Less than a year after selling out 20,000 seats at Madison Square Garden in nine minutes, Swedish House Mafia are set to call it quits. But fans can take comfort in a farewell album, Until Now, and a long goodbye tour, from Dubai to Los Angeles.
Swedish House Mafia are Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello and Axel “Axwell” Hedfors — three DJs with solo careers who run their own labels, but have synergetically skyrocketed together. So far, they have no plans after the goodbye tour.
In an interview with music magazine Rolling Stone, Ingrosso referred to the break-up as an experiment.
“Because we did this move, we hope to find ourselves in a situation where we do not know what we’re doing, which is sort of us trying to create some sort of chaos, mix shit up a bit for ourselves,” he says.
Ingrosso also implied that their stratospheric rise, with its ensuing copycats, might have sped up their decision.
“Dance music is moving so fast, if somebody does a track with a successful sound, everybody does it the second day,” he says. “So you have to try and develop more and faster. That could be one thing that led to where we are today.”
Swedish House Mafia at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2010 in Los Angeles. Photo: Drew Ressler (CC BY NC ND)
Break up or fall back?
But are they really breaking up, or is this like when 50 Cent and Jay-Z threatened to retire and then changed their minds?
Hard to say. The trio are not ruling out playing together again — even under a different name. A former jury member of Swedish talent show “Idol” dryly suggested Swedish Pause Mafia.
Either way, splitting the band adds a feeling of urgency that certainly helps the ticket sales. The three November 2012 shows at Stockholm’s newly built Friends Arena quickly sold out, meaning that 115,000 Swedes were happy to pay between USD 84 to 185 to catch the trio live that weekend.
A life-changing event for most artists, but a “been there, done that” experience for a trio who in 2011 became the first Swedes — and the first electronic dance music act — ever to play New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Not to mention selling 20,000 seats in nine minutes and turning the legendary concert venue into a mega house night club.
The Swedish recipe
So is Swedish House Mafia the ABBA of our generation? And what is the secret to their ability to rock a dance floor?
From left to right: Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell and Steve Angello of Swedish House Mafia. Photo: Gianluca199063 (CC BY SA)
Swedish House Mafia certainly compare to ABBA when it comes to international success, and national criticism on being too commercial, but the musical similarities are scarce.
The trio’s recipe is rather offering anthems full of layered synths, build-ups and breaks while expanding the sense of spectacle in dance music with classic stadium tricks such as pyro and LCD extravaganza. To some arena house fans the DJ is god — and there certainly is a church-like quality to the gigantic gatherings of the genre, whether it be Swedish House Mafia’s gig at Madison Square Garden or the “Masquerade Motel: One Night Stand” event at Miami South Beach Shore — attended by 15,000 fans.
Breakthrough in Sweden
Seducing the world has been the easy bit, though. The hardest crowd to please is always the Swedish one. Swedish artists often need international recognition as a seal of approval before they can receive love back home. It is no coincidence, then, that Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and electro soul warriors Little Dragon were pretty much ignored by the Swedish media until they had their big break abroad. Nor that Swedish House Mafia received the Swedish government’s Music Export Prize soon after their performance at Madison Square Garden.
When young star DJ and producer Avicii sold out three gigs in two days at Sweden’s then biggest indoor arena, the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Swedish dance music resistance received its kiss of death.
Bring your dancing shoes
Now the signs of a Swedish dance craze are everywhere. New dance-oriented labels such as Uniform Beat and Svenska inspelningar popped up in 2012. Several music tech sites offer instructions on how to copy the Swedish House Mafia sound. And at the 2012 Grammis Awards — the Swedish equivalent to the American Grammy — a new electro/dance category was introduced.
On top of that, Summerburst ― the first arena-sized dance music festival in Sweden, which premiered in 2011, headlined by David Guetta ― expanded in 2012 from one day in Stockholm to two days in both Stockholm and Gothenburg.
If you’re in Sweden on November 22–24, 2012, make sure you bring your best dancing shoes. Swedish House Mafia are in the house.
Nanushka Yeaman is a freelance music critic and culture journalist writing for Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter and urban video magazine Stocktown. Her first accident as a child was crashing her head into the radiator while rocking out to 1980s hip hop and dance music.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
Published by the Swedish Institute on www.sweden.se. All content is protected by Swedish copyright law. The text may be reproduced, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast in any media for non-commercial use with reference to www.sweden.se. However, no photographs or illustrations may be used. For more information on general copyright and permission click here. If you have any questions please contact webmaster.