The two former members of supergroup Swedish House Mafia who have now rejoined as Axwell /\ Ingrosso need very little introduction. With worldwide praise and support of their previous project, these two quickly became dance music sensations and, for many of us, one of our first introductions to the power and scale of EDM. When SHM disbanded in early 2013, their enormous fan base reeled in remorse until just last year, when Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell decided to release a collaborative album under a new name. While many of their followers have remained loyal, there’s no question that their new sound is a palpable step backwards into the vague, mainstream cesspool of simple, four-chord “hits” that follow a pattern so basic and within the lines that longtime fans of SHM, like myself, have had no choice but to throw their hands up and walk away. Even though this move has come with disappointment from the community, attacking Axwell and Ingrosso is something that I would never think to do. The careers, choices, and lifestyles of artists change and evolve over the course of time, and to try to cement them into one area of musical expression is fruitless and unrealistic. However, in a recent New York Times interview with the boys, regarding their new project and history in the industry, several of their comments gave us no choice but to speak out.
The interview took place inside a SoHo Apple Store where they awaited their chaotic exit into the screaming throngs of selfie stick-holding fans. As they boast about their celebrity status, wishing they’d thought of Daft Punk-esque disguises for their identities before their rise to stardom, they begin to comment on the overall state of EDM. They categorize Americans as the “spring break” crowd, only wanting to hear the drops. After rightly acknowledging that people’s tastes are now more refined, and that they don’t necessarily “expect a deep techno purist to appreciate [their] music,” they unveiled the comment that sparked the need for this article.
Underground dance music — in the nicest way possible — it’s amateur.
Let me quickly crack my knuckles and take a few air-punches…
I believe that this statement represents the defining mentality of these artists in the most direct fashion. To condemn and devalue the music that seeks to stray from the cookie cutter, top 40, how-much-money-can-I-possibly-make-while-avoiding-any-risk-of-sounding-unique, mainstream music that naturally dominates the charts is to blatantly sell your musical soul. If making “1-2-3-4 let me see your fucking hands” songs is professional, I’d like to stay amateur for the rest of my life. This kind of talk hurts, especially coming from artists that have garnered so much respect during their careers for leading a veritable movement in the community. At the level of Axwell /\ Ingrosso’s caliber, I can’t be certain as to what they mean by “underground.” Judging from the interview, however, it seems to mean any EDM track that isn’t saturated by funding and guaranteed to surf around the charts simply because of its pleasurable surface value and ability to numb the minds of radio listeners on the freeway who most likely couldn’t tell you what a “drop” is.
Condemning those artists who try to put their own heart and musical aspirations before the amount of sales they’ll make is unquestionably laughable in its wicked intent. It’s as if McDonald’s claimed to be changing the cheeseburger game, and that all other burger joints lacked professional quality. McDonald’s, through a long running and expertly produced marketing system, has been able to completely takeover the fast food market. You can’t walk two blocks in any major city in the world without running into one. Does this make your local, family-run burger place with sandwiches that fall apart and thick patties that are actually cooked upon ordering “amateur”? Hell no. Those restaurants are authentic, delicious, and make you feel good to involve yourself with, rather than succumbing to the big chains and drive-thru windows.
In short: I disagree wholeheartedly with these comments, and am offended as a genuine lover of music. While I still respect the work Axwell and Ingrosso have done in the past, and will remember their time with Swedish House Mafia fondly for many years to come, I believe their new mentality and position in the industry are insincere and disillusioned.
Make the music you want to make, alter your sound not for anyone but yourself, and keep a real and human relationship with your fellow artists and listeners. If enough people can see in themselves what you are able to put into music, success and “professionalism” will follow.
Source: NY Times