Swedish House Mafia: A New Beginning
The days of Swedish House Mafia will no doubt be some of the first references made in the future. While many saw mainstream success before them, with the likes of Eric Prydz, Daft Punk and David Guetta featuring high in Top 40 rankings, SHM have often been referred to as pioneers of the latest wave of popularity for the overall genre.
All 3 members had seen considerable success individually, each having their own record labels and extensive catalogue’s that often featured collaborations with one another, and remixes of each other’s material. It is quite safe to assume if SHM had not been created, Axwell, Sebastian and Steve would have still produced a raft of high-quality production. Although it is hard to deny SHM is definitely the option we all would likely prefer.
Having been friends for nearly a decade, there technically was a fourth member of the group before it formal beginnings. Their fellow Swede, Eric Prydz, was often in the studio during their early days, as the 4 of them developed their Disk Jockeying techniques and knowledge, as well as production craft. While each had different sub-genres of interest, as their time spent together increased, a consistent characteristic occurred one that arguably still defines all of them today – quality.
Eric’s fear of flying and near-obsessive perfectionist nature within the studio caused him to take a different direction, one that suited his lifestyle and personality more, as opposed to the worldwide, private-jet led, festival-headlining nature of the SHM machine. And it’s safe to say based on his ridiculously extensive catalogue, we don’t mind that decision.
While supergroup’s weren’t a new thing to the EDM scene, the Swedish trio had a wealth of excitement around them, especially after their first release, “Leave The World Behind”, in collaboration with fellow veteran Laidback Luke, took the airwaves by storm. After finding solace at Polydor Records, the group went from strength to strength, becoming the faces of mainstream progressive house. While only lasting just over 3 years, their impact sculpted a footprint now so ingrained in EDM folklore, it was hard to imagine the 3 artists future as individuals. After two compilation albums, a string of timeless dance floor destroying singles, and a recording breaking final tour ending at Ultra Music Festival’s final day closing performance, the demanding and intense lifestyle had taken its toll on the friend’s chemistry and the group dynamic.
The 2014 documentary of the group, also named ‘Leave The World Behind’, gave fans insight to the day-to-day demands on Angello, Axwell and Ingrosso, and the unsustainable nature of the SHM machine that had come about. They had almost been too successful for their own good, which is a bittersweet pill to swallow as an appreciator of their music.
So where are they now? Well unless you’ve been living in a cave without any interaction with the outside world, the 3 of them can still be found as head-lining festival acts, heard on the radio and releasing albums. Only this time they are ‘proper’ albums, and their sets and singles are introduced as Axwell ^ Ingrosso or Steve Angello.
Angello found his feet early, as SIZE celebrated its 10th year with a dramatic marketing move by releasing their first 100 singles for free, he seemed to savour and thrive in the new independent environment. Family has always been central to Angello, with the freer, self-driven routine catering for this priority. It’s also enabled him to work with new artists he’s taken an interest in, such as Dougy from The Temper Trap, as well as take more of a mentor role with SIZE’s up-and-coming artists such as his brother AN21, Arno Cost and Still Young. The more liberated phase has allowed Angello to fulfill career goals as well, with his debut album ‘Wild Youth’ at the core to this, as well as acting as a symbol of his rejuvenated passion for music in general.
Angello also changed management, teaming up with Scooter Braun (who also manages Martin Garrix) at the start of life after SHM. His passion to create an album “(He) could be proud of in 10 years.” is reflected in his almost curator-style approach. After disagreements with his previous label over the album, Steve boldly asked how much they had spent on its development already, signed a cheque for the said amount, and left. A short sequence of events that reflects how much he cares about his work, for himself more than anyone else.
Now releasing it under his own label SIZE, with a delayed release date expected for the end of the summer, fans have had tantalising tastes of what the album beholds with the release of “Children Of The Wild” earlier this month. Angello’s collaboration with the incredible abilities of Mako also stands an example of Steve’s pure incentives, with proceeds going towards the ‘Save The Children‘ foundation, a refreshing, humble move by an industry renowned for high expenses.
The theme of integrity is something increasingly seen with Angello since SHM. Not to say it wasn’t there before, but his personal beliefs and passions have become more vocalized and acted upon. Now in a position of a well-established, successful career, the SIZE head-honcho has started to promote a more motivating, youthful ethos, reflected in his releases as a solo artist and the ID’s within his sets. His aim to never repeat a set, to strive to create something unique, is something Steve has taken with great pride and a lead-by-example manner, laying down a quiet challenge to the new and established artists in the industry.
The liberated, ‘back-to-roots’ perspective has also been adopted by Axwell and Ingrosso. Having broken up from SHM, the pair found their ambitions for the next chapter in their careers to be similar with intent, prompting them to form a duo, an unexpected, but exciting move for followers worldwide. While a few years his senior, Axwell and Ingrosso’s taste for music is often very similar, with both having a love for festival anthem’s, club bangers and traditional instruments. Elements they sought to incorporate in their upcoming album under the Def Jam label.
After developing their new sound and material, the new act debuted at the 2014 Governors Ball with the introduction featured in Zane Lowe‘s BBC Radio 1 show, not a bad place to start, but then again, not unexpected for the calibre of artist. Their interaction with the American market so early on also reflects the current state of popularity EDM has in North America, something SHM was largely responsible for. Miami Music Week was a big test of character and material for the duo, starting off with an intimate set in New York, testing the waters with their new material, before heading to Ultra Music Festival and arguable producing one of the top 5 sets of the festival. Steve’s also a parallel mention.
The deletion of their individual Facebook pages also signified their commitment to the new act and the upcoming album. Their first single “Cant Hold Us Down” reflects their ongoing performance as producers and the more artistic approach all SHM members are taking with their new material. Working with frequent collaborators Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare, like Angello, the duo have extended their work with a wider variety of artists from a number of musical genres and backgrounds, most notably Pharrell and Pusha T .
The release of “Something New”, “On My Way” and “Sun Is Shining” have reinforced their abilities and credibility, as well as shown a more varied approach to production with their album in mind, with all 5 releases so far varying from festival to club to radio focused elements. Compared to SHM, the tracks see a more refined focus on the instrumental sounds incorporated, reflecting the pair’s appreciation for traditionally generated sounds.
Their days together as part of SHM have also brushed off on themselves. Both have extensive social media interaction, and often feature in their music videos, the highlight having to be Axwell and Ingrosso playing main characters in the two part series (On My Way and Cant Hold Us Down music videos). An intricate eye for detail within their performing sets has also translated across, with extensive time spent coordinating and enhancing the visual element of their shows, whether in clubs or festivals.
While they have gone their separate ways, turning over a new chapter in their careers, it’s hard to deny their time together as part of SHM lifted them safely to a legendary status within the scene. Giving them a new platform for their careers, one of more artistic freedom and with far fewer business pressures around them. The independent and more influential roles they now find themselves in now have brought about an interesting time for their futures, and with the first footprints made on their paths, fans and followers alike can only imagine the possibilities.
Through SHM the trio gained mainstream success, but also respect, for what they achieved not only musically, but heightening the genres identity within the entire music industry. EDM was on the rise, but the scale of popularity, with sold out shows in India as an example of this, was something no one really expected at their inception. There is no bad blood either, a high regard and respect in fact, for what one another are doing. They’re even often spotted catching up when their schedules cross-over, a comforting occurrence for many of their dedicated fans.
All 3 have stated the SHM beast had outgrown itself, comparatively like dinosaurs those millions of years ago. But like Dinosaurs, the prospect of their possible return, as a collective or as individuals has us waiting in awe making the remainder of the year and beyond very exciting indeed.