The Power of Love – Jesper Lindgren Interview

Posted: September 11, 2018 in Classic Rock, Classic Rock - Interviews, General, Jämtland (County), My photographs

Rockers are, generally speaking, pretty decent people. You will not hear about problems at major rock festivals like you will about certain other events, that is just a fact. On top of this, many musicians are involved in charity and good causes and that has only increased over the years. Case in point, Ronnie James Dio was heavily involved in good work that he seldom got credit for or even talked much about. But he was right there when he saw that he could help. People in Los Angeles probably knew more about that side of him than his general fanbase around the globe, and I think this goes for many well known stars and celebrities in the rock field. Which leads me to Velvet Insane guitarist and band leader Jesper Lindgren, who comes out of my neck of the woods (Östersund, Jämtland County), a man that is definitely of this particular sort of ilk. So much so that he has his own annual event called Stjärnfall (translates roughly to Shooting Stars) for charities in Östersund, a choice that comes from him having a big heart as he sees injustice and causes that needs help when money is in short supply. This years event is coming up on November 17 and therefore I decided to shed some light on this young man and his incredible journey. I mean, this is a great guy and he deserves some attention.

So what happened here is that I basically asked him to put his thoughts into words and send it over to me so that I could get some background as I intended to write this piece. What I got was so good, so detailed and so honest that I could use chunks of it for the article without really adding much. So what you see here is the end result, and I did offer Jesper a chance to check it out before putting it up here on the blog. So all in all, this is as real as it gets and I am honored to be able to do it here. If you read this all the way through, you will see why.

Early days

– “In my case, my driving force comes from having grown up in a home in which creativity was important, more so than sports. We were three kids and we expressed ourselves through music, art, reading and creating. Always creating. If you wanted a record you had to save. From this I learned how to appreciate the value of money and that you should be nice to people”.

– “School was a lot tougher. I felt like an outsider and I was sort of pushed to the side. When the other kids dreamt of getting the latest phone or the latest gadget, I was dreaming of becoming a rock star, wearing clothes and makeup like Marc Bolan. There was a great longing as I listened to my parents records, Elvis, Slade, Dr Hook. This sense of being an outcast accelerated in 7th grade and I even stopped eating for a while. My secure place was my boyhood room, with the posters of Kiss, David Bowie and Def Leppard, and all this great music. I listened to glam rock and other forms of rock. I practised on my guitar for hours every single day, just practised, practised, practised. It was the same in school, I spent my time in this musical bubble. I was one with music, everything I did was geared towards that interest. I was the guy that practised all the cool poses in front of a mirror, just dreaming. When I was 14-15 I got my first band together and my status in school was elevated, I was suddenly ”the guy that played the guitar”, or ”the rock star””.

High School era breaks and setbacks

– “So we recorded our first EP and did concerts. I made sure that everybody got a copy of that record, I really went for it in a big way. In High School, I felt that I had lost my way, I did not enjoy life much and I probably had a lot of unresolved issues that I carried with me. There was this pain inside. At 16, I met my first manager, He was booking HEAT to Östersund and said that we could be the openers. The concert never happened but we decided to work together. At this point, I had tried to start a new band but failed, so the manager and myself went back to the old band to give it a shot. There was a lot of big talk, big visions, big promises, but nothing really happened. It bothered me that nothing seemed to work and it had a very negative impact on me. I took it very personally”.

Julia and Michael

– “By 2012, in my third year in High School, we lost our friend Julia at school. She had fought cancer and I recall arriving at school one day and the flag was at half mast. Lots of candles and that smell. Our class assembled in this room, there was quiet music in the background and we talked about Julia. It was during this period that I decided that I had to do something. I wanted to pay tribute but I also wanted a way to open up myself, to be able to express in action what I could not with words. So on December 22 that year I set up Stjärnfall for the first time, to celebrate Julia and to give the proceeds to the proper charity. It was a wonderful night with good support from the local scene and although I felt very tired I also felt that I had finally done something that I could be proud of. My band had been part of it and we had filmed our show. Later, me and the singer sent copies just about everywhere, to magazines, musicians, managers, record companies. It payed off when Michael Sandén, whom worked with Mando Diao, Crashdiet, Backyard Babies and Hellacopters, got in touch. He wanted to sign the band and it was all this talk about the future again that I had heard before, but that could now surely become a reality. I put him on a pedestal, he was Jesus. The guy that would make it all happen. But later that summer he went to the UK for a tour and overdosed. My world chattered, I felt guilt, panic, angst and sorrow. The band folded, I stopped playing. I even stopped dreaming. I spent that period feeling sorry for myself and I was angry. But I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted to celebrate Michael since he had had such a belief in us and so came the idea for another Stjärnfall, this time in his honor. I wanted to fight for what I believed in, so I set up this show and for that I needed a new band, which became Velvet Insane. I wanted it to be a bit androgynous, like my early heroes, and I wanted the music to be energetic, melodic and without fear. And this is what I have been doing ever since, and we have toured the world, seen chart success especially in the US (the band won an award in Los Angeles) and I really feel we are doing it on our terms”.

Inner demons and success

– “I spent 2014 and 2015 trying to get everything in place, and to allow myself to feel good about myself. Not to let small setbacks halt everything, but to allow it to grow without listening to the little demons that I had carried for so long on my shoulders. In 2016 I resurrected Stjärnfall again as a way to show a friend in a bad relationship that there were help available. The proceeds went to Kvinnojouren, an organisation that helps battered women that are in need of protection and help. I had seen this wonderful soul getting abused, raped and beaten. I could not reach her and this concert was my way of doing something. In 2017, Stjärnfall worked with FATTA, an organization that works against sexual violence. It was a natural continuation of the previous event. A friend of mine from the school days had been raped and I was so angry. I went for it bigtime and it was larger than on previous occations. It went down well, but I nearly kind of hit the wall. The day before Stjärnfall I had been involved in another event with Thomas DiLeva and Lisa Miskovsky and I had yet another job, a talent show for youth, coming up within days, among other things. It was just too much. I cried a lot, I was shaking and I could not eat. And to make it work I had to put up money myself which added to the stress. It was a learning experience”.

Love and happiness

– “Now I feel that I am back again, more prepared than ever to take on new challenges. I have found this calm inside. In a way, Stjärnfall is not only a way for me to help others, it has also been a way to help myself. To meet the inner demons face on. To live. It has been a vent for me. This year, Stjärnfall is about openness and love, it is a night for everybody. This year the proceeds will go to RFSL and Östersund Pride and the support is bigger than ever”.

– “Now that I sit here and write these words, it hits me that I would like to thank some really special people. My parents, for always supporting me, my thoughts and ideas, and especially my mother for her keen eye for good music and stage clothing. Jonas Eriksson for always being my right hand man, Anna Ulin, Håkan Borgsten, Sven Mörén, Louise Öhnstedt, Andreas Karlstrand and the rest of the ”Fager gang”, and to all the wonderful people that have been supportive and always been there. The future looks pretty darned good from where I am standing”.

Stjärnfall is likely to see a return next year for another cause, but coming up next is another exciting chapter for Velvet Insane, with a brand new album and a new burst of work around the globe to start before Christmas. But that is another story.

By Mike Eriksson (Trinkelbonker)

(My live images)

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Comments
  1. […] mentioned these chaps before (they are from my neck of the woods after all), and I did publish an interview with Jesper Lindgren a while […]

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