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By Kyra Scrimgeour
While the Swedish trio Junip got its start nearly a dozen years ago, the band took about five years off while frontman José González's solo career took off — thanks in large part to González's cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats," which was used in a Sony Bravia commercial and in a number of TV shows.
After releasing 2007's In Our Nature, González put his focus back on Junip, and he, keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn and drummer Elias Araya picked up where they left off. Last year, Junip released Fields, its first full-length, as well as the Rope and Summit EP. As Winterkorn puts it, Junip's music is "harder" than González's solo work, but that's understandable, as all three members were in hardcore bands prior to forming Junip. We spoke with Winterkorn about Junip's roots and how the trio composes its songs.
Westword: All three of you guys come from hardcore backgrounds, and it sounds like one of the reasons for starting Junip was just to try something different and get into music that was inspired by the '60s and '70s, right?
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Tobias Winterkorn: Yes. For me — and I know José, as well — the hardcore music came in between stuff. I was playing in jazz bands and a hard rock band, and then the hardcore scene came. It got really big really fast. My band was really early to play that music. So I played punk music, and I also played in other bands at the same time. And then I got fed up with hardcore music and returned more to something that I wanted to do. I don't hate hardcore music. I like some of it still. One thing you're really right — we tried to make a new sound with drums, keyboards and acoustic guitars. So it was kind of like, "Let's not play any more really, really hard and screaming vocals."
Even though the music you guys make is a far cry from punk, would you say there are times where you almost approach it with a punk attitude?
Yeah, I think so. Some of the songs, they wouldn't have developed without us having been in hardcore bands. Like "Rope at Summit," if you think about it — you can do a hardcore song on that. I think maybe "Far Away," as well, is a song that has punk-rock drumbeats. And also "Off Point."
As far as composing songs, it sounds like a lot of your songs stem from improvisation, and then you basically take it from there.
Yeah. When we write songs, we actually start with the three of us. We just start to do things, and then we record it, and we take out the best parts that we like. We just keep on jamming and improvising. At the end of song, when we have produced it, Jose writes the lyrics and adds the vocals. That's the last thing we do, actually — lyrics and vocals.