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Editors’ Roundtable: Six takes on Swedish House Mafia’s split

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The announcement of Swedish House Mafia’s final tour as a group has turned the dance music world upside down. The instant outpouring of emotion and discussion indicates feelings of shock and confusion from DJs and fans alike; many have even debated if the news means the beginning of the end for electronic music. We can’t overlook the interesting timing.

With extreme feelings ranging across all possibilities, Dancing Astronaut tackles the many facets of the colossal “break up” at our Editors’ Roundtable. Six editors take on six critical questions surrounding the issue, nailing down all of the open-ended concerns that have rattled the EDM world.

What this means…

Dylan Farella: Absolutely nothing. A broken-up Mafia will be the same as a united Mafia. Together, they’ve only released 5 (soon to be 6) official singles, so we won’t feel the impact on the production side. As for performances, while together, they play enough shows in one year to count on your hands. Despite an Ibiza residency, the only time the trio gets together for a show is to make history, and that is exactly what they will be doing when they are “broken up.”

Kunal Bambawale: Some of us can can breathe a sigh of relief. Over the past few years, SHM essentially defined the big-room scene, spawning a whole slew of imitators in the process. Since “One” became a smash hit two summers ago, the main stages at most major dance festivals have become monopolized by many DJs who are, to some extent, simply “Diet SHM.”

Jesse Grushack: Nasty breakups don’t end quietly, and so far everything about the end of Swedish House Mafia has been carefully planned and executed. They are calling it quits (or possibly just taking a break) at the top of the game. Not to mention the fact that they have their own solo careers and families, making time together that much more difficult to come by.

Fact or Fiction: The trio aren’t best friends anymore

Dylan Farella: Fiction. It is hard to believe that this friendship has vanished when only last week, we saw Axwell join Sebastian at Summerburst in Sweden, uniting with a brotherly hug to announce a homecoming show. If it was about the friendship, this would be a messy break up, not an orchestrated announcement that is scheduled to drag on through August’s tour announcement. With rumors of a second documentary, I believe the camaraderie we’ve seen all these years remains.

Kunal Bambawale: Let’s hope they’re still friends. Friendship is one of the most important things in the world and you’d hate to see relationships that were obviously so strong at one point be destroyed, for any reason.

JR Thornton: Fact – ish. A high-pressure, stressful environment that breeds envy and jealousy will cause friction between even the best of friends. Almost every major music group breakup has occurred at least in part due to personal issues between members. From glimpses into the SHM world, it seems as though tensions between the three are running high.

Who will have the most successful solo run?

Dylan Farella: Mr. Angello. Internally, there is no bigger movement than Size Matters. Along with cranking out huge records, Steve’s imprint is home to some of the freshest young talent in progressive house. If I had to choose one artist to see perform alone, it would be Steve, as his after-hours sets are some of my favorites.

Jacob Schulman: Seb. While Steve is usually the guy who picks up the mic at SHM shows, it’s Ingrosso that works the magic while requiring a little less of the limelight. His ability to find and develop young talent seems better than that of Ax and Steve, and Alesso has had the most meteoric rise of any of the progeny of SHM’s founding members. His label Refune has been on a tare (most notably with the recent release of “Bong”) and I believe it will continue to flourish as he builds up a talent roster and starts doing even more managing. Not to mention the fact that he still has the super hot Tommy Trash collaboration to release, and what’s sure to be a back catalog of unreleased originals that will continue his personal growth trajectory. Oh, and he created the beat for “One.” So there.

JR Thornton: Axwell. This is a tough one as all three are obviously incredibly talented DJs and producers. Personally I see Axwell having the most successful solo run. I think he was arguably the biggest household name of the three before their combined efforts. “Together,” “I Found U,” “Open Your Heart” and his remix of “In The Air” are all absolute house classics. He is a phenomenal producer, has built up a great label in Axtone and I see him continuing that success going forward.

Fact or Fiction: Swedish House Mafia will reunite

Dylan Farella: Fact, unquestionably. Swedish House Mafia is pulling a Jay-Z, and the black cover photos on their Facebook pages are their version of The Black Album. I give them a year – they will bring back Masquerade Motel, headline a major festival, and reunite with a special show that will trump MSG and MKB. The signature three dots represents a notion of constant continuation, so expect them to live up to their own brand.

Andrew Spada: Fiction. Swedish House Mafia was just a convenient package to push their own personal brands in the US, and now that their place is solidified, they no longer need the shtick. You don’t need 3 producers in a studio and you certainly don’t need 3 behind the decks. They did it for fun, for the party, and for the money and I doubt we will see them reunite any time soon.

JR Thornton: Fact. I think it will be some time before they do. Undoubtedly the freedom of a solo career will be very liberating. However they made some really special music together and I think after some time off they will want to join back up and collaborate again.

Fact or Fiction: The entire thing is just a publicity stunt

Dylan Farella: Fact, sad fact. If you’ve noticed, each member has changed their profile picture to an individual dot. The announcement and social media tactics look too much like the marketing used to announce the Madison Square Garden and Milton Keynes Bowl shows. Claiming a break up was the only way to gain even more attention and enough to sell out a massive tour.

Jacob Schulman: Fiction. While I believe that that the news of this split has been carefully coordinated and planned, there is definitely something larger going on here that we do not know about. Whether it’s personal issues, financial debates, or something else altogether, “Swedish House Mafia” is one of the most powerful brands in all of music in 2012, and there was too much behind them for this to just be a stunt. Of course it will look that way when they do eventually reunite, but I don’t anticipate that happening for at least a year or two down the road.

Andrew Spada: All about the money? Sure, that seems feasible – but isn’t it a bit more feasible that they all have families and children now and that touring and performing as frequently as they were just doesn’t fit in with the whole “being a dad” thing? Artistic differences likely arose and it was better to call it quits than to spoil their friendships. They reached the mountaintop; the only way to go was back down.

Who would you most like to see form the next DJ super group?

Dylan Farella: Alesso, Dirty South, and Thomas Gold. How about keeping it in the family? The Swede, Aussie, and German, may not share the same homeland, but are all affiliates of the Mafia. They each bring the similarities and differences to the table as the Swedes did, and if united as one, would be a hell of a super-group.

Andrew Spada: A-Trak, Diplo, Skrillex. They both have 3 distinctly unique sounds and have been pushing the envelope of their sounds with every release. A-Trak with his hip hop influence, Skrillex with his remarkably melodic dubstep productions and Diplo with moombahton.  These 3 guys are tastemakers in their respective niches, a collaboration between the three would be insane.

Kunal Bambawale: I would love to see arguably the original dance supergroup, Sasha and John Digweed, reunited for a few sets. Though that’s really a duo. Honestly, I’m sick of progressive house and electro representing dance music to the rest of the world. To me, life is all about the search for the perfect groove. That’s why I’d love to see Luciano, Dubfire, and Mark Knight team up to give us all some irresistible minimal latin flavored tech house. Music that you can shuffle or swing dance to — could you imagine?

Leaving The World Behind…

Regardless of how you feel about Swedish House Mafia, there’s no denying that their announcement will change things in the future. There’s a new opportunity for a huge new act to ride the wave, though whether it is someone familiar or someone brand new is still to-be-determined.  Don’t let this divorce get you down on the scene, there is much to look forward to in the world of dance music, and our three favorite Swedes will still be along for the ride. 

We want your take: Head to the comments section to make your opinions heard too!

By: Dylan Farella, Jacob Schulman, JR Thornton, Andrew Spada, Kunal Bambawale, and Jesse Grushack

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