Erik Hassle has found the groove in his sound.
The soul-pop singer has been making musical waves since the release of his first single, “Hurtful”, in Sweden back in 2008. Hassle’s music has gone through a natural evolution through the years, while maintaining the soulfulness and lyrically wearing his heart on his sleeve.
At a young age, Hassle connected with old soul records like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Hassle later attended Rytmus Musikergymnasiet – a music high school which produced a number of talented Swedish-pop alumni including Robyn, Icona Pop, and his current tour mate, Tove Lo.
I had the opportunity to chat with Erik last week, just before he hit the stage at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, and before he found out he was on top of Taylor Swift’s playlist.
asapmusicblog.ca: I just wanted to start off by welcoming you back to Vancouver!
Erik Hassle: Thank you!
A: What was the first song in your memory that inspired you to pursue music?
EH: I think it’s as simple as the first time I performed ever, which was in the sixth grade. I sang an old ‘60’s duet with another girl called “Hey Paula” – and it wasn’t about the song that made me pursue music, but it was the first time I had sang in a microphone and sang in front of a lot of people – climbed over that barrier. I really, really liked those things – somebody playing and playing with her, that interaction – so it was probably that song. In those years, I was even going to apply for the soccer high school when music came, because we had started a band, a little bit like that. But after that song, I felt like I needed to look over my options and choose, and I chose to do music.
A: Speaking of school, you’ve started the tour with Tove Lo – it’s been about a week since the tour has kicked off. I know you guys went to school together, so there’s a connection there, but how did the connection come about on you joining her on tour?
EH: She was one year above me, together with the Icona Pop girls. We didn’t really know each other at school – I’ve gotten to know her now that we’ve known about each other. Then I got signed to a Swedish label that just started, and actually playing at that school – my manager was there looking for some talent and he found me there.
I got signed to TEN and one or two years later, they found Icona Pop and signed them and then the company started building up and all of the sudden – me, Tove Lo, and Icona Pop were all in LA together without really knowing each other from before, but we know each other now.
Since then we’ve been kind of like this, among others like Elliphant and other artists on my label – Swedish people in general in LA, you tend to get closer because you’re there as foreigners. So yeah, we got to know each other better! I think we all try to back each other’s careers as much as possible. I guess my management reached out to ask if the slot was open, and they said yes.
A: With your recent tracks that you’ve released this year, “No Words” and “Natural Born Lovers”, there’s more of an up-tempo influence in your sound. You mentioned before that “No Words” was written in Stockholm just before you relocated to LA, where “Natural Born Lovers” was written in LA. How do these two songs fit into the scope of your upcoming record?
EH: Oh, good question. You mean sound-wise?
A: Yes, sound-wise!
EH: My next record, when it comes out eventually – people don’t seem to focus on records that much anymore, but I think when it comes out this record is going to be privy, it’s going to point to lots of different directions because it’s in my choice of songs that I did coming to LA and being in LA, so it’s gonna be a bit like a debut album again in a way.
So me going up-tempo now is probably me finding some thing in music that I like, but the album, it’s not going to be as red-line sounding – it’s going to be more like teenage diaries, I guess, which is kind of how a debut album usually is – it’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Personally now, I like dance music – I like things that make me move, and I like hip-hop, techno, and house. That’s what I listen to mostly, but I grew up with a lot of soul before.
A: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that songwriting for you is a lot like therapy – it’s your way of communicating your feelings out. How it does it feel to write at such a personal level, kind of like you mentioned – a diary, and have listeners listen to it and really connect with it?
EH: It feels really special because… you live the life I live where I’ve spent so much time on my artist career that I worry sometimes if it’s healthy to be that obsessed about yourself and your self-success. For me, I think it’s therapeutic sometimes when I’m doing music because I’ve had a hard time to put words in something that I’ve felt or done, to cleanse myself, get it out of myself, or just to put it into words and music is going to help – it’s there.
When you make songs and it all sounds good, you could put it on repeat and that’s still all an egocentric thing, but then it gets out to people and it actually is something other people can relate to. Then it’s all of the sudden something else – it’s like a gift and that makes it all the worth when other people can relate to something that I wrote, and you’re really happy.
A: Tonight will be the first time that I’ll be seeing you live. For those like myself who haven’t seen you live on tour yet, what can they expect from your live show? Do you throw in dance moves like in the video for “No Words”?
EH: I bought these new huge ass Swedish shoes. It’s really hard to dance in, it feels like there’s too much gravity. But I’ll definitely get something in, I can’t help it when I’m playing – usually there’ll be some moves, for sure. What to expect… I don’t know! It’s like a first step of a live show – it’s only me and my friend Ray now, only two guys on stage. It’s the two of us having fun mostly. Hopefully it’s enjoyable!
A: If there was a message that you would want your music to convey, what might that be?
EH: You want to send out different things all the time, but in the end, you’re just a person who makes music. I think I’m creating a personality that probably develops through time and does other things – another small step for humanity, but big step for me kind of thing. I hope I get to have it, as long as I’m standing – I hope it’s a decent development that people my age can relate to.
Hassle is currently on tour with Tove Lo for the Queen of the Clouds tour. For more information on Erik Hassle and his tour dates, head over to: http://erikhassle.com.