There was a moment a few years back when Steve Angello was leaving a hotel in his native Sweden and found a few reporters waiting outside. They asked him what his plans were for the day. He told them nothing much. The response made the front page of the next day's newspaper.
“That was the moment,” Angello says, “I knew things were different.”
And they've remained different ever since. As one third of DJ supergroup Swedish House Mafia, Angello — along with Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso — has been on the forefront of EDM's takeover of popular music and top 40 radio. The group formed in 2008, progressing through the club scene and ultimately building a massive international fanbase. They did so on the basis of their big beat dance music, ginormous live shows, the unhinged party rave atmosphere they concocted, and crossover hits like “One” and the Grammy nominated “Don't You Worry Child.” (Watch your back, Al Walser!)
Last December, Swedish House Mafia was the first electronic act to play New York's Madison Square Garden, and the show sold out in 16 minutes. They later became one of the few electronic acts to ever headline the mainstage at Coachella.
Backstage before that show, the guys said it took “thousands” of emails and “a dozen” flights to get the three of them in the same place. They were joking, but a certain strain was apparent, and two months later, the group announced that they were breaking up.
“We're family men. We all have kids and wives, different management teams and our own labels,” Angello says now, on the phone from Stockholm. “There wasn't a particular moment when I realized it had all gotten too big. It was just this huge machine had been created around us.”
Just after the breakup they announced One Last Tour, an industrious, international run of farewell shows. Ticket sales have been brisk. No one has ever accused Swedish House Mafia of being bad businessmen.
The spectacle touches down in L.A. on March 8 and 9, when SHM brings their “Masquerade Motel” show to Los Angeles Historic Park. The two night stand will be the tour's only installment of the act's celebrated costume party, which originated during a residency in Ibiza and is a twist on their standard set. Supporting acts for the gig include Nero, Alesso, Zedd and Vangeli. Angello's scheduled set at Anaheim New Year's Eve event White Wonderland has been cancelled.
When the huge One Last Tour production comes to a close in late March, (the final set will be at Miami's Ultra Music Festival), Angello will remain busy. He's an established solo artist who first came to prominence with a 2004 remix of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams,” and recently released his single “Yeah.” A solo album is in the works. He's also the founder and head of Size Records, which represents artists including AN21 and Max Vangeli.
For the next few months though, Angello will country hop, (Jakarta, Mumbai, Cape Town, Guadalajara, Toronto, etc.). As for the L.A. stop, “We have so many friends [there],” Angello says. “We had never done Masquerade Motel there. It's like a thank you to the city.”
Angello in fact lives in town for part of the year, and says he loves Los Angeles for the weather, the chi chi sushi restaurant Nobu, (“it's like my second home when I'm in L.A.), and for the solitude, of all things. “I love the privacy of just driving around the city alone in my car,” he says. “For me, that's one of the best parts about the place. ”
As for his plans after the tour is done in March, Angello says he just wants life to be normal again. “The first thing I'll do,” he says, “is take my family to an island somewhere and just disappear for awhile.”
So, again, relatively normal.