José González set to bring his indie folk renaissance to Melbourne

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José González set to bring his indie folk renaissance to Melbourne

For much of the 1990s, the Swedish-born singer-songwriter and guitar playing wunderkind was a punk rocker. “In my teenage years I used to skate and listen to punk bands like The Dead Kennedys and The Misfits, those were the bands that inspired my first groups. Then later I formed a hardcore group which was inspired by the straight-edge hardcore bands that were coming out around that time.
“In Sweden we have a saying something like ‘To stroke a person’s hair in the wrong way’ which basically means to irritate or, challenge someone or the status quo,” González says. “ I think it’s important to use art to convey a message even if it isn’t always well received, that definitely comes from my punk rock days.”
“Also during my teen years I really enjoyed the wave of hip-hop from bands like A Tribe Called Quest and NWA and I loved rhythmic music from places like Africa and South America, and all of Latin America in general,” he adds.
“It was around the same time that I started to learn classical guitar and I would play bossa nova and the Beatles at home and sing with my dad. It wasn’t until later that I began to write my own songs which were cheesy and romantic lyrical songs that would become the songs on my first album.”
González’s debut album Veneer, released in 2003, featured the mega hit cover of ‘Heartbeats’ written by fellow Swede’s electronic duo The Knife, and went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies around the world.
Since then the undeniably talented, yet somewhat reluctant front man, has found success with two more solo albums In Our Nature (2007) and 2015’s Vestiges & Claws. “The last time I visited Australia was in early 2016 with my three-piece band, Junip, but this time I will be playing solo with my old school set up of just me and guitar.
“It’s nice to go back to the basics and that’s the way most of my recording is done as well, just guitar and vocals,” González says. “I’m planning to play from all three of my solo albums and the set list will be a combination of the songs people have asked to hear, my most popular and the ones I like playing live the most.
“A lot of the songs I enjoy to play live will be ones that everybody knows. There are ones that are interesting from a guitar playing perspective like ‘Stories We Build, Stories We Tell’ and ‘What Will’. Those are the songs on Vestiges & Claws that are inspired by West African music,” he explains. “Then there are the classic songs that people know like ‘Heartbeats’ that I really like too, and I’ve found new ways of interpreting, so it’s still really enjoyable to perform. I like to leave that song till last because it’s a nice way to say goodnight.”
Don’t miss the rare opportunity to hear this truly unique artist stripped-back and up-close-and-personal at The Melbourne Recital Centre’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall in April. “I’m really looking forward to this trip and we’re always excited to travel this time of year from cold Sweden to beautiful Australia with nice food and lovely people.”
When & Where: Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne – April 2 & 3 2018
Tickets on sale via

Written by Natalie Rogers

Image by Malin Johansson