Swedish House Mafia is coming to San Diego this weekend as part of world tour
Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Paradise Again Tour’ arrives in San Diego on Sept. 4.
Like most success stories, the meteoric rise of DJ trio Swedish House Mafia did not happen overnight.
Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso spent several years as solo DJs before finding a global audience together. Although Angello and Ingrosso grew up as childhood friends in Stockholm, they were working on individual careers when a serendipitous encounter with Axwell (Axel Hedfors) changed the trajectory for all three artists.
Forming their collective in 2008, it wasn’t until 2010’s hit single “One” that the threesome really began their ascent as one of the biggest electronic acts in the world. However, despite triumphs like scoring an international No. 1 in “Don’t You Worry Child” and famously selling out Madison Square Garden in minutes, Angello, Hedfors and Ingrosso called it quits in 2012.
The supergroup played its last shows together in the first part of 2013, after which Angello focused on his own label, Size Records, and Hedfors and Ingrosso formed the DJ duo Axwell & Ingrosso.
Aside from a couple of one-off performances, Swedish House Mafia was content to have left the scene at the height of its popularity.
That is, until this year.
In April, the trio released “Paradise Again,” their first full-length album, which wasn’t a collection of singles, and returned to Indio, California, for a pair of Coachella headlining sets with The Weeknd. Now, Angello, Hedfors and Ingrosso are in the middle of a nearly 40-date world tour for the first time in almost a decade. The tour arrives in San Diego at Pechanga Arena on Sept. 4.
“It’s just so great to be back and see the fans,” Angello said during a recent Zoom call from Denver, where his group was performing for the first time. “There’s a lot of love and excitement. The crowds have been phenomenal. We make music based on impressions, cultures and the energy from the fans. It’s a driving force. So for us it’s been a really good experience.”
Undaunted by the fact that the group’s self-imposed hiatus was nearly double the length of its initial run, Angello spoke to both the significance, and anxiety, of releasing a comprehensive album for the first time.
“It’s such an important aspect of being an artist,” he said. “The older songs that we did will always be there. Forever. But it was still a scary thought from the beginning. Ultimately, we imagined all the freedom we’d have to express in an LP. So we just sat down and said, “Let’s make music.’”
Sitting down was the easy part. With all three members sequestered in Sweden during the pandemic, hitting the studio came naturally. But with the knowledge that a world tour would follow the release of their album, “Paradise Again” was engineered in reverse.
As a completely hands-on unit, Angello, Hedfors and Ingrosso visualized both the album and tour before recording one note. They played different kinds of music to inspire one another, designed visuals and structures, programmed lighting and essentially “built” the box they’d be playing in every night. Once every other aspect was completed, they wrote the album that would serve as the soundtrack to the experience.
“It was so inspiring,” Angello said. “We’d look at a video clip of some surrealistic world and make a dark synth like nothing we’d play on a Saturday in Vegas. That just wasn’t the purpose this time. All of our favorites throughout the years — things that are dark, heavy, create anxiety — they’re all there. But we had the dream scenarios and inspiration first. Then, we scored what we thought the album was going to be. It was a cool experience because you normally work the other way around.”
While the 17 songs on “Paradise Again” were culled from more than 50 that the trio recorded, there are no plans for a follow-up album just yet. Tour dates run through November and there are already plenty of upcoming events on the Swedish House Mafia docket.
Angello’s Size Records turns 20 next year. The label, which boasts releases from fellow Swedes Avicii and Eric Prydz, as well as Fatboy Slim, Laidback Luke and Afrojack, is set to repackage and remaster several Size classics, as well as a crop of new vinyl box sets. To help commemorate the anniversary, the label has also created an interactive history “for the new kids to dive into.”
And in a collaboration that is seemingly long overdue, Swedish House Mafia will soon unveil a new Ikea collection that features products ranging from speaker stands and record boxes to an affordable, yet sleekly designed, record player. The band even reimagined the Swedish company’s iconic blue bag, changing it to black and making it the perfect size to carry records.
“For us,” said Angello, “promoting vinyl is like you’re teaching. I want to share the love I have for the physical product of music because it’s such an important aspect of my life and how I appreciate things. I think investing in something that you have to take care of is a valuable lesson today.”
So far, “Paradise Again” has not yet made it to vinyl. But that is likely to change in time. The trio is revitalized, reinvested, and currently showing no signs of slowing down.
“We’re back,” confirmed Angello. “And it’s immortal.”
Swedish House Mafia
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4
Where: Pechanga Arena San Diego, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District
Tickets: $34-$99.50, plus service fees
McDonald is a freelance writer.
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