José González is, no doubt, an odd name for a Swede. Born to Argentine parents in Gothenburg, González grew up playing in hardcore bands -- surprising, since he's known for his soft voice and sweet songs. His cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats" made most people's tickers skip a beat. And now he's on tour with his band Junip, which includes old friends Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn. After wowing the Bonnaroo crowd, the trio is heading south to Miami for an intimate show at Bardot.
We Skyped the soft-spoken singer (Boston to Sweden -- isn't the internet awesome?) to ask a few questions about why Junip took so long to put out an LP, the benefits of playing in a band, and which Swedes need to be on our iPods.
Crossfade: Junip has been making music for about ten years now. How did you meet? Have you known each other since childhood?
José González: Yes, me and the drummer, Elias, we've known each other since we were seven years old, went to the same grammar school. We started playing music together when we were 14 and that's how we met Tobias, from a city nearby.
Is there any reason why you waited this long to put out an album together?
Not really. The first couple of years, we were doing different things. I was studying biochemistry at the university, Elias was studying art, and Tobias had a family and was working as a teacher. Then I went on tour solo, and we decided to give it a try in 2005, and that's when we put out Black Refuge. And then I did some more touring. It wasn't until 2008 that we decided to do it properly and not only talk about it.
Do you feel like working with the band offers you something as a musician that you enjoy?
Yeah, especially when we started writing and jamming together. I had been out on tour solo for a very long time, so it was a relief to be able to play different styles. And we feed on each other, get inspiration from each other. Ever since I started Junip, I've had a musical uplift.
Are you just starting to tour?
We just got back from a long tour. This summer, it's going to be shorter tours in the States. We're going to be, like, ten days. After that, it's going to be European festivals. It's sort of the end of tours with the first album. Autumn, we're going to take some time off and write some new stuff.
Do you have a festival you like playing best?
There's been so many, I can't really pick any one in particular. There's one in our hometown called Way Out West that I like a lot. It's always a good lineup and it's only a couple of blocks from my home. It's very nice.
Are there any other Swedish bands we should be listening to?
Yeah, definitely. There's Little Dragon, Goran Kajfes, and Dungen.
For this next album, do you see the music evolving in any particular direction?
We usually don't talk that much before we start writing. So we'll see. We already wrote two songs, and one is the softest song we've ever written, and the other one is the most energetic song we've ever written. We don't really know how the whole album will turn out. Definitely similar but different.