After Scoring a Breakout Hit About Growing Up, Lukas Graham Had To Do Just That

Rasmus Weng Karlsen
Lukas Graham

Lukas Forchhammer never expected to be a Grammy contender. But after his band, Lukas Graham, dropped the sweeping midtempo ballad “7 Years” -- which became the fourth top-selling digital song in the United States in 2016, according to Nielsen Music -- it earned three nods, including record and song of the year, pitting the act against Beyoncé and Adele.

Forchhammer was shocked by the recognition but still disappointed when he left the awards show empty-handed. “My girlfriend reprimanded me: ‘Get your act together and celebrate the fact you were nominated,’” recalls the 30-year-old frontman. “She was, of course, completely right. How could I be mad about something that [was never] mine?”

So when the band, which includes drummer Mark Falgren and bassist Magnus Larsson, regrouped to record its recently released third project, the soul-pop 3 (The Purple Album) -- the color is a nod to Forchhammer’s daughter Viola -- it took an unexpected approach. “Instead of, ‘Can we do it again?,’ we tried to focus on, ‘What are we good at?’” says Forchhammer.

He swapped songs about booty calls and crushes on sex workers, which appear on the group’s self-titled U.S. debut, for lyrics that cover his current reality as a father and fiancé in his 30s (“I wish I could be a stay-at-home dad,” he sings on “Lullaby”). The approach is working -- lead single “Love Someone,” an acoustic-pop track, has risen to No. 20 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart.

“I’m more confident in this moment,” says Forchhammer. “No matter how good or bad [the reception is to the album], I’ve been a good father through it. I’ve been good at taking care of my family.”

But even with his new perspective, Forchhammer hasn’t entirely let go of the past. “We still have a lot to conquer,” he says. “We never won that Grammy.”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of Billboard.


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