Who: A microbiologist turned rocker from Sweden who was planning a career in academics or pharmaceuticals until he released his first album, 2005’s Veneer, and found fame with a cover of the Knife’s “Heartbeats” on a TV commercial and The O.C.
Sounds Like: Jose Gonzalez’s music instantly recalls other mellow introspective folk-rockers like Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, but the singer’s significant South American influence sets him apart.
Three Things You Should Know:
1. Gonzalez, who considers himself an atheist, titled his new album In Our Nature in reference to the debate over whether human behavior is biologically dictated. Science, philosophy and religion are major lyrical themes for him. “I don’t want to be too harsh, but there’s very little evidence for ‘intelligent design’ or any sort of creator,” he explains.
2. Before high school, Gonzalez spent a summer taking classical guitar lessons while also playing in a punk band. “I wore dreadlocks and rode a skateboard,” the singer remembers. “The rest of the guys in the band were really bad at school — I was the one who did the homework.”
3. Gonzalez’s parents are from Argentina, but they moved to Gothenburg, Sweden, for political reasons in 1976. The singer’s two primary languages are Swedish and Spanish.
Get It: Jose Gonzalez’s In Our Nature comes out September 25th.