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True Romance

It’s hard to imagine the heightened emotions of fronting a band in front of thousands of people before you’ve even hit your 16th birthday. And yet, that’s where Linda Sundblad’s storied musical career began. Truthfully, she doesn’t feel much of a limelight-hogging songstress when we start talking. She’s relaxed and honest, with a visible authenticity about her. A person who earns a wage from her voice and stagecraft, but it feels like it has an on/off switch.
“I’m a singer, but being an artist is something I have a love/hate relationship with. Music and performing are all I’ve ever done, but I’m not a narcissistic person, so for me to talk about myself and what I’ve done is very tough. It exhausts me,” she explains, cupping a coffee cup.
Despite this, Sundblad is six weeks into a new career phase as a solo artist, recording under her own name. “This time, it’s all about me. By that, I mean I’m making the decisions about who to work with, how I want to appear, taking control of my publicity, social channels,” she explains.
So, if it’s not an overwhelming desire for recognition or adoration, what is it that’s promoted a return to recording? She smiles: “I still have this ‘talent’ if you want to call it that. I still go on stage and connect with the audience. It’s like an old familiar habit; I don’t know anything else. This is what I do. Obviously, I do other stuff; I became a mother, etc., but this is in my blood.”
Sundblad explains that the industry is almost unrecognisable in the decades that have passed since her Lambretta days. In her youth, bands and artists were put in a box similar to other creative pursuits. Someone would tell you who you were and what your sound was and emphasise that you don’t deviate from the path. When she veered off her course and collaborated outside of the rock scene, she was called a sell-out. Today, she uses the word freedom as an umbrella term for the music business. 
She smiles again. “But going back to it, I don’t think you have to be a narcissist to be an artist. I have a talent and a level of experience, but I’m also always evolving and honing my craft,” she says.
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As with many creatives who enjoy renewed interest in their work, Sundblad is bringing the experience and wisdom of age to the table this time. “When you stop making excuses and just commit to who you are, what you do now, and accept what you used to do… when you have worked those pieces out, you have a clear vision. You and your work become more truthful,” she notes.
Looking back, Sundblad feels annoyed that she allowed herself as a person to be forced to conform to preordained ideals. Today, she doesn’t feel like she’s ‘acting’ anymore – she’s the authentic Linda Sundblad. Handling almost every aspect of her career as an artist has already resulted in a sense of pride in her achievements. She feels empowered and more creative and can see the results of her passion and craft. “It’s nice to build this virtually from scratch, without a safety net,” she says, adding, “I’ve not worked like this before – it’s exciting and rewarding. Worst case: I get another job. I’m not scared!”
Casting her mind back to her entrance into the industry at 15, Sundblad reckons that if she had her current level of knowledge, she’d be rich. As it was, she admits to having made costly mistakes. Unsigned contracts or collaboration vocals with artists she bumped into in studio corridors and a lot of expensive stage costumes. Linda laughs, noting that she’s still trying to unravel publishing deals and credits to this day, some twenty years on. We talk through royalties owed, legal wranglings and private jets with such openness it’s easy to sit back and let the industry tales flow. She’s enjoying the detective work, though, and feels that the investment in solidifying her musical ownership gives her back a sense of freedom.
We tap into some of her memories from Lambretta to understand what it must have been like to ride a massive wave of success.
“Lambretta was fun! We had good success from ‘01 to ‘06 and worked with amazing producers. We went to this festival called Bizarre in Germany, just about the Bimbo came out. It was 11 in the morning, and 15,000 people sang our song at our first proper gig in Germany! In your home country, you have love, but when you’re in a different country, that’s very special. That day, we saw No Doubt, and Gwen Stefani was in the dining area next to me. I was pinching myself to check I was awake.”
Off-stage, Sundblad also enjoyed her share of acclaim as a style icon, working as a model during the early 00s. As someone comfortable in her skin, she wanted this experience. “When you do that, you’re a chameleon. You wear what you’re given. You get used to being a different sort of you,” she says.
Her current stylist has encouraged Sundblad to select three words, or drivers, to work towards a style that fits her personality. She tells us she’s landed on ‘Riviera’, ‘Italy’ and ‘punk’!
So, a new creative adventure, singles and albums are incoming, three-word style in the bag and, with it, new merch!
“I did a first merch collection, which was the album cover. But now I want to try out new stuff. I’m exploring the concept of True Romance quite a lot. It’s a challenge, but it’s an ethos I’m promoting. I am a true romantic, and I hope other people are too. I still believe in this. So, I have two lyrics on the shirts, ‘And then you grab my hand and call me babe and isn’t that romantic’. The other is ‘I will dance you through a crowded room’. I wanted those two lines in the merch. These are some of the things I’d do to show you I’m a true romantic. Both those sentences are meaningful to me.”
Like many artists and music lovers, merch holds a special place in Linda’s heart. Her take is that putting part of the music into the merch takes on a new life and meaning. “Merch is cool like that,” she says, continuing, “It connects you with people. Even if the merch and the message are subtle – you get them; you know a bit about them. You share a connection, something on a subconscious level. It’s like you say hello without even opening your mouth.”
We say our goodbyes, from our perspective, a little wiser after being immersed in the world of Linda Sundblad. Talented, undoubtably. However, the savviness from working in the music industry through many of its most significant changes over the decades hits home the most. The confidence to create that comes from those attributes is compelling and inspirational.

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