Swedish DJ Axwell is a massive name on the club scene, famed for his uplifting house and his world class remixes of, among others, Usher, Moby and Hard Fi. He has been championed by legendary DJs Pete Tong, Roger Sanchez & Erick Morillo. Recently, he had the huge dance floor hit I Found You which hit number six in the UK. Here, John McKiernan finds out how to piss him off in the DJ booth…
Good morning Axwell, hope you’re not feeling too hung-over from NYE today?
You know what man, it’s funny you should say that. My two-day hangover is just wearing off – it was my thirtieth birthday the other day, I’ve been celebrating hard. Otherwise I’m good!
Congratulations on your success with dance floor hit I Found You. Are you happy to be considered mainstream?
Yeah it’s an achievement; it hit number six in the UK charts which is a big thing. I don’t mind being considered mainstream as long as I did it my way. It has to be sent out there at the right time in the right place. There are a lot of DJs who bring out cheesy songs that are played over and over and make it to number one but piss people off. I am happy that with I Found You, I can still play it during a set and people will want to hear it.
Did you have much input into the music video?
You know what, I had absolutely no input into it whatsoever. Every time I make a track, I go to the record company with ideas for a fucking cool, introspective video with complicated beginning and they just say ‘Yeah that’s cool Axwell but I think we’ll stick with this idea that we have of a guy and girl dancing to your music’. One of these days, I’ll get one of my videos in there!
Is it true that you once threw ice at a warm-up DJ who played one of your songs?
Yeah I did. I mean he shouldn’t play one of my songs before I get on – even if he didn’t know it was mine, that’s even worse because it just shows ignorance on his part that he downloaded some song without bothering to check the name of it. I was up on the balcony and I just took some ice from a champagne bucket and through it at him.
Is there anything else that really pisses you off during your sets?
There’s not much. Oh on the odd occasion people sticking cell phones into your face – that’s not great. When people request one of my own songs, that’s annoying. It’s like ‘It’s my own song, I’m going to play it – just be patient’. It’s like someone asking you ‘will you eat breakfast?’ – I’ll get there. Oh and I think that the loudspeaker in airplanes are too loud – that’s just a general complaint.
You played the drums when you were a kid, do you still play?
Actually I haven’t played for years but I recently re-purchased a kit and tried to play – I thought it would be like riding a bike – it’s not. Yeah it’s the only instrument I play so I will re-educate myself.
So no Phil Collins solos then…
No. Not any time soon.
Your travel schedule is fairly hectic to say the least. Where do you find the most fun to play?
I’m not just saying this but Australia is one of my favourite
places to play. Summadayze in Melbourne a while back was crazy man, just crazy. Actually India is another place, they love it out there. It’s all so new to them so there is passion – I mean one billion people and they are all so educated – there’s got to be enough house heads to make a good set.
Is it all as good as it sounds? Travel, music, etc …
Yes. I mean it’s good now I’m playing great places, not like back when I was starting and you have to play shit places like 7-Eleven you know? Now I get to play some great clubs – there are downsides to all the travel but generally it’s great.
You have done some top re-mixes for all sorts of musicians. Are you confident that you could do a good re-mix of a bad track? The Spice Girls for example?
Yeah you know I think I could. Every track has something in it that you can pick on and make it better. There has to be something that grabs me in the song though. With the Spice Girls, it could be a challenge!
How do you manage to consistently make such energetic ‘happy’ music – you can’t always be in that mood?
The studio is my happy place. I go in there and think of summer, beaches, drinks, ocean, sand. The music has to be energetic. I mean, there is a time and a place for more depressing techno and trance but it’s not in my sets.
Any New Year’s Resolutions?
Yes. I am going to try and be more serious. Yes more serious and responsible with work and life. I’m also going to force my girlfriend to quit smoking. I don’t care if it’s not my resolution!
To grab a listen of Axwell’s hit, “I Found You“