In Pop music few have managed to feat of not singing about sunshine and kittens, but genuine heartbreak and emotion without coming across as mopey or depressive. Think a ginge, one-man version of Hurts and you’re not a million miles off with Erik Hassle. While not a heart-throb in the traditional Eric Saade/Danny Saucedo model it’s not hard to find equally feverish fans of the 23 year old Swede. With the experience of surviving a brush with a major record label under his belt he’s recently released his new album We Dance, which promises to make you throw some shapes as much as it’ll make you cry:
Pieces was one of the most underrated and overlooked albums of 2010. Looking back, how do you feel about the whole experience of being launched by a major record label in the UK?
First of all, thank you. 2009 to 2011 was a hell of a ride for me, getting such a good spot on a classic label like Island was for me, 18 years old and straight out of school, a bit hard to grasp. I couldn’t get a better opportunity to reach out to so many people and it gave me an incredible bunch of fans that I’m very happy about today. I’m coming back for them!
You’re famous for your distinctive hair. Have you ever dared dye it a different colour?
There was a period when I was about 10-12 years old when I always dyed my hair black. I was not happy about having both curly and red hair. That was until a girl I liked boosted my self confidence, telling me she liked both the curls and my African sunset colour. It quickly turned back into a red afro!
While we’re on the whole hair subject – apparently in Sweden and most of Europe having red hair isn’t a big deal while in the UK kids get bullied at school for it. Why do you think there’s such a weird cultural difference?
I think it is because it stands out in a quite distinctive way. Everything that is different is easy to pick on as kid. I get that. But I agree that it is a mystery that being red haired is such a big deal in England, where it seems to be a very common pigment compared to other countries.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve written a song about which you then decided not to record?
I wrote a song for this album called ‘I’m in love with your daughter’. The lyrics are aimed against this overprotective father who, no matter how long it takes, will be waiting for a wealthy Prince to ask for his daughter’s hand and who will not hide his dislike for you. The twist in the chorus was “I’m in love with your daughter, like you. Guess I’m more than a little like you” When I played it up for English-speaking friends they thought it was a bit of a weird line. They wondered what kind of father this was. They thought it was a bit inappropriate. The lyrics make perfect sense in Swedish though!
‘Back Under Water’ is surprisingly uptempo compared to your earlier material and the new album is called We Dance. Does this mean that you’re feeling less down-in-the-dumps musically?
In a way it does or at least did while writing this album. We had a lot of fun writing the songs and the mood in it came quite naturally from when we first wrote a song on the album called ‘We Dance’. Me and my producer felt that ” We gotta do this album all the same way” and decided to fulfill a dream of recording an album live. I have a very loyal and fantastic band and I asked them if they wanted to help me record it. We rented a classic studio in Stockholm called Atlantis for 12 days and nailed one song before lunch every day. I think recording the songs in “takes” automatically made us pretty much friends with a snare being played a bit out of the groove or a melody slightly out of tune and so on and so forth. We felt positive recording the album and I think the end result listening to it is feeling positive as well.
Do you have any good luck rituals before performing live?
I have a lot of “warming up” rituals that I won’t reveal!
Would you ever enter Melodifestivalen?
Your duet of ‘If I Could Build My Whole World Around You’ with Agnes was amazing. Anyone else you’d desperately like to perform with?
Since on of my heroes Bobby Womack is back in the game, I could die happy having done something with him.
The album We Dance is out now. For more information visit Erik’s Facebook page or follow him on The Twitter.