José González & the Gothenburg String Theory, Barbican, London
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.
Factoid:Age: 29Lives: Haga in GothenburgFamily: 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, 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 over 700.000 copies in total.
Awards: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.
Catch Jose headlining on the main stage on Friday
Tuareg soul rebels Tinariwen take to the stage fresh from winning the 2012 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Joining them onstage and following with his only set in the UK this year will be acoustic singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez.
Music video for Ane Brun - Worship feat. José González, taken from the album "It All Starts With One"
A one-off joint headline show for the desert soul rebels Tinariwen and cosmopolitan folk singer/songwriter José González. An utterly unique night of musical excellence you don’t want to miss.
Check out Jose on Ane's new single
Congratulations to Ciaran Walsh
Jose Gonzalez - Greenwich Summer Sessions *WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS* FOR 26TH JULY
Greenwich Summer Sessions is an open-air concert series launched in 2010. The event is the brainchild of local promoter and Creative Producer Peter Conway.
In preperation for his appearance with the Swedish orchestral ensemble - The Gothenburg String Theory
Only UK date for this special show which sees our celebrated Swedish singer-songwriter José González performing with the maverick, 20 strong orchestral collective Gothenburg String Theory.