Hja! interview: José González

Over a decade ago, a song called Heartbeats was enjoying huge exposure worldwide. The artist in question was The Knife, a sibling duo from Gothenburg, Sweden, whose synth-pop hit from their Deep Cuts album was etched into indie-electronic history.

Another Gothenburg musician covered Heartbeats soon after the original release in the early two-thousands and enjoyed relative success with his acoustic version. José González was part of an explosion of artists from the Swedish city, releasing his debut album, Veneer, in 2003. The cover (the only cover on Veneer) was complimentary of the original, offering a softer alternative to its electronic sister. It has since been played on Spotify more than 80 million times, overshadowing its predecessor.

Today, Heartbeats is probably González’s most recognised track among his beautiful, folk-inspired work from his later albums, In Our Nature (2007) and Vestiges and Claws (2015). The Knife disbanded only last year, but González, whose family fled from Argentina in the ‘70s, continues to tour around the world with his band Junip.

Richard Ashton & Tom Lenartowicz from Hja! met him after his set at last month’s Piknik i Parken in Oslo, and asked about his up-bringing, studying bio-chemistry and why he plays covers…

 

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José González / Photo: Richard Ashton

José González / Photo: Richard Ashton