We’re only four months into 2016, but Danish band Lukas Graham is already on track to have one of the biggest songs of the year.
The pop-soul group’s coming-of-age ballad “7 Years” has hit No. 1 in countries around the world and reached No. 2 in the United States on Billboard’s Hot 100 while racking up well over 300 million Spotify streams. Its self-titled, U.S. debut album is earning comparisons to Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and Ed Sheeran.
amNewYork talked with lead singer and songwriter Lukas Graham Forchhammer.
“7 Years” became a huge hit very quickly. What do you hope people take from the song?
From what I gather from the fans and other people I talk to about the song, the biggest takeaway is the overwhelming sense of family and belonging. The age progression [in the lyric] makes it easy to relate to, and without a real hook it sounds original in this age of fast food and popcorn. As long as people aren’t expecting me to give them a “reason for the song” I’m happy. It’s important that everyone finds their own meaning.
Many people think of you as a pop or soul singer but you often cite hip-hop as a big influence. What grabbed you about hip-hop?
Growing up in a poor neighborhood, where the police harass you and the media write lies about you, you become inherently afraid and that fear becomes anger. I found that the anger in ’90s gangsta rap rivaled my own. I could relate to N.W.A. saying “[Expletive] the Police,” because when you get frisked and forced to empty your school bag out on the ground at the age of 10, you do end up relating more to Dr. Dre than the Backstreet Boys, which is also why the song “A Change is Gonna Come” [by Sam Cooke] is one of my favorite songs to sing.
You sing a lot about your parents on the album. What are the most important lessons they taught you?
They both taught me how to be me and to try and not be affected by other peoples’ opinions. There’s this quote that says, “Those who were seen dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music,” that always stuck with me. Other than that, simply that practice makes perfect and hard work pays off.
Is there a theme that runs through the album?
You could call it a snapshot of my life from 20 to 30 — from the challenges I have gone through to the benefits I’m reaping now. A lot of the album was cathartic to write, but then again some of it was pure fun and joy. There is always a balance, and when you get it right, that is what we call bliss.
Lukas Graham will perform at Highline Ballroom on May 9 at 8 p.m. and Rough Trade NYC on May 11 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 and $25, respectively.