WMC 2010: Q&A with Steve Angello, Playing Ultra Music Festival, Mansion, and More

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Greek-Swedish DJ/producer Steve Angello has become one of the most recognizable names in commercial EDM since the mid 2000s, with big international hits like his jacked-up rendition of the über-soulful "Show Me Love" by Robin S, a track exemplifying his glitzy disco diva-vocalized big-room house productions. His massive international notoriety is due in no small part to a card-carrying membership in the "Swedish House Mafia" that includes Eric Prydz, Axwell and childhood pal Sebastian Ingrosso (with whom he'll be sharing the main stage at the Ultra Music Festival on March 27.) 

Angello will also be performing at club Mansion (with Axwell and Ingrosso), in addition to his debut Size Records label party at the Eden Roc Hotel and the annual Beatport Pool Party at the Gansevoort, among other appearances. Given his ubiquitous WMC presence this year, we made sure to catch up with the Swedish House Mafioso and talk about his upcoming gigs, his recent success, and the state of commercial house music.

Read the full Q&A after the jump. 

New Times: Swedes are known to be pretty chill and mild-mannered people. Are you guys really a mafia?

Steve Angello: We're like a family. We support each other, but at the same time we have very strong solo identities and styles and we respect each others' space. We actually only spend about 10% of our calenders together, but generally we look out for each other and promote each others' solo music.

To what do you attribute your massive commercial success in the last few years? Is it strictly the music, or is there more to the formula?

My music speaks first. Always. But I also work my ass off to make sure my music gets on the road, online and promoted well. I have a team which works across the world to push the message out and I am on the road about 70% of the year.

Are you content with playing to big stadium arena audiences? Doesn't it get a bit impersonal? Have you had a chance to play in smaller more intimate venues lately?

I do that all the time. When Swedish House Mafia played Brixton, I hosted a 400 person after-party and me and my brother played tracks together for 6 hours. In Miami I'm playing Eden presenting my label to 1500 people, and then Main Stage at Ultra with SHM. Don't under estimate our big crowds though, they stick with you while you play a whole selection of track types. "Alpha Baguera" for me was very underground but I can play that anywhere.

Commercial house music seems to be getting swallowed alive by pop in the new decade. Are you willing to go along for that ride, or do you think it's important to keep some grasp on the original form?

I'm already working in LA with a range of bigger labels and artists. You'll see that come out across this year and next. Most of them select a backing track I've already worked on and created, or something I've done with Sebastian [Ingrosso]. We don't go in and make big cheesy beats to order, we show them our style and they either like it or they don't. And I won't compromise on that. I'm 27. I'm not going to start bending at all on my music.

Are you strictly out to make mainstream music? Do you have any interest in the stylistic innovations and currents of the EDM underground?

I make what I want. I'm not influenced by what electronic trends or pop trends there are.  I sit and I make what I love. I'm influenced by the crowds that come to my gigs, through to last time I was in a tattoo parlor -- their rock station really influenced me. If you try and make
a hit, kids smell it. And rightly so.

It's been a year since the infamous incident with Paris Hilton at the Fountainebleu, and we were definitely rooting for you on that one. Care to set the record straight on what happened?

I don't want to talk about it except to say I would do it again. I have never seen such fucking nonsense around one person.

2009 was a big year for your recording career and Size Records label. What do you have going on in 2010?

My label is going nuts. Size was a hobby and we just worked and worked on it last year and we're so proud of it this year. I have new solo material this year, a new project with Alex Metric and I am producing a lot in LA for Interscope and EMI. Swedish House Mafia also signed a global deal with EMI and we're developing a "show" for that, single and documentary. My Size show will also be going on the road for my solo shows and I am loving building that.

What can Miami expect during your upcoming WMC solo events and Ultra Music Festival performance with SHM?

Eden Pool is my first Size Miami event and the launch of the Size Matters tour. It's going to be nuts. The line up is insane: me, An21, Max Vangeli, Afrojack, Christian Smith, Kim Fai and Funkagenda. I'm really proud of the event and we put most of it together ourselves. Then for Mansion: me and Seb are going to kill it, and we have Florence and the Machine coming -- we're really looking forward to seeing her smash it. Then I'm hosting a small party at Wall, the W on Saturday, more friends, industry and so on -- a chance for everyone to get together. Then Beatport on Sunday. For SHM at Ultra -- you'll have to wait and see!


Steve Angello, at Size Matters: the Official WMC Pool Party, with Afrojack, AN21, Funkagenda, and others. Party goes from 12 to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 25. The Eden Rock, 4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $35 for entry before 2 p.m.; age 21 and up. 305-531-0000; boldnewedenroc.com

Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso and Friends, with AN21, Kim Fai, and Florence and the Machine. 10 p.m. Friday, March 26. Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $40 and up in advance from wantickets.com; age 21 and up. 305-531-5535; theopiumgroup.com

Swedish House Mafia, at Ultra Music Festival, Saturday, March 27. Bicentennial Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 12 p.m.; tickets cost $89.95 and up. ultramusicfestival.com



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