Just once we thought we did not have any more space in our life for twenty-first century Denmarkia, along comes another slice of Danish. This time, it is just a singer: Lukas Graham.
The single by his eponymous band, “7 Years”, will not be released within the UK until March however it’s already been a success all around. Across Scandinavia, this has been a number one. In the Benelux region, it went top 10. It’s pop hip-hop, with sighing strings as well as an almost overwrought, consciously tremulous vocal. It’s the sort of song that gets crowds waving hands in mid-air, swaying and singing along.
In the US, they have made only one TV appearance, recently, on Conan. When the late-night show unveiled its end-of-year viewers’ poll, the band’s performance of “7 Years” got a scarcely believable 98.86 percent share from the vote. Check 7 Years sheet music here.
The track was that is generated by a Danish backroom team called Future Animals (considered one of whom, needless to say, also owns a modern restaurant in Copenhagen). The lyrics are with the singer himself, under his name, Lukas Graham Forchhammer – an illustration of his cross-national heritage. It’s a highly emotive song. The singer recalls his childhood, his hopes, his dreams – and smoking weed at 11. He looks to turning 60. It’s personal. “I couldn’t go any longer than 60 because dad died at 61,” Graham, that is 27, claims.
It’s already had in excess of five million YouTube hits with two official videos. One is really a montage of family photos; one other was filmed partly in Los Angeles – the place that the singer was signed by Warner Bros in 2013 – and partly in Christiania, part of Copenhagen where Graham came to be and mentioned and is maybe the most intriguing aspect with the whole story.
A woody enclave using a lake, Christiania is only down the road from both four-time “world’s best restaurant” Noma plus the parliament building we understand from Borgen. In, and not part of, Copenhagen, Christiania may be the closest the modern world must an autonomous village-size utopian community, an area where dogs run wild and dreamers – Graham’s parents, as an example – dream new strategies to life. No guns, no cars, no fireworks; a lot of street murals; and also a house made entirely away from windows.
Its mission statement was authored by Jacob Ludvigsen, considered one of its many founders. For him, it had been “a self-governing society whereby every individual holds themselves responsible in the wellbeing in the entire community”. A sardonic US TV presenter called it an area “where people can just live free, man”.
‘7 Years’ by Lukas Graham
It’s been like that since 26 September 1971, when Ludvigsen helped to guide squatters into an abandoned military barracks which had been built within the city’s 17th century ramparts. (It was also where, as soon as the war, Denmark executed its Nazi collaborators.)
Christiania can be a tiny place, having a tiny population. One count yielded 600 adults, 200 children, 200 cats, 200 dogs, 17 horses and 2 parrots. Of the adults, a lot more than 150 have already been there because the start. Actress Britta Lillesoe is. “It was fantastic being young and do whatever you wanted to,” she says.
The community possesses its own anthem, together with the opening line “People get filled up with shit about us”. It has a slogan: “Lev livet kunstnerisk! Kun dode fisk flyder med strommen” (Live life artistically! Only dead fish continue with the current). And it has a flag: three yellow dots using a red background. It’s said the dots represent the Os in “love love love”.
It even offers what is probably the world’s biggest open-air hash, weed and drug paraphernalia market, that is one with the main reasons how the district is one among Copenhagen’s popular tourist attractions. The market is what the Christiania council calls the “green light district” – but all others knows as Pusher Street. There is often a Woodstock pub. Blocks of hash resin, wrote one visitor, are “lined up like cheeses at the delicatessen”, in addition to baggies of buds and ready-rolled joints in plastic tubes.
The market had its good and bad, sometimes tolerated because of the authorities, sometimes susceptible to regular police patrols. There are “no photos” signs – not to ever shield the privacy on the town’s dreamers, but to guard its dealers from surveillance. Tourists having pictures is going to be chased. To film there, it is possible Graham were forced to make a deal using the dealers.
Over many years, there are actually days of riots, a machine-gunning (one death) plus a grenade attack. In one crackdown, police officers dismantled every one of the drug stalls. One, Snyder ryg med hjem (Snyder’s Smoke Takeaway), was preserved, however, and reassembled inside Danish National Museum, such are Denmark’s contradictions.
Drugs are big business in Christiania. Ten years ago, each dealer was estimated to become earning €325 (£246) sixty minutes. Both the government and independent academics give a figure of $170m, which will give Christiana a GDP per capita of around $2m.
But the drug money doesn’t be in town. As everywhere, the trade is controlled by criminals – in Christiania, by biker gangs. They don’t live inside area, but do cause serious parking problems within the surrounding streets and still have physically attacked traffic wardens attempting to issue tickets.
The area’s free spirits as well as its dealers are now living in uneasy truce. In the past, hard drugs have already been forced out with the residents. For now, though, they cannot want to speak about the biker dealers. Silence is safest.
But that form of money is perhaps what are the anarchists of Christiania need in excess of anything else today. As with all modern city stories, whether idealistic or hard-nosed, this place ends up inside estate agent’s window. With its location, Christiania is often a super-prime little bit of property.
A number of years ago, a great deal was struck with all the authorities whereby Christiania’s residents would pick the land for $12.5m (£8.75m) – way below monatary amount. The deal was supported using a loan from those very authorities – without the need of set payback date. The idea would have been to sell shares to residents. They didn’t seem that interested, as may very well be expected on the anarchically inclined. Little greater than $1m is raised.
Traditionally, a pop star would celebrate newfound success by purchasing their mum a family house. When “7 Days” renders its millions , perhaps Lukas Graham might go one better and get his mother shares in their own whole home town.