver’, I would take their ‘Vote Liberal’ pin and throw it in the ocean.

My fav song on the record would have to be ‘Re:Stacks’. The longest song of this album, but the closest to my brain. If I died, this song would be on repeat at my funeral. Just letting you know… It’s just too good.

Fun fact. When I was being asked what my fav lyrics ever in the entire world were, I said: “On your backs with your racks as he stacks your load” from ‘Re: Stacks’. And straight after I said that, I was told the exact same thing by another Australian artist who had said the exact same answer! I was aghast… I thought I was special and unique. But alas. Turned out Dustin Tebbutt had the same idea as me. People will say I copied him, but deep down I know he has a time machine hidden in that beach he calls a studio.

Xavier Dunn’s new EP ‘Isic Tutor’ is out today.

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