Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Ethan Gruska have long admired each other's work, and they'd planned on capitalizing on their long-distance friendship just as the pandemic hit. “Around March 10th of 2020 Justin was supposed to come to L.A. and we were going to spend a few days making some stuff," Gruska remembers. "Obviously, that didn’t happen… We all went into lockdown shortly after." Still, the two indie-pop experimenters were determined to work together, and today, they've released "So Unimportant," the first product of their collaboration, released as part of the Psychic Hotline Records singles series.
"About two weeks into deep quarantine Justin and I connected and decided it would still be fun to send each other files and try something remotely," Gruska goes on. "'So Unimportant' was the first thing that came to fruition. Justin and I passed this song and session leisurely back and forth for a while to get it where it is now."
The song's final form is a waltzy lament, full of the rich arrangements and luch vocal harmonies Vernon is known for, with Gruska's crystaline voice singing the top line, Rob Moose on string duty, and Blake Mills and Matt Chamberlain handling percussion.
“My dear friend and great drummer, JT Bates, showed me the music of Ethan Gruska a number of years ago," Vernon writes. "It's not often that something IMMEDIATELY grasps you where you stand like his music did. It only happens a few times in one's life. Ethan’s musicality and touch has magic in it. We have not yet met in person, but have exchanged the longest, flirtiest texts in history. I hope to be near the mine of his mind for as long as possible. This song is just the first thing I threw at the wall. He scraped it off that wall, and turned it into a song I'll appreciate forever.”'
"The fact that I now have a song with Justin just completely blows my mind," Gruska adds. "He’s been my pie-in-the-sky / I’d-do-anything-to-collaborate-with artist for a really long time and having this song together is one of the most special things that has ever happened to me in my musical life. Life in general! Justin is my favorite pen pal, person and artist, and I’m so grateful to have made this together!”
Listen to "So Uninmportant" below.