José González, ‘I have this stubborn mission with my music’

There was never a doubt in José González’s mind that he would return to his solo music. “I knew that I was going to go back to my solo music. So it’s never been an issue not to,” says the Swedish indie-folk artist. “For me, it’s been like almost every third year I release a new album. So whenever I’m done with one album cycle I get to the next one, and it felt pretty natural to go from Junip to my third solo.”

Releasing his album Vestiges & Claws earlier this year, it signalled the final instalment in González’s trilogy of solo work, and came seven years after his last solo release. “When I say trilogy, not like Star Wars,” he says with a laugh.

“Yeah it is my third album, it is similar in ways and different. It’s like, on the first albums I decided to only have one guitar. ,  that I want to be able to play the songs live without any other musicians.

“On this album I have two. In a way I had problems when I was writing. [I] got stuck and [thought it] sounded a bit too old school to spend that much time playing guitar. So I decided just to do that and add more guitar or add more percussion or add more harmonies.”

The time between his solo releases hasn’t been empty by any means for González. Penning tracks and songs featured on the soundtrack for the Ben Stiller film, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” he has also toured and released two albums with his band Junip.

“I have many demos that I gathered through those Junip years, and many of them weren’t produced,” he shares, noting his cover of Arthur Russell’s ‘This Is How We Walk The Moon’, which was included on a compilation album by Red Hot Foundation as an example. “That one is indicative of what style I could have done on an album.”

Coming off the back of his summer tour and about to head to the US and then Australia, González opens up about his struggle balancing real life with touring.

“It’s about friends and family and girlfriends, so everyone that I talk with likes being on tour it’s…think about it as a buffet. So when you’re at a buffet and you’re hungry, it’s amazing. And [with] lots of meals you get very excited, and after a while the buffet isn’t the most important meal,” he explains.

“The same with touring, it’s very self absorbent. The down side is you work so much. You lose your grip on your other parts of your life. It’s been an issue for me…I’ve been more eager to say no to certain shows because of time. And that’s really helped.”

Performing as part of the Melbourne Zoo’s Twilight Series in February, González isn’t a fan of zoos, but laughs as he tells me about a back flipping hamster he saw in a video of recently. “Hamsters, you can have them in zoos and give them lots of space!” he says. That being said, his excitement about returning to Australia is evident, and he can’t wait to share his new tunes with us all. “I’m really looking forward to coming back, I’m looking forward to meeting people.”

José González is performing at the Melbourne Zoo Twilight Series on February 5. Tickets are sold out, though there are tickets still available to other shows.

When & Where: Melbourne Zoo Twilight Series, Melbourne – February 5

This interview was published in Forte Magazine issue #628. You can see it online here

About Jessica Morris

Jessica Morris is an internationally published journalist, writer and social media manager.

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