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Interview: Junip

Junip have more than enough credentials to fill the age-old cavernous atria of The Village Underground. The venue itself (once a Victorian warehouse) was filled to the rafters for the Swedish trio’s London gig, each punter eagerly waiting for the Scandinavian adventure to begin.

Elias Araya, Tobias Winterkorn and Jose Gonzales are a tight-knit threesome and have been friends for years. Their recent self-titled second album is a glorious maelstrom of sound and emotion and transferring that to the live setting seemed to be of little issue for the guys. Assisted on stage by support and local lad Barbarossa as well as two more instrumentalists, the six-piece managed to replicate each track perfectly – the majestic live setting only adding to the electricity of the gig.

The band, fronted by Jose Gonzales of ‘Heartbeats’ fame, took to the stage with a sense of modesty – Elias on drums, Tobias on keys and Jose holding own the vocals looking almost sheepish as new track ‘ ’ began to jangle out across the crowd. Yet Junip are a band that only need to let the music do the talking. From Araya’s pace-keeping to Winterkorn’s indispensable key wizardry, song by song the east London crowd became increasingly enraptured…

The second studio album really stood out in the live setting with the six piece band giving each and every new song the seeing-to it deserved. ‘Walking Lightly’ managed to bring a sense of calm to the whole affair, solemnly yet surely filling the arcs of the Village Underground with aplomb, whilst also showing yet again how the presence of Winterkorn on keys really lifted the whole sound. I caught up with Winterkorn before the show to pick his brains on all things Junip…

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PlanetNotion: Hello Tobias! Let’s get this underway shall we! I wanted to start by asking about the sound of the second album, Junip, which seems to have a much more complete and larger production than debut album Fields in 2010. Was that a conscious decision? Or just the way the band has evolved..
Tobias Winterkorn: I think that as we were touring Fields we got more confident with our instruments, and even in myself; I learnt to play much better… and just, the whole experience seemed to go much easier, a better flow. Also we had a few sketches of songs already in the bag, so the pressure was off a little!

PN: Did you experiment with new instruments on the album?
TW: Yeah, I mean it always starts with drums and acoustic and my organ but then we thought, ‘let’s not hold back on this one – we’ll find a way to play that live later’ – which is why there’s six of us on stage tonight. And I’ve been much more adventurous with my instruments…

PN: Yeah that’s very noticeable on this album, the use of synth and your presence seems to be much greater on this album.
TW: I stayed in the studio when the others had left, just thinking about what I wanted to do and been a little bit afraid previously to do it – but I think it turned out great!

PN: Was there a particular reason as to why you chose ‘Junip’ as the name of the second album?
TW: Erm… laziness I guess! Or just ran out of ideas. Elias designed the logo on the album and I think that’s a really beautiful design. Also, why not a self-titled album! A bit sixties I guess.

PN: The two videos that have been released so far from the album are very artistically driven. Do you play any sort of role in directing the videos?
TW: No not at all. We told Mikel Cee Karlsson (the director) to do what he wanted. When I saw it I thought ‘what is going on?!’ But I loved it. It’s provocative and has a Nordic Darkness to it. I think it fits ‘Line of Fire’ and ‘Your Life Your Call’ perfectly.

PN: Would you ever be averse to having your songs soundtrack a film?
TW: Not at all! We’re actually currently working on a project called ‘aftertext’ (like credits of a film) for some time in the future…

PN: Fields and Junip were both recorded in Gothenburg. Do you feel that is the spiritual home of Junip? Are you a Swedish band at heart?
TW: I don’t know, because there are lots of places we could’ve used as a studio – Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles even – but this one is so close to where we live, and it’s our ‘own place’. We don’t have to worry about money and stuff (apart from the rent once a month!)

PN: So do you feel it’s quite a personal project then when it comes to creating Junip material?
TW: Absolutely, and not just the band. We’re very close with our whole team, it’s really nice to feel more comfortable with the not only the band but the engineering side too.

PN: The comfort that you mention really does come through on this album; it’s as comforting as it is dark. Do you write with that aim in mind or is it just a happy accident that you touch people in this way?
TW: I think it’s a little bit of accident and just the way we ‘do’ music. Its never ‘happy-happy’, it gets dark sometimes. We have a lot of songs, they just seem to turn out like that!

PN: How would you – if you had to – categorise your sound?
TW: It’s hard isn’t it! Maybe that’s sad… It would make life easier, even when people ask my parents ‘oh what music does he play’ it would be easier for them to reply with ‘oh, this’, but sadly they just say ‘look it up on the internet’! We’ve been put in the ‘baroque rock’ genre before – it’s a really silly name and I’m not sure I want to be a part of it! People say Folk-Rock, Kraut-Rock… I don’t know.

PN: Over the last couple of years, there’s been a huge resurgence of vinyl with people of all ages really getting into it again. What are your thoughts on that; is it a good thing?
TW: Well I’m very ambivalent about it… I collect vinyl myself, collecting, old, new, I love that feeling of holding the music and putting it on the plate, but now you take the digital copy, and make it vinyl. It goes from digital to analogue, but it’s still digital in a way. I like the use of social media like SoundCloud, Spotify, you reach so many more people that way. We need to find something that suits us all – record labels, artists, listeners – we’re just not quite there yet! Anyways, I think it’s a really good thing that vinyl is sticking around.

After all is said and done (also the name of a particularly melancholic Junip track!) it’s clear to see why Junip work so well. They are a band built on longevity, musicality and most of all, friendship. And on that mild Tuesday evening everyone spilling out of the Village Underground knew they had witnessed something rather special.

– Liz Ward

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