SOS Questionnaire: José González
You may have first experienced José González’s voice and beautiful guitar work as it played across images of a million colored balls bouncing down a San Francisco street. His cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” may have garnered him attention, but his albums, both solo and with Junip, have kept him around as more than a one-time novelty. With his latest solo effort, Vestiges and Claws, González sticks with what works, creating music that is perfect for a long drive into the night, or a quiet evening of contemplation. As with most of our questionnaires, there’s a good mix of seriousness and playfulness here. This may indeed be our first questionnaire with emoticons. González stops by Boston this Saturday April 11th at The Paradise.
What is your first memory of music?
There’s a picture of me sitting with headphones and a pacifier. I think I remember sitting listening to cassette tapes and especially a tape by Markama and a song called ‘Hoy estoy aqui’.
What is the first song you remember writing?
What is the first album you owned?
Me and my brother bought an LP of Break Machine called Street Dance. I was 6 and lived in a neighborhood with one of the best break dance groups of Sweden.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
As a teenager I had high ambitions with the hard-core band and also with my classical guitar. Later, in my early twenties I started writing music on my own and with Junip, and released two seven inch vinyl records and did some short tours with indie rock bands but it was mostly on a “not enough to pay the rent” level. So it was always on a hobby level until I released my first album in 2003, by then I didn’t have any big expectations on living as a musician as I was in the university studying biochemistry.
What song has had the most impact on you?
Could mention many songs here but ‘Sueño con serpientes’ is one them by Silvio Rodríguez.
What are you listening to lately?
Bassekou Kouyati & Ngoni Ba – “Segu Blue”
What is the most fulfilling part of creating music?
Can’t say if it’s the meditative part, the joy of connecting with others while playing or playing to a crowd that loves what they’re hearing.
What is the best part of being on the road?
Who is a musician you wished more people knew about?
Goran Kajfes Subtropic Arkestra
What song are you most proud of writing?
“With the Ink of a Ghost”
What are your thoughts on the music industry in the digital age?
We’re still in a transition phase. I like the idea of a democratization of art and information, and the ability of anyone to have access to libraries. There’s still stuff to figure out from an economic and artistic perspective.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
To enjoy doing it and if it moves people that’s a bonus.
What is your idea of happiness?
Cocaine in my brain
What is your favorite place?
Behind my wheel
What is your greatest fear?
Snakes on a plane
What is your most treasured possession?
What is the last good book you read?
Touching a Nerve: The Brain as the Self by Patricia S. Churchland
If you could live during any time period, when would it be?
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Lesson number five.
What is a political or social issue that you feel strongly about?
Global ethics—global health, equal human rights, get rid of veto in UN security council, fair tax, fair trade etc.
If you could have a meal with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Still on earth
If you had to pick another profession, what would it be?
Watch our video of Junip’s “Without You”: