After hitting #1 in 13 countries and earning 3 Grammy nominations, the Danish artist returns with a storied new album that beautifully captures the last few years.
The sun had just begun to set on snow-covered Copenhagen when Lukas Graham called in on his way home after a busy day prepping for the release of his fourth studio album. I was lucky enough to get to chat with the Danish artist and catch up years after the release of his global hit, “7 Years." Ironically, it has been seven years since the release of the song that catapulted him to the top of the charts and solidified him as one of the most unique voices of his generation.
But what most people don't know is that life looks a lot differently now for Lukas. He got married and is now a proud dad to two lovely daughters. The pandemic pushed him to reconnect with his childhood as he settled in Denmark for the creation of this new album. He put his nutrition and health at the forefront, inspired by the birth of his children. Despite all the change, Lukas's passion and love for creating music is strong as ever, and it is reflected on his upcoming fourth studio album titled, 4 (The Pink Album).
What becomes clear from the start of our conversation is how grateful Lukas is about, well, everything. His positive energy is radiant, and his easy-going nature made me feel like I was on facetime with an old friend. He constantly reminds himself that the journey he experienced, along with all its highs and lows, brought him to this point. While music is his passion, Lukas cares immensely about people, especially those closest to him. During our conversation, we delved into his writing process, the inspiration behind the new album along with its unique collaborations, and what his music career has been like the past seven years; but Graham truly shone when talking about his love for connecting with others. He shared touching stories about spending time at home, building a community around his career, and even catching up with old friends in Copenhagen recently, some of whom even attended kindergarten with him. At one point, he flips the camera around to show a fiery Copenhagen sunset, another thing he genuinely expresses a gratitude for.
Despite the lengthy journey that brought him to this moment, Lukas is embracing this new chapter. Almost five years since the release of his third album, he is thrilled to share 4 (The Pink Album) with the world, and get back on the road where he can share the love and care behind this project with fans. His tour kicks off in Oslo, Norway next month and will take him all over northern Europe, something he is extremely excited about. As we discussed his plans and hopes for the future, Lukas was eager to reminisce about what the last few years have meant for his career and his own personal journey. Happiness is an understatement. His appreciation and love for life is contagious, and I left our conversation with a newfound sense of gratitude.
It has been 7 years since the release of your song, “7 Years” which marked a whole generation. What have these past seven years looked like for you and does that song mean anything different to you now than it did before?
LG: When I wrote “7 Years” I didn’t have any kids and I hadn’t gotten a record deal in the States yet. In the song I [wrote about] traveling around the world, I said that my woman brought children for me, and now, I did travel the world. I have two, wonderful daughters. It’s like I wrote this whole prophecy about my own life, which is kind of insane! It’s really crazy. Also, I am past thirty, so the next age in my song would be sixty-one, which is the age when my dad died. It’s like, I am thirty-four years old, I travel the world and sing and write songs for a living. Sometimes my daughter asks me, “What do you do?” and I go, well I write these songs and I go out and I sing them, it’s a very surreal life. When I wrote the song in 2013, I was just imagining what was life supposed to be like? And it's just crazy that that is what life is now.
It is really interesting to see all the things that you talked about in that song becoming a reality.
LG: Yea, I was twenty-four when I wrote the song and I had just started dating my girlfriend, now wife, and the first half of the song is the life I had lived up until that point, and then from the last half of the song is what I imagined my life to be like later on. It’s so weird to speak your own reality into existence.
4 (The Pink Album) marks your fourth studio album. What was the creative process like when you were bringing this project to life, and did you draw inspiration from specific places?
LG: It was the weirdest album process. I started writing the album in between Copenhagen and Los Angeles, and then Covid hit, and I had to rebuild my studio in Denmark so that I could record vocals. I had to buy a bunch of stuff that I normally do not use in Copenhagen because I usually record in LA. I had to find some new collaborative partners, and it took me four years to finish this album. In the middle of it, in 2020, when my second daughter was born, I decided to go get some help.
Go to rehab, fix my personal and spiritual condition, so that I could be a better father, better husband, and a better songwriter and performer. Some of the inspiration on the album comes from the experience of going clean. I have been clean and sober for two years and some. And there is also the aspect of my children. My father died when I was twenty three years old so I am acutely aware that I am going to break my daughter's heart one day. The last song on the album is called “One By One” and it’s about how one by one we fade away. We are here for just a season and we are gone without a reason. It’s a song about the fact that I am going to pass one day, but it is also about how my daughters are going to move away one day. I am going to walk into their room and see their bed gone. How I am going to miss having them in my house. There are a lot of conflicting emotions. The gratitude of being clean, the struggle of maintaining a relationship, being a dad, and on top of that a lot of grateful, good vibes.
This album comes feels extremely authentic to your sound. You talked about where you draw inspiration from, so what song(s) do you think truly capture its spirit? Do you have a favorite?
LG: I hate naming favorites because they are all my darlings. I already cut away some favorites to make this album. “One By One” is a personal favorite just because it speaks about my wonderful kids and my desire to give them a memorable experience of me as a father. I also really like the opening song “Stay Above,” which is about how we all need a bit of love and a bit of bullshit to stay above. I am also really honored to have three amazing featured artists on this album; it’s the first time I have ever worked with features. G-Eazy, Mickey Guyton, and Khalid on the latest single, “Wish You Were Here." It’s amazing. I'm sitting in Copenhagen, and I have some of the most amazing artists featured on my songs. I am from a city of six thousand people, and awesome people like G-Eazy, Mickey Guyton and Khalid want to work with me. It reminds me of how grateful I should be, and I do become more grateful thinking and talking about it.
I'll admit I was so excited to see Khalid featured in “Wish You Were Here." How did that collaboration come to be?
LG: It was a bucket list moment for me. When I finished writing the song and was asked if I wanted a feature, I agreed. When I learned it would be Khalid, I was a little dumbstruck to be honest. I was texting Khalid about the song and I told him I would fly out to Los Angeles and record the song and he told me he wanted to record in Copenhagen! So he ended up flying here. We had an amazing day in my studio. We went and had a really nice dinner at a place that is now unfortunately closed. We just had a really nice day. Shooting the music video together in LA was really fun. He is a great guy and has a really sweet team around him. All around a great experience to be honest.
It's pretty amazing that you keep crossing paths with artists and people that have now become close friends. Especially that you get to experience that sense of community at home in Copenhagen.
LG: I went to a Stag this past May, and ten out of the twenty guys had all gone to the same Kindergarten. After traveling the world as much as I have the last decade, I realize how unique this is. People don’t get to stay connected with that many friends from Kindergarten.
It's so important to have that good support system.
LG: I think being a touring and performing artist, people have an expectation of who I am without ever meeting me. It is nice to come home to someone who doesn't ask “How it’s going” they ask, “How are you feeling?”
We also heard your tour kicks off next month in Norway. Are you excited?
LG: I am very excited to get back on the road, and it is going to be beautiful up there. Lots of snow, maybe some Northern Lights if we are lucky. I have performed here and there since Covid, but going back on the road is just a special vibe. It’s like band camp for grown ups. I love writing songs, but there is something special about looking the people that listen to my music in the eyes. Knowing that there are people out there that press play on the songs that I wrote, and then getting to see them in person while i perform these songs and getting a personal connection with them is something that I have been needing for a long time now.
Are there any other special stops that you are excited for along the way?
LG: We are going to some cool European cities that we visited on my last tour with my daughter Viola, when she was little. Going back to places like London and Holland and cities in Germany is like going back to somewhere you remember as a kid. I get to do that with my family and visit some restaurants that I love and people that I missed! I would love to book some festivals in the US. I miss traveling in general and performing music and being on stage. I think I am a little bit more myself on stage than anywhere else.
What are you looking forward to most as you open up the next chapter of your career?
LG: To be honest, I don’t know. Just being able to go back touring and meeting new people face to face. The first couple of in person radio interviews I did I was like, “Oh my God! I missed this!” Meeting people, real people in the world, who have a relationship to something I wrote in my studio with my friends. In the middle of the hype around “7 Years," and all the craziness there was in the years after, I forgot about how special what I do really is. I am going to make a point of not forgetting that again no matter how busy I get. I am just enjoying the fact that I can go back to doing what I love.
Graham’s “4 (The Pink Album)” will be available on all major streaming platforms on January 20. With featured artists such as G-Eazy, Mickey Guyton, and Khalid, this special project represents the highly anticipated return of an artist we all love, both for the music he creates and the person he is.
Being the first album to feature collaborations from other artists make 4 (The Pink Album) unique from the others. Almost five years since the release of his third album, each piece has been carefully curated with different stages and milestones of life in mind. Songs inspired by his experiences of growing older, becoming a husband and father, and personal struggles, each track tells a story that is sure to resonate with listeners. With emotional tracks such as “Stay Above” and “One By One,” Lukas takes us through his life and experiences with a tribute that will resonate with many. This album is nostalgic for the past, while also being grateful and excited for the future. In true Lukas Graham fashion, 4 (The Pink Album) boasts soulful lyrics and a truly authentic sound which are sure to be an instant hit. It is one of 2023’s most highly anticipated album releases, and the wait was completely worth it.