Interviews

Axwell Talks Ibiza, Social Media and Swedish House Mafia

By David Jenison

Axwell earned icon status during his time with Swedish House Mafia, but the super group’s 2013 split has not slowed him down. The Scandinavian DJ-producer-remixer continues to dominate as a solo artist and with fellow mafioso Sebastian Ingrosso in Axwell /\ Ingrosso. The duo, who dropped the More Than You Know EP in May 2017 (check out the video for the title track here), will be playing major shows and festivals throughout Europe (dates currently extend to Amsterdam on August 27) and include multiple dates in Ibiza. Much of Axwell’s post-Mafia output has been with Ingrosso, but he ventured back into solo territory last year with tracks like "Barricade" and "Belong." PRØHBTD spoke with the two-time DJ Awards winner to learn more. 

In the past few years, you have only released a handful of solo tracks. Do you prefer collaborations? Or do you have several solo tracks that you are about to drop on us?

We’ve focused a lot on the Axwell /\ Ingrosso project, and now we’re also dropping some solo material. It’s all a part of the creative process. Basically, I like to do different things all the time, so that’s why.

Your solo track “Barricade” made a huge impression on your fanbase. What did you challenge yourself to do in crafting this track?

I wanted to make a track that was 100-percent liveshow, a track customized for our big arena and festival shows and that was constantly evolving with new and different elements all the time. When I had the initial idea, I felt I was gonna make it into something special, but then also during the first test plays it was very obvious.

Tell me about your annual summer shows at Ushuaïa Ibiza with Ingrosso. Do you see the residencies as an opportunity to do something different and test out new tracks and ideas?

During our summer residency in Ibiza, the cool thing for us is that we get to connect with the coolest party people in the world. Ibiza gathers all the best party people from every country in one place so we get to create a special night together with them, and every show is an opportunity to try out new things, either new tracks or new show ideas.

What type of preparation goes into having such an active summer festival season?

We already start to put the show concept together with [the venue] Ushuaïa in January, February. This includes how we want the show to look like, what clothes the dancers will wear, how the entrance will look, any choreographed moments that we specifically want, etc., etc.

As a kid, you started out on real drums before making music on a computer. In what ways did starting out as a live drummer influence the way you created beats electronically?

I think perhaps it gave me a groove that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

When you do a remix, do you prefer to have input from the original artist or complete autonomy in your creative decisions?

I prefer to just do what I feel and how I would see the track working for me in my live sets.

You've said you are open to the possibility of a Swedish House Mafia reunion, which always gets a lot of fan response. How does that feel? 

Well, I guess whenever we mention Swedish House Mafia, we’re always touching on people’s hearts, which is a really nice thing. I love that people love and miss Swedish House Mafia.

You started out before the days of social media. How much has social media changed the way in which you release music, interact with fans and receive feedback?

It has changed a lot. For one, you have less time to make music if you’re gonna do all the social medias right and keep them up to date. There are so many platforms that you need to service these days. It’s quite overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to make music as well. It's a great way to interact with one’s supporters, though, and that is a good thing, especially when you can go all over the world and play, and everyone’s already up to speed on your latest music. If you want, you can receive immediate feedback, but you have to be careful not to get lost in the feedback and trying to please everyone.

More than a decade ago, you launched Axtone Records, which grew to include music publishing and artist management divisions. How has running a record label made you a better artist yourself?

It probably hasn’t, to be honest. It’s probably the opposite.

Photo credits: Axwell Facebook and Flickr.

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