Michael Stipe Doesn't Know Who boygenius Are but Is Interested in Finding Out

He recently had a run-in with Phoebe Bridgers, whom his goddaughters love, while recording his solo album

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Dec 5, 2023

Former R.E.M. frontperson Michael Stipe has been talking about recording a solo album for a while now. Last spring, he shared a Brian Eno collaboration and offered an update on the record's status, which he has now also given a more up-to-the-minute turn in a recent New York Times profile.

Journalist Jon Mooallem accompanied Stipe to some recording sessions at New York's Electric Lady Studios this past May, where run-ins were witnessed between the musician and Taylor Swift, the 1975's Matty Healy, Jack Antonoff and Phoebe Bridgers — the four horsemen of some pop detractor's apocalypse, or at least a nightmare blunt rotation.

While speaking with Bridgers, whom his goddaughters apparently love, Stipe revealed that he doesn't know who boygenius are, which producer Andy LeMaster corroborated. Bridgers herself had been the one to ask the musician if he knew who "those guys" (a.k.a. her bandmates Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) were while answering his question about her summer touring schedule. When she explained that boygenius was her other project with her "two best friends," Stipe said, "Oh, I want to know about that."

Yeah, you do. As aforementioned, Stipe also found himself running into Healy and Antonoff — who produced the most recent 1975 album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language — with the former presenting his theory that R.E.M. were the first emo band. Stipe responded, "I was profoundly depressed most of that time," and also went on to ask the superproducer some questions, included in a parenthetical: "What did Antonoff mean when he said Paul Simon 'doesn't always get his flowers?' What was 'getting the bag?'"

Swift brought up this conversation between the three of them when Stipe was later invited to where she was recording in the studio. He reportedly greeted her with a handshake and coolly said, "You must be Taylor." The pop star told him, "Jack and Matty were saying they talked to you for hours yesterday. They were like, 'Best conversation!' They were so excited to be talking to you!"

In addition to all of these trendy millennial superstar encounters, Stipe was, in fact, working on this fabled solo album (albeit at his own pace), as well as a duet for Courtney Love's new LP. Song titles for Stipe's project include "I'm the Charge" (featuring LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney), "Time Keeps Changing" and "Your Capricious Soul," which he released an early version of in 2019. Another track has the working title "Disco2018." The National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner are also apparently contributing string arrangements.

As for a pending release date, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. "We can say for the piece that I finished the songs, and by God, I will finish them before the piece comes out. How about that?" Stipe told Mooallem. "Let's leave the piece closing with: I finished the songs."

Latest Coverage