Aaron Dessner says indie and alternative music is “kind of a myth now”

Aaron Dessner has said that the distinctions between genres are “melting” following his recent collaborations with Taylor Swift.

  • READ MORE: Big Red Machine – ‘How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?’: Taylor Swift-assisted melancholy

As well as working with Swift on her two indie folk-influenced albums from last year – ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ – the pair teamed up recently for Dessner’s latest Big Red Machine record with Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon, ‘How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?’

Speaking to The Irish Times in an interview published today (August 25), the National guitarist spoke about why he felt collaborations between acts traditionally belonging to different styles of music were becoming more commonplace.


“The boundaries between genres have been melting a long time,” he said. “Indie music or alternative music is kind of a myth now. It used to be that way.

“But working with Taylor – we didn’t have any outside influence at all. There was never a moment when… I mean her record company didn’t even know [about the collaboration] until a few days before [release date]. There was no compromise in terms of what we were making.”

Big Red Machine Justin Vernon Aaron Dessner
Big Red Machine’s Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner CREDIT: Graham Tolbert

Dessner also opened up about ‘Hutch’, the Big Red Machine track written as a tribute to late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, calling it “a plea for people to get help when they need it”.

He said: “I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve lost other friends to it. Whether someone pulls out of a tail-spin or not – it’s a very thin line.

“So it [Hutchison’s death] was just very sad. It’s heavy. It was important to write it and include it. I loved Scott and, I think like a lot of people, have missed him.”


In a four-star review of ‘How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?’, NME wrote: “The record covers the full range of human emotion and is huge in scope: from birth to death via love, friends, break-up, make-ups, what-could-have-beens and more.

“The epitome of the figurative “beating heart” that formed Big Red Machine, this is an autumnal album, one that lays [Dessner and Vernon] bare emotionally, and one that frequently calls for reflection.”