Although his parents are Argentine, singer/songwriter José González was born in Sweden, where he became nationally renowned for his mix of autumnal indie pop and intimate acoustics. Following stints with hardcore bands during the 1990s, González formed the indie rock outfit Junip alongside organist Elias Araya and drummer Tobias Winterkorn; they released their first EP, Straight Lines, in 2000. González officially launched his solo career with the release of 2003’s Veneer, an entirely acoustic affair that reflected a childhood spent listening to equal parts bossa nova, classical, and post-punk by the likes of Joy Division. Touchstones for González’s sound included Nick Drake, Paul Simon, Red House Painters, and Elliott Smith, and the album featured a popular cover of the Knife’s “Heartbeats.” A theme from “Heartbeats” was revealed in his work, and González recorded covers of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, “Hand on Your Heart” by Kylie Minogue, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen, and “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.
As his popularity spread overseas, Veneer finally received an American release in 2005. González’s stateside prospects were aided by the appearance of his song “Crosses” in the season-ending episode of The O.C. The title track from his 2006 EP, Stay in the Shade, was also featured in the show. Stay in the Shade displayed a move away from the bedroom sound of González’s first album, yet it maintained the same caliber of songcraft and performance. Additionally in 2006, Gonzales teamed up with the British electronic band Zero 7 on their album The Garden, providing vocals on four tracks: “Futures,” “Left Behind,” “Today,” and a version of his own track, “Crosses.” In 2005, he returned to work with Junip, and the group released an EP at the end of the year and a full-length album in 2006. He returned to his solo career the following year, however, with the release of In Our Nature. The record was partially influenced by the works of biologist Richard Dawkins and philosopher Peter Singer.
In 2009, González began collaborating with a group of fellow Swedish songwriters and German composers on the Göteborg String Theory project, an experimental art and music venture that culminated in the 2010 album The Göteborg String Theory and a tour in 2011. In 2015, González released his third solo album, Vestiges & Claws, which featured the singles “Every Age” and “Leaf Off/The Cave.” In early 2018, González was joined by his newly formed band the Brite Lites for the EP José González & the Brite Lites at Svenska Grammofonstudion (Mute), which he promoted with a yearlong tour.
The String Theory
The String Theory is an artist collective, think tank, and experimental chamber orchestra based in Berlin and Gothenburg that since 2007 explores the outskirts of contemporary classical music and wild pop by means of collaborative workshops, studio recordings and live performances. The String Theory pursues a participatory approach, investigating new ways of interdisciplinary collaboration, incorporating visual art, developing new performance concepts, and facilitating international artist networking.
The conductor of The String Theory, musician and composer PC Nackt (*1975) began to compose ballet music as a teenager and later studied jazz guitar and composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. In 2002 he co-founded the electro-punk band Warren Suicide with his partner Cherie, as well as the recording studio Chez Cherie in Berlin’s Neukölln district. This has led to cooperations with musicians and artists from different genres, such as Tocotronic, Dieter Meier/ Yello, Shara Worden/ My Brightest Diamond, Earl Harvin/ Tindersticks and many others. Other collaborations of PC Nackt include projects with the filmmaker Wim Wenders, the dancer Katja Wachter, the theatre directors Florian von Hermann and Sebastian Hartmann as well as the Berlin artist Hans Unstern. Since 2011 PC Nackt has been a co-producer and co-writer for the Berlin musician Sascha Ring aka Apparat, regularly going on tour with him. Jesca Hoop
A sensual, esoteric singer/songwriter whose odd, sparse songs nod to influences like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Vashti Bunyan,
Jesca Hoop got her big break thanks to her gig as a nanny for Tom Waits’ offspring in the early 2000s. Hoop had grown up in a musically inclined Mormon family, but left the fold soon after her parents separated. She traveled around California, Wyoming, and Arizona writing songs and honing her craft before settling down with the Waits family for five years as their nanny.
Waits took a liking to Hoop’s offbeat indie pop songs, which in their own way linked her with so-called “New Weird Americans” like Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Faun Fables.
Waits passed her demo (a version of the song “Seed of Wonder”) along to Lionel Conway, who in turn handed it to KCRW’s Nic Harcourt. The DJ took a liking to Hoop’s demo and started giving “Seed of Wonder” some airplay; the song went on to become popular with Harcourt’s listeners, so much so that record companies started paying her court.
She signed with 3 Entertainment, an offshoot of Columbia Records, soon after the song hit the radio. Her debut full-length on that label, Kismet, was released in 2007, and produced by 3 Entertainment head Tony Berg. The Kismet Acoustic EP arrived in 2008, released by the independent Last Laugh imprint after Columbia shut down 3 Entertainment.
Hoop next struck a deal with the venerable independent label Vanguard Records, and released her sophomore full-length, Hunting My Dress, in the summer of 2010. The Snowglobe EP followed in 2011. Hoop’s third album, House That Jack Built, was released by Last Laugh in the summer of 2012, and co-produced with Tony Berg. Reworking prior songs, Undress followed in 2014, and in 2016, Hoop collaborated with Sam Beam (best known as the man behind Iron and Wine) on the album Love Letter for Fire. She swiftly followed that recording with her first solo record recorded outside of Tony Berg’s Zeitgeist Studios, Memories Are Now, in 2017.
Credit Margaret Reges, Rovi [30.01.2018]