Interview: Erik Hassle — "It felt so wrong that people treated Michael Jacskson like that when he was dead instead of when he was alive."
Tue, 16 Feb 2010 16:00:48
For Erik Hassle, pop's a funny animal.
He doesn't make pop music like your average bear. No, Hassle draws from places as diverse as soul and punk, in order to cook up a sound that's as smart as it is decidedly and deliberately catchy. His first single "Hurtful" is the perfect example of that very personal and idiosyncratic style. It oscillates from an infectious hook into some very poignant lyrics that border on bluesy. With this amalgam of styles, Hassle's got his eye on the future and beyond…
While hanging out in London, Erik Hassle talked to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about how to be a "soul" man, getting "Hurtful" and Michael Jackson's sad deification…
Are you coming from a soul background?
Yeah, my interest in music began when my dad gave me an old Swedish punk album. I was about six-years-old at the time. The band sings in Swedish, and they're called Ebba Green. They had this really passionate singer. He wasn't that good, but he was really passionate. He was so cool during their early days. I fell in love with that album. A few years later, I found a Wilson Pickett LP at my friend's dad's rehearsal studio, and I was blown away by American soul. Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Sly and the Family Stone shaped me vocally. That's definitely a place I come from. I wrote my album when I was 17. We wanted to make interesting pop music but still keep a lot of the soul—where I come from. That was our biggest mission.
Thank you! In soul music, you don't have any restrictions. In a pop song, you have to stay in the verses, bridges and choruses. The trick was to have that passion, but keep it as minimalistic as possible.
Soul's more of a state of mind than a style. You can hear it in pop, punk or heavy metal.
Definitely, a lot of what I call "soul" is early rock n' roll. I think soul is hard to put a name on, but it always takes place in different kinds of music. Even The Strokes are soul, to me.
What's up with "Hurtful?"
It's the second song I wrote for the album. It's about a place in life where you realize the time you've spent on yourself has caused damage to people around you. First of all, it's painful for other people, but it's quite unpleasant for yourself. You get a bad conscious from it.
Are you always jotting ideas down?
I have a lot of ideas, but at the moment, I have a problem finishing my ideas because there's so much stuff to do.
What's "Don't Bring Flowers" about?
"Don't Bring Flowers" is a bit younger than my other songs. It came somewhere in the middle of writing in the album. A friend of ours went to a funeral. The woman that died didn't get any love or appreciation when she was actually alive. At the funeral of course people were standing there crying probably trying to earn some money out of her. I realized that behavior is more general than funerals. In so many situations, people treat you badly but when they lose you, they're not ready for the consequences. It hit me really hard when Michael Jackson died. When he passed away, he became a God to everyone. It felt so wrong that people treated him like that when he was dead instead of when he was alive.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…