With his debut album now on general release, this talented and unique Swedish singer/songwriter took time out from his busy recording schedule to give me an insight into his working musical mind….
BFL: How old were you when you first picked up a guitar/sang? What was it (if anything) that initially inspired you?
LN: I was about 15 years old, playing on and off. My father taught me a lot back in 2008-2009. Ska in general inspired me, it was really new to me. BFL: Are you self-taught? LN: Mostly. My father has taught me many things with music. Especially guitar. I look to him when I have questions or want to learn something new. BFL: Do/did your parents or siblings play? Were they supportive of your music? LN: I am the only child, so from both my parents, my father was the only musical type. He was in bands when he was my age and played different instruments, but mostly guitar. They were always supportive of my music. BFL: Do you play any other instruments? LN: When I was younger I picked up drums. Since I played table tennis for about 7 years and was competing in it, drum practice got in the way. Today I sadly don’t play either of those. BFL: Earliest influences? LN: When I was young and got fast-speed internet for the first time, my friend came to visit me with a mohawk(haircut), he was a typical punk-rocker. He downloaded a lot of punk videos from a website and listened to it. At one time he downloaded a live video of a band called Catch 22, and I thought it sounded cool. He did not dig it as much as me, though. I guess they were some influence in a way or another, basically the first ska band I ever heard. BFL: Did you have a clear idea of a style of guitar/songwriting style you wanted to develop or did it just evolve naturally? LN: The punk-rock guitar sound I developed naturally. I focused a lot on the ska part, since it was a different way of playing guitar at the time. BFL: What does your guitar practice schedule involve? LN: Currently it is scales. You cannot practice them too much. Then of course the chords. But mostly scales. Playing them in harmony, if you know both, will paint a very pretty picture. BFL: What moves you/excites you in other musicians and drummers? LN: Since I am really into ska music these days (and have been for about 15 years), it is how the hi-hat can be used along with the upstroke of the guitar. It produces some kind of ‘heavy’ beat which kind of gives me a great feeling and puts me in a great mood. BFL: In terms of the songwriting/creative process, how,when and where do your ideas originate from for songs? LN: I start with the beat of the song. If it is fast, slow, or ‘yeah’, you kind of just nail a beat. After that I kind of think of melody and other important foundation stuff for the song. Then I start writing the text. Usually a few words, and it naturally almost writes itself from that point. Maybe I go back and change a few things. When you have the beat, guitar and bass for the song, I kinda do ‘takes’ on singing every line, pick the best line and use it in the song. So basically, the singing comes last. BFL: What song is most representative of your writing and your playing? LN: From what we have done so far, I guess ”All Of My Thanks”, it is a very personal song, and I never really do personal things in music this way. But when it is regards to playing we have a song from the new album called ”Ska Punk Hero” that I wanted to do for about 4 years now. It has a pretty cool solo that I like pretty much. It represents my current guitar experience pretty well. BFL: Do you have any rituals before playing/songwriting? LN: If I can, meditation. Doing that gives you input when you want to play instead of just picking up the guitar and doing your thing. BFL: What equipment do you use and why? LN: I use a Star guitar with a Marshall amp. When I record I like to use virtual amps, since it is easier to define the exact sound you want. Not too pointy a pick either. BFL: Are there any tips you can share with us about getting a good (or your own)live/studio sound? Is the room, the mics, amps? And how important is it for you hear the other guys?(i.e. Monitor sound) LN: Since I used virtual amps quite a lot, you can set the room size, microphone and everything there. When I play with the Marshall amp you can kind of feel all this in the size of the room, mic, etc. But I prefer to play in a middle-sized room. I noticed that it produce the best sound for me. BFL: What do you feel makes a great musician AND drummer? LN: For all music, there is kind of a sense or spirit to it. That is why everyone plays their way, nothing is alike. When you notice the spirit in your music, you can build upon it and make it more Lars-ish, or whatever. You can build upon your foundation as a musician this way. BFL: What do you do to relax/hobbies? LN: Well, I am not a really interesting person, I just try to recap with my friends, go eat something, and