Magnolia Electric Co’s 'Sojourner' boxset was released 12 years ago this month. The expansive and ambitious release was the accumulated work of thirteen musicians, five locations, four recording engineers, three filmmakers, two designers and one songwriter.
To mark the release of this incredible collection, Secretly Canadian co-founder Ben Swanson has shared his memories of putting the boxset together
Ben Swanson, Secretly Canadian:
Sojourner was born out of one of the most prolific periods of Jason’s career. He’d constantly be setting up new sessions, or sending us new records - not recordings, but fully conceived records - out of the blue. He even sent one cryptically as a demo and then got upset when we didn’t find it amongst the pile of other demos (that record eventually became the Molina & Johnson record). It was extremely exciting but admittedly a bit stressful from the label perspective. We were sensitive to the Prince dynamic with Warner; of not being able to keep up and do justice to the work. Jason was also - actually not unlike Prince now that I think about it - in the midst of this transformative period away from the old Songs: Ohia moniker and material into a new, more expansive name, Magnolia Electric Co (at the time, he had the idea of a multi-headed beast. Several different “Electric Co.”s coexisting). We desperately wanted to keep pace with Jason but could never catch up. Eventually we landed on the idea of leaning in to the situation and suggested we put all this material together in a box. At first it was purely a practical innovation to reset the clock, but eventually came to find the opportunity to showcase Jason’s range. My memory is he loved the concept out of the gate and immediately began dreaming of a box stuffed with music, a Ouija board, a constellation map and a chicken bone. Tokens from his universe. In hindsight, Sojourner ended up as the most complete representation of Jason’s expansive world that rewards repeat listens. At some point we’ll have to put it out on vinyl. Maybe there will be room for the chicken bone.