Exclusive Interview: Steve Angello Talks “Payback”, Size Records’ Future And The Course Of Dance Music
At the corner of innovator, musical genius, celebrity and trendsetter we find Steve Angello. You may know Angello from his time with the super group Swedish House Mafia but he is much more than just an artist that churns out chart-topping hits. Angello is a true musical tastemaker. A man who has lived dance music’s past and hopes to shape its future, he is in the midst of completing a new album that he would like to see impact the course of electronic dance music. I had the chance to talk to Steve about his smash hit track “Payback”, the future of Size Records and his view on today’s dance music world.
10 years ago Steve Angello started Size Records, a label he wants to see help young talent grow and gain exposure. It’s not about churning out chart-topping hits but about creating a label that stands for Angello’s own musical values.
“Since I started Size I have always wanted to be that label. I want to be the label that will put time and effort into these young guys even though they aren’t that big. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far. There’s always stuff you can do better. We are trying to look into other people. The whole purpose of the label is to support the youth and up and coming producers more than finding hit records.“
The latest young talents to benefit from Size are Dimitri Vangelis and Wyman. Collaborating with the label boss himself, they produced Payback, an incredibly popular track. It’s been a long time coming and Angello is elated with its success.
“It’s been a great track for us,” Angello says about Payback. “We have played it out for almost a year. It’s an instrumental and it has just been doing really well. Everyone has been playing it, which is great. Dimitri and Wyman are super talented too. I am always happy to see young guys come through especially when they have a real hunger. It is really great to see that.”
Size Records is much more than a haven for talented young producers. Just over a year old, Size’s sub-label, ‘X’, feeds Angello’s own obsession with the “dark and dirty” sound of techno, the heartbeat of dance music. His love for dance music’s techier side is apparent; Angello speaks about it like an old friend that’s accompanied him on his wild musical ride.
“I started the whole X thing because I’ve always been so into the whole underground and house scene. When I do a marathon, or when I play after parties or afterhours I always like to play the dark and dirty. I wanted to have a place where I would put out those kind of records as well. I think it’s really important to me as a DJ and producer to keep that balance. Although the underground doesn’t sell as much I think it’s equally important if not even more important. It’s great to be able to do all these things.“
Size’s future is big, Angello hopes. He has talked in the past about expanding the label and he plans to do so in a big way. Angello wants his love for music to be reflected by his label.
“I want to go wide. I want to go broader. For me to take Size to the next level I have to widen my spectrum a little bit. There are a lot of cool bands that are coming through at the moment, a lot of cool electronic indie acts that are doing cool stuff. It’s not about me changing. I am not going to put out a pop record. I’m not going to sign the next Britney Spears, that’s just not who I’m looking for. I’m looking for those kinds of sounds that are still within my genre but they’re just a bit wider. I think it’s just a natural step for size after 10 years. I’ve always been such a big fan of music that I want to just take it with me and grow.”
Techno is close to Angello’s heart. One of his Aliases, Who’s Who, provided Angello with a place to unleash the pounding, churning techno and house beats he holds so dear. These tracks were not made for jumping up and down at a festival’s main stage; these were manufactured to make you move in deep, dark, sweaty underground clubs. Angello hopes to get back to that sound in the near future. Once he’s completed his upcoming artist album, Angello is anticipating delving back into the abyss of dance music’s darker side.
“I’ve been working on a Who’s Who record for quite some time. I just have to wrap up a few loose ends of an artist album, that should be done any second now. When I’m done with that I think I am going to put some time into make a really dark techno record. I want to make that project into a large EP or even an album. Just so I can go really in deep and really do something different. It is important for my soul that that still exists. It is important to my soul that that is still doable. That’s what we grew up with and that was where house music was at when we came out. It’s really important that I can still feed off that. I’m definitely going to bring that back.”
Angello worked to get to the top of electronic music. He did not experience the overnight success that some artists do today. Unlike these artists, Angello worked, and worked hard, DJing for hours on end in the depths of Sweden’s underground clubs. He feels these moments serve as rites of passage. These experiences give Angello a sort of edge, an edge that he feels some young artists lack.
“In one way or another we were all underground at some point. I never became big because of a hit record. I became who I am today because I really worked it. There are a lot of young guys coming through and they have one big record then they’re through. I used to go and play for 10 or 15 hours. I used to go play underground clubs where sweat was dripping from the ceiling. There would be 200 people in there and no lights, no nothing, just a sound system and decks. I miss that because there was something mystical about that. There was something that just really made me appreciate where I was at that time. I think that every DJ or producer should go through those times because there’s something really special about it.“
His upcoming artist album is a melting pot of electronic dance music. Even Angello himself has trouble wrapping his head around the sheer variation and complexity of the album. Although at first he felt pressure to release “bangers”, he realized that it was more important to create an album that really reflected Steve Angello the producer, the musician.
“The album I just finished has everything. I had a meeting the other day at my house and I was playing through the album. I was just like ‘shit, this touches into so many subgenres.’ I needed almost two weeks to kind of reflect on it and listen back. There are darker and techier songs, there are big room songs, there’s indie, there’s a piece with a symphony orchestra, there’s guitar, it’s different but it’s very cool. I want to send a message and I think the message is very clear on this album. The thing is you have to listen to the album with a very open mind. It’s an artist album it’s not a bunch of bangers. It’s a little story it takes you the whole album to really get the point. Very early on in the album process I had a lot of big records in there but then I switched and went away from that a bit and more into what I actually want to write. It’s taken a very interesting turn but it’s still a very big album. I feel like I’ve written about my whole life.“