Barbarossa, is London native James Mathé, he returns with the album Imager, May 12 via Memphis Industries. Today, he shares a new track in…Read More
he story that leads to Junip’s 2010 release is one of patience and perfectionism, frustration and persistence, sheer bloody-mindedness, inspiration and success. The place to which it takes you, however, is one of pastoral contemplation, autumnal grace and inscrutable, haunting serenity. A cosmopolitan three piece from Gothenburg, Sweden – featuring Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards), Elias Araya (drums) and José González (vocals & guitar), the latter of whom you’ll be familiar with from his solo work – Junip have existed since 1999, maybe even 1998. It’s so long, frankly, that none of them are quite sure. FIELDS, however, is the album that they’ve been itching to make ever since.
González and Araya have been playing together since they were 14. Their love of hardcore led them to form Renascence, (later called Sweet Little Sinister), and they first encountered Winterkorn at shows in Gothenburg in the mid ‘90s. “We talked about music that wasn’t hardcore music,” Winterkorn recalls. “I think we were all fed up and talked about doing something new.” “Our feeling was that we could do something more interesting with a setting that was more typical of the ‘60s and 70s’,” “By then in Sweden,” González relates, “it felt like everyone else was into Americana and country with steel stringed guitars,” he continues. “We had nylon strings and a Moog.”
They started rehearsing at Araya’s mother’s house, and though González initially brought in half-finished songs, “I noticed pretty early that it sounded better if we improvised together first and I then came up with a melody and lyrics.” “I remember,” Araya reminisces, “that the lack of a full drumkit played a big part in the beginning of how the songs, and especially the drum patterns, were formed“. The four-track cassette recordings that emerged caught the ear of Josephine Olausson (currently with Love Is All) and Per Idborg, who released the four-song 7”, ‘Straight Lines’, on their Kakafoni label in 2000. They also latched onto González‘s solo recordings, a fact that ultimately contributed to Junip’s unusually lengthy genesis, though it wasn’t the only reason it’s taken them a decade to record their debut: Araya spent much of 2001-2005 studying art in Finland and Norway, while Winterkorn worked part time as a teacher, spending his spare time building a studio for his own recordings. But it was undeniably the success of González‘s debut album, Veneer, that held things back the most: its initial domestic success in 2003 led to European and US releases (on Peacefrog and Mute respectively) in 2005, in the process selling a million copies and going platinum in the UK.
“I always had the idea that Junip would do a full length,” Winterkorn still claims, “but all the breaks we had made it hard to believe that we would really do one. Now I try not to think about the time it took.” “It was frustrating at times,” Araya admits, while González himself says that it’s been “like chasing a teenage dream. I’ve felt during interviews that I was just talking about castles in the air. We talked about it every time we met, but my touring always forced us to postpone things.” There was an attempt to record in 2005, “but,” González sighs, “we were slow at writing so it ended up as an EP (‘Black Refuge’). And then I went on tour again…”
Finally, when duties for González‘s 2007 album In Our Nature were complete, Junip was at last able to become the priority that they had always meant it to be. In fact, in retrospect, the endless postponement has maybe helped the band. “We’re ten years older now,” González concedes, “but it feels very natural now that we have gotten to know one another musically again.” They began by improvising together over a couple of months, looking for sketches that stood out for their groove or melody, recording every time they played “and then taking out the raisins from the cake to eat them”, as Winterkorn endearingly describes it. They constructed songs around beats and guitar patterns, building up a musical wall with Winterkorn’s analog synths, combo organs and Rhodes, but this time their perfectionism held them back. “We spend a lot of time trying to get where we want to go,” González explains. “There’s a thin line between being stubborn and perfectionist.” Winterkorn can barely wait to agree. “It’s hard to let go of something when it doesn’t feel right,” he laughs, “but sometimes we’re the exact opposite of perfectionists. Sometimes we didn’t try as hard as we should have.” It’s a combination of these two things that no doubt gives the album its unique dynamic – some songs sound unusually raw, almost as though they’re threatening to distort – but there was a reason for this, Winterkorn clarifies. “We wanted all the songs to sound rough and tough. The sound is intentional.”
