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Integral to the rise of influential independent Swedish labels like Raw Fusion and GAMM, vinyl-buying fans of hip hop and soul will have found it hard to ignore the barrage of 16 releases and remixes featuring the name Freddie Cruger or pseudonym Red Astaire over the past few years. Despite the majority of his music being released purely on vinyl to date Cruger has gained many devoted supporters including names like Jazzy Jeff, Bobbito, Gilles Peterson, Quantic and even Erykah Badu.
Hailing from the southern district of Stockholm, Sweden, Cruger has been making beats for a decade or so. Aiding his graduation from bedroom producer making simple instrumental beats to hit-capable producer carving out an album of soulful reggae, b-boy disco and dark ghetto blues are a handful of guest vocalist. Soul?stress Linn, who glides in like a Scandinavian Jill Scott on ?Pretty Little Thing,? and the talented MC ADL represent Sweden. Joining them are Swingfly on the dancefloor bound ?I Feel Quote Whatever?, Rapadon, Anthony David on the Latin-tinged ?I Wanna Make You Move? and bluesy ?New World Time?, and Cee-Rock ?The Fury? from the USA with Desmond Foster from Jamaica on the good-time reggae flavored opener and ?Something Good.? ?I?ve had some of the songs since way back in 1998 and have never grown tired of them, so they had to be included,? says Cruger. ?It took me a while to get this album done, but now I?m in the zone, I could make the next one pretty fast!? he adds.
You won?t find Swedish pop or black metal on Soul Search, instead Cruger brings an album that could easily have come straight from one of the five boroughs, never mind Stockholm. ?My music must have some Swedish feeling to it but I can?t really pinpoint what that means,? says Cruger. ?I have always been attracted to rhythm, drums and percussion, and have been deep into Reggae, Soul, Latin, Funk, Rap for as long as I can remember.?
For Freddie Cruger, real name Fredrik Lager, the first foray into the world of hip hop was as a break dancer in the early 1980s. An older brother encouraged the dancing and introduced Cruger to Black dance music. By the mid-1980?s Cruger worked weekends at a legendary import record store in Stockholm called Space (although apparently he had to take on janitorial duties to get a foot in the door!) The store job was a way to build a record collection, and Cruger lined his bedroom shelves with electro and rap releases, plus disco and funk 12" and 7"inch classics. The urge to make music took-hold and he bought his first drum machine and turntables before the decade was over, ?this was the best investment I?ve ever made,? says Cruger.
Around 1991 he met with Mad Mats and a friendship grew around time spent in Mats downtown Stockholm studio. ?I knew him when he still had hair on his head,? jokes Cruger. ?But seriously he was making dope beats way back then.? Mats would later create Raw Fusion Records, the influential Swedish independent and future home for Cruger?s music. Cruger?s first release was a limited edition affair in 1994 under the name Chimney Heads. Since then he?s released 15 more releases (either original or remixes) and worked as a producer with artists like China Moses (daughter of Dee Dee Bridgewater), Bob Powers (Tribe Called Quest, The Roots), Rappadon, Baz Baz, La Nata (France), ADL, Desmond Foster, Linn, Swing Fly, Anthony David, Bas-1 and many more. He?s currently signed to Raw Fusion Recordings in Sweden but and has also released music on Swedish Brandy, GAMM (as the notorious Red Astaire) and his own Home Grown label. Until the release of Soul Search, ?Follow Me? would be Crugers most lauded release to date. A mash-up using the accapella of a well-known soul tune with one of his own beats proved to be a party pleaser with DJs worldwide and the birth of the infamous GAMM mash-up label. In the spring, Cruger released an album as The 3 Foot People called 3 Foot High And Rising, a predominantly instrumental available on his own Homegrown label.
When not producing he might be travelling the world as a renowned DJ spinning a road-block causing blend of soul, hip hop, funk, disco and beyond. With a changing market Raw Fusion has recently taken on the role of production company and farmed out Soul Search to Ubiquity for release in the USA and Canada.