The band formed in Denmark in 2011 and initially uploaded homemade videos of the songs "Drunk in the Morning" and "Criminal Mind". The songs were also shared on Facebook and accrued several hundred thousand views. The band earned a contract with Copenhagen Records in late 2011. Prior to officially releasing any music, the band had sold 17,000 tickets for an upcoming tour.
Their first release, available only in Europe and select other nations, would go on to become certified five-times platinum in Denmark. It also featured four charting songs in "Drunk in the Morning", "Better Than Yourself (Criminal Mind Pt 2)" and "Ordinary Things". Over the course of 2012, Lukas Graham played 107 concerts throughout Europe, selling 40,000 tickets in Denmark alone. They sold 80,000 albums and 150,000 singles while also earning 5 million YouTube views and 27 million streams. Their tour took them across Europe to countries like England, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, and Spain.
In 2013, the band continued to tour throughout Europe. In the summer of 2013, the band was added to the bill of the Grøn Koncert (Green Concert) tour which is held in support of muscular dystrophy research. In October 2013, Lukas Graham won the European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) for their international tours in Europe.
In the fall of 2013, the band signed to Warner Bros. Records. The record company signed them with the intent of bringing their music to the United States. Starting in early 2014, the band spent extended periods of time in Los Angeles writing and recording what would become their official U.S. debut. The band is still represented by Copenhagen Records in the Nordics, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France and is managed by Then We Take The World. In March 2014, Lukas himself contributed vocals to Hedegaard's Danish number-one single "Happy Home". Later in 2014, the band released their first single, "Mama Said", off their upcoming album.
The band released their next record (often referred to as the "Blue Album") on Copenhagen Records and Then We Take The World solely in Denmark and several other mostly European nations in 2015. It peaked at number one in Denmark and made it onto several other European charts as well. It featured the singles "Mama Said", "Strip No More" and "7 Years", the last of which peaked at number one on the charts for Denmark, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Sweden. The band made their United States television debut performing "7 Years" on a 10 December 2015 episode of Conan and the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 list. In March 2016, Lukas Graham performed "7 Years" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The band has also performed the song on Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and Good Morning America.
By the end of March 2016, "7 Years" had achieved around 225 million total listens on Spotify worldwide with 17.2 million listeners per month, making the band the 20th most popular artist on the service. On 1 April 2016, the self-titled global debut was officially released in the United States by Warner Bros. Records. The US release of the album received new artwork, a reworked track listing, and a wider global audience in countries including, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 in the UK and New Zealand, No. 1 in Australia and Canada, and No. 5 in Ireland. The band also embarked on a two-month long tour throughout the United States and Canada at the end of March 2016. Most dates on the tour have already sold out. As of July 2016, "7 Years" has over 480 million Spotify streams.
In June 2016, keyboardist Kasper Daugaard left the band as "touring life wasn't right for (him)". He was temporarily replaced by the band's producer and former keyboardist, Morten Ristorp.
In December 2016, Lukas Graham was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for 7 Years and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. 7 Year was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2016 BBC Music Awards where the band performed the song live on 12 December 2016.
Lukas Graham's music has been described as a pop-soul hybrid. In a review of the band's new album, journalist Jon Pareles of The New York Times described their sound as the place "where pop meets R&B". Patrick Ryan of USA Today wrote that the band's songs "effortlessly blend elements of hip hop and folk". Lyrically, the songs often deal with relatable experiences like growing up poor ("Mama Said") or drinking ("Drunk in the Morning"). The band's most popular song, "7 Years", describes growing up and aging at specific points in life (from seven years old to 60).
Lukas grew up in a self-governing artistic community in the middle of Copenhagen called Christiania. The area is known for both its "utopian", creative atmosphere, relative poverty, and crime. His experiences growing up in the community have shaped both the sound of his music and the lyrics he writes.TimelineLukas Graham (2012)Blue Album (2015)