Lukas Graham may be new to Americans, but in most of the world, Lukas Graham is an award-winning, star act. The winner of multiple Danish Music Awards (e.g. “Album Of The Year,” “Peoples’ Choice Award”), in addition to the European Music Award for “Best Danish Act,” much has happened internationally for Lukas Graham since the release of their 2012 self-titled debut. Yet the story goes back even further than that, with frontman Lukas Graham Forchhammer being classically-trained and part of the Copenhagen Boys’ Choir.
Rounded out by Lukas’ childhood friends Mark “Lovestick” Falgren (drums), Magnús “Magnúm” Larsson (bass) and Kasper Daugaard (keyboards), the soul-pop quartet’s latest single, “7 Years,” already has over 40 million streams. It is currently in the Spotify Global Top 50, also having recently topped the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists Chart. Los Angeles tastemaker KROQ was an early supporter of the single, as were Chicago’s KQX and SiriusXM’s The Pulse.
Lukas will be in town for a one-off appearance at The Mercury Lounge on Monday, Dec. 7. Several days later on Dec. 10, they will be making their U.S. television debut on Conan. A recent signing of Warner Bros. Records, more music is to be expected in 2016.
I had the opportunity to conduct some Q&A with Mr. Forchhammer in advance of his trip to New York. His “last words” were great, to say the least. For more info on him and band in the meantime, click on over to www.lukasgraham.dk.
For someone who hasn’t seen you live before, what should they expect from your gig at The Mercury Lounge?
Lukas Graham: They can expect a bunch of boys who know what to do. Tight musicians and a vocal performance not found in many bands today. We like to start a party, but performing live, it’s important to keep our audience in contact with deeper emotions. When we get people to laugh, dance and cry within the time frame of a show, we know we did a good job.
When you’re here in New York for your show, is there anything that you look forward to doing while in town? A particular landmark you hope to see or a restaurant you hope to check out?
L: There’s a particular building in Brooklyn, just by the Williamsburg Bridge, and from that rooftop you got a perfect skyline view of Manhattan. Besides that, I’m looking forward to an ice cold Blue Moon.
I believe your first gig in New York was at SOB’s in 2013. Was there anything particularly surprising about your first tour of the U.S.?
L: Calling it a tour might be a bit over the top, I mean, we played a showcase in SOB’s NY and the Hotel Café [in Los Angeles]. What shocked us all at those two concerts, was the fact that a lot of American major labels wanted to sign us. It was an amazing confidence booster.
Was there a particular album or artist that motivated you to pursue as a career as a musician?
L: A lot of music motivated me to pursue my dream. From the British Invasion bands, the black soul and rap music it all pushed me to be better and write more. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001 probably did the most for me, but at the end of the day, it was my father, supporting and guiding me through the jungle that is the various genres of music and its industry.
What is your favorite part of being a musician for a living?
L: Being happy when I’m working might just be the biggest bonus. All my life I’ve been seeing people unhappy with the job they had and the life they lived. I used to ask my mother and father, why people would keep a job they didn’t like. My mom told me that not everyone had a choice in the matter. That’s when I decided to do my best, and to strive for happiness in my job.
In your native Denmark and much of Europe, you’re already a big star, yet in the United States you’re starting over in a way. What is it that motivates you to work so hard after having tasted international success?
L: “Onwards and upwards” is my motto. Our goal was never Denmark or Germany or even Europe. We wanted to get noticed in the States, because while we might be a bunch of kids from Scandinavia, our music is American. I think people over here are going to “get it” more over here.
What does 2016 look like for you? Perhaps a return trip to the U.S.?
L: I have no idea what we’re doing next year, but I’m sure we’ll be back here! The tempo is being picked up and it looks like we are about to hop on the ride of our lives. Not that we are in any way ready for it. (laughs)
When you’re not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
L: My mom and my sisters are a big part of my life and so are my friends from my neighborhood. I love seeing them and going out to dinner. Food and wine must be some of the better things in life.
Do you have a favorite album of 2015?
L: Dr. Dre’s Compton. Very well-produced and a proper old-fashioned head-banging rap album.
Over the years, I’ve personally learned a lot about Danish music through Mew and a number of Copenhagen Records artists like Spleen United, Mads Langer and Tim Christensen. Other than Lukas Graham, is there a Danish recording artist that you can recommend to our readers in New York City that they may not have heard before?
L: MØ, you guys should definitely check this girl out. She has a very distinct vocal and cool songs, but at the end of the day, she is a really cool person. I love her vibe and the way she carries herself through the maelstrom that is popularity.
Finally, Lukas, any last words for the kids?
L: Don’t look up to musicians and sports stars, and especially don’t look up to the reality show stars. Look up to your parents and older siblings, and if they aren’t proper role models, find a good teacher, a doctor or a coach. My point is, that having a talent isn’t going to make you a better person, but a good person can utilize talent more.
-by Darren Paltrowitz