April 24, 2014

Style of Eye: 'It's Been Completely Mad' Producing Icona Pop

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Your mother may tell you that nothing good happens after dark, but Linus Eklöw—better known as Style of Eye—would disagree.

Over the past few years, the Swedish DJ/producer has amassed an all-star list of production credits that includes remixing Swedish House Mafia, Kylie Minogue, and Dada Life, as well as co-writing/co-producing Icona Pop’s recent monster hit “I Love It.”

For now, though, Eklöw is focused on himself, touring in support of his collaboration with Tom Staar, “After Dark,” working on the follow-up CD to his 2008 debut Duck, Cover & Hold, and splitting his time with Christian Karlsson (of Miike Snow) in their collaborative side project Galantis, which recently released its Big Beat single “Smile.”

Before his packed set at New York’s Pacha nightclub, we chatted with the man about the new album, producing one of the year’s biggest pop hits, and why Swedish producers are doing so well.

DJ Times: How did you begin DJing?
Eklöw: My first gig was 17 years ago at a class disco. About every three songs, I’d drop a drum-n-bass track to get my kicks. It would empty the floor, so then I’d have to draw them back with whatever it was they wanted to hear.

DJ Times: What DJ equipment are you using? In the studio?
Eklöw: Normally, I play from three [Pioneer] CDJ-2000s and a DJM-900 mixer, usually with USBs or SD cards. For studio, I’m actually all in the box with only a laptop currently, which is great since I’m travelling so much. Sometimes, I use some analog synths, but I usually end up sampling them. I don’t have a ton in my studio, so I’ll borrow some. When it comes to software synths, [Sonic Charge’s] Synplant is one I really like to use.

DJ Times: “After Dark” is your latest single. It and your remix of Zedd’s “Clarity” are a bit darker and harder than your earlier material. Is this a new sound you’re exploring?
Eklöw: For the past year, I’ve been finding myself getting into a whole different kind of mindset when it comes to what I like to play. I really want to make something that I want to play when I’m out, you know? This sound is what’s really getting my heart to beat these days.

DJ Times: You’re working on a new album. How is it different from Duck, Cover & Hold?
Eklöw: It’s more song-based. The first album was like a journey from A to Z, but I see the new album as having each song in its own world. Each track has its own sense of self.

DJ Times: So each track stands apart more?
Eklöw: A little bit, compared to how I laid out the first one. It’s now based on what songs I have and where I think each wants to go, instead of just making a track that tries to fit in the pack.

DJ Times: You co-wrote and produced Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” What’s it like having a hand in such a huge hit?
Eklöw: It’s been completely mad. I remember being called to work with Patrik Berger, and it was the beginning of the weekend, and they said they needed the track by Sunday. After we finished the track, we just sat and thought about how much fun we had making it, but we didn’t realize just what we were sitting on.

DJ Times: It worked out pretty well.
Eklöw: It took a lot of time to grow. First, it took off in Sweden and then other countries like Australia and Germany before really hitting the U.S. this year. It’s just now really taking off in the U.K. From that perspective, it’s been really interesting because it’s my first real worldwide smash. I’m pinching myself every day.

DJ Times: With the success of acts like yourself, Avicii, Icona Pop, and Miike Snow, it seems like the Swedes are taking over. Is there a reason for that?
Eklöw: First off, we’ve got a climate that’s very annoying. We don’t have any excuses not to be working in the studio nine months of the year. What really drives us though is that we’re very, very focused on getting things done and we don’t consider them done until we consider them perfect from a design perspective. We’re also very open to invention and we always try to push boundaries a little bit.

DJ Times: Do you consider yourself a producer or DJ first?
Eklöw: One gives to the other. It’s always been like that for me. When I go out and play, I get a lot of energy to go back into the studio and make something I can try out. For me, it’s both, and always has been.


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