Junip: friends reunited for a taste of swede success

Junip released their first single back in 2000, but then José González found fame as a solo singer. Now, they have a new album out and a spot at Latitude. Elisa Bray meets them

It's an unusual musical evolution. A band form among three old friends, but then their frontman becomes a solo star, selling a million albums, and the band is put to one side only to release their debut album a whole decade after they formed. So it happened with Junip.

Most know José González, the band's 34-year-old singer, guitarist and lyricist, for his solo acoustic indie-folk songs synonymous with the colourful bouncing balls of the Sony Bravia advert, which his cover of fellow Swedish band The Knife's “Heartbeats” soundtracked. But long before he found fame with his solo music, he was fronting Junip, the band he formed with keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn and drummer Elias Araya, the latter a childhood friend since they were seven, in 1998. All three were musically united by the hardcore and emo shows that they frequented in the suburbs of Gothenburg.

They released a single in 2000, but once González's solo career had taken off in 2003, in between his busy touring schedule they only had time to put out two EPs. “I didn't see him [González] that much during those years,” says Winterkorn, with a smile suggesting there are no hard feelings. “He was touring a lot. I think we got together once or twice every year. We went to the Lord of the Rings movies together the three of us at Christmas time.” It wasn't until 2010 that they released their debut album, Fields, which they followed up this April with their enjoyable self- titled album.

It's a full circle that's captured neatly by the band's performance at Latitude festival next weekend, alongside Bloc Party, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear and Kraftwerk. When González first played Latitude, at its inaugural event back in 2006, it was as a solo artist. That all press pictures promoting the band's shows and album feature González stood back from the forefront seems to stress that Junip is a band of equal forces.

“You don't want to disappoint people by making them think it's something else,” González says, with softly spoken words much like the gentle singing that accompanies his finger-picked guitar. “If promoters put my face on the poster, that would bring people instead thinking it's guitar and vocals.”

Fans of González will find Junip's music more complex in its arrangements than his solo output, and their new album is a step forward in several sonic directions, incorporating rock, indie folk, Krautrock's driving rhythms, blissful harmonies and also electronica, while retaining the trademark dreamy sound of González's vocals, far back into the mix with plenty of hazy reverb. “The inspirations come from all over so I think you can trace different inspirations in different songs,” he explains. “For us, with this album, it felt that the songs were so different we didn't really know how they would fit together, but we ignored that and hoped for the best.”

If it's taken a decade for the band to put out an album, it's not just their frontman's unexpected fame that was the cause. Music wasn't taken too seriously when they started out. Junip was merely a side hobby to their day jobs. Winterkorn became a father and was working as a part-time teacher; Araya was studying art; González was deep into his biochemistry studies, while writing the songs that he'd started creating at 14 in the vein of Cuban folk musician Silvio Rodriguez.

“Back then, I had pop star-ish dreams, but then I didn't think about those for many years,” he recalls. So it was something of a surprise when fame struck. “It was a big surprise when I started to get attention in Sweden, going from biochemistry studies to touring and living from music only. There were a couple of years while I went to university when I was OK with thinking of music as just a nice recreation. Being able to write, record and play live is a privilege that I've enjoyed both solo and with Junip.”

The decade-long delay, González says, was “a mixture of us being slow – we didn't send [our music] out to that many people – and I guess it was half-hearted in the amount of time we let it take to grow because we released the EP and I went back to touring. We were aiming at doing a full-length album, but we didn't have enough songs and also my label really wanted me to start working on my next solo album. A lot of stuff happened during that time. I wanted to follow up the attention I was getting.”

When the band reunited, it was with a new work ethic. “I think we changed,” says González. “After I released my second album we put together a release date and tours and all this time we were talking about making this second album straight after. And here we are.”

Was there a benefit to the delay – the inevitable attention that González's fame brought to the band? “Both yes and no,” states González. “In some ways it would have been better to be an unknown band and just release the music and let people react to that because many times they're comparing [this] to my solo stuff. But then of course there was a network to work with. That was good. We could start on a different level.”

Understated emotion has always been at the heart of Junip's music, felt nowhere more strongly than on the album's best track, the cinematic “Line of Fire”. “When your hair is rising, that's when you know it's a good song – that's happened to me with some artists and some songs, John Lennon songs or when Nina Simone sings. It's great to make those moments yourself.”

The songs are very much the work of the three musicians, all emerging from jamming sessions – although Araya has left the band since we meet. Between them, they aim to keep the melancholic streak at bay. “I found myself asking Tobias to change his chords so they're not so moody,” says González, with a smile. “Ever since I released my first album, I've tried not to use minor chords as the main element in songs. The way I sing is too melancholic. So whenever you find a minor-ish chord that's pointing towards the sun instead of the ground, that to me is the perfect aim. If it's too major-ish, it won't get to you.” Winterkorn adds: “It's nice to make people feel something.”

Junip play Latitude festival (latitude festival.com) 18-21 July. The band are touring 15 to 18 September (junip.net)

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering