Lukas Forchhammer, frontman of Danish rock band Lukas Graham, was in Malaysia for a three-day visit earlier this year, and he was on a mission – to eat as many Malaysian foods as he could.
“Tasting food might be one of my favourite things to do. “I haven’t been to Malaysia before. Since I have only three days in Kuala Lumpur, I just try to read as much as I can about Malaysia and try to taste as many local dishes as possible. You’ll be surprised how many people don’t even bother trying local foods when they go travelling!” the 30-year-old musician said as he munched happily on rambutans and langsats during our interview.
Formed in 2011, Lukas Graham currently comprises Forchhammer (Graham is his middle name), drummer Mark Falgren and bassist Magnus Larsson. The band released its self-titled debut album in Denmark in 2012, before following it up with its second (also self-titled but better known as The Blue Album) in 2015.
That second album proved to be the band’s breakthrough, containing hits like Mama Said, Strip No More and its biggest single to date, 7 Years, which topped the charts in Denmark, Britain and Canada, among other countries, and also the Top 10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.
The song was also nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2017, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
The band released its third album, 3 (also known as The Purple Album), last October, which Forchhammer was in town to promote. “Our songs and albums have been so big here that it’s a pleasure to finally get to come here and promote our music,” he told StarLifestyle in an interview. “Hopefully come back for a concert as well!”
What can you tell us about your latest album, 3?
When we started writing this album, we had a lot of songs revolving around family, especially my daughter and fiancée. It suddenly became a very family-minded album, which wasn’t our goal to begin with, just like how the Blue Album wasn’t meant to be a sad album about my father. But that’s the way it ended up.
What would you post for a 10 year, or a seven year, challenge?
Instead of a 10 year challenge about what I was doing 10 years ago, I think we should do a 10 year challenge to see how much rainforest there was 10 years ago and how much there is now.
I think it’s sad to see so many celebrities engaged in a 10 year challenge that has nothing to do with anything but ego. I would like to see a 10 year challenge that has something more to do wit spirit and consciousness and awareness about the planet we’re living on.
I think it’s very important that when you have a platform like mine, we talk about things that matter for the next generation. I don’t do it ALL the time, because I know it gets annoying and then no one would listen to me! But I just do it sometimes.
I’m still dreaming of a day where we stop talking about people like me and start talking about doctors and engineers who are actually changing the world for real.
Let’s be honest, in 200 years, who is going to be listening to 7 Years? But in that time, I hope people are still enjoying the rainforests.
Still, you’re a celebrity on social media, where everything you do will be judged. How do you balance the more socially-aware side of yourself with being a famous musician?
I try to use my platform to spread awareness to a certain extent. I’m very well aware that most people who follow me would rather talk about music and post beautiful selfies. I also do that, even though my selfies aren’t that beautiful!
Sometimes I can see that I lose followers, but again, who cares how many followers one has? If people don’t want to hear me talking about things that matter to me, then it’s OK. Just don’t follow me. They can go follow the Kardashians!
What were your expectations when you started the band? Did you expect this much success?
It’s safe to say that we were not expecting it at all! The success came so suddenly for us. Our goal was to be able to perform music for a living, and now we’re doing more than that.
That’s why I also try to help more people other than myself by creating consciousness and awareness about things that really matter to humanity.
I was born in a very marginalised community, where second-hand clothes and eating leftovers was the norm, so I know I can be happy with nothing. And now that I have almost everything I could have dreamt of, I realised that money and things will never make me happy. So why not share it and make the world a better place?
What causes are you most passionate about?
Homelessness and refugee aid are two causes I have been looking at over the last few years. We do big concerts back in Denmark where we collect clothes for refugees in the Syrian crisis, I did a collaboration with a homeless newspaper in my country before Christmas to raise awareness about homelessness in our country.
Homelessness, especially is something I’m trying to champion, because it’s an issue in my country that I think is relatively easy to handle. We are a small country with six million people with one of the highest GDPs in the world, highest standard of living and highest equality standards in the world. So why do we have homeless people? Because there is still something broken in the system, and we have to fix that. It takes time for real change to happen.
Would you keep on being a musician then?
It’s what I’m good at! I’ve been singing professionally since I was eight years old, I can’t stop singing!
We were talking the other day about what we would rather be, deaf, blind, or mute. And I would definitely rather be blind than deaf or mute, because that would mean I couldn’t sing. It’s OK not to be able to see the world, as long as I can still sing.