Have times ever been this good for Axwell?
That seems doubtful. As one-third of Swedish House Mafia, Axwell last winter saw the group sell out Madison Square Garden on the strength of a string of global hits that included “One,” “Miami 2 Ibiza” and “Save the World.” It was a first for a DJ act.
And just this past February, his “Cosmic Opera”—a show that includes DJs, aerialists, effects and, yes, an opera singer—sold out three nights at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom. It was a massive party, not unlike SHM’s Masquerade Motel events.
DJ Times: A lot has happened over the past several months. What is the biggest difference between when you go out on the road as Axwell versus when you go out with Swedish House Mafia?
Axwell: The biggest difference is that I’m by myself, except for my tour manager. That’s a big difference because when I travel with Swedish House Mafia—it’s a lot more people most of the time. We do big shows, so we have a lot of people traveling with us for the production stuff. But I like to do about 50-percent of each because sometimes it’s nice to travel with a lot of people; it’s always a great party. Sometimes it’s nice to travel low-key by yourself and your tour management. It’s nice to mix and match.
DJ Times: Do you ever get bored when you’re playing [with Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello] as Swedish House Mafia? I feel like one of you is always waiting to get in there and work the mixer.
Axwell: Not bored, but we do think about new stuff all the time… about how we can be more and more busy. We figure we’re three people—we should do more of the show. Maybe we should do the lights; maybe we should do the visuals. We’re trying to figure out more things to do, basically—but not bored. We have a blast all the time and there is always stuff to do on stage.
DJ Times: Tell me about Madison Square Garden. A DJ act to sell out an arena that big and that quickly is unheard of here in the States.
Axwell: That was insane. We were so nervous about that whole thing. First of all, it’s so expensive to rent that place and nobody as a DJ has played there—so I wasn’t sure if it was even the right place to do it or if it was possible to create a vibe there. Then it’s a lot of people—it’s a lot of tickets to sell. It went too fast and we were pretty overwhelmed. The night of the show, it was just insane.
DJ Times: What stands out in your memory?
Axwell: The energy in there was really electric. It was so big and amazing and, to look at it from where we were standing, it was something we will always remember. It won’t be one of those gigs where you’re like, “It’s a bit hazy.” It was pretty crystal-clear the whole night for me.
– Joe Bermudez & Angela Bray