I spend a lot of time home. Trying to maintain my portfolio as well, since I like digital art a lot. BFL: Do you do any sport to maintain fitness to perform? LN: When I was young I played ping-pong(table tennis), but now I just head to the gym every now and then to maintain my body a little bit. BFL: What are the best and worst parts of touring/gigging /recording for you? LN: I haven’t really toured or played live but when It comes to recording, well… I guess to post-process all raw recordings. Sometimes when I’m recording, and haven’t slept for a while, my brain turns on auto-pilot and after a few minutes I realized I finished all the recordings for a song that I was working on! That could be kind of creepy at times. BFL: What is your favourite country/county/town/arena/pub or club to play in? LN: I have not got myself together so much that I wanted to try do a live-show just yet. I don’t really know why, though. BFL: What are you listening to at the moment? LN: I have revisited my childhood favorites ”KISS” quite recently, other than that it is mostly ska music. BFL: Are there any other young bands/songwriters that have impressed you recently? LN: Im not really sure with young, but the band Smash Mouth who were pretty popular during the 90s-early 2000s, impressed me with their music. Wow, I thought they only had one song (ironic smile) BFL: Your new album,has just been released,tell me a little about the inspiration for it and how it became to be recorded. LN: I have two main things that I really like to do, music and digital art. I wanted to put my footprint somewhere for when I get older. I wanted to show people something when I get older. That is when I talked to Yasmine(Yasmine Sketcher-sound engineer/producer-SketchSound) about just doing something, putting something out, at least (except the first maxi-single). POTSHOT is a band that always inspired me. The guitarist turned to art and produced the cover art for our album, and I always looked to him for inspiration (especially the faster ska guitar sound). I kind of tried to study him at times and implement that guitar sound into our music. Since they are japanese, I guess you can really tell the difference in ska between American and Asian. It just sounded like shorter upstrokes and I think that was pretty cool. They also had a very ”Ramones”-ey feel as well. BFL: You worked with young swedish producer Yasmine ‘Yazz’ Sketcher from SketchSound on your latest album, how important was the relationship with the producer/sound engineer in making this album? LN: I think it was very important since it made the whole process far clearer and helped what I was are working toward. BFL: Do you feel its important to collaboarte with a producer?(in terms of songwriting and developing a musical style/sound? LN: It depends on how much help you need. I believe songwriting is important to come directly from the artist. But mixing and putting the song together is important to come from the producer. BFL: Roughly what balance of ’old’ to current music do you listen to? LN: Old to current… Hmm… there is another Asian rock band called ”BOW WOW” that my father played had in the car once. Older 70’s / 80’s rock ’n roll. They are pretty cool. And of course ”KISS” When it comes to newer music, I like to follow the now defunct “POTSHOT” band and see what they are up to. I listen to a lot of their (old members) music too, for example ”Ryoji & The Last Chords” (Indie / Power-pop / Ska), ”Red Claw Scorpions” (Ska / Punk), ”Jun Sky Walker(s)” (Rock). BFL: Your most memorable gig/recording/music moment to date and why? LN: ”A Piece of Freedom”. It is the longest song on the new album. I wanted to put in a lot of feeling, but only got half-way on that part. So I guess it turned out to be a longer, rock-ish song instead. It is still decent. BFL: What projects are you involved with at the moment? projects? LN: I am turning a lot to my other passion now, digital art. In terms of music, well… I always wanted to do something regarding our first versions of the songs. BFL: Do you have any advice for young musicians thinking of taking up music in general? LN: When you understand music is your passion, you can feel the motivation start flowing in your veins. Use that motivation wisely, it might or might not come again. When you start walking that line, there is no turning back. Keep that in mind. BFL: What plans do you have for this year? LN: Improving the portfolio and… We will see. So far, I feel this year will be a very good year with a lot of opportunity. I am grateful to take every part of that as I can.
“When you understand music is your passion, you can feel the motivation start flowing in your veins. Use that motivation wisely, it might or might not come again. When you start walking that line, there is no turning back. Keep that in mind.” Lars Nilsson. ‘Rock Is On The Loft’ is availibale on all the major music platforms.