Without any prompting, pop star Lukas Forchhammer volunteered that only 11 Danish acts have been nominated for Grammys in 59 years and only three have won. But no Danish performer had been nominated for three Grammys in one year. Until his band, Lukas Graham, this year.
“OK, we broke through the sound barrier in America,” said the singer, whose band performs Wednesday at the Myth in Maplewood. “The Grammy nominations mean the world to us coming from a country of 5 ½ million people, where only 11 people have ever been nominated. That is amazing. Peer voting for peers, which makes it even cooler. It’s a nice pat on the shoulder.”
The reason for all the fuss can be explained in two words: “7 Years.”
That’s the name of Lukas Graham’s hit song, which is vying at the Grammys for record of the year, song of the year and best pop performance by a group. The song is about revelations at various ages in your life — 7, 11, 20, 30 — up to 61, the age at which Forchhammer’s father died.
“I was 25 when I wrote it,” said the singer, now 27. “I’m from a family where the older and the younger never separate.
“Everyone’s together for everything. Talking, cooking food, making jokes. If you don’t separate, you end up getting a clearer sense of what’s going on around you. You have a close connection with your elders. It’s probably why I am how I am.”
Talking to fans, Forchhammer has figured out the widespread appeal of “7 Years.” People of different ages, he said, latch on to different lines: Teenagers like “I only see my goals,” while people with kids or grandkids like “I hope my children come and visit once or twice a month.”
“Everyone gets older; everyone has dreams and ambitions and families,” the songwriter said last week on tour in Orlando, Fla. “People can put their story into the song.”
A challenging boy
On the five-year-old quartet’s self-titled album, Forchhammer (Graham is his father’s middle name) sings a lot about family members — his dad (the current single “You’re Not There”), his mom (the earlier single “Mama Said”) and his grandpa who taught him about poetry (“Happy Home”).
So was he a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy?
“Both and neither,” he said with a chuckle.
“I was my parents’ worst nightmare. When I talk to my mom about it now, she says, ‘You were challenging.’ My grandmother says, ‘You weren’t a challenging boy. You were just very curious and very awake.’ I didn’t entertain short words like mom, dad, hi, bye. In a stroller, the first words I really liked to say were, like, mashed potatoes and umbrella. Long words. Too much energy.”
Some of the other tunes on the album might suggest a wild boy. “Strip No More” is about pining for a particular stripper who’s not at the club anymore, and “Drunk in the Morning” is a soul-lite booty call that sounds like Maroon 5 acting like Kesha.
Now, however, Forchhammer has become a dad himself. His 3 ½-month-old daughter and girlfriend are on tour with the band. Fatherhood has changed him.
“I don’t fret as much as I used to. I’m a little more relaxed,” he explained. “I appreciate the fact that my girlfriend will go on tour with me so I can be a father and have a proper relationship with my daughter.”
Although Forchhammer has a warbly tenor that might suggest Ed Sheeran, Vance Joy or James Bay, his singing style has a distinct hip-hop cadence and delivery.
“Its more hip-hop than anything even though I’m singing,” said Forchhammer, who began writing lyrics at 12 and songs at 20. “There’s more rap in my lyrics than anything else. Rap first, then folk, classical and rock ’n’ roll. It’s a funny mix. It’s quirky.”
Forchhammer grew up in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Christiania, which has been characterized as a small, rough area founded by anarchist squatters who were threatened by the government. But he survived because he came from a strong family.
“It was a very spare, Spartan upbringing. We didn’t have a bathroom and a toilet till I was 6 years old or something,” he recalled. “It helped shape who I am. All we had was the family.
“We didn’t have a fancy car. I can’t remember when I got my own room. The lack of economics definitely made a big impact. I’ll try to make sure that my kids don’t have everything just because Dad was a successful musician.”
American victory lap
An avid reader (everything from Harry Potter to philosophy books), Forchhammer has researched the Twin Cities area enough to know about its Scandinavian and German roots.
“I noticed that North Europeans generally went to places in America that got [expletive] cold in the winter,” said the singer, who is known to sport a stocking cap onstage.
He’s performed in the Twin Cities for two radio shows — one for KS95 (94.5 FM) at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis and another for KDWB’s (101.3 FM) big Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
In fact, Lukas Graham performed at several Jingle Ball concerts around the country staged by iHeartMedia during December. It was a bit of a victory lap for the band, especially since the Grammy nominations were announced during the run.
“It’s weird and hard to gauge success when you’re in it, especially when you’re in such a big country like America,” said Forchhammer, whose “7 Years” has reached No. 1 in seven countries including England, Australia and, of course, Denmark. “Jingle Ball cemented it for us.”
A Grammy or two might be the frosting on the Danish for Lukas Graham.
But Forchhammer doesn’t forecast great things: “I’m not expecting us to win any.”