Interview: Erik Hassle

Erik Hassle is more than just someone with vibrant red hair. He has a top selling album, numerous awards and a duet with Brit winner Ellie Goulding.


Erik Hassle had to have patience to get to where he is now.

Growing up in the Swedish village of Katrineholm, Erik Hassle didn’t originally want to be a musician. Despite playing drums from the age of five, it was a football advert that first caught his eye, saying “Are you ready to practice? You should be, only one out of 52,000 Swedes get to become a professional footballer.”

With hindsight, Hassle realised that this was not very motivating for a 13 year-old. It was through attending a musical secondary school in Stockholm that Hassle began to develop his interest in music.

“One of my biggest influences and one of the first artists I ever got introduced to was Wilson Pickett. He has one of the wildest voices, always dancing through the harmonies, but still never leaves one single word of emotion out. Him, along with some other old American soul and rock ‘n’ roll singers, have been very important for me shaping my own voice.”

Once leaving school, it took three years of patience and determination before Hassle was finally picked up in 2008 by Roxy Recordings, only to be given an international contract with Island Records a year later.

“It’s always important and hard for all new artists to kind of take that big step and show people that you are not just one thing, one song or just a look. But if you work really hard and stay very passionate about your music, you will eventually gain the reputation you deserve.”

Hassle was instantly thrown into a whirlwind of success. Upon the release of his debut single “Hurtful” into the Swedish Top 40, the track went in at number 11, followed by another top hit “Don’t bring Flowers”. His debut album “Hassle” peaked successfully at number two. The redhead describes the album as a story of his youth.

“I would say it is 12 minimalistic Scandinavian pop songs, and me trying to tell you what it’s like being young, while aiming to keep the soulfulness that originally got me into breathing music.

“I wrote and produced the songs on the album together with three friends in Stockholm. The process was very intimate and over quite a long period of time. Right after college I basically moved in to their studio for a couple of years. We discussed a lot of common social, love and friendship situations happening to people around us and of course ourselves. So the songs became the conclusion of all that from our perspective.”

The chart popularity wasn’t the end of Hassle’s success. Last year the pop singer won both P3 Guld Newcomer of the Year and Swedish Grammis Newcomer of the Year awards, a surreal achievement for Hassle.

“I remember I was so happy to receive the nominations, I didn’t give one thought to the actual chance of winning. When my name was called up and all the lovely people I have been working with started to cheer and scream, total euphoria hit me. I got blind for a second, my knees started to shake and I made a quite crappy speech.”

Now, Hassle is focusing on the UK and America. He has already released his singles “Don’t Bring Flowers” and “Hurtful” which are both available online. His album “Hassle” however has been renamed “Pieces” and four tracks remixed especially for the UK market.

One of the most prominent moves Hassle recently made in the UK though was his duet with fellow upcoming artist Ellie Goulding. The pair did a heartfelt rendition of Robyn’s “Be Mine”, an experience that Hassle looks back fondly on.

“I love to work with other artists that I find interesting. And for me coming to a new country and getting to sing with someone as talented as Ellie was a lot of fun. We both have busy schedules now, but hopefully we’ll do something soon again.”

Hassle is also currently touring as a support act for Mika, something the Swede had been looking forward to due to his love of touring. Of course, not all gigs go to plan, especially when in the midst of a hectic schedule.

“I had a very memorable evening last summer at one of Sweden’s main festivals “Hultsfred”. I went to Sweden a few hours before the show was due to start after a very hectic two day video shoot in LA. I had managed to catch really bad pneumonia. Fifteen minutes before the show, I was still in the medication tent without my voice. At that point I couldn’t even speak. They fed me a lot of different stuff and it made me very dizzy, but did not give me my voice back.

“I had never cancelled a show and had no plans on doing it this time either. I decided to go through with the show, tell the audience about the situation and ask them if they could take the choruses. They did that and man, did I get the shivers.”

Hassle is currently promoting the “Pieces” album in both the US and UK, as well as trying to find time to work on a new album. As a songwriter, there is even a chance he could write for other artists out there, and already has some ideas forming.

“I think it would be a great challenge to write with or for someone who already has a very striking and specific sound, but wants to try a new environment. For example, seeing a garage rock band trying pop and synths.”

He finished with some advice for those looking to have his instant success.

“I started to work on this album when I was 17. I’m 21 now, so patience has really been a key for me. Patience and being open to take advice and inspiration from other people that you look up to.”

So a Top 10 album, hit singles, two awards and tours —all at the age of 21. That’s not bad going on anyone’s watch really.

Erik Hassle’s debut album “Pieces” is available now.

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