Lukas Graham Frontman on Life as a Father: 'You Suddenly Know the Meaning of Life'
"I want to be a regular dad," the "You're Not There" singer says of balancing fame and fatherhood with a new baby
“Well, sleep is highly overrated, I must say!” the 28-year-old “Mama Said” singer tells PEOPLE of life with a newborn. “And food or drink spilled on your clothes is no longer a big issue.”
All jokes aside, Forchhammer says fatherhood has come with an overwhelming shift in perspective: “When you welcome a child into the world, your own priorities just change, and suddenly it’s as if you know what the meaning of life is. You can’t describe it more accurately than a profound feeling of selflessness.”
As PEOPLE confirmed exclusively, Forchhammer’s longtime girlfriend Marie-Louise “Rillo” Petersen Schwartz gave birth to their daughter on Sept. 25. And like Forchhammer, his little girl was delivered via home birth.
“When I hold her and she stops crying” is the Danish singer’s favorite part of parenting so far, he says, “because she knows she is in her father’s arms.”
Forchhammer and his band broke out last year with their hit single “7 Years,” which appears on on their self-titled album Lukas Graham, a soulful set of pop primarily inspired by the 2012 death of Forchhammer’s father, Eugene Graham.
In addition to “7 Years” peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the band earned a Best New Artist at the VMAs in August and are likely contenders for the Best New Artist title at the 2017 Grammys. But Forchhammer hasn’t let the success go to his head — and he even took a two-month paternity leave to focus on his new family of three.
The decision to take a break was “so I can fall into the rhythm of changing diapers and nighttime feeding and projectile vomiting,” Forchhammer says with a laugh. On a more serious note, concerns of being a present parent have weighed on him since before his daughter’s birth.
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“My biggest challenge is to make sure my children don’t remember me as ‘the guy who wasn’t home,'” says Forchhammer.
“When someone asks my daughter or my other children — I’ll probably have more than one, hopefully — what they remember me, I would wish them to say, ‘He was always in the kitchen,’ or ‘He taught me how to ride a bike; he taught me to swim,’ rather than, ‘He was never home because he was on tour.’ I think it’s a very important thing to consider: How much time do I get to spend with my kids? And if I work a lot, how do I then spend the time when I am at home?”
Even before the baby arrived, Forchhammer says he began practicing unplugging.
“I [tried] a lot to not use my iPhone, to not go on Instagram when I’m in the house. I switch it off and put it in a drawer,” he says. “And if I do check an email, I sit at the table and kind of have a little ‘office’ moment. I try to really structure these moments…so my lovely girlfriend and I become used to negotiating a more old-school environment with no cell phones and computers turned on all the time.”
Forchhammer attributes his focus on family — and staying grounded throughout his rising fame — to his parents’ childrearing approach. He grew up in Christiania, a progressive hippie commune in Copenhagen, where he was taught to respect his elders, and especially the women in the community, from a young age.
“I think fundamentally what becoming a parent does to you is bring you back to the values you had growing up,” he says. “It brings you back to some sort of basics. I think it’s going to become a lot more important for me to be surrounded by my family and friends, people I can trust deeply and dearly.”
With his paternity leave coming to an end, Forchhammer is gearing up to promote the band’s new single “You’re Not There,” a poignant track about his milestones his father is missing after his death. And next week, the band will hit the road for an international tour running through mid-April.
The singer won’t be alone, though.
“We’ve been talking about it a lot: How do we facilitate us being a normal family when we are not under normal circumstances?'” Forchhammer says. “We’re just going to go on tour together, so we’ll able to go on a tour bus with your family and do the shows and still be a mom and dad and a baby. I think we will, in some ways, show that you can have regular kids even though you have a strange job.”
Indeed, chart success and award season buzz aside, Forchhammer’s goals are pretty simple these days.
“I want to be a regular dad,” he says. “I want to be a father for my kids more than I want to be an entertainer for other people’s kids.”
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