Junip's Elias Araya talks about his new project with Jose Gonzalez and Tobias Winterkorn
To understand the band Junip you must first appreciate patience. If I were to suggest the best backdrop for their new album Fields, it might be a traffic jam; it may just settle your nerves and abbreviate your frustration. The most recognizable member of Junip, of course, José González, who lends the band a certain sense of familiarity. We all know him for his Swedish accent, courageous guitar picking, and dignified covers of such songs as "Heartbeats" (The Knife), "Teardrop" (Massive Attack), and "Hand on your heart" (Kylie Minogue).
But don't solely associate González with Junip -- Junip is its own entity. After over 10 years of collabroating together, working on solo endeavors, persistence and pure grace, Junip has melded into a fully realized band. Their Rope and Summit EP, released in June, came adorned with an 8.0 rating from Pitchfork.
Junip is a three-piece, featuring Gonzalez's Swedish counterparts Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards) and Elias Araya (drums). Their album Fields comes across as succulent; with African rhythms, an easy listening tone, and plenty of culture to whisk you away from your daily drama. Jose Gonazalez brings us what we love the most -- his ability to make music simplistic again -- but it's doubtful he could have done it as well without the fullness that makes this trio complete.
Junip is currently on tour all the way from Gothenburg, Sweden and will be stopping into Minneapolis at the Cedar Cultural Center this Sunday night for what surely will be a must-see show. Gimme Noise spoke with Elias Araya of Junip outside a sound check with the whole band, amidst sounds of flutes and Western folk in the background -- if the interview was a taste of what the show will sound like, we're in for something extraordinary.
Where are you this evening?
We are in Philadelphia.
Let's talk a little bit about Fields; I guess it's been a long time in the making?
Well we started in 2008, and it's taken all this time for it to be ready. So we've been working on it for quite a while...
You've known Jose since you were 14, right?
Yeah that's the rumor, I guess... It's not true, I've known him since I was about 20, so about 15 years, and I was living in a small city outside of Gothenburg - we used to run into each other at hardcore music shows.
How do you think Jose's solo work, which really established him, effects Junip as a whole?
I think, of course good things and not all good things. Good things are a lot of people are coming to the shows, before we actually released something, like when we first went on the world tour before we released Fields, so that is a big help. It's much easier to talk with record labels and management and stuff like that, so that's really, really good. Maybe the thing that is kind of concerning is the fans; they come to check out only him. Because they think Junip is his band, and we're his back-up band or something like that. But we've written everything together and we started this before, so sometimes it's kind of weird. But it's natural of course, I don't think about it that much, but sometimes I don't think people can separate him from Junip. Hopefully now that the record is out, they will seek us out as a unit so that they will probably show up to see us.
Let's talk about this Rope and Summit EP Pitchfork review, it got a score of 8.0. How'd you feel about that?
Yeah that was really amazing, almost like shit I couldn't believe it at first actually. Yah it was a really nice thing. We're all like, 'what are they talking about?!'...
Do you guys live in the US now, or are you traveling?
Well we all live in Gothenburg, Sweden, all of us. We've been out for one month on a Europe tour. But we've been out playing festivals in Europe, and playing the US this summer as well. Now we're doing the US and to Australia, and then South America and then back here. So we're booked out one year from here, for now.
Do you guys have families back in Sweden?
I have two kids, and one on its way. So it's a little bit hard, but we knew it was going to be like that. So we try to make it as good as it can be. We've all got people we left behind, but only one other of them has a girlfriend. So they don't quite have the situation in the same way that I have.
How do you feel the music culture is different here in the US, compared to where you grew up?
In Sweden we're really influenced by American and North American music, so I can see where our influences are coming from. And when we play live in the US, compared to when we play in Europe, it's much more happier and more nice to come to Europe and play. Of course Germany is one place; it's always nice to come to Germany. It's hard to play in Europe sometimes; in Sweden it's really horrible to play live.
Why is it so bad?
I don't know they're so stiff it's hard to tell if they like it. They're really reserved; I hate to play for Sweden. [laughing]
That's funny because people say in Minnesota here that people are reserved at live shows. How do you personally believe that Junip, and the Fields album will be unique?
I guess when we started to play 12 years ago, and we were really fed up with music that was around back then. Some of it we like, we like more of the slow songs like "Low" and stuff like that, and we were looking for a new sound. And I had an organ, and we thought that if we used the stuff we had, like drums, organ, synthesizer, mandolin, and guitar... They'll probably be different songs, we switch back and forth, but I think that's what makes us unique, we actually have our own sound.
What are your plans for the future of Junip?
We already wrote two new songs, about two months ago. So we've been waiting so long to make music, so we thought that it can't take that long, all that time again to come out with another album. So we're planning on doing a lot of touring, and we're actually playing and rehearsing on stage, to make the new songs, so we can come out with a new album in about two years. So yeah, another two years.
Do you think you'll release an EP first?
Maybe, maybe not now, but we'll release a few songs here and there.
I think it really helped how you released the Rope and Summit EP first, and then released Fields, it got people talking.
Yeah I think so too, it's a good way. And I like the idea of releasing an EP for free to as well. So people can listen to some of it before what's coming, and I hope that we can put out more songs for free, and come out with a whole lot of other songs after that. I think it's really honest for people to do that, because if it's honest then they'll probably like the album after that.
JUNIP perform with Sharron Van Etten on SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 7, at the CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER. All ages. $15. 7 p.m.
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