Erik Hassle | Sweden’s Solider of Soul

“I get this feeling in my chest, and my jaw, so yeah, and it’s so strong. So I definitely still get excited.” 

 

Soul music’s shot in the arm may very well have had its roots in a small rural village about two hours south of Stockholm, Sweden.  With a voice that seems stitched from the pieces of a thousand heartbreaks, and a sharp knack for writing tight, melodic songs, Erik Hassle began making substantial inroads with his latest EP, Somebody’s Party (RCA Records). Walking the musical tightrope between powerful, soulful vocals and deep atmospheric electronica, Hassle is poised to break through in the states with a tour opening for Twin Shadow starting on April 10th in Chicago, and landing in St. Louis five days later.

On the phone from his adopted home in Los Angeles, there’s no trace of the brooding and emotionally shipwrecked lover—just a calm and friendly fella with more than a little optimism in his Swedish accent. Starting his musical journey at the age of five, Hassle explains that he was inspired to be a serious musician very early on in a rather unique way. 

“Me and a friend of mine watched a movie called The Commitments about a soul band from Dublin, and we heard all of that great Wilson Pickett and Otis Reading music. Along with listening to Motown, that was how I really got into it.”  

Further education came from his siblings, who had already developed their own musical interests resulting in a nice collection of vinyl that he could rummage through.

“There was a large gap in age between me and my siblings, so by the time I became interested in music, I had four rooms of records at my fingertips.”

His family came to play an even more vital role in his musical development, when they moved to a small, sparsely populated village when he was nine years old.

“The property came with a barn, and my parents, who had always dreamt of having their own music venue, turned the barn into one,” he says. “There were always musicians in the house, and concerts to see. It was nice because there weren’t any other places that I could go to and listen to live music.”

Later, Hassle attended Rytmus, a music school in Stockholm where fellow Swedish singer Robyn trained. In quick succession, he signed a deal with TEN Music Group, and headed to the U.S. so he “could be close to where the music [he] loved was created.” 

He’s wasted no time since landing here, performing and writing songs—even though those tracks may not be ones he sang on.  He wrote the Billboard smash “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” a duet between Shakira and Rihanna, originally thinking he would be the one to sing it. 

“I wrote the track, and I knew there was interest from Shakira on it. I would have been up to doing the song myself, to be honest. It took a long time for that whole process though, and I actually didn’t find out about it being finished with Rihanna until I heard it on the radio.”

Does he still get excited when he gets that initial seed of inspiration for a new song?

“I really do,” he says. “I get this feeling in my chest, and my jaw, so yeah, and it’s so strong. So I definitely still get excited.”

He’s hoping that enthusiasm continues and helps fuel his new album that he’s currently putting the finishing touches on. 

“We’re getting ready to release a new single off the upcoming album, and the plan right now is to release it in late summer.” Reconsidering, he says, “It could be early 2016, maybe. You never know what could happen between now and then, right?”

Since the EP contains songs that have since become fan favorites, like the sexy and groove-pumped “Pathetic,” and soul-baring “Ready For You,” I ask if they’ll appear on the new long player.

“I’d like it to be all new songs, but there may be a couple off of the EP if the record company thinks it’s a good idea. We’ll have to see how the rest of the process goes.” | Jim Ousley

You can catch the blue-eyed ambient soul of Erik Hassle when he opens for Twin Shadow at The Ready Room on April 15th.  $15.00 – $20.00. Doors are at 7:30 and show is at 8:00. 

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