Name: José González
Hometown: Göteborg, Swe
Bio: The music of José González is hardly reminiscent of fireworks and confetti, but still that’s exactly how his last album was received – all over the world. His low-voiced, serious and introverted music has almost been hugged to death by everything from the indie crowd to your grandmother. José himself is more than anything surprised. Now it’s time for the album In Our Nature.
It is four years since Veneer, his first album, was released. During that time a lot has happened: record breaking sales, European, North-American, Asian and South-American tours, a shower of awards and the song Heartbeats being featured in the Sony Bravia commercial. That particular song quickly made José González known outside of the indie circuit around the world, and most people that heard it wanted to know more. A couple of years earlier Sweden major morning paper DN reviewer Malena Rydell wrote: “The songs of José González have something that instantly makes you react”. And that’s just how it went; a lot of people seemed to react to the song that was being played during the commercial breaks. Following this, Heartbeats got an almost exaggerated amount of attention, especially in England, Ireland and Australia. From the outside it looked as if José González became famous overnight and that it was a song (and what’s more is that it was a cover song) that was his main asset. Fortunately that’s not the way it was.
Rather, José’s music rests on a foundation that has been built from long-term work, starting many years ago. As far back as six months before the commercial Veneer was being praised by a unanimous European press. You could compare the construction of his music with the research he was doing when Veneer was released, at which time he was educating himself to become a researcher in biochemistry at the university of Gothenburg. He attacks his music almost in the same way: patiently, methodically and with great interest in finding unexpected angles. The work with In Our Nature was to a great extent about bringing out different approaches.
- I didn’t want to write about love but find other, though equally universal themes for the songs. These are things I have always been thinking about. But the last six months I became a lot more interested in it after I read the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. He’s an evolutionary biologist. But the lyrics are far from biological, I’d like to point that out. It’s mainly the theme that interests me, José González says.
In his teens he learned how to play classical guitar and some time later, when he was part of one punk band and one hardcore band, he sat at home writing low-voiced pieces on his guitar. That range of expression, or maybe that contradiction in expression, says a lot about José as a person – and about the new album In Our Nature.
It is an album that on the one hand is very accessible and speaks easily, and on the other has a darkness and a seriousness that more than often borders on what should be considered healthy.
- I like playing with symbolism. On this album I’ve wanted to bring out the primitive aspects of human beings, José González says.
In Our Nature is sonically similar to the debut album, though it’s more open and more focused on melodies. Everything is recorded on tape in Gothenburg, but not before José had practiced everything very thoroughly. When the songs sounded good on the voice recorder he dared to record them for real. After that it happened quickly: it didn’t take more than two weeks to record the ten songs.
Lives: Haga in Gothenburg
Family: His mother and two siblings live in Sweden. His father has returned to Argentina.
Playing on the album are: José González, guitar and vocals, Erik Bodin, percussion, Håkan Wirenstrand, keyboards, Yukimi Nagamo, backing vocals. The album art for In Our Nature is done by Elias Araya.
Has played in Against the Wall, Renascence, Only if You Call Me Jonathan, and is playing in Junip.
Sources of inspiration:
Chet Baker, Geoff Farina, Low, Fela Kuti, Elliott Smith, Broadcast, MF Doom, J Dilla, Konono no 1, Nina Simone.
Veneer, the debut album, has sold 700.000 copies in total.
European Border Breaker Award 2006.
The Swedish government music export award 2007 (for sales in 2006).
Swedish Grammy in the category Best New Artist 2004.
Award for best Swedish songwriter of the year from SMFF (Swedish Music Publishers Association).
Award for Singer/songwriter of the year at Manifestgalan.
Platinum in Sweden and Great Britain.
Double Platinum in Ireland.
Gold in Australia and New Zealand.
Has toured practically all over the world during the last 4 years.
In Our Nature will be released simultaneously in 35 countries;
Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Central and South America and South Africa among others.
What are the most recent activities?
I've been making music with Junip - my other band.
How do you feel about being picked by Greg Dulli and how excited are you about playing the event?
Really, really excited!! I was already very honored when Greg and Mark did a version of one of my songs with The Gutter Twins. Also I have been looking forward to attend an ATP event since I first heard about them.
Are there any other currently confirmed bands you are excited about seeing?
Emeralds, The Dirtbombs, The Roots..
What else will be be doing whilst you are in New York for this event?
Don't know yet.. mainly hang out at the festival.
If you were curating name three bands you would pick to play your event:
The Congos w/ Lee Perry
What record are you currently listening to more than others?
Musette - Drape me in velvet
If you could pick one of your records for ATP fans to listen to, which would you chose?
The first one (Veneer).. or maybe the last one (In Our Nature - listen on Spotify).