Danish singer Lukas Graham shares his musical inspiration with Lydia Jenkin.

Twenty seven year old Danish singer Lukas Graham Forchhammer has one of those stories that sounds like a music industry fairy tale, but actually belies the hard work behind his newfound success.

His band (who are somewhat confusingly also called Lukas Graham) might be on the cusp of world domination right now, with their single 7 Years reaching number 1 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and number 3 in the US. But they're no overnight sensation, nor a record label product. They have simply spent the past five years building a following in Denmark, then Scandinavia, and then Europe, since they began in 2011 by uploading Youtube videos of their songs, which eventually resulted in being signed by Warner Bros Records in 2013.

"It's been a decent amount of work, but it's amazing to walk into a grocery store or a cafe and hear 7 Years.

"It's quite hard to comprehend, coming from a country of 5.5 million, to see the music not only reaching America, but also Australia and New Zealand and Japan, and all these places that seem very far away to me."


7 Years is a particularly heartfelt song for Graham, because it was written in response to his father's sudden death in 2012. It was an event that has not only shaped his life, but also had a great impact on his music.

"7 Years is really about having a life I guess, as a 20-30-year old guy, you know it's about personal development, learning things, and also about losing my father. And then finding a spark in life, finding the power of music again.

"I hope when people buy the record, they know they're going to have a laugh too, though - I want to make people laugh and cry, and to remind them about the good things and the important things in life. I hope we can achieve that with this record."

Another key influence for Graham was growing up in Christiania, a liberal-minded free state in Copenhagen.

"I never experienced what it was like to feel poor, even though we were, by normal measures. But I remember later on realising that other families might have a lot of stuff, but that didn't really make them happy necessarily. The kids weren't proud of their parents, the parents weren't proud of their kids, they weren't necessarily connecting with each other.

"So growing up in Christiana felt like a privilege, it gave me options and opportunities to make mistakes, and run a little wild sometimes, and still have a supporting, caring, family who've got your back, and want you to be happy and fulfilled."

Graham was serious about music from a young age " he was a member of the Copenhagen Boys Choir from the age of 8, and by his mid teens, had worked out that his desire to blend together Irish folk sounds (drawing on his father's heritage) with hip-hop, and techniques he'd learned in the choir, was perhaps a little unique.

"The choir really gave me a confidence in knowing that my interpretation of a song, and my delivery was unique. I think bringing all these styles together actually happened quite naturally, and gradually, because I grew up singing funk music and listening to The Beatles, and all sorts of music. And then joining the choir, I was given a lot of different tips and techniques for singing, how to use your diaphragm, and use your voice in different ways. And then I just started singing my own songs, and somehow it evolved."

7 Years is a perfect example of Graham's unusual approach - it doesn't follow any current conventional pop format, but it's clearly connecting with people anyway.

"I think the idea of ageing and growing, and confronting your mortality is something we can all relate to for a start. But also it has a very sing-song lullaby-ish quality, you know, and that's quite an old-fashioned style.

"It doesn't have a conventional hook, it's more like an old Irish ballad or something. And also, it's a real story, and I think people always respond to real stories."



Lukas Graham


Self-titled album out now

Listen to:

7 Years, Mama Said, Drunk in the Morning.