ARTICLE WILLIAM DEFEBAUGH
AFTER A THREE-YEAR HIATUS, A PAINFUL BREAK UP, AND A MOVE HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD, SWEDISH POP SINGER-SONGWRITER ERIK HASSLE IS BACK WITH A NEW EP AND MORE EVOLVED, GROWN-UP SOUND. CHECK OUT HOW THE SOULFUL SINGER TURNED “HURTFUL” INTO A BRAND NEW START, AS WELL AS HIS LATEST SINGLE, “READY FOR YOU,” PREMIERED EXCLUSIVELY ON VMAN.COM BELOW
Welcome back! The last time you were featured in VMAN it was in 2010 when your career had just recently taken off. What have you been up to since then?
Thank you. I spent 2010-2012 in Stockholm trying to figure things out. I caught up on life! At the end of 2012 the relationship I was in ended and I took the first plane to LA where my Swedish label has been setting up base. I felt so much more inspired to write and record than I had ever been and the songs just started coming. About 7-8 songs into this process and I started to see the tracks were becoming quite autobiographical. I had never experienced music to be so therapeutic. Writing felt like a nice shower. I have stayed in LA ever since. Now I'm out with some new music and it feels so good.
Your newer work has a bit more of a darker sound--it feels more emotional. What themes are you tackling here?
I've been in this spinning wheel for a while now even though I was quiet for a while. Many of the songs I have written over the last year tackle a blue-eyedness that has been a little shaken up. It is a naive realization the first time somebody hurts you. People are not always so good… It's been a way for me to deal with things putting the scenarios and memories into songs.
You have been all over from Stockholm to London to L.A. In what ways have these cities shaped your newer material?
I have written more or less all the new material out of Los Angeles and the city has played a big part for me being able to spit out a lot of the songs. LA is such an exotic city to me and it is just a big bubble. If you accept the bubble and accept how isolated it is. It can be a very creative place and I find it easy to focus. But I'm not as aware of what's going on in the rest of the world anymore. I'm trying to keep up but I'm also giving myself a time in my life to have fun.
Specifically, what is this song, "Ready for You" about?
It is about that stupid phone call that you would have been better off not having.
You were quite young when you had your first major success with "Hurtful." How did this shape the rest of your career?
I'm very thankful for that song. I got to learn a lot about this world at such a young age... I was old enough to have my opinion, but also young and humble enough and to be able to really learn from it and all the amazing people who took me in. I'm privileged and proud of my career so far and over the years.
What do you think you might have done had you not become a successful musician at an early age?
I'm from a small town in Sweden and sports are always a big thing in small towns. I might have given it a shot to try and play football (soccer). But I would have gotten restless of the professionalism and ended up doing something I'm very happy I'm not doing.
Who are you looking up to musically right now? Who is doing it right?
I'm a real genre jumper but all good music belongs to the same family. I love Dave Sitek. A producer I've been working with a lot since I moved to L.A. He will change the game.
I think both Kanye West and Drake did amazing albums last year. This mind-blowing Swedish DJ called Axel Boman is being played a lot at the moment in my car.
I was introduced to a lovely album called Beautiful Africa by an artist called Rokia Traoré that really comforts me. And then I know a bunch of people that the world is yet to get to know.
Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with?
Yes, many! I'm happy about the collaborations coming up on my EP, I think both of them are great artists. Can’t say quite yet, but there are more to come.
What do you think needs to change about the global music industry today?
I think we are at a good place right now. The industry is changing and evolving more than ever, but in a good way because I feel that creative and inspiring people with such a love for this are playing a more and more important part.
What other exciting projects do you have coming up in 2014?
I'm releasing my EP, Somebody Else’s Party, in March and after that I'm looking to go out touring in the US for a bit. After that I have an album coming. Just staying busy.
Finally, what would you like the world to know about the return of Erik Hassle?
I'm looking forward to introducing myself and the new music, I've got so much music waiting around the corner and I'm just so stoked to share it with you.
Somebody Else’s Party is out March 4th on TEN/RCA Records.