Swedish musician Fredrik Larsson created a musical project titled FreddeGredde to highlight his skills as a musician while bringing in his love for pop culture. With Medleys on pop culture aspects such as The Big Bang Theory, Super Mario Bros, and Disney, combined with countless original songs, this project is a certain success.
Below is an interview with Fredrik Larsson about his life, his music, and the music industry in general.
How did you get started in music?
How I got started in music… Does that mean how I started playing instruments, or how I got into the business? I’ll do both.
Maybe dad influenced me more than I’ve given him credit for. He’s completely tone-deaf, but he always encouraged me to develop talents. There are home-video clips from when I was 2-3 years old, plonking on some kind of toy piano, and we had a real piano in the house pretty early on, even though I didn’t take any classes. My brother did for a while though.
Still, lots of music and instruments around me growing up, and then it’s natural to also dabble in it.
If you mean how I got into the business, I just posted a couple of videos on YouTube long ago, and they happened to get popular. I’ve never really been more involved with the business than that. Do you think that not having music lessons made a difference? For me personally no, I don’t think music lessons made a different. Or maybe in the sense that it would have killed my interest in music. I don’t like being told what to do and what is the right or wrong way. When I learn things, I want to experiment and do it in my own pace. I might not play in the traditional “proper” way, but I do believe it opens for more creativity and originality if you figure things out on your own. Though of course, the internet will give you any further information you need. Would you want to go more into the business aspect of it?
Absolutely not, or I would have already. I dislike how greedy the music industry is, and how every success is squeezed as much as they possibly can by labels and publishers that don’t really have anything to do with the actual music. We can all compose, produce and release music independently these days. No need for business men to get a large share of the profits.
Why do you think that the music industry is like that?
There are many horror stories of happy bands getting “signed”, only to not get studio time or PR because the label decided they were not going to be a commercial success after all. And their contracts state they’re bound for a number of years, and their careers die completely. Also, labels usually give an artist around 8% of the profits, which is insane to me. Should be at least 50%. But artists are powerless or they think they are, so the labels have the last say.
Another example is how as soon as there’s a big hit, all the other labels and publishers start looking for similar artists, similar songs, similar styles, and flood the market with their own copies. This is certainly not about musical integrity or passion for music; it’s about making money.
And of course, when I had a few popular videos, I was flooded by ”offers” and people ass-kissing and so on. You think it’s because they wanted to be nice? No, they wanted to profit off me of course. That’s just capitalism for you. All industries are “greedy” and we can’t expect anything else as long as money rules the world. But, it would have been nice if art could have somehow transcended that, if we could have some integrity instead of always striving towards fortune. How does the internet affect labels and promotion companies?
They made a lot less money at first, because of pirating and much tougher competition since now EVERYONE can reach a bigger audience. But they might have recovered now, as they’ve slowly learnt to use the strengths of the internet, rather than fight against it.
What do you think the music industry will look like in the future?
I really don’t know when and if there will be any big changes. We’ve already had a pretty big revolution now, where independent artists and bands can find an audience and make money. That’s the big step that was needed.
Why is it so much easier now to compose, produce and release music as an individual?
Technology. It made sense in the ’50s, the ’70s, all the way up until the ’90s to dream about getting signed by a label because they were the only ones who had the ability to make albums and promote them. That’s also why fewer bands and artists became “superstars” back then.
But now, all you need is a microphone and a laptop, and you can create professional sounding music. And there are hundreds of online companies that can press CDs for you, who can distribute your music to Spotify and iTunes, and who can promote the music for you. And you can promote yourself through YouTube and reach millions of people all over the world, for free.
How do you use the internet for your music career?
Everything is on the internet. YouTube, digital sales, communication, etc.
How does that affect your career?
I wouldn’t have any career whatsoever. I’ve never been interested in performing in front of a crowd; I just like the creative aspect of music. So, the internet is a necessity for me.
When you first started making videos do you think that you would be where you are today?
I didn’t think much about the future, so I guess the answer is no.
What were your thoughts posting your first video on YouTube?
