Q & A with Swedish Bassist Martin Fredriksson!

Irving Ong
Bassist Martin Fredriksson shot by Irving Ong 

 

The bass stylings of musician Martin Fredriksson have taken him around the world and has led him to play sold out shows with a range of bands and artists that span practically every genre, with each new project only further proving Fredriksson’s unparalleled versatility as a leading bassist in the industry. While he is still in his early 20s, Fredriksson has attained more success over the last 10 years than many musicians manage to accomplish over the course of a lifetime.

He currently serves as the bassist in Malloy band with band leader Michael Sims, Anduze band, singer/songwriter SuVi Suresh’s band and the band of Kendall Lake. He is also the bassist for the band Dream Alive alongside drummer David Meyer, who also happens to be the drummer in Frank Ocean’s band and previously played with John Mayer.

Fredriksson also played bass in the band Radiorelics, which has received incredible international attention, most notably for their song ‘Jack Daniels,’ which remained on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart for the majority of 2014 making it to No. 9. In addition to being played on more that a 115 radio stations, ‘Jack Daniels’ also made it No. 23 on the National Airplay Top 50 Rock Chart. The band continues and has since changed their name to Mary’s Mischief.

As a bassist Fredriksson is known for his shocking versatility and magnetic stage presence, which have been a huge factor in him becoming the sought after musician that he is today. From the more psychedelic, melodic rock style of the band Dream Alive to SuVi’s sultry R & B sound, Fredriksson’s talent on bass is never ending.

In 2012 he also played bass on stage for Laura Warshauer, who was chosen by BMI and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame to be the recipient of the first ever (Buddy) Holly Prize, at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago.

Fredriksson has earned an impressive list of accolades for his skills on bass; in fact, he was given the Musicianship Scholarship for the Bass program at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles in 2011.

You can check out Martin Fredriksson rocking out on bass with the band Dream Alive in the video below:

 

To find out more about this incredibly talented international musician make sure to check out our interview below!

 

Where are you from?

MF: From Nyköping In Sweden, 1 hour trip Stockholm. A great town to grow up in as a future musician because it’s a city filled with a lot of bands and young musicians.

How and when did you get into music?

MF: My parents bought a bass and a guitar as Christmas gifts for my sister and I when I was about 10 years old. I took the bass and have never let it go since.

In Sweden we have public music schools that offers all children the opportunity to learn to play instruments or sing at a very low cost. I started as early as possible, at 10.

My bass teacher probably saw my interest in music and some of my skills as he let me sit in and accompany his guitar students during their lessons. About two days a week I went directly from school to the music school for these extra sessions. The students I accompanied were often much older than myself, which gave me a lot of challenges as a new musician. During these sessions I learned a lot about how to be alert and really play for and with other people. Sometimes I’d complain that the time I spent at the music school was so short; and my teacher would then joke that there were no other students that spent as much time as I did there.

My first band, The Junk, was initiated by my bass teacher. He waited until I was 12 years old and then he asked me and some of the most talented students in the music school to meet and form a rock band.

From then on it’s been moving on in a good pace with a lot of different music and artists.

How many instruments do you play and how long have you been playing each?

MF: I play a little bit of upright bass and I have started to play some piano at home just for joy. I also took weekly solo singing classes at the local school of music for 2.5 years. I have just been practicing as background singer in bands on stage.

What did music do for you?

MF: Music has been a big part of my life from the start, both by listening and practicing the bass and learning to play songs by ear. I get very calm and concentrated when playing which really only happens during those times. When I had to do school work at home I often took breaks just to play for a short time so that I’d be able to continue with the school work again.

When I was 16 I was chosen as a young “successful” musician to be presented in a poster together with about 100 other people with different backgrounds and ages from my home municipality. There was a quote from the interview on the poster at the exhibition that said: “Life flows when you play, everything will be alright!”

That is still my experience. I am always very comfortable when I am rehearsing and performing on stage, pretty much anytime I get to hold my bass.

Why are you passionate about playing music?

MF: I love to feel the vibes while performing with other professional musicians. It’s just a very passionate flow and it is also very satisfying to see the response of the crowd, audience and band members.

Also arranging music together with a band and feeling that we have created something great together is very satisfying.

Who are some of your music influences, and how have they influenced you?

MF: My first big influence was a blues musician, Memphis Gold; and my first concert was a big blues festival in Sweden where he was playing. We were walking around and he caught sight of me because I was so young I guess. He gave me this record, so what could I do? I just had to play the bass along to all the songs on the record; and since then I have always loved playing blues.

Then there was a time of admiring Iron Maiden and other bands that played melodic hard rock. It was also a big challenge to learn to play their songs. Another big influence I’ve had for many years has been Eric Clapton. From there on I’ve found a bunch of other musicians that have influenced me in a lot of different ways.

How would you describe your personal music style?