And it’s unique too, no doubt about it, a hazy, organic, melodic and hypnotic musical environment that leans on an unconventional blend of influences, from John Martyn’s folk-jazz to Richie Havens’ psychedelic soul via the more motorik elements of so-called ‘krautrock’, though the latter, Araya says, “is not as heavy as some might think. My mum is Ethiopian, and when I was growing up she played a lot of Ethiopian music, which is very repetitive. Even though I hated it at the time, I think it influenced me.” “Afro-beat and soul are always on my stereo,” Winterkorn adds, “so the monotone grind you can find in that music can also be heard in ours.” Meanwhile González is able to reel off a whole list of albums that have made an impact on his life during the time Junip was waiting to happen but that eventually informed the music on this album: from Shuggie Otis’ ‘Inspiration Information’, C.K.Mann’s ‘Funky Hi-Life’, David Axelrod’s ‘House Of Mirrors’ and Nina Simone’s ‘See-Line Woman’ all the way to Linda Perhacs’ ‘Sandy Toes’.
Produced by the band and mixed by Don Alsterberg, who also helped with recording – “we know what we like, but we’re neither the best recording engineers nor the best musicians,” González confesses – FIELDS proves that every second of its protracted gestation has been worth the wait. From the galloping simplicity of ‘Off Point’ to the gentle summer breeze of ‘Always’, from the light-as-a-feather deftness of ‘It’s Alright’ to the blissful melancholy of ‘Tide’, it’s a heady and seductive brew, defined by the warmth of Winterkorn’s keyboards, Araya’s subtly insistent rhythms and González‘s distinctive, softly-sung tones and enigmatic lyricism. Its modesty belies its attention to detail as well as its defiantly not-of-this-time and not-of-this-world atmosphere. It’s hardly surprising that González was so eager to return from the lonely world of the solo artist to immerse himself once again in what Winterkorn calls “the Junipsphere”, but it’s equally obvious why his band mates waited so long.
José González reveals the first single and video from his forthcoming release Vestiges & Claws, out February 17th 2015 on Mute. The video for…Read More
Mute has announced the release of José González’s new record, Vestiges & Claws. The album, his first in seven years, is out on February 17, 2015 and was produced by González in his home kitchen as well as Svenska Grammofonstudion, both in Gothenburg, Sweden. “It was no doubt a conscious decision to work without a producer,” said González. “I didn’t want this to be too polished, or too ‘in your face.’ Most of all, it’s fun to be in complete control of the artistic aspect. Also, I was inspired by and picked up:Read More
ADA, the independent distribution and services arm of Warner Music Group (WMG), today announced a partnership with renowned independent record label Mute. Since its launch more than three decades ago,Read More
Junip are gearing up for their fall tour and are eager to see you out and about at their shows! First, check out the NEW video for their single “Walking Lightly” above. “Walking Lightly” was directed by Fredrik Egerstrand,Read More
Junip have announced an upcoming fall tour which will kick off in Austin with the band’s first appearance at Austin City Limits on Saturday, October 5th and wraps up on Sunday October 20th in Los Angeles with stops in San Francisco, New York, Salt Lake City, Denver, Atlanta and Baltimore.Read More
Wednesday night at the Rio Theatre drew a sold-out crowd for Swedish-based folk-influenced electronic band Junip. The group, perhaps best known for the solo endeavours of their lead singer José GonzálezRead More
Today Junip is excited to share with you a remixed version of their first single of off their sophomore self-titled release, “Your Life, Your Call” by their friends TobaccoRead More
we noticed that it’s easier when we start together from scratch – by jamming and recording parts of those sessions. Then we choose the parts we like best and continue jamming around them until we have a beat, basic chord structure and maybe some melodic lines. For me it’s a bit different from time to time. There’s been moments when Stampen (the name of the studio) has felt amazing but also many times when it’s been super messy.Read More
Junip forged a sonic footprint of simmering ride-cymbals, umber synths, and acoustic guitar strums that propel the songs to a harrowing pace. This heady instrumentation is resplendent in sparing doses, but the band draw upon the sound formulaically across the album and it becomes an exhausted benchmarkRead More
Junip aka, José González, Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn have never been the sort of band that creates mundane videos. Continuing the story created by Swedish director Mikel Cee Karlsson for “Line of Fire”Read More
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…the day where you wake up early and eagerly scamper to unwrap your favorite new thing—VINYL! It’s like the Christmas in April for your earbuds and your record playerRead More