Having worked with a host of songwriters on his new album Wild Youth, former Swedish House Mafia man Steve Angello argues in a guest column for Q, that as electronic dance music evolves producers need to start collaborating more.
In one respect, I think the current state of electronic music is the best it’s ever been. For artists who’ve been around for decades, we’re seeing much bigger crowds than we ever have before, the underground scene is thriving and we’re all selling more records. The mainstream works as an entry level for curious listeners and they tend to work their way into the core. What’s important now is natural evolution of the music and the direction the scene needs to head towards in order for it to continue to thrive, rather than grow so big it implodes – something we’re all aware of.
From my experience, the one thing we seem to have forgotten about is originality in productions; if you think back to acts like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Underworld, etc, their music was unique and has gone on to grow into something huge and massively significant culturally. Somewhere that got lost and it’s now become acceptable for artists to just copy each other in the hope of instant fame and recognition – and that’s not a great way of contributing to creative growth.
I personally think working with singer-songwriters is an important element for me to bring something different to the table. For my new album, Wild Youth, I wanted to tell a story, and I just don’t feel like it’s possible to make a record that can do that properly without words. Using a selection of singer-songwriters gives you so much more ammunition to create a great record. I worked with Dan from Imagine Dragons, Dougy from The Temper Trap, Julia Spada and loads more – there were about 80 tracks that never made it onto the album! Those guys added a great variation of sounds and the way everything comes together on an album is what can separate good records from great ones.
I’ve always seen a vocal as another instrument you can add too, but an instrument that adds more depth to music. I’d love to see more up and coming producers heading in that direction because I think it’s important for us to make more songs. It’d be good to add more to certain parts of the electronic music community than we already have, because, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of dance records are starting to sound very similar to each other. Personally I think artists need to continue to work hard and develop their sound in order to standout rather than fit in, which will in turn generate a higher calibre of producers, DJs and vocalists.
Eventually though, I hope to see a more fluid dance music industry with a different influences appearing right across the varying strands of contemporary electronic music. You can hear it now already – you’ll have electronic influences in pop music, reggae influences in electronic music, creating whole new sub-genres as they go. I honestly hope that it continues so we can all share in a more collaborative and exciting dance music industry, where the primary focus is always on making good music. Steve Angello @SteveAngello
For more, including details of his headline show at Upminster's We Are FSTVL on 29 May, head to Steveangello.com.