The Swedish singer is back with Junip, his old band wrapped in moogs, and a documentary shedding light on his shy persona
González is back with his old band mates Junip and about to release 'Fields', their first LP. Accompanied by Elias Araya on drums and Tobias Winterkorn with organs and synths, Junip is a gentle invitation for a walk on Moog low-frequencies, percussion, nylon string vibrations and whispering stories. The band started playing together in the late 90s and recorded an EP in 2005. But it seems the real take-off was on hold for 2010. In addition to the launch of the record and the world tour, the famed Swedish singer will also appear in a documentary; 'The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of José González' is a film piece that reveals more about the González's persona which to this point has perhaps been seen as rather introspective and secretive. Dazed spoke to him to find out more...
Dazed Digital: How did the idea about the documentary evolve?
José González: It came up when I was about to write and record my second solo album. I had a small room/studio in Svenska Grammofon Studion, and Fredrik Egerstrand had his video editing office in the same corridor. When he asked me if I wanted to do a documentary, I felt like it was more interesting to do it now instead of waiting until you are 50, fat, bald and boring, he, he. So he started by just setting up cameras in my room that he could monitor and record from his room in a way that made me forget that I was being filmed.
DD: How do you feel about it?
José González: It was weird many times when we were on tour and Fredrik and Mikel Cee Karlsson were always aiming a camera at me. I got very self-conscious but since they were there all the time I forget about it many times.
DD: The documentary reveals secretive aspects about your persona never seen before to the outside world...
José González: I thought a lot about exposing myself through the documentary. On one hand I feel like music should speak for itself and that I want to keep artist and private person separate. But on the other hand I think it's a much more interesting documentary when you share your thoughts and you see the person behind the music. None of us wanted to do an idol kind of music documentary. The personal part got emphasized as soon as I started to record monologues on my own at home.
DD: Where is the film possible to be seen?
Erik Hemmendorff (from Plattform Produktion): In Scandinavia, the first screening was the opening festival for Gothenburg Film Festival. It was at the Copenhagen Dox and other European cities, In-Edit Barcelona, Munchen, Amsterdam. Also in Buenos Aires. A theatrical release in Berlin and Hamburg is confirmed, just like we did in Sweden, it's like a tour, playing for one to five days and then moving on to another city. We will do some dates more in Europe, like Luxembourg, and in 2011 will jump to the US.
DD: In the documentary we see you touring by yourself, so you get time to think and relax. I guess now with Junip there is more action and fun?
José González: Yes, it's different. When I tour solo we are at least three people but with Junip we are eight. Musically, it's more fun now and I also to have someone to high-five with when I go off-stage.
DD: Although 'Fields' is the first Junip LP, you guys have recorded together before?
José González: We started around 1998, but we've been inactive most of the time. We released a 7" in 2000 and an Ep in 2005.
DD: You talk about the creative process takes long time for you, do you feel that as a handicap?
José González: Yes, it's been frustrating but it's mainly because I have high expectations on what I do, so it's a form of perfectionism. We recorded 'Fields' at our rehearsal place in Gothenburg. We built a mid-fi studio and recorded everything on computer, but later transferred it to tape and mixed in an analogue studio with Don Alstherberg. SGS is a studio complex with about eight mixing rooms. It's run by Kalle Gustafsson from The Soundtrack Of Our Lives.
DD: Tell me about Gothenburg and its other musicians - what are the vibes and sparks like?
José González: There are many different kinds of bands and a pretty good live scene for such a small city. We have Little Dragon, Skull Defects, Silverbullit, The Soundtrack of our lives, Looptroop, El Perro del mar, Jens Lekman, Studio, JJ and many more...