Justin Vernon, The National's Dessner Brothers Launch PEOPLE Artist Collective, Website With Unreleased Music

Bon Iver

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver at Eaux Claires Music Festival on June 17, 2017.

Power to the PEOPLE. That's the message from a new utopian collective formed by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, who announced the launch of their new artist-focused project on Wednesday (June 6) that will include a huge festival as well as a site where fans can get unreleased music from their bands and many more. 

"We are a steadily growing group of international artists who have come together to create and share our work freely, with each other and everyone," they wrote in a statement announcing the project. "It was born of a wish to establish an independent and nurturing space in which to make work (generally around music) that is collaborative, spontaneous and expressive in nature and where all unnecessary distractions or obstacles that get in the way are removed."

The new project is aimed at sharing music (and other creative endeavors) with fans while showing them a bit of the behind-the-scenes of the artistic process. That part will manifest on a free digital platform that will feature music from "recordings, sessions and live events as well as visual art, podcasts and essays," ranging from raw takes to experiments and finished product. Like the upcoming PEOPLE festival in Berlin (Aug. 18-19), the site -- slated to officially launch in August -- is an artist-led, independent project. The site, however, will be free, with a membership option. A beta version with initial music is available starting today here

The site currently features soundtrack music from Bryce Dessner, a collaboration between eighth blackbird and Bonnie "Prince" Billy with Dessner, music from the Dessner's acoustic guitar duo Red Bird Hollow, as well as songs and albums from David Kitt, Velvet Negroni, David Chalmin, Big Red Machine (Aaron Dessner and Vernon), Songs Without Words, Nico Muhly, Francis Starlite, Marijuana Deathsquads and Poliça, among many others.

Among the treasures is a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Memories" with Sufjan Stevens, the Dessners, Thomas Bartlett and National singer Matt Berninger recorded as a wedding present for Bryce Dessner and wife Pauline in 2016 and an unfinished Vernon song called "Wicker."

After a week of playing together and hanging out, the second PEOPLE festival will find the 160 artists performing on seven indoor and outdoor stages and studios in Funkaus Berlin for an audience of around 5,000, featuring sets from acts you love and a number you've never heard of. With no headliners, bands, sponsors or brands, the doors for the shows open at 2 p.m. each day, with music running until 1 a.m.

"It's about new material, collaborations, unique arrangements and dissolving borders. The Funkhaus, built in the 1950's, is the historic site of the radio and recording HQ of the former East German Republic," reads a statement. "It's a maze of studios of varying sizes and allows for an unrivalled sound quality in performance as well as a wide range of audience numbers. One of the aspects of this event is that no timetable will be communicated. The aim is to provide a situation where an audience member will not know what they are going to see until they sit down and the lights come up. With this arises the possibility to be genuinely surprised, moved, or opened up to something new. It liberates the artist and audience alike from preconception or expectation."

The first PEOPLE gathering took place during the Michelberger Music event in Berlin in 2016.


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