10 Things You Didn’t Know About Swedish House Mafia
Swedish House Mafia is an example of an act whose name perfectly describes the group. The trio, consisting of Swedes Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Axwell, got together in the early 2000s to play house music and grew to become one of EDM’s most successful artists.
Even though SHM announced in June 2012 that they were breaking up, they proceeded to schedule additional tour dates and earned the biggest hit single of their careers with ‘Don’t You Worry Child.’ They embarked on one final tour, a global trek that finally wrapped up on March 24 at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami.
Since Swedish House Mafia’s popularity exploded just in the past couple of years, the guys are still unknown to some degree. As they move on to work on solo projects, let's get to know the DJs better with these 10 facts you might not have known about Swedish House Mafia.
As Angello, Axwell and Ingrosso began attracting attention beyond their home country, other artists provided them with the moniker that stuck. “When we would bring people to Sweden to DJ with us, they’d ask, ‘So what are you guys, some kind of house mafia?,’” Angello said. “We didn’t use the name. Then one day Pete Tong heard about that story and said, ‘I’ve heard you’re the Swedish House Mafia.’ And we were like, OK, whatever.”
The guys said that under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t have been popular enough to headline a world tour. However, their breakup announcement created so much buzz, that otherwise uninterested fans began taking notice. “A lot of people are happy that we’re coming to see them, but at the same time, most of these people probably wouldn’t ever see us,” Angello said in an interview before their farewell tour. “We probably would not have gone on a world tour if we were not saying goodbye,” agreed Axwell.
Forbes ranked Swedish House Mafia third in its annual list of the highest-earning EDM artists, listing the trio’s yearly income as $14 million -- and that was before their recent farewell tour. SHM trailed only Tiesto at $22 million and Skrillex at $15 million. Forbes noted that Swedish House Mafia were the first electronic artists to headline at Madison Square Garden.
“Me and Seb met when we were six or seven. We got into all kinds of trouble together,” Angello has said. “Seb’s Dad had a label called Plumphouse and we got into music and did all kinds of weird things including lounge compilations and made music for shows.” Axwell joined the crew years later when Steve and Sebastian heard his house music and brought him in. Angello explained, “We got in touch -- we were younger than him -- and we just clicked. We all learned from each other because we were young kids.”
Unlike deadmau5, who wrote a blog post titled “We All Hit Play” admitting that most EDM artists don’t do much in concert besides push buttons, Swedish House Mafia insisted that fans don’t realize how difficult it is to make their live performances happen. Angello seemed defensive about the issue, saying, "They think you just show up there with a USB stick and plug it in and hit play. They don't understand how much work you actually put into a show." He noted that the group acted as their own promoters, so they were heavily involved on the business side of their careers, as well.
Early on, Swedish House Mafia found it difficult to get gigs, so they couldn't be picky. Hungry patrons who wanted a little house music to go with their pepperoni were in luck when the trio began DJing at a Stockholm pizza parlor. Another of their regular spots was a tiny club called Rainbow Room that held fewer than 100 people. “We were guys playing vinyl, everybody wasted, couldn’t mix, the needles were sliding,” Angello recalled.
All three members of Swedish House Mafia got married within the past few years. Sebastian and Steve each have two daughters, but Angello’s oldest girl, Monday-Lily, is the most active in the social media world. She was born in 2010 and already has Twitter and Instagram accounts with thousands of followers on each platform. Sample tweets from Monday-Lily: “I hate going to the doctor until I get the lollipop at the end!,” “I’m cranky! Nothing can make me happy today!,” and, “My name is Monday and I like dressing cute.”
John Martin is best known as the voice on the trio's hit 'Don't You Worry Child,' which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording. But that was not his first collabo with the group. In 2011, he appeared on 'Save the World,' which also received a Grammy nom. Martin, a fellow Swede, described how he first hooked up with the house mafia: "Sebastian Ingrosso showed up in our studio in Stockholm in December 2010. (Producer) Michel (Zitron) and I played him a couple of songs we’ve written and he really liked it. He asked us to write melodies and words on a track he was working on. So we did and by the end of that day we had ‘Save the World.'"
Anyone who saw Swedish House Mafia's music video for 'Greyhound' could spot the obvious product placement for Absolut vodka. What may not have been apparent is that the trio composed the song specifically for the beverage's marketing campaign. They were one of three artists chosen by the Swedish liquor company to produce music for its advertisements. 'Greyhound,' an intense instrumental track, was written to promote Absolut Greyhound, a spirit consisting of one part Absolut vodka and three parts pink grapefruit juice.
Despite the outpouring of love after they decided to split, Axwell, Angello and Ingrosso are at peace with their decision to walk away. Angello said, “I think we felt like it had become a very big machine. I think the pressure … It just wasn't having fun anymore. It was this humongous monster. We felt tired. Swedish House Mafia was never something planned, it was just like, we're three guys, let's do this and have fun and throw parties and have a blast. So we just thought, ‘You know what? Let's end this.’”
Ingrosso added, “So many years and so much hard work put into it. It’s bittersweet. But also, it needed to be done… We were like: Let’s bang it out now, we’ll do SHM world tour as big as we can, do our last single, just enjoy it and go say goodbye to our friends.”