Elektro Exclusive: Size Does Matter – The definitive label retrospective
“Size matters,” or so the saying goes. We’re about to find out just how much the phrase means to the team at the boutique label, which has gained recognition for its consistent output of dance hits. Steve Angello, known to his artists as “Professor Steve,” is the boss at the label; he curates the magic both in front of and behind the scenes. Size is at an all-time high, signing talent such as Tim Mason, Qulinez, Third Party, Wayne & Woods, and AN21 & Max Vangeli. elektro gets an in-depth look inside the Size camp by talking to its best and brightest. One thing’s for sure: this is more than just a label... this is a family.
Tim Mason got our attention when we first heard "The Moment," one of Size’s most successful and powerful productions to date. After creating the thumping track in Ibiza, he realized it has a very “Size” feel to it – once heard by head honcho Steve Angello, he played it less than a month later at New Years Eve at New York City's Roseland Ballroom in 2011. The set was recorded, and for months EDM enthusiasts wondered if this impeccable house music tune was the next Swedish House Mafia single. He continued to impress EDM fans with his follow-up single "Anima," and now the native Brit is ready to officially break through.
On not having a Wikipedia page and laying low: “It’s just how I am… I just focus on the music, and going to DJ and the crowd and having a good time. That doesn’t necessarily mean [Twitter] needs to know when I’m getting in the car and going to the gym. Daft Punk let the music talk, and that’s what people are there for.”
On American fans vs. Brit fans: “I’ve been to clubs in England where people are still new to some stuff, but definitely the history of dance music in England, and in Europe, has been around for a long time. But it’s nice to have somewhere like the States where it’s just becoming a phenomenon. Sometimes it’s about the posing and just being there, but that happens everywhere.”
Craziest U.S. show: “I think it was at Corona Light's Electric Beach at Santos Party Haus in New York. It reminded me of playing in England, that kind of big party. Even the promoters, they couldn’t get me in the front door. I remember going out onto the decks and thinking, ‘My God, is this wicked!’”
What’s coming up: “I haven’t put anything forth in quite a while now. The new single should be out end of summer, and I’ve got some new collaborations that I can’t really talk about yet… but it’s quite big. I can’t wait to have it all out soon. Studio, studio, all the time. I’m here for 10-12 hours a day. It’s just finishing music and ideas that I collect from touring.”
What Steve says: “Loved his work for a really long time, he was around when I came up and has always done amazing stuff. Really good person as well!”
Don’t miss him: On his fall tour throughout the U.S. and Canada.
AN21 and Max Vangeli
2012 is certain to be the year of AN21 (pronounced "Antoine") and Max Vangeli. Their massive debut album, People of The Night is to be released imminently, with exciting new collaborations with Tiesto and Antoine’s brother, Steve Angello, among many others. They have both been in the game for years, but it wasn’t until their first joint collaboration with Steve, the now classic remix of Pendulum’s “The Island,” that they made a serious mark in the dance music realm. Their talent is fresh, and they are certain to hit superstar status within the year... but not without losing their senses of humor.
On the album:
Max – “We’re trying to create some kind of a movement, of the people and sounds that enjoy electronic music right now. We’re just trying to have a good time and put out some good shows around the world, and keep the music fresh.”
AN21 – “We’re trying to form our own little cult.”
On not using “cheesy vocals:”
Max – “A lot of people try to slap on vocals on a record just because they think it needs vocals and it’s going to get more exposure, but if the vocal doesn’t fit and it’s not the right vibe… it doesn’t work.”
AN21 – “We spend a lot of time recording vocals. Sometimes it takes eight to nine months to make it good.”
On their single with Steve Angello, "H8RS:"
Max – “You know it’s me on the vocals!”
AN21 – “It’s a romantic song; we tried to add it to the new Titanic DVD.”
On a recent studio session with the entire Size crew:
Max – “We haven’t done it before, and we were doing Size Matters in London, so it just felt right to just rent a studio and work together. Not even everybody had met properly, so it was nice to get everybody together and try to do some work. We got three real amazing records out of it.”
AN21 – “Four [records] actually, I’d say.”
Max – “It wasn’t that everyone had time. Steve told us to be there no matter what, so we all had to be there.”
What Steve says: “My little brother and Max has been with me since they properly got into the scene! I'm a proud big brother to both of them.”
Don’t miss them: On their People of The Night world tour, starting in North America end of August, and then heading to Europe in October.
Although commonly mistaken for being Swedish, these two Englishmen from Essex have had you on your feet for a while now. Known to the dance music world as Third Party, Jonnie Macaire and Harry Bass have released four original records on Size that have been supported by every major DJ. Good news: there's lots more on the way. This is exciting for their rapidly growing fan base in the States and around the world. Jonnie tells elektro like it is.
On the EDM scene in America and David Guetta: “The time to be a DJ/producer couldn’t be any better right now. I think everyone’s been surprised how big the EDM scene has got out there. Obviously [we have] to be thankful to people out there like David Guetta, as much as he gets a bit of shtick, because of how many pop stars he’s worked with… he crossed it over in a way that now, everyone that’s already been doing the house music thing, it’s given them a chance to get on a bigger platform. And I don’t think you can take away from him.”
On the longevity of house music: “For me the whole thing with hip-hop was, I loved it, about five or six years ago, but the whole culture of it was kind of negative, all about ‘I’m better than you.' In house, you make a record to bring through the positive vibes. And I don’t think that can be broken down… ever.”
