Swedish songwriter Ledinsky gave The Knockturnal an exclusive interview about his debut EP, “High Society”, which includes a track titled “DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack.”
How did you get your start in music?
My dad was a jazz musician so I grew up around jazz. I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. I started quite young working at a record store and I started working with all of the music, but it’s a hard question to ask because it’s sort of always been there. There wasn’t a point in my life where I got into music and started doing that. For me it was always a no-brainer that I would be making music. It’s always been there.
Do you have any important mentors?
Yeah. It depends on how you define a mentor, but I have some spiritual mentors. I’m a huge fan of Gore Vidal, so even though I never had the chance to meet him, he’s been a mentor. And Neil Young, I would say. And Nadya in Pussy Riot, she’s my mentor.
What was it like adjusting to the United States when you moved here from Sweden?
When I moved, I had been going back and forth for quite some time and my parents used to live in America before I arrived. Growing up, I was so influenced by American culture, so it wasn’t that weird for me. It felt more natural being here than being in my native Sweden.
What is your creative process like when you make music?
I’ve been writing for other artists, so when I was doing that, it was all very different. It’s like trying to adjust to someone else’s creative process, in a way, but when it comes to my music, like this EP I’ve done, all the songs actually came about the same way.
I woke up, hungover, and stumbled down to my basement and wrote a song. If it’s something I consider that I’m happy with, it always goes super quick. I often start with the lyrics; it comes out straight away. The times where I sit and change stuff, then going back to those songs, it always feels written to me, it doesn’t feel like something that wanted to come out. I have a rule that if it takes more than half an hour, I just don’t do it, which is good too because it works with my horrible work ethic. I don’t like to work more than an hour per day.
Speaking about working with other people who have different creative processes than yours, what was it like working with Dave Sitek, Erik Hassle, and David Sandstrom?
Those guys are all like super close friends of mine. So it wasn’t really like, “Oh we’re doing a recording session now,” we were just hanging out. I played most of the instruments on the EP, but I was hanging out with them and they did some stuff. It was more like that.
You described your new song “DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack” as being a protest anthem. Is there anyone you support in the presidential election?
I’m definitely supporting Hillary Clinton, I guess. It’s long overdue that this country gets a woman in office, but that said, she’s got a lot of luggage. I think this whole election is final proof that the two-party system doesn’t work. I think there should be more candidates and different roads for people to choose. It’s quite unique what this country has, with the two-party system; it really doesn’t work. I’m definitely voting for Hillary because I don’t want to give 500 nukes to Donald Trump.
You said that your new song is about your love for America, your “adoptive parent.” Can you speak more on that?
I don’t hate Donald Trump. I used to watch his TV show, I thought it was funny. I just think that he is a symbol for a lot of things that are wrong right now and the whole terminology he uses, no one’s done that since the ‘30s or ‘40s. I grew up loving America, I do love this country. It is the New World, good and bad, but that song is more about feeling desperate about where we’re going because I don’t think people understand where this train goes.
Our generation, it’s not even a concept for us, a worldwide conflict. We haven’t seen a world war, we think world wars are something being fought somewhere else. I just think we’re on the path to something potentially horrible and it scares me, and that’s what it’s about. This country used to be in the driver’s seat when it came to a lot of things like civil rights and feminism. The concept of this country of being the New World, to right the wrongs made in Europe and push human progress to take us to the moon and now it feels like it’s the opposite.
Nadya from Pussy Riot is the one who told you to release this song. Are you two close?
Yeah, I mean, we’re friends. I’m a huge fan of hers. I think what they did, that organization, her and her friends, is one of the most important political actions that’s been made in the last decade and she’s very inspiring to me. I’m friends with her, but I’m a huge fan. I do what she tells me to. I was just going to send it to some friends and she was like, “You should put it out.”
It seems like your priority is to make yourself happy with your creative decisions rather than to simply do what makes the most money. Can you reflect on this philosophy?
I had a quite turbulent childhood and growing up I was always scared of not having money to pay rent and it made me make a lot of bad decisions. I came to a realization, my parents died quite abruptly, and I realized that I was repeating all of their mistakes, doing things for the wrong reasons, so I kind of promised myself to focus on what really matters in life. That’s what really changed my life, in a good way. The irony of it is that I actually started making more money when I stopped caring about it. Money is what you make it; it’s about where capitalism has gotten us, and it feels like there’s no sense of society or supporting the weak nowadays. It’s just about how much money you have or things you got and it doesn’t lead to a good place for anybody. I don’t know any super happy rich people, only miserable rich people.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who’s just starting out in the music industry?
I think in order to be successful in music, you have to be very passionate about it. When it comes to that, I think the most important thing is to try and enjoy it and have fun. I know it sounds corny, but for me, if music gets boring, then everything is boring. People say you should work hard and stuff, I don’t really believe in that. I think if you feel that you want to say something through music or other artistic expressions, then you should do it and try to enjoy it. Gore Vidal has a quote that goes, “Write something, even if it’s a suicide note,” and I think that’s a bit brutal, but it’s true. I think it’s better to do something and do it for the right reasons.
The “High Society” EP was recorded in the spring of 2016. It features five songs and is out now.
- “High Society
- “Peace and Love”
- “Bankman Came Took the House Away”
- “What It Takes”