Lukas Forchhammer’s cheek is full of bread and Brie as he explains the secret power behind “7 Years,” his band Lukas Graham’s thrice-Grammy-nominated single. “Within this angelic singing and songwriting,” mumbles the 28-year-old Dane, “there is a lot of frustration and anger for what we go through as human beings.” In the course of our January brunch on the rooftop of a boho-funky West Hollywood hotel, Forchhammer will both belch and quote Nietzsche and enunciate with such fortitude that Dr. Evil comes to mind. Forchhammer grew up in Christiana, a self-governing enclave bounded on all sides by Copenhagen, where hippie ideals clash with gangs that exploit the legal weed trade and distrust of authority runs high. When Lukas Graham signed with Warner in 2013, Forchhammer had the label excise the bit that said it could tell him what to wear. Today he’s sporting a white tee, black Levi’s and a fresh haircut that he says makes him “look like a lesbian raver.”
“7 Years” -- which is up for record of the year and song of the year, along with best pop duo/group performance -- is both a sensitive song inspired by the untimely death of Forchhammer’s dad and something he wrote in three hours after his producer woke him from a nap by playing the melody on piano. The sound mixes Forchhammer’s father’s Irish folk records, rap and the classical music he learned while in the Copenhagen Boys Choir, but the most implausibly catchy part is the message: a celebration of getting old and settling down. “I love this song because it’s so deep yet so simple. It’s political without being political, social without being social,” says Wyclef Jean, who plans to cover it. Rivers Cuomo beat him to it on Instagram, while celebrities like Jessica Alba have uploaded family photo montages set to it. “7 Years” was the highest-selling single by a debut artist in 2016, and Lukas Graham is now the biggest Danish act in history.
So how did Forchhammer celebrate his big year? “I was boring,” he says. Actually, he became a dad himself, in October. He and his girlfriend -- they have been together since high school -- now live two blocks outside Christiana.