Velcro Dog – fjord noir by Tony Gonzalez. Read the interview with the singer-songwriter about his new solo project.

Photo: Ida Muren Olsen

You define your sound as “fjord noir”. But what does this definition mean to you?

Although I am indebted to American country and folk music, I am at best a tourist in these genres and therefore feel I can’t accurately represent them. Being from coastal Norway, fjord noir seemed like a more fitting term to describe what Velcro Dog is: stark, monochromatic, Nordic and raw. On a more superficial level, the words just look and sound cool together.

Velcro Dog is an acoustic project. Why does this format suit the concept best?

The general idea with this project was to strip my music down to its bare bones. I wanted to challenge myself: sing about deeply personal subjects, be vulnerable and unafraid. A minimal acoustic format complements this sentiment perfectly, because it’s equally naked and exposed.

The project draws inspiration from folk, Americana and country traditions. Could you name a few specific artists and tell us more about some songs that are especially significant for you?

Pygmy Lush is a band that has been a source of inspiration for me for well over a decade now. They don’t fit neatly into any one box, but there are definitely folk and americana elements in their music. Songs like “Frozen Man” and “I’ll Wait With You” are breathtakingly beautiful exercises of constraint and clever songwriting. 

For something with a more country flavor, I’ll go with Gillian Welch. The quality of her music has been almost annoyingly consistent throughout the years, so I could basically pick any song from her catalog. I’ll go with “Everything Is Free” because of its haunting melody and subdued anger, and “The Way It Goes” for its morose insight into tragic fates.

Then there’s Townes Van Zandt, a songwriter of epic proportions. I’ve been obsessed with his song “Lungs”. The lyrics and mood are so apocalyptic, it gives me goosebumps. “Waitin’ Around To Die” is another great one with storytelling on a godlike level.

Lastly, Sharon Van Etten’s album “Because I Was In Love” has been really important to me, especially its minimal production. The album is wall-to-wall high-water marks in my book, but if I have to choose a couple of songs it would have to be “Consolation Prize” and “It’s Not Like”.

If we’re speaking about songwriting, where does your inspiration come from? And what is the most fascinating for you about the process itself?

What inspires me the most are the people I’m fortunate enough to have in my life and the ones I sadly don’t have anymore. But inspiration can basically come from anywhere. Music, the ocean, books, traveling, movies. Songwriting is fascinating because you literally start with nothing, carving ideas out of thin air. The catharsis of seeing those ideas through all the problem solving and headache is really something special.

Do you have your music already released anywhere – digital platforms etc..?

No, nothing released yet, but I’ve recently recorded my debut album and I’m currently making plans for getting it out in the world. For me, having it released on vinyl is essential. With the current backlog on vinyl production, it probably won’t see the light of day until next fall. But I’m aiming to release some singles before then.

You played the debut concert on November 18th at Rosendal Kafé. What was your impression? And what are your plans for this project next?

That was both a nerve-wracking and jubilant affair, and my impression is that it went over really well. It definitely made me want to play more shows, which I plan to do more of in the near future.