House Hunting

Checking in to Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel

They’re the “Three Musketeers” of electronic music, and Swedish House Mafia—DJs Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell—are finally bringing their award-winning party, Masquerade Motel, to Las Vegas. After a second, massively successful summer residency at Pasha nightclub in Ibiza, Spain, the event for the first time leaves that house music holy land and makes its masked debut on North American soil Oct. 30 in Miami. The following night, Masquerade Motel overtakes the Hard Rock Hotel, as the DJ supergroup transforms The Joint into a house head-banger’s masquerade ball. The trio will also release their first full-length album, Until One, on Oct. 25. In advance of both, Angello spoke with Vegas Seven contributor Melissa Arseniuk about masks, music and the Mafia.

What should people expect when they check into, and check out, Masquerade Motel?

Glamour, mixed with rave, mixed with sex, mixed with mystique night. … The whole concept is very sexy and very mystical, and you can hide behind your mask and become yourself and, you know, just have a really good time. A mask covering your face can do a lot of good when you want to have a good time.

Or bad.

Both! But good is bad, and bad is good.

Good point. But explain how SHM came into existence. The three of you were already well-known producers and widely respected DJs before SHM began collaborating and touring together. Why did you bother?

We all have individual fans; we all have big careers already. But it’s just amazing. … It’s like your three favorite people in the world coming together.

Meanwhile, if you were to put three rock stars on a stage the size of a DJ booth, they’d probably kill one another.

That’s the difference with us: We love each other. There’s nothing more than love, and dance music is all about that. Dance music is about happiness, being there, and being what you want to be and doing what you want to do.

How do you balance your solo work with SHM projects?

Every day I work on my solo stuff, but SHM has become so big lately that it takes a little more time. I would say, today, it’s 50-50. SHM is this big brand now—it’s everything from approving artwork, to approving merchandise, to approving venues, to choosing production for the shows, to choosing guests we’re going to have—it’s like, there’s so much more to it. And it’s a lot of fun.

You produce music—sometimes on your own, sometimes with Axwell, sometimes with Sebastian, and sometimes with other people—using a range of names and aliases. Playhouse, Supermongo, Supermode, the A&P Project—it’s hard to keep them straight! What gives?

I like to confuse people a little bit! … I like to bring something new, and have people be, “Oh, this is so hot—what is it?” and then they find out it’s me, and they’re, like, “Oh, OK. We knew it!” … I’ve done so much stuff and I haven’t even announced that it’s me doing it, and some people still don’t. I just think it’s a good thing. … If I put out everything that I do, every third day of the week, it’d be overkill. 

So what’s next?

We’re working on some new SHM stuff. Sebastian and I are working on some new Playhouse stuff. … I’m kind of on the line of picking whether I should do a new album or not, and I’m leaning toward “maybe.” I don’t even know right now, there’s a lot going on. My label [Size] is doing really, really well … and, you know, we have to win consumers and just try to go for a total world domination of dance music.

Well, at least you’re honest about your empire-building.

Well, I try! You know, everything starts with a dream.

The vocals on SHM’s latest single, “One (Your Name),” come courtesy of the one and only Pharrell Williams. What made you guys decide to work with him?

He’s amazing, he’s a great talent. He’s one of those guys who we really, really respect in the music business. He’s done bigger records, and more amazing records, than most people. We’ve always been inspired by him, and it was great to get in the studio with him. We did a tour with him and after the tour we just got into the studio and it all happened from there.

Let’s talk about your second-most recent single, Miami to Ibiza.

We took a different approach, there, by using Tinie Tempah, who is a great—amazing—U.K. artist. … He’s just another one of those guys who we really respect and can hang out privately and he’s just an amazing guy. … When labels say, “Yeah, you should work with this person, you should work with that person,” we don’t really do that; we work with the people we want to work with, and the people that we get inspired by.

In the beginning, there were four members of SHM, but now there are three. Will Eric Prydz ever re-join the group?

Initially, we did a few shows together. We’re really good friends, we grew up together, we’ve learned stuff from each other, we’ve helped each other out, we’ll always be a family—but we have this tour going on, we have our schedules, he has his thing going on, so I don’t think we’re going to join forces again. But we’re always going to be family and that will never change.

Ok, so tell me about Take One, the SHM documentary that was directed by Christian Larson (who also directed Lady Gaga and Beyoncé Knowles in the video for Telephone), which comes out in November.

We had so much footage through the years that we decided to … create something—a glimpse at our lives and a glimpse at what we do—and show fans a little bit more than what they see, which is us walking up on a stage and just performing. There’s so much stuff going on around everything, I just feel it’s good to show people what’s actually going on. … When we’re pissed off, when we’re mad, when we’re having a great time, when we’re not having a great time, when we’re bored—it shows everything, which is kind of the idea. … It was nothing that we really planned … we were just having fun with the camera crew, first for our own pleasure … and then it just exploded from there, and we just went for it.

What do you think fans will learn from it?

I don’t think it’s a lesson, but they’ll definitely get to know us better. They’ll probably understand that it’s not all the glamour, or that we just show up and play our records; it’s a little bit more than that. … It’s so much bigger than most people could ever imagine. My mom wouldn’t believe how big it is until I showed her one of the shows. And after that, she was, like, “Holy crap, you’re playing for more people than Madonna.”