During his years as one third of supergroup Swedish House Mafia, Steve Angello did as much as anyone to mainstream EDM in the U.S., becoming the first dance act to headline Madison Square Garden. Yet Angello’s roots go far beyond that project, with his label Size Records celebrating its 10th anniversary by releasing its entire catalog for free and his album “Wild Youth” scheduled to roll out this fall with its first video premiering in Times Square last week.
On “Wild Youth”: I was really inspired by the live elements of music. There’s something about organic instruments and musicians that I could never let go of. Here I’ve been working with more strings, guitars and bass, real drums, arranging songs differently and stripping them down. In the few years I’ve been trying to break out of the ordinary function of a dance song. The artists I looked up to as a kid — from Aphex Twin to Moby, the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Faithless — all of these acts had a very creative presentation of their music. And dance music has kind of lost that, running this course that’s lead to where it is today. And I wanted to bring that back by doing an album instead of just doing singles.
On adapting his evolving style into live sets: There are a lot of pieces from the album that I can’t play live right now. So what I have to do then, is rethink my whole live setup, I have to rethink how I book tours. I’m not necessarily stuck in the idea that I have to go and play all of the big festivals out there. It’s very important not to become a slave to the finances of the dance music industry.
On restoring the personal touch to dance music: If you think about it, people don’t know anything about dance artists. You don’t know their history or how they grew up, you only know them onstage or on Twitter and Facebook. And for me that’s insanity. How I connected to an artist growing up was learning more about them. I know the history of Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Metallica, Kanye West, we all know their history. But no one tells their history in dance music, everybody just shows the party moments and forgets about telling who they are as an artist. The album tells more of who I am and where I’ve been than anything I’ve ever said in an interview.
On the future of Size Records: We had a goal that after 10 years we would make a lot of changes. I wanted to bring Size wider into other genres and subgenres and really rethink the way we’re structuring everything. We’re gonna let go of some of the artists that we have today, we’re going to sign new artists. We’ve survived 10 years in the music industry, so now it’s just about expansion and growth.
On watching Swedish House Mafia’s breakup play out in docu “Leave the World Behind”: Sometimes when people ask me about it in private, I say, “how would you feel if your parents broke up and it went on iTunes?” It can be kind of awkward. But it’s a story that was better to tell now, rather than wait another 10 years and bring it up. The story’s told, it’s behind us. No harm done.