Who Is Big Red Machine? Get To Know The Band With Wisconsin Ties On A Hit Song With Taylor Swift
If you follow new music, you've probably heard a song called "Renegade" with Taylor Swift lending vocals to the track. The group's name, "Big Red Machine" might not ring any bells, but it's possible you've heard music from the people involved in the band.
The duo, described as an indie folk act, has been actively making music together under the name since 2018, but both individuals have a longer history in the music world than just the last few years.
While their website and social media don't give a whole lot of backstory, Wikipedia explains that the group is made up of Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon, both of which have ties to the state of Wisconsin.
Vernon is a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and is the main songwriter and vocalist of the indie folk band Bon Iver - a group that also calls Wisconsin home. If you deep dive on Taylor Swift's music, you might also remember that Vernon's group was involved in Swift's 2020 album evermore, performing on the title track of the album with her.
Dessner was one of the founding members of the band The National, who call Cincinnati, Ohio home. His group also worked with Taylor Swift on her album evermore, performing on the song "coney island" with her.
Both Vernon and Dessner jointly founded the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 2015.
While Vernon and Dessner are still active in their respective bands, they decided to work on a musical project together, forming Big Red Machine in 2018. This came 10 years after a musical collaboration on a sketch titled "Big Red Machine", named after the nickname of the 1970s era Cincinnati Reds, according to Wikipedia.
The duo released their debut album in 2018, a 10-track album named after the group. They have a new album titled How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last, which features the collaboration with Taylor Swift along with songs that involve Fleet Foxes, Anaïs Mitchell, Ben Howard, Sharon Van Etten, and others. Two of the album's songs
Billboard reported that two songs that ended up on Taylor Swift's evermore were actually songs written for Big Red Machine's new album. Dessner explained that she wrote “Closure” and “Dorothea” for them, but he said "the more I listened to them, not that they couldn’t be Big Red Machine songs, but they felt like interesting, exciting Taylor songs". So rather than appearing on Big Red Machine's album, they ended up on Taylor's 2020 release.
Big Red Machine's new album, featuring their collaboration with Swift, is due out on August 27 of this year.