As a moody Argentinean kid born in Sweden and raised on records by Joy Division, Nick Drake and Elliot Smith, José González didn’t have much chance but to be a quietly insular and quivering singer-songwriter of melancholy words and music. Even when he turned his attention to rock as a teen, it was sad in nature.
Intimate, skeletal albums such as 2005's "Veneer" and 2007's fleshed-out "In Our Nature," found González inward-looking, forlorn and angrily navel-gazing with the occasional hat tip to political song like, "How Low." After 2007, he spent time in bands such as Junip and Göteborg String Theory. Perhaps socializing as such opened him up, as González became more outward looking in his lyrics — cheerier even — for 2015's "Vestiges & Claws," and presumably, his current tour with the New York City avant-garde chamber ensemble, yMusic.
You had a seven year gap between solo albums that ended with "Vestiges & Claws." What did you learn from being in bands that you brought back to your personal work?
I think I am just more comfortable. There are other subjects to sing about than m self and my relationships. I have been trying to do protest song and political song like the ones from when I was young. I like how Rodriguez talks about the working classes or how John Lennon imagines one world. I think about those ideas a lot now, so that comes out.
I often think of my music now as universal, so I'd like something pleasurable and harmonious. I also come from a hardcore background and like riffs that evoke unpleasantness. Noise makes you feel something too. I wanted to take some of the songs on the new album and make them more pleasurable, give them new direction, bring out more emotions and harmonies. I think we pushed them pretty hard.
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