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Where My Head’s At: Swedish House Mafia

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“Where My Head’s At” is a new feature from Dancing Astronaut that gives readers a quick glimpse into an editor’s personal music tastes and how they have developed. Subject matter will be all over the map, but we want to let you get a feel for individual editors, and where their heads are at.

It had been in the back of my mind for weeks, and with every passing day my anticipation grew. “One” was still a relatively new track and “Miami 2 Ibiza” was only floating around in the form of poor quality rips, but they still remained atop the “most played” category in my iTunes library. Spain continued to beat everyone they encountered in the World Cup, and were poised to bring it home. My summer abroad in Florence was coming to a close, but I would make one more stop before heading back to America — and to the reality with it on that side of the Atlantic. I was off to Ibiza: it was Swedish House Mafia time.

There’s something about seeing your favorite act in their natural habitat that makes the experience even better, and if it’s your first time seeing them too, then what more can you ask for. I bought my tickets to the Masquerade Motel before even having flights, and when I finally arrived on the White Isle, it felt simply unreal. That night, Pacha, with its white facade and neon Swedish House Mafia sign out front, was waiting to be commanded by Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso. It was July 12, 2010: not only had Spain defeated the Netherlands to win the World Cup the night before, but Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel was open for business to celebrate.

Pacha on the Sunrise, July 13, 2010, 6:14AM

When we were finally granted entrance into the legendary nightclub, I could barely appreciate Dirty South’s opening set due to my eagerness for SHM to take the stage. When they finally arrived though, I was in for a musical journey the likes of which I had never experienced at that point. The cavernous hull of Pacha’s interior with its customized Swedish House Mafia chandeliers, the mysterious dancers earnestly teasing you, and the multicolored lasers all stick out in my mind against the constant, steady kickdrum present in every song.

The combination of tunes that were played that night resonated with me, and my “!SHM” playlist is still one of my most listened to on iTunes. As I wrote the previous sentence, I unknowingly paused to enjoy the first drop of SHM’s Dark Forest Edit of “Leave The World Behind.” Not all music can do that to a person — but what Axwell, Steve, and Sebput together does it for me nearly every time.

Please excuse the poor video quality. This was shot during my BlackBerry phase (excuse that too).

I’ll be honest with you when I say I broke late in becoming a house music-aholic, but SHM is the group that pushed me over the edge. I’ve tried to figure out just what it is about the trio that was able to catch me hook, line, and sinker, but I still can’t exactly put a finger on it. To me, it’s the constant bass that anchors every single track — the sound so obvious you don’t even realize. That’s the uncontrollable source of head bobbing and fist pumping tendencies, whether you realize it or not.

Don’t get me wrong, Axwell, Steve, and Seb live some pretty cool lives, but that’s not all it’s about for me. When you follow these DJs on Twitter for long enough, you realize that they all live pretty crazy lives — it’s just that SHM likes giving us a deeper glimpse whenever possible. At this point, I feel like they’re all my friends, even though they’re still not crossed off my list of artists I have to meet.

I’ve been a pretty privileged guy by having the honor of not only writing about, but even being in the booth with and photographing quite a few DJs since I started writing for Dancing Astronaut. For me, however, the best night of my life was the one devoid of bottles and friends working the door — it was the Swedish House Mafia at the original Masquerade Motel at Pacha Ibiza. And it was unforgettable.

So, where’s your head at?

PS: It still pains me to say it but I was not at Masquerade Motel Miami this year. I was doing this instead.

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