Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ José González

Jose Gonzalez
Photo by Malin Johansson

After a mere eight year wait and releasing his record In Our Nature back in 2007, Swedish singer-songwriter José González dropped his highly anticipated new album Vestiges & Claws on February 17th. Currently touring the songs around North America, A Music Blog, Yea? gave González a call last week to discuss the new record, personal lyrics, Junip, and touring. Enjoy the interview below:

AMBY: Hey José. How are you doing?

José González: I’m pretty good. How are you?

AMBY: I’m good, thanks! Welcome to AMBY and thanks for speaking with us today.

José González: Thanks, for sure.

AMBY: Earlier this year, you released your newest album Vestiges & Claws – your first solo record since the release of In Our Nature. What exactly led you to take that break between records?

José González: I was getting back together with Junip and we wanted to record the first Junip album and began touring, and then we decided to do another one [laughs]. Those two albums took up most of that time and I decided to go back to my solo music after that.

AMBY: Going back seven years, did you ever think you would have recorded those two Junip records before releasing another solo album? Was that the time frame you initially had in mind?

José González: I mean, the first one was the only thing we had planned – the first Junip album. Then after a while and the first tour we had touring the album, we decided to not stop there and chose to make another album. It was definitely longer than I thought it was going to be.

AMBY: How long have you been working on material for this new solo record?

José González: There are some really old songs from, I would say, about six years. Most of them came together from really rough demos to finished songs during 2013 and 2014.

AMBY: When it comes to your writing process, do you prefer working on music as a collective or by yourself?

José González: I like both, but I’m really used to working on my own [laughs] so I’m going to go with that – writing alone. When you actually do something together with a group, that’s an amazing way to create. So there is good stuff in both.

AMBY: The lyrics on the album are very personal and poetic. Has it ever been difficult for you to break down that wall of privacy and share intimate lyrics?

José González: I feel like I’m sharing more of my thoughts on the new album. There are moments where it sounds very personal, especially in a song like Open Book, but that’s like the songs I did on my first album. Most of them aren’t about sharing my notions with the world, but more about my conveying emotions and emotions to the music. It’s not always about me, since singular situations and stories are about different people.

AMBY: Are you excited to be touring again with the solo album?

José González: Yea! We’ve done the European tour and just started the North American tour. It’s been really fun. I think the songs are going over well every week.

AMBY: I’m glad to hear it. Which songs off the album do you enjoy playing the most at the moment?

José González: Let It Carry You is really fun and difficult so it really keeps me on my toes. With the Ink of a Ghost is one of those songs that works every night and I can see the reactions on the crowd – it feels nice to play something new that people react to.

AMBY: You’ve shared some covers with fans in the past, my personal favorite being Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. Do you plan on sharing any other covers on this tour, or is the main focus the newer material?

José González: We’re playing some old covers, but there’s the Arthur Russell cover that I did for a compilation, so we’re playing that song. I’m touring with Ólöf Arnalds, who you can hear here in the background [laughs], and I’m doing a song with her as well.

AMBY: To wrap things up, after playing tons of shows throughout your career, what are some quintessential items you must pack and bring with you?

José González: Not much, actually. I have my clothes and a toothbrush.

AMBY and José González: [laughs]

José González: I don’t have any kind of weird items, I guess…

AMBY: At least you have the essentials!


Thank you José González, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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