In a new interview with The Guardian ahead of Bon Iver’s upcoming album release, Justin Vernon digs into the murky landscape of corporate sponsorship, singling out Beyoncé’s long-standing deal with Pepsi as an exemplar of questionable artist/brand collaborations. “You have to believe in something,” the singer-songwriter explains. “Like, I’d prefer Beyoncé didn’t do a Pepsi tour. Do not take two million dollars from Pepsi and be a role model for young girls. Do not do that. That stuff does anger me. And I feel like I am not afraid to talk about that stuff.” Pitchfork points out that Vernon himself learned the downside of partnering with a company, taking part in a Bushmills ad campaign in 2011 only to later admit, “I regret it,” in 2015.
The front man has never been shy about public criticism either; this summer he took to Twitter to share his take on Apple Music’s “horrid” platform. As for which bands Vernon think are doing the hard, important work of creating music without corporate funding? “I grew up loving bands like the Indigo Girls, and they stood for something, doing benefit shows and talking about shit and changing culture or changing people’s mindsets and raising awareness,” he explains. “What’s music for? It’s not about having a bunch of CDs.”