Danish trio Lukas Graham, fronted by Lukas Forchhammer, has reason to celebrate. Their 2016 smash hit “7 Years,” which topped the charts in 13 countries and earned three Grammy nominations, has become the first track by a Danish artist to clock 1 billion streams on Spotify.
Perhaps their song “Take The World By Storm” (also from their debut album) would have made for a more obvious headline. But that likely wouldn’t suit Lukas’s subtler, introspective style. At least that’s how we felt after he stopped by Spotify’s Stockholm office to talk about this incredible achievement—and more. Lukas touched on his earliest musical exposures and influences during his upbringing in Copenhagen’s Christiania commune, how his songwriting process has evolved across albums—and the effect Spotify has had on his band’s meteoric trajectory.
You are the first Danish artist to reach one billion streams. What’s going through your mind as you reach this milestone? What would you like to say to fans, those from the Nordics and worldwide?
Only a few days ago did I realize how unique this is. It’s pretty amazing to be the first to do it, especially considering how many amazing Danish acts came before! ‘Thank you’ is a word too small to use, but it’s the only one I have. Thank you for listening and for continuing to listen.
How did your upbringing in Christiania, a commune in the center of Copenhagen, influence your musical upbringing? What were your earliest exposures to music, and who are your most memorable musical influences from that time?
I guess that the amount of concerts and different genres of music performed in Christiania has had a huge impact…I was exposed to everything from Irish folk to pop rock and more heavy electronic music, as well as more culturally highbrow classical music. So I went to concerts from a very young age. I specifically remember watching Rage Against The Machine warming up for the Stone Temple Pilots and the Fugees warming up for Das EFX. Both in the Grey Hall in Christiania. I was about seven years old coincidentally. My father’s record collection was probably my biggest inspiration in the early days, and as a teenager rap music took over in terms of lyrical content.
Your 2016 self-titled album Lukas Graham (The Blue Album) has a different sound from your newest release, 3 (The Purple Album). How would you say your style has changed? How about your creative process?
The style of our music changes to fit the songs that are being written. Different themes and stories influence the overall sound, and I don’t think anyone on our team ever wanted to be creatively static. On the contrary, we’re constantly trying to get out of our own box, so to speak. Also why I write with so many different writers now—in an attempt to catch something unique that we as a team haven’t been able to. With that said, I still write the bulk of my material with the same good ole boys, Stefano, Rissi Rissi, and Pilo.
What would you say is the role that Spotify has played in your career from launch to now?
I’m not sure if it’s too much to call ourselves the Arctic Monkeys of Spotify. I feel like our international breakthrough came about because of Spotify—the way streams in the Nordics and Germany pushed an unknown act into the global top 50 with a song that wasn’t available outside of the Nordics and GSA. It was a trippy ride, and luckily we’ve landed on the other side without losing our minds.
What artists are on your recently played? Any that fans might find surprising? Plus, what’s the most surprising sound/artist who’s influenced you?
I’ve been trying to keep up to date with a few of the newer releases, listening to two Danish rappers called Branco and Gilli. Kacey Musgraves’s latest album, and it’s impossible not to mention Billie Eilish. Nineties rap has influenced me the most lyrically, and musically it’s folk music, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones.