Fredrik Lindkvist of Fred Lee & The Restless: “Don’t chase record contracts, do it yourself”

Don’t chase record contracts, do it yourself. There are far too many artists, bands that are chasing likes, followers, sending out too many well-written but useless letters to record companies. If you think you have music that needs to be heard by more people, do it yourself. As a part of our series about rising […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Don’t chase record contracts, do it yourself. There are far too many artists, bands that are chasing likes, followers, sending out too many well-written but useless letters to record companies. If you think you have music that needs to be heard by more people, do it yourself.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Fredrik Lindkvist.

From fierce and dystopian hardcore punk to bittersweet folk rock, Fred Lee & The Restless is the result of Fredrik Lindkvist’s (Totalt Jävla Mörker) musical journey. His approach to songwriting is rooted in the darker spectrum of underground culture, yet expressed with colorful and heartwarming ambience. The result is an unique take on folk rock, defined by captivating lyrics and distinct melodies.

Fredrik Lindkvist is mostly known as the lead singer and frontman of Swedish punk/hardcore band Totalt Jävla Mörker. Between the years 1997 to 2017, the band released 4 full length albums as well as 4 EPs and became well-known for their dark, bitter, dystopian sound and most often political lyrics. Parallel to the years in Totalt Jävla Mörker, Fredrik played drums in punk outfit Knugen Faller and guitar in indie-rock constellation Royal Downfall. Fredrik is the current singer of hardcore band RIWEN together with Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna), Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson (DS-13), Christian Augustin (Totalt Jävla Mörker) and Marita Mätlik. He’s also active in classic punk rock band Sista Brytet.

”I love punk, and I love how it has shaped me as an individual. The do-it-yourself spirit has always been there, whatever type of musical project I’ve been a part of.”

Parallell to the years of screaming and playing in punk bands, Fredrik became more interested in singer-songwriter and storytelling traditions. With a love for Billy Bragg, Frank Turner, Brian Fallon, Bruce Springsteen and early soul music, a new set of songs started taking shape. During the summer of 2019, on a long train ride somewhere in Sweden, Fredrik decided to do something with these songs. He came up with a band name, decided on who should be part of his backup band, and established a simple philosophy; honest music straight from the heart, that sounds live even when captured on record. Once he arrived to his destination, Fred Lee & The Restless were born.

In the autumn the same year, Fredrik and his backup band recorded what would become his solo debut album, ”Sleepwalking In Daylight”. With the help of mixer Henrik Wiklund and mastering engineer Magnus Lindberg, they recorded 10 tracks of honest, heartwarming, and bittersweet folk rock.

”I hope that the people listening to this record realizes that I’m more than just hardcore. Maybe even get an insight into my life.”

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Hey, I’m glad that you wanted to interview me! I grew up in a small town, spent a lot of time in the woods with my friends. In my early days we lived in a place called Övre Kågedalen where the mosquitoes were as big as airplanes.I started playing drums one day when I was like 11 years old, i left the city hockey team, well i wasn’t good enough i guess.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started playing covers with my friends, then we discovered punk. It was some years after I started playing drums, maybe I was 13 years old. We were thrown out of our rehearsal room, which was owned by the Church of Sweden, they did not want such devilish music in their premises.

We were of course angry, partly at the church and the rest of the adult world who did not want to help us with a new rehearsal room. Finally we got to play in my grandfather’s tractor garage. It was full of oil and dirt, but it did nothing. We got to play our punk songs in peace.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Would probably say that that was when Lennart Jähkel, one of Sweden’s greatest actors, wanted to guest on our record. It was unreal!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As a punk singer, it is important to check that the mic is taped and the stage is stable. Have had several mics that went out into the audience as well as several scenes that have broken at too much jumping.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Yes, of course it is my solo project Fred Lee & The Restless, which you probably understand, it is quite far from my previous hunting grounds. But I love exploring new ways of expressing myself, before it was by screaming as loud as I could. Now I mostly want to make good songs, for me it does not matter if it is loud or not.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

The entertainment industry, like all instances in society, is involved in creating norms. As long as we live under a market economy, we must be aware and active of those who hold positions of power, that is the only way we can change this.

I want us to be able to see our whole society, not a selected part. To just see what’s inside your “bubble” that does not create diversity.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Don’t chase record contracts, do it yourself. There are far too many artists, bands that are chasing likes, followers, sending out too many well-written but useless letters to record companies. If you think you have music that needs to be heard by more people, do it yourself.
  • Try sleeping on tour. Your body will thank you, fun things do not always happen at night. It can also be good if you are going to drive the tour bus the next day.
  • Find your economist. One thing that can be good is that everyone in the band gets to use what they master best. Then it can be good for someone with a money mind to be responsible for the cash from gigs and merch.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do everything you want before it’s too late. Do not do anything under duress. Enjoy while you can, tomorrow you may be damaged goods.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Yes, I do not know if I am. But thanks anyway.

Well I’ll quote Billy Bragg: “Then start your own revolution and cut out the middleman, Waiting for the great leap forwards. In a perfect world we’d all sing in tune, But this is reality so give me some room. Waiting for the great leap forwards, So join the struggle while you may,The revolution is just a t-shirt away”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My high school music teacher who kept my dreams at a reasonable level. I wanted to sing in the school band, where I played drums. Then he said I could not sing and I would stick to playing drums.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Do not wait for OK from others, do it yourself.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

It would have been fun to talk to Bruce Springsteen, if it’s not possible I would gladly take Brian Fallon. Because I like their music very much!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me at facebook or instagram.

@fredleeandtherestless instagram

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

You might also like...


‘The Foxfires’: “Learn to fail forward. Failure is inevitable”

by Karina Michel Feld

“Go out and experience things; you’ll thank yourself later.” With Ming Zhao & Jen Tonon

by Ming S. Zhao

Charmian Devi: “Take breaks and don’t be a perfectionist”

by Karina Michel Feld
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.