It was Fur Elise on guitar when YouTube was still a relatively new thing. There were a couple of guitar renditions of the song, but none that played the whole thing. And I thought that sucked, so I really just wanted to fill the gap. “There should be a full version of Fur Elise on guitar on YouTube. it does have around 3 million views now, but it wasn’t a big deal back then. It has just slowly slowly gotten more views during these 10 years.
How do you decide what you cover, or create medleys of?
It’s been different for different videos and medleys. For video game medleys, it’s mostly music I actually like and I want to do my own thing with them. For many of my videos, it was to make the audience happy, choosing popular songs depending on the theme. For example, “The Cartoon Medley” would be a bunch of songs that people feel nostalgic for, myself included. So, it only made sense to create it.
Can you describe your process for creating music?
If you mean composing, I sit down with an instrument and just improvise, testing random notes and chords. Then I keep the ideas I like, put them together, and that’s really the gist of it. Lyrics are not important to me, so they come at the very end, when the melodies and structures are
What’s the most important part of music to you?
I’ve kind of already explained it. I like to hear creative and experimental details, something that shows that the composer tried something new. But of course, it also needs an emotional component, like a chord change or melody that attempts to move you. Otherwise, it’s kind of pointless.
You do have original songs uploaded, does the process differ between
those and covers or medleys?
Yes, of course, it’s completely different. Original songs is what I described earlier. It’s about composing something new. Making covers and medleys is just taking already existing songs, learning them and putting into a new context. It’s much simpler.
How would you feel if someone covered one of your original songs?
It has happened a few times, and it’s always flattering, that someone put in the effort of figuring out how to play my own songs. It’s basically the highest form of flattery.
Of all your work, both originals and covers, do you have a favorite piece of music?
Probably my Brighter Skies album. With that album, I didn’t care at all about how it would be perceived, I just made music I’d personally enjoy, and I’m still very happy about it. Especially tracks 1, 2 and 7.
What about tracks 1, 2, and 7 make them your favorite?
There’s a lot of things going on in them, new themes introduced and subtly returning in different ways, like the songs are their own adventures. And with those tracks especially, I think all the themes have the emotional touch I was aiming for. I never really like going back and listen to old songs I’ve made, but these are some of the few exceptions.
What about now? What do you think the future holds for you?
I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish by now. So, I don’t know.
What inspires you for your music?
None, anymore. It used to be any music that challenged me, that made me think “wow, how did they do that?”, and I wanted to figure out how to recreate it, but in my own way. But nowadays I never hear anything new anymore. So, music doesn’t excite me these days.
What would you want to do in the future, ideally?
I don’t know. I could do anything, but there’s nothing that interests me these days.
Why do you think that there isn’t a lot of exciting new music?
Music is kind of limited. You can go away from the general rules and laws that makes music “pleasing” to listen to, but the further away you go, the less appealing it will be. So, 99% of all music that is made is very very similar. It’s a 4/4-time signature, a standard four chord loop, the usual scale and phrasing for melodies and so on. That’s nothing new, and it’s been boring for as long as I can remember. There are other genres and more experimental music that try other things though, and I used to deep-dive into that stuff and find things I had not yet heard.
That was a long time ago though. As someone who was into music mainly to experience new things, creativity, the well is empty.
Do you think that can change?
My lack of interest in music? I doubt it.
If music isn’t quite interesting you as much anymore, would you want to pursue another field?
I’ve wanted to do something within animation, but it’s very time-consuming, so we’ll see if I ever get to it.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
To be patient. Most people stop playing quickly because they think they “don’t have talent” or “it’s not their thing”, but no one is good right from the start. There’s a saying that you need ten thousand hours of practice in order to become amazing at something. So, don’t give up, keep trying and you’ll get there with time.
If you could send out a message to all of your fans, what would you
Stay in school, don’t start smoking, and be nice to all humans and living creatures.
Those are the questions. Adding context to the questions, Switching Styles also has a profile on FreddeGredde. Feel free to read it to learn more about this musician.