When singer-songwriter Ledinsky released his protest track "DonaldTrumpMakesMeWantToSmokeCrack" earlier this summer, the anti-Trump track quickly found an audience of like-minded listeners and shot to No. 1 on Spotify's viral chart across the globe. Not bad for the native Swede who's been living in the United States for the past decade and initially put together the track as a joke to send to friends.
Here, Ledinsky premieres the song's crowd-sourced and animated music video and discusses how he's using humor to soothe concerns of a possible Donald Trump presidency in America.
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Tell me about how the song first came about. What compelled you to write it?
I wrote it one morning in mid-June. I've been really frustrated about the political climate in this country, and I think it was an expression of that. Even though I wrote it like a joke, the subject matter is pretty serious. I was just sending it to some friends, which I do from time to time, and the reaction I got was so special that I wanted to put it out. I'm good friends with Nadya from Pussy Riot, and she said I had to put it out. I do what she tells me. [Laughs]
Was there one specific thing Donald Trump did or said that became the straw that broke the camel's back and inspired you to write something?
It wasn't one specific thing. No one's used the terminology he's using since the '30s in Europe. I think that his whole campaign feels like a very tragic joke to me. A lot of people dismissed him early on. This is a guy who's running for president who retweets the Ku Klux Klan and talks about the mass deportation of millions of people. I think as an immigrant to this country, it's really sad. I love America and that's why I moved here. America's really at a crossroads right now, and it's up to the people to decide what country this should be. Shouldn't this be a place that's open for everybody and everybody's welcome? When he says he wants to make America great again, what era is he referring to? If he's referring to the '50s, it sure wasn't great for everybody back then. It was great for rich white people. With everything that's going on in Europe with racism and Brexit, I really felt that I needed to say something the way I could say something, which is in song. If you don't say anything then you're part of the problem.
The track caught fire, especially on Spotify. What are your thoughts when you see that the song and its message are resonating?
It's always cool when you get that feeling. That's the whole purpose of music in a way -- communication. Obviously a lot of people feel the way I do, which is really cool. I've received a lot of death threats but I've also received a lot of amazing feedback as well.
The video is really unique. How did the concept behind it come about?
A lot of people started making their own clips so we thought it'd be fun to have a contest for people to submit their own video without initial feedback from me or the label. We set it up through Genero and this Swedish guy, who I had actually known before, made the winning one. We got a lot of amazing videos but I think this one was by far the best. I think it captures the song and the message of it. It's not about Donald Trump, per se. He's just a symbol of the regression that's going on. The song is equally a tribute to America, in a way, and how America has always been on the forefront of change and progress. The new frontiers used to be the moon or the Wild West, and now it's a wall. The video captures that.
Would you consider performing the song at rallies before election day? I know the cast of Broadway's Avenue Q recently joined you for a re-imagined version.
I've been thinking about doing that. I was more happy with having the song lead its own little life. I didn't want to push it too much since it could seem a bit cynical and attention-seeking. That's not what I'm about. I'm definitely going to do some stuff depending on how close the election is looking. It's scary that he has just one person to beat. There should be a zero chance that a guy like that becomes president of the world's leading nation. There's a 50/50 chance we're given. That's a very scary concept.