People of the Night

BFFs AN21 and Max Vangeli on LPs, Swedish House Mafia and hate sprung from love

Touring the world is much easier with your best friend by your side. It’s even better when your BFF can collaborate with you on tracks, and then tag-team in the DJ booth. Such is life for Moldova-born Max Vangeli (above, right) and Sweden’s AN21 (pronounced “Antoine”). Although they both have solid solo careers, AN21 and Vangeli make musical magic when they get together, as is evident by their string of hits and their forthcoming artist album. Vegas Seven digs deeper with the duo before their Aug. 30 gig at Tryst.

Fans have been waiting for your debut artist album for quite some time. Is it really going to drop on Sept. 3?

Vangeli: Yes. The good news is we got our final master the other day. Trust me, we’ve been waiting for this album a lot longer than you have. But it’s done, and hopefully people are gonna love it as much as we do.

How was it to collaborate with vocalist Julie McKnight on “Bombs Over Capitals,” the song that pushed back the release date?

Vangeli: I’m gonna be honest, we’ve been craving to work with Julie McKnight for the longest time, for two years. We’re so excited we have a record with her. It’s just kind of the icing on the cake for the album.

Also on the album is the single “People of the Night” with Tiësto. What was the production process like?

AN21: That track initially started three years ago in [my brother] Steve [Angello’s] old studio in L.A., and we could never really finish it. Tijs is a very good friend of ours. He’s always been a big role model. He wanted to make a song, so we sent him a bunch of ideas and things we’d done, and that track was one of them. He fell in love with it right away. He’s like, “Yo guys, give me a week or two, and I’ll have something back.” He returned it, tweaked the track, he got us great guitars, he introduced us to Lover Lover, who wrote the song featured on it, and we were like, “Wow, this is amazing.”

EDM artist albums/LPs are becoming more and more rare. What are the pros and cons of a full LP of original material?

AN21: There’s a reason why people aren’t making artist albums anymore, especially with dance because a track or album gets hyped for a month or two then everybody forgets it. So in the beginning of this process when we actually did decide we were going to make an album, everyone was against it. Everybody—not Steve obviously—was like, “It’s not a good idea. You can make an album, but release one single every month,” and kind of keep it piling up. But it’s been our dream from the beginning. Even in 10 years, I can pick up this CD or the vinyl and it’s our album—it’s us. So we did it more for us than anybody else really.

Were you able to put tracks on the album that you wouldn’t necessarily play out, just for a more artistic approach?

Vangeli: That was kind of the point of the album, actually. We’ve been making records for about two years now with Antoine, and we just wanted to show people that we’re capable of going all sorts of directions in terms of music. And I think it’s going to be something to show everyone that it’s a variety of things—club records, something you can listen to in the car, other things like that.

Max, when I spoke to you in 2010 you said that you had a rock band background and spoke of how difficult it could be coordinating with other musicians. So you decided to become a one-man band. Now you’re part of a duo. How is that dynamic different from being in the full band or going solo?

Vangeli: We both have kind of the same vision of the music that we’re making now, versus being in a rock band. You’ve got the drummer, the bassist, the guitars—they all have kind of their own ideas. But for us, it’s much easier. We get in the same studio, we’re producing on the same program, and it’s very quick. It’s two times faster working with Antoine.

What sparks ideas for you guys?

AN21: Everything in life: touring, having fun with the guys, going to the bathroom, taking a walk, whatever, man. I think everything in life inspires us. But when it comes to music—I know myself and I know also Max—we rarely listen to house music for inspiration unless it’s at a party or we’re performing. We love to listen to other styles and genres of music, get influenced by that, and then bring that into the dance.

You guys like to play pranks on each other. Who’s winning?

AN21: I think it’s pretty equal to be honest with you. We can’t really give you too many details because they’re quite bad. It would have to be off the record.

That just makes me want to know more.

Vangeli: Well, maybe one day.

AN21: We’ll save it for the next issue.

If you guys were to interview one another, what would you ask?

Vangeli: We already know everything about each other. The only thing we don’t know about each other is what’s going on in the bedroom [laughs].

AN21: We don’t kiss and tell.

How was it trying to break out from the Swedish House Mafia shadow and carve your own path?

AN21: Of course it’s hard, especially for me. I’m the brother of the one and only Steve Angello—it’s very hard to do. That’s also why we did our album, to really show the world that we don’t need anybody. This is our sound. It’s not just a one-way sound that many DJs have problems with when trying to produce other styles of music. That’s why we did it. We’re gonna develop our brand, “People of the Night,” and kind of do it like our own little baby. Like [Steve Angello has] “Size Matters,” and SHM has “Masquerade Motel.”

AN21, this Tweet of yours stood out: “You can only truly hate someone that you once loved.” Is that from you or somewhere else?

AN21: I was just having lunch with someone and was talking about something. I just kind of said it and looked up to the sky to really think, “Is it true or not?” Because it sounded pretty stupid. But then I came to the conclusion that it’s true. I just wanted to see how people would react, to see if it made any sense or not.

Perhaps you could make a song around that concept?

AN21: You never know. You never know.

Vangeli: Yeah, of course. And you know how many times I’ve wanted to make a record and call it after some girl that I really loved? Music and passion are in the same ballpark. We get really emotional sometimes when we make records and we’re thinking about somebody that we really cared about—or we hate now, I guess [laughs].

Another Tweet referred to questions that people don’t ask, like “What kind of socks do you wear?” Might as well ask that of you guys.

Vangeli: I gotta say this because AN21 is very, very specific about his socks, very particular. When you’re traveling, fresh socks are the most important things in the world. And what AN21 loves to do, he just leaves his. He never washes his socks.

AN21: I actually just wrote an e-mail to our management saying to put socks in our rider. You can never have enough socks.

Should fans start bringing socks to your gigs?

Vangeli