January 19th 2011

JUNIP: Interview
Written by Lee Hutchison

Lee Hutchison speaks to Jose Gonzalez and Tobias Winterkorn from low-key Swedish folk rock trio Junip and discovers why, after forming in 1998, they’ve only just released their debut LP.

Mr Gonzáles we already know, famous for his records including critically acclaimed debut 'Veneer' (2003), his delicate re-workings of Massive Attack’s 'Teardrop' and The Knife's 'Heartbeats', as well as collaborations with Australian singstress Sia Furler and UK rapper Plan B.  So where amongst all of this does another project fit? The simple answer – it doesn’t. Junip, AKA Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards), Elias Araya (drums) and José Gonzáles (vocals and guitar), originally came together as early as 1998 but, thanks to Gonzáles’ solo success, didn’t release their first EP until seven years later. Gonzáles explains the band’s genesis. "Me and Elias knew each other since we were seven and had been playing in different bands from 14, but mostly hardcore. During this time I was also writing my acoustic songs way before anything happened with them and I used to play my songs for Elias and he suggested we try as a band. Then we asked Tobias who had been singing in another hardcore band..."
Gonzáles’ success, although welcomed, distracted from his main focus. "For me it was really frustrating because in interviews I would mention Junip all the time so after seven years of touring and talking about Junip it almost felt like I was talking about an imaginary friend. In that sense it was frustrating and also for me personally, with so many solo tours, I’ve always looked forward to playing the different style of music that I play with the other guys."
How is it though that three guys united by their love of hardcore can end up playing folk rock? "We were all anxious to do another type of music" explains Gonzáles. Winterkorn counters, "I was listening to a lot of different music in the hardcore period and moving toward folk was more like going home... The hardcore music was a break for me from the music that I already did, it was really natural." Gonzáles agrees. "For me it wasn’t a switch either because ever since I started playing bass in the hardcore band I was also learning classical guitar and writing my acoustic songs at home."
So what is it about Junip’s style that sets it apart from Gonzáles’ solo work? "The main difference is the music… Of course for some people it sounds very similar to my stuff and I understand why. It’s still my voice and my vocal melodies and when you listen to music that’s usually what most people listen to. If you only listen to the music though it’s very different – the guitar is just a tiny part of the whole thing."
As to whether José fans are likely to be Junip fans, Winterkorn had this to say. "There’s a mix. A lot of people like José and like us and a lot of people like José and hate us and think that we’re destroying him. And after all the touring this year, we’ve probably sorted out the José fans from our fans… his just don’t come to our shows," he laughs.
This article was originally published in Rave Magazine:

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