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Foto: Jens Welding Øllgaard/Jens Welding Øllgaard

Lukas Graham, up close and personal

An American tour, a pregnancy, the rush from 80,000 people at Wembley - and an attack of backstage rage. Four normal months in Grammy nominee Lukas Graham's abnormal existence - photographed by his childhood friend.

They close their eyes. Both of them. Lukas Graham and his mother. Standing close. Both with the same sense of loss.

Location Chicago, and a son who is a world star. Lukas Graham's mother Eva has travelled all the way from Copenhagen’s Christiania to the United States to experience and see her son's international success with her own eyes. A major concert over, they stand together and remember Eugene Graham - Lukas' father - who died four years ago. An intense private moment, clear to all.

But the fact that the picture exists is also special.

Special because the photographer has known Denmark's biggest current pop star, Lukas Graham, since childhood. Jens Welding Øllgaard, who is training to become a photo-journalist, grew up next door to Lukas in Christiania. This spring he shadowed his friend on tours around the world to describe the experience - all of it.

Their agreement is that Lukas can arrogantly wave him off if he doesn't want a camera in his face. But otherwise, Jens is with him all the way. When whisky is served in a private plane. When Lukas Graham goes on stage at Wembley in front of 80,000 people. In that special split second when he and his sweetheart are told they are expecting a little girl. And when it all just gets too much, and the world star punches his hand into a door in anger.

So here come four months of Lukas Graham's 2016. March, April, May, June - Houston, Austin, Boston, London, Dallas, Zurich, Aalborg, Østerbro. All concerts, and Lukas Graham's normal, and sometimes unusual, everyday life.

Yeah... let’s do it! It’s 5-6 in the morning and the plane has just landed in Las Vegas. The day before Lukas Graham played at a pool party in Miami. Ahead is the Billboard Music Award in Vegas. There are lots of ways to get out of a plane - this is how it's done when you're just happy.
Dressing for a concert in North Carolina. The dressing room inside was a bit too small for 8 people. And anyway, there's nothing wrong in changing clothes out in the parking lot.
Focus, focus, focus. Zurich in Switzerland. Lukas Graham looks himself in the eye before one of the first concerts on his promotion tour around Europe earlier in the year.
Mølleparken in Aalborg where Lukas Graham was flown in directly after a concert in Wembley, London.
Byeeee. Fans always waiting outside after a concert. That's what it’s like. And how it was after this performance in Dallas, Texas.
Physical exercise, stretching and rubbing. The band has its own trainer on the U.S. tour. Even if it has to be on a hard, grey carpet.
Or other 'fitness facilities' that taste more of an industrial estate than a spa and fitness club.
In some towns you're there for such a short time that you only sense the place from the stage through the audience. Elsewhere you have some hours to walk around, breathe in the town and sense its pulse rate – like here in Las Vegas
But the audience always gets close to Lukas Graham - at least for the smaller concerts. Sometimes a bit too close. The girl at this concert in Chicago was later shown out as she kept on trying to grab the musicians - and show her breasts.
But real intimacy takes place out in the wings. In the Spring of 2016, Lukas Graham's sweetheart Rillo has travelled to Los Angeles. She's pregnant and has gone there so that Lukas can be with her for a scan.
The scan shows they're expecting a little girl.
They'd been travelling for several weeks. The first stop on their U.S. tour was Austin, Texas. The hotel wasn't far from their gig, so they walked back.
With the band's growing international success, there are more and more concert offers. After a concert in Miami the band has to hire a private aircraft so that Lukas and the band can appear in Miami the next day. A hard day ahead, but »Hey can't I just have a little more to drink -- just a bit?«.
And then suddenly back home on the Metro in Denmark. On the way to the airport and Saint Louis, Missouri - after a short stay in Copenhagen. It was one of those days when it was quicker to take the train rather than a cab - and most Danes are easy to get on with. They just look at you a bit.
Later, somewhere above the North Sea - from London to Aalborg in a small prop aircraft, there's not so much space - at least not when you need to lie down for a bit.
In North Carolina the band is going to play in a former striptease club. They get there early and go in through the main entrance. When the audience is waiting it can be better to take the back entrance.
Between concerts there are interviews, radio performances and photo ops. Lukas Graham sitting in a car and very tired.
Sometimes the pressure is just too much. Lukas Graham with his trainer backstage in Houston, Texas.
 A door took the brunt of it.
Every day - irrespective of where he is, Lukas is in contact with one of his two Danish managers, who have been with him since the band started.
And suddenly one evening this is what life looks like - 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium. Lukas Graham has put on his Christiania Sports Club jersey because, he says,  »This is probably the closest that CSC will ever get to playing here«.
Five eggs. No more, no less. Lukas Graham's lunch before the Wembley concert.
A radio show in Dublin, Ireland where much of Lukas' father's family lives.
Chicago. After a bath NBNBNBNB at the hotel - and not much sleep - and prior to sound tests before the evening concert.
Scottsdale, Arizona - a bra on the bass and a thunderstorm on its way. The audience was evacuated immediately after the concert.
Graham as a solo silhouette during the summer concert in Aalborg.
When you're on a U.S tour with 12 men in a bus, it's difficult to get time to be alone for a while. Here Lukas has gone into the sun to keep an eye on a pack of butter melting in a BBQ marinade.
Lukas Graham doesn't always agree to selfies on the street. But he didn't feel he could say no to the driver taking him to the airport outside London. He got his picture.
A person in a league of her own - MUM! Lukas' mother Eva visited her son - 'The artist everyone is talking about' - for a few days during the U.S. tour. Big billboard, big smile, great pride.
Concert in Nantes, France. Onto the stage, into the bright lights. For something you don't know. With everything you have.
And perhaps that's why it's twice as fantastic as you had imagined being back in Denmark again - after a successful international tour - at the sold-out Østerbro Stadium.
In the light cone at Østerbro Stadium, he chucks the mike into the air and catches it again. That's something he always does. Even at his bigger concerts. The band is still waiting to see what happens if he drops it one day. But so far, he hasn't. Up to now it's landed safely in his hand again.

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