On new Third Party music: “We’ve got a track that’s finished, possibly looking at vocals for it. No release date as of yet but hopefully soon. And then also obviously we’ll try to have other material come out around the time of that single. That’s what we’re working on at the moment. We also have a remix coming out for Ned Shepard and DJ Sultan ("Somebody To Love"). They always manage to come out with good vocals somehow, and always manage to find good vocalists every time.”
On achieving goals: “When you don’t think about anything else… that’s the key. It doesn’t even come into your thoughts, ‘What if this doesn’t work?’ I think that’s when you have the sort of ultimate confidence and belief to get somewhere.”
What Steve says: “I love these two! They do exactly what I expect in a track. They never fail to deliver.”
Don’t miss them: At Size In The Park at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, New York.
Pronounced "Cu-lines," Swedish duo Alexander Lager and Johannes Gustafsson have been forming their signature screaming synth and heavy bass style over years of friendship, but it was when they put an imaginary word to their names that they catapulted into the EDM scene. It was at the epic Swedish House Mafia show at Madison Square Garden in December 2011 that the world was introduced to "Troll," a standout production from the pair that had every big-name DJ vying for a chance to play the intricate track in their own sets. Working from their studio in Varberg, Sweden, Alex and Johannes take us beyond their hit single and into the world of Qulinez.
On their biggest inspirations:
Alex – “The SHM shows are so sick, much love, energy and feelings. We're just big fans [of] them.”
Johannes – “They have opened a lot of doors for Swedish DJs and they are really great guys.”
On the Qulinez style:
Johannes – “We try to combine a lot of styles and make it our own style. Like some electro, some elements of dubstep, some commercial... when people contact us about to do a remix for them, they always say to us, ‘Oh, try to make the remix like 'Troll’. The first four remixes we did [were] like the sound of ‘Troll’, and we don’t think it should be like that.”
On their latest set lists:
Alex – “It's different from place to place, but we're playing a lot of our own tracks, mash-ups, bootlegs. Playing pretty heavy stuff while trying to combine with some softer tracks.”
On advice to budding producers/DJs:
Alex – “Well, there's almost just three things to say - work hard, never give up, do what you love to do. You should have fun while working with it.”
What Steve says: “Super energetic, talented and loads of fun. It’s always good to be around good people and these two are a perfect example.”
Don’t miss them: Stay tuned...
Wayne & Woods
Iman Gilani and Simon Widman may be the youngest of the Size roster, but they are certainly the hungriest. Hailing from Solna, the same suburb of Stockholm from which Steve Angello and AN21 hail , these football mates met when they were just six years old and found their shared passion of electronic music in their teens. Between their two computers, they have hundreds of songs and mixes that they’ve worked on over the years and soon they’ll be ready to take over the ears of the world.
On growing up in Solna:
Simon – “It’s a great place, everybody knows each other. It’s beautiful,(although it rains all the time in Sweden.”
Iman – “When you live in Solna, you know who everyone is; you don’t need to be best friends with them. You can say hello anyway.”
On their favorite SHM tracks:
Iman – “I think the new one, ‘Don’t You Worry Child.’ It’s a big tune, a great acapella on it, a very emotional track.”
Simon – “I have to say 'Greyhound.' It has it everything.”
Iman – “We cannot forget ‘One’. It’s a big thing in house music.”
On being part of Size:
Iman – “From AN21 to Max Vangeli to Swedish House Mafia, the big crew, the big family, they’re just so nice to us and just to be hanging with them is a big blessing. Just two years ago, I was on YouTube, watching every, every clip that I could find, just to get a view of how they were living, and two years later we are here and doing it ourselves. It’s a blessing and we are so happy.”
On working in the studio:
Iman – “Just being in the studio with your friends, you have a great time, laugh, play new house music, just have a blast in the studio with each other. That’s the best. Without the studio, it’s just your computer. All you need…”
Simon – “…is the computer and your heart.”
What Steve says: “New addition to the team. They are super talented, loads of hunger and vision. Nothing is better than drive!”
Don’t miss them: Stay tuned…
The man needs no introduction. A well-established giant of house music well before the epic trio of Swedish House Mafia came together, he captured our hearts with his remix of “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics in 2004, followed by a remix of '90s dance anthem “Show Me Love” by Robin S. Countless hits later, he is at the helm of Size Records, one of the most exciting labels in dance music today. His artists are inspired by his passion and high standard of excellence, and the respect is mutual. SHM may be disbanding soon, but nothing can stop Angello’s star from continuing to rise.
On the future of Size: “There's always a lot happening around us. I'm a workaholic and I wake up every morning with a vision to do something new. I'm on constant lookout for new adventures and have loads up my sleeve coming to reality in the near future. In the end of the day its all about having fun! I gladly spend all the label's finances to create something exciting and cutting edge.”
On the next Size compilation album: “It will be done very, very soon! It’s in the works as we speak and it’s been a while since the last one. So Size Matters is almost done!”
On collaborating with Third Party on "Lights:" “This year is about doing things as a family and therefore we tend to get collaborations going between us. It’s important as a label that we get the family connection 'cause in the end of the day we'll be in this boat for a long time and we'll be touring, working and hanging out together. A record is just the tip of the iceberg.”