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Sweety Gonzalez: Jose has a quiet word with Guerilla

Jose Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez is a very quiet man. His conversation is muted, muffled even.

"Sorry if my English isn’t so good," he whispers, looking at the floor.

But it seems entirely appropriate that Jose is so softly spoken; his success is down to his delicate guitar playing and gentle vocals. Jose can make people listen to him without making much noise at all.

The 27-year-old didn’t always trust the power of the quiet side. As a teenager he played bass in several punk bands, before moving on to acoustic guitar. He made his debut album Veneer whilst studying for his PhD in biochemistry. The PhD was never completed, although he notes he’s more likely to become Dr Gonzalez than go back to his punk roots. "I didn’t have time to do music and to study," says Jose. "So I had to leave my degree on the shelf."

Jose Gonzalez Veneer has been a hit throughout Europe, spreading into America. In Britain, Jose became well known after a cover of Heartbeats, by Swedish electro act The Knife, was used on an advert.

Jose is Swedish, too. His less-than-Nordic name and olive-skinned good looks can be explained by his Argentinean parentage. "When I started playing guitar my father encouraged me a lot," he says. "He gave me two song books. One was thick and yellow with Beatles' songs and the other was full of bossa nova." He'd love his music to sound like that of American singer-songwriter Cat Power, who is also famously shy. "Musically I think I am far more like her than, say, James Blunt," he says, fiddling with the strap on the guitar case lying by his chair.

"I plan to spend a lot of time at home soon, working on a new album. I recorded the last one at home. It's not too hard when it's just guitars and vocals."

He blushes a little, uncomfortable with admitting how talented he is.

BBC Collective review of Veneer


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