—There are no rules, and that suits me perfectly
Interview with Erik Hassle, On The Rise By Sofia Chowdhury
We caught up with Swedish soul sensation Erik Hassle on a rainy day at a local restaurant in Stockholm. He spoke to us about his newfound LA life, how to escape reality and what the new single “No Words” is about – more than the upbeat guitar tunes he picked up next door. sc: There’s obviously a lot about your shows, songs, reviews and videos around the Web, but not so much about you. Who are you, Erik Hassle? eh: There’s not? Oh, well, I was born in Stockholm, in Rönninge. I grew up in a big family. I am the youngest of four siblings. When I was seven, all my siblings had moved out, so my mom, dad and I moved from Rönninge to another town called Katrineholm. It’s really on the countryside, and we bought a house there. It’s much cheaper to live there compared to Stockholm, so we could afford an old 1970s house with a big yard and a barn. My parents are a bit hippie; they’ve always been involved in music and theatre and they’ve always wanted a place to gather friends for performances. They rebuilt the barn to a venue and every weekend in summer we had something that could be seen as a festival, where people from the village could come, have a picnics on our yard and enjoy shows in the barn. There were blues bands, stand-up evenings - it could be anything! I used to play music with my friends when I was a kid. When I was 18 and went to a music high school in Stockholm I got discovered by Adis Adamsson, who is still my manager today. He wanted me to meet his producers and songwriters. They had just started a label called TEN. And yeah, we made some songs and six months later I got signed with TEN. It’s been full speed since then. sc: Had you planned to work professionally with music? eh: I went to a music high school and I thought that it was the most fun thing ever. I got stimulated by it but at that early age I didn’t really have deeper ambitions to become an artist. I just wanted to sing and make music. It was just about taking the opportunity when it’s given. I went to work directly after school. sc: How does your life look now, as a musician? eh: I signed with TEN eight years ago and it has grown up to a big label ever since. It’s so cool. There’s one office in Stockholm and one in LA, and I’ve lived in LA since two years back. I’ve been making an album and releasing songs. I’ve also released a new single recently. So now it’s time to do shows! sc: Why do you live in LA? eh: It’s been TEN’S ambition to book Swedish artists internationally, and LA has always been an incredibly cool place and a huge market. There are so many people from the music industry here. It’s simply the place to be now. New York has been the music mecca before, but people have moved over to the West Coast. There are so many Europeans there, and a crazy amount of Swedes! It’s an inspiring place! sc: Where in the world do you find most inspiration? eh: Right now I’m inspired from being here. I think you get inspired just by moving around at the right time. I felt a bit “done” with LA, at least for now. I have released so many songs so I just really want to get out there and perform at festivals and shows. It was actually nice to leave LA now and get to Europe and feel the smell of Spring. sc: Who are your influences? eh: My first music experience that had a huge impact on me was when I first heard Motown soul and also when I heard Creedence [Clearwater Revival], the American band. It was like a knockout when I heard it for the first time when I was 8 or 9. I love all kinds of music but I have a passion for American soul. I like all the classical singers - Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, those guys, Gladys Knight. I like old heartbreak-soul James Brown, Curtis Mayfield… I really like Curtis Mayfield - he symbolizes music to me. Talking about heart break, tell us about your song No Words. That song is special to me. It really reflects the time when it was made, how I felt back then. I was so incredibly in love. The song was made when my relationship just had ended, but I was still so in love. I had very mixed emotions, I was happy but also very anxious and sad. And that song is really
all that. It makes me feel good but if you take it piece-by-piece, write down the lyrics, you’ll understand that it’s actually quite sad. sc: How do you make songs? eh: Fortunately, it’s different every time. That’s great - otherwise I’d be so bored. Sometimes you start to write a song to someone else’s ready-made music, and other times you start with some chords on the piano. This song “No words” is an awesome example of a great creative process. I was here in Stockholm in a studio complex at TEN where I know everyone. I was working in one room when I heard some guitar sounds, the same sounds you can hear in “No Words”, from a room far away. I was like “Damn that sounds so cool!” and I ran into the room and there was my best friend Gustav! So I started to write lyrics and made that song. One of my other friends, Daniel, was in New York and we were so in sync at that time. One person could start working on one thing and pass it on to the other who could finish it. We sent the chorus from Stockholm while he was in the middle of a dinner in New York, and he sneaked away to the toilets, downloaded the sound file from his email and listed to it. He was so excited to finish it that he went back to the table and said that he had forgotten his wallet. So he went home, worked on the song, sent it back to us and returned to the dinner. And then we finished it in the middle of the night in Stockholm! I really like when it turns out like that, unpredictable and together with friends. sc: What’s the best thing about working with music? eh: For me I think it’s that it is not based on routines. New things always happen and surprise me. You can always find new ways to be inspired and you can’t really ever learn. That’s so cool. It’s all about feelings and emotional state. I would’ve become crazy if I’d been stuck in a daily pattern. There are so many ways to express yourself, the creation of songs and the shows. There are no rules and that suits me perfectly. sc: Other than music, what do you like to do? eh: What?! Haha. I don’t think I have had time for anything else, actually. I don’t mind. I do have other interests though! I like football. sc: To play or to watch? eh: Both! I like sports a lot. I actually find a lot of inspiration in sports. I’ve always been interested in sports and that’s what I was doing before I started with music. I played football, golf or floorball. I tried to find solutions by being creative. It’s also how I relax, how I escape from reality. Just turn on a game. sc: What kind of a football player are you? eh: What do you think I’ll answer? sc: I actually have no idea … eh: Zlatan! I like artists who do unexpected things. Football players who think two steps ahead of everyone else, that’s cool. I actually have a Zlatan tattoo. sc: Really? Oh, look it’s a ‘Z’! eh: Yeah, I have like 20-23 small tattoos all over my body. sc: What makes you proud? eh: I’m very proud of the fact that I have the same supporting people around me today that I had when I first started. We have been through everything together and grown up together. It’s a special bond. TEN is like my second family. We take care of each other and we are important to each other. I’m proud of that too! Oh! And I’m also very proud that I played with the junior national golf team in Sörmland when I was 15 years old! sc: That’s awesome! Hidden talents. So, what happens next? eh: I’m going to spend some time in Europe until the end of June. I have a fully packed schedule. We will have to wait and see what happens with the song that I just released. But I’ll probably travel around and do some shows, promotion and stuff. My album is pretty much done so it’s ready to be sent out! sc: What can you reveal about you coming album? eh: It’s my first soul album I think. Last year’s EP was a teaser of what form this would take. So it’s everything from all the emotional states that I’ve been though during the two years that I’ve been working on the album. Ups and downs. I think that’s the best answer!