Mads Langer’s voice is a marvel, subtle and nuanced yet powerful enough to captivate crowds in the tens of thousands—even when accompanied only by his graceful piano and guitar work. He is a multi platinum and multi award winning artist in his home country Denmark and over the last decade the Danish singer/songwriter has become a household name in his homeland, drawing an adoring fanbase on the strength of his warm presence and soulful sensitivity.
Have you got a ritual of sorts when writing and thinking about your music?
I don’t have any specific rituals when it comes to songwriting, it’s kind of just a part of my life. I have been singing and playing instruments and you know actually writing songs as long as I remember. My parents have recordings of me when I was 18 months old sitting on their bed, singing my own song in my own language. So, it’s just part of my every day and it’s not like I have to have crystals and Palo Santo around me to write a song, but it helps. But the beauty of being a songwriter, for me at least, is the fact that songs come out of nowhere all the time. And I guess I don’t know if that’s a ritual, but I try to stay open and I try to stay curious so if there’s an idea in the air, I try to grab it and put it into words and melodies and by the end of the day maybe there’s a song. Sometimes it takes me a year to write a song. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes. So, I have never written a song that is similar to another one, I’ve never had two similar songwriting processes when it comes to writing so there’s not a specific ritual. However, I do like silence. I do like nature. So, whenever I can I enjoy time in nature with my guitar and with my pen and paper.
Did the pandemic affect those rituals, for example, did you find the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or was it hindering the experiences you usually write about?
I think everybody felt the change of lifestyle when the pandemic hit. And I was in the middle of a big tour when everything closed down and obviously that was like a big change. I’ve been touring and traveling for at least 150 days a year since I was 18 years old and the fact that I’ve been sleeping in my own bed for more than 18 months now is something that I will never forget and that I have truly appreciated. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my family and my friends in a way I haven’t been able to in a long time and also, I’ve really had some great trips into nature. I have a campervan and I’ve used that a lot during this time, writing songs in nature, just driving out into nowhereland and finding a beautiful spot and just parking the car and getting my tools out and writing songs so that’s been very interesting and something hopefully I can continue doing when everything gets back to new normal.
Who or what first inspired you to make music? Do you still consider them/it an inspiration?
I think probably my parents inspired me in the first place because I grew up in a home with a piano and just a big love for music and my parent have been singing songs to me since I was born and as I said earlier, I started singing myself at a very early age. Also, my dad was playing in a cover band like a ‘60s rock and roll cover band. And I remember at a very young age watching a show with my mom thinking I want to be like them. When I got a little older and started sort of paying attention to music other than the songs that my parents would sing to me and with me, I started really loving The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, records from my dad’s record collection. The first music that I went out and bought myself was Jeff Buckley, “Grace,” that album meant the world to me, still does. Radiohead had a big impact on me, but also Stevie Wonder. I love music and I love singers that have that ability to basically just connect with something bigger than themselves and channel it out into the world. That’s what I try to do myself every time I go up on a stage or I sing in the studio. So, Amy Winehouse, Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, there’s so many great singers out there. I think Billie Eilish is one of the more recent artists that has the same ability, Kacey Musgraves is amazing, too. Bon Iver, Frank Ocean. All of those artists are big inspirations to me.
What would you be doing right now if it weren’t for your music career?
What I would be doing if I didn’t have a career in music…that’s a great question. My parents are both teachers. They’ve had a really great life teaching kids, so I really admire them for that. My sister is a teacher too. I think being a teacher would definitely be something that I would have loved to do. But I’m a curious person, I love studying, but there wasn’t really a choice for me to make because I knew that music was going to be my path in life. If I didn’t have music as part of my language, I could have been in sports, I could have been in politics, I could have been in history. I love people, I love meeting people from different cultures and communities and I’m grateful that I can meet people from all over the world and get to know their different backgrounds through my music. If I didn’t have my music, I would have loved to I think travel the world and meet people in a different way.
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Alex Høgh Andersen, star of the Vikings television series, is in your new video…with that in mind, what historical figure – real or fictional – would you love to see in 21st century life?
Jesus. I would love to experience Jesus in the 21st century. Buddha. Muhammad. Some of the big prophets that we all have spent a lot of time thinking about or reading about or…I feel like our world is basically based on those figures, those different figures from all over the world. Since Denmark is a Protestant country, I think Jesus would be my first choice, but I’m super interested in all the other big figures from the spiritual, religious world as well.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself? What is the best advice someone else has ever given you?
I think I would tell myself that I should always trust my gut feeling. It might not from an objective truth always be the right thing but since I was introduced to the music industry as a really young person, I found it really difficult to stay true to myself in the beginning of my career because a lot of people had opinions of what I was supposed to do with both the way I looked, the way I produced music and all of that. So, I would just say be true to yourself, be who you are and be proud of it.
I think the best advice someone ever gave me is don’t let fear control your decisions. Be brave and remind yourself to be brave in the big decisions you make in life. Don’t make the safe choices always. Sometimes the safe choice is the right choice, obviously, but often there’s a lot of opportunities to develop or to learn new stuff by making the choices that feel right to you. Be brave.
And since we’re time traveling, if you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?
Are my kids and my grandkids going to be alright when it comes to climate change? I just had my first child, my little daughter, and I can’t stop worrying sometimes about what the future’s going to look like her because I think we’re in a pretty bad spot right now, so we’ve really got to act right now if she’s going to have a good future. So, I would ask myself if she’s going to be okay.
If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to the next musical generation, what would it be?
Slow down. Breathe. Listen to silence. Turn of your phones. Go into nature and connect with yourselves.
Do you have any lucky items, objects, or traditions or superstitions?
I don’t know if this is a lucky item but I’m always wearing this golden cross that was made of gold from my grandparents’ wedding rings. My mother gave it to me and it’s kind of a good feeling to be, to have something that lasted for a long time, they were married for 50 years before they died, and I think it’s a beautiful thing to carry around your neck.
If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?
I haven’t thought about writing an autobiography at all, but maybe ‘Freedom is a State of Mind.’
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