MF: I love to play many different genres, but I guess my heart right now belongs to soul, funk and blues. A very important part when I am involved in arranging is that the songs is very melodic and also has variations in melody and strength. I like to play very melodic and love to improvise, in the settled frames of course. I really like to have a strong connection with the drummer I’m playing with because that creates a strong backbone for the rest of the band. I’m very fond of playing very rhythmical bass lines that are kind of at a crossroad between the drums and melody.

Which bands and or projects have you played in?

MF: I play in a lot of bands and for many artists. I’m a part of the bands of Suvi Suresh, Malloy, Anduze and Kendall Lake as well as the groups Dream Alive and Mary’s Mischief (formerly Radiorelics).

Some other bands/artists/musicians I have played with are guitarist Johann Frank who was supported by Phil Collins and is currently touring the world with Engelbert Humperdinck, Major Myjah, who is signed to Warner Brothers, Jasmine Villegas, and in 2012 I performed with Laura Warshauer at Lollapalooza. Some other artists are Caitlin McGrath, Tore Bojsten, Mimi Rom, Cody Sky, Jennie Tran and Q’orianka Kilcher. I have recently recorded eight songs for a Japanese hip hop artist called Daichi.

Have you released any music videos with any of the groups you’ve played with?

MF: I’ve done several music videos with the band Dream Alive for the songs ‘Don’t Say No,’ ‘Waiting So Long,’ and ‘Drifting Away’ all of which were made by veteran film producer Irving Ong who’s produced several Hollywood film including Heartbreakers starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver. We also released a video for the song ‘See You Tonight,’ which was created by Fred Teng. We’ve also been working on some live performace videos shot live in studio with the singer/songwriter SuVi.
What are the challenges of being a professional musician?

MF: The constant stress and pressure to always be well prepared and ready for anything. Last minute changings happens all the time. And there are no certainties or guarantees in the music business; it’s all up to you.

What do you think separates you from other musicians?

MF: Coming from Sweden it is not easy to express this, but I am often told that I contribute to a very tight, steady and powerful rhythm section and that I have a significant powerful tone when I play. That in combination with a melodic and sensitive way of playing is perhaps what I contribute with in a band.

People also tells me that it really looks as if I enjoy acting on stage, which I really do. I always want to be prepared before the shows so that I can concentrate on the collaboration with the singer and the other musicians and feel comfortable improvising my bass playing.

How do you feel when you’re playing on stage? Was it something you had to get used to, or were you immediately comfortable in front of the crowd?

MF: I think people can see that I love what I do, sometimes I just lean back, close my eyes and enjoy the moment, and thereafter, enjoy the moment by being very active on stage. I have had this longing to play on stage from the start.

I have been performing frequently since the age of 13, and feel very comfortable in my bass playing. Therefore I can be very relaxed on stage and just enjoy the flow and the feedback from people in the crowd.

Aside from playing music in the bands you play with, do you write any of the music or lyrics?

MF: I write songs as a co-writer in several of my bands. It is very inspiring getting in a very creative feeling and then hear the complete song. I started to write songs together with my first band at the age of 12.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases?

MF: The band Dream Alive will release a new video soon. It supports the title song of our latest CD, “Drifting Away.” The CD has got great reviews, which is very promising for the future. We are now discussion the dates for a tour in India to Chennai. It will be in the beginning of next year, but the dates have not been decided yet.

What are your plans for the future?

MF: My plans for the near future is to continue to play in professional bands and collect as much experience as possible by doing this. I have had great luck being asked to join bands with very professional and well-known musicians, who I had only read about before. It has been very inspiring and motivating to have been accepted by my fellow musicians.

All parts of being a musician is great; writing songs, rehearsing, recording in studios, playing in venues and touring.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as a musician?

MF: As nearly all musicians, I hope I will be able to work as a musician and earn my living by doing that. Then of course I hope that I will have the possibility to develop my skills as a bass player and keep the love of music going. And of course it would be great if I could get another hit-song with a band. We had a Billboard hit with the band Radiorelics in 2014 called ‘Jack Daniels.’

Have you won any awards for your work? Can you tell me about them?

MF: I got the bass scholarship for bassist when I enrolled at Musicians Institute. When I was 12 years old I, together with some friends from school, started a band and we worked really hard composing and rehearsing. We won the Culture Prize from a magazine called Frotté when I was 13. Our first real gig was at the castle of Nyköping in front of a big audience, when we got the prize.

Two of our songs were voted in on a regional radio station’s top list (Top 5) when I was 14 or 15 years old. It was very exciting the first time we were on the chart as the whole class was listening together in the class room.

Why is music your passion and chosen profession?

MF: It has been a dream since the early teenage years. I immediately felt that music and playing bass was something I immediately could relate to. It just feels meant to be so I’ll keep doing what I love most.

 

 

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