Changing The Face Of EDM - MTV Meets Steve Angello
We grab some time with the former Swedish House Mafia chart-topper to talk his long-awaited album...
Club behemoth Steve Angello's debut (if you don't count 2003's Tracks) album Wild Youth has been a long time coming. A labour of love for the former Swedish House Mafia member, it's his first proper LP since the supergroup disbanded, and has taken the 'Wasted Love' producer through a journey of self-discovery.
One of the figureheads of modern dance music and arguably a catalyst for the EDM boom, when the opportunity came up to chat to him about his latest release we jumped at the chance.
Since talking to Steve on the phone and releasing this interview, he made the decision to split the release Wild Youth into two chapters. Steve tells us the whole process was "really hard":
"I started three and a half years ago. I started it because I wanted to write something that had a meaning and I wanted to tell a story. I think a lot of music today is not really storytelling. A lot of people are just working with songwriters and producers and they get delivered something based upon a request from a record label and some input from the artist. So for me it’s really important to start from scratch.
"I sat down with a piece of paper and thought, what’s my story? What do I wanna talk about? I think that was a different aspect for me because I’ve made songs my whole life that have just been for partying and creating a vibe on the dance floor. But now, I actually wanted to do a real artist album that I felt that this is something special, not only for me but for the people around me. I can have people take part in this, and explain and tell something and they will actually get it.
"The process has been really hard, I thought I was done a year and a half ago but I listened back to the album and it was too similar to the stuff that I’d done previously so I scrapped pretty much half of the album and started over. It’s been really long but at the same time it’s been really emotional and like a self-discovery trip for me where I’ve actually figured out myself which is awesome."
In a previous interview he lamented the current state of EDM but having had the chance to reflect, he tells us: "It’s a period, we’re going through a phase, and fans are really excited about it. It’s a lot of young fans and everyone’s excited, everyone’s hyper, it is what it is.
"A lot of artists are making money just doing whatever they need to do, and I’ve created songs too...I was really happy when I saw Chemical Brothers coming in with a new album, and you see Prodigy, Faithless and Aphex Twin, who have all been a part of making dance music what it is, they’re coming back, and they’re coming back really strong and showing again why we love dance music.
"Me going on a rant on social media about dance music isn’t gonna change anything unless I do. I have that approach, I’d rather put my head down and go and work my ass off and then I can release music that has substance instead."
Another change to his outlook has come from adding Scooter Braun, management to Justin Bieber, Martin Garrix, Ariana Grande and more, to his team.
"He’s great!" he exclaims. "They have an aspect of music that I don’t have, you know, they have the relationship with the big guys, they have a lot of one-phone-call-away type relationships which I think is also really important because even though you’re trying to do something that might be less mainstream than other things, I still think it’s really important that the right people can take part in it."
So, with the acclaim Biebs' dance-leaning Purpose has achieved, has Scooter floated the option of a collab?
"No, I mean, he knows I would never do that, I don’t think he would ever ask me. At the same time they appreciate the work that we put into it and they understand the craft of it, where this is a life story, this is something that I’ve been trying to tell people for my whole life and now I’ve finally got to the time where I can tell it so for them it’s equally interesting with just having something with a lot of substance than just pushing one radio record."
While we had him in reflection mode we also asked Steve, of all his numerous productions, which he's most proud of...
"Oh wow. I would say one of the earlier ones that probably came just through because it was such a surprise that you could actually talk to people through music. I did a record with Eric Prydz called ‘Woz Not Woz’ back in like 2001/2002, and then Supermode, we did a thing call ‘Tell Me Why’, back in the day. Then obviously my remake of ‘Show Me Love’.
"They’re also records I’m really proud of because it was ahead of its time, you know, it was before everybody tried to make mainstream dance music, it was just making a record that was hook enough that it actually became mainstream. I think if you’re trying too hard, either if you’re trying to be mainstream or you’re trying to be cool, if you’re not true to what you actually are I don’t think you speak well to an audience. I would say one of the earlier ones because they weren’t trying to be anything, they just 'became'."
Wild Youth Chapter 1 is out now and Chapter 2 is released 22nd January.
By Michael Pell