Although Junip, the Sweden-based trio of José González, Tobias Winterkorn and Elias Araya, got slightly sidelined a decade ago as González' solo career took off, the band has more than made up for the delay.
Junip's second, self-titled album continues from where 2010's Fields left off, mixing a maze of bold, sharply melodic layers with a melancholy drift. The trio — which expands to a sextet on the road — is doing the UK/EU festival circuit in an undemanding way this summer, with one upcoming date this month at Suffolk's Latitude Festival, but more shows in August. They'll return to the States in October for the Austin City Limits festival.
Watch Junip in session with FUV and TAS below and listen to González and Winterkorn in conversation with Russ Borris on FUV Live tonight, July 8, at 9 p.m. ET (also streaming) and on TAS on 91.5 WNYE this Friday, July 12, at 11 a.m. ET, also available online.
Junip is available now on Mute (US) and City Slang (EU).
Russ Borris: I liked that you played “Walking Lightly” because, to me, [there's] a running theme [of] “don’t really really stress about stuff.” Is that an intentional vibe?
José González: Yes, I think for that song. We have that way of living life. It’s nice to convey that in music. Some of those songs are dark and things won’t get better. “Beginnings” is one of those songs.
Russ: A little soul searching when you write these songs?
José: Yes, definitely. Or sometimes pretending. I’m not always soul searching.
José: Exactly (laughs).
Russ: Do the words come first or the music?
Tobias Winterkorn: We always start with music, just jamming and trying to find a certan vibe or tunes. Then we record it.
José: Very last minute I start doing vocal melodies and write the words.
Russ: It’s also very atmospheric. The songs have a lot of life in them and breathe. How does that work in the studio? Do they change as you go? When you play them out live?
Tobias: Both, I guess. “Walking Lightly,” for example. It started out as a jam for five or six minutes and then it turned out completely different than I thought it was going to be.
José: It used to be just two chords going back and forth. I think we were yawning while playing. But then we figured out the chord changes and that really opened up the song.
Tobias: Then we could stop adding stuff to it.
José: More and more and more chord changes.
Tobias: Basically when we’re producing we’re three [people] and on tour we’re six people. It’s the type of song where you can add stuff while touring.
Russ: When you’re in the studio, then you go on the road, you realize, “We need more guys!”
Tobias: We thought about that when we were writing. But we don’t think about it and [thought] we’d solve that later!
José: We started calling people. Different drummers, for example. It’s not easy to rehearse, money-wise, being from LA, UK, Sweden.
Russ: People [scattered] all over.
Tobias: Norway too.
Russ: The production on the record is really very warm and there’s a calmness to it. I like that it matches the vibe of the songs.
José: I guess soundwise we like distortion and edge, but we like to listen to stuff at loud volume without hurting our ears. So when we record, our co-producer Don Alsterberg likes to put it through tape which usually takes out some of the high frequencies. [They] can be hurtful when you listen loudly. So that gives [the music] this soft blanket feeling.
Russ: If we trace back the beginnings of the band in the mid-2000s when you put out your first EP, did you think you’d be able to get to a full record? Was there hope you’d record more?
José: Yes, we’d talk about it once in a while. Sometimes it felt very real ... and sometimes it felt like words that we’d say when we were drunk. But when we actually got together and did the first album, we were sort of surprised. We actually made an album! It was sort of similar with the second one, but a bit more determined and things ran a bit more smoothly.
Tobias: Actually, when we wrote Fields we decided [to do it]. José: I decided not to go on any more tours. I wouldn’t do any more solo stuff until we had our album. Russ: How does that work with the solo stuff when you’re writing songs? [Your] thing versus a Junip idea?
José: It’s usually not a problem because we always start from scratch with Junip. Whenever I’m writing words or trying to come up with melodies, I’m doing that with demos. So I start of choose beforehand [if] I’m going to work on a solo song or a Junip song. I very seldom have a riff or lyric that I need to choose; there’s always a melody in mind.
Russ: “All Is Said and Done” has a great build to it. It’s not a tense thing — it’s pulled back a little.
Tobias: It’s trying to hold back when you don’t want to do it … but have to in a way.
Russ: What’s next for you guys? Are you thinking ahead already?
Tobias: We’re going to concentrate on [this album]. We’re going to summer festivals, another European tour and then back here. I think José has a solo project in his back pocket that he wants to work on.
José: Yes, gathering ideas for my solo album, working on music for a film, continuing to play music and touring!
Russ: “Line of Fire” has a cinematic feel to it. José, has working in film been an aspiration?
José: Not directly, but the funny thing about that song is that we thought [that song] would fit perfectly as the end titles for a movie. I picture myself working with film music later in my life. I still find it more fun to try to write songs and if they get used in film, great. But not necessarily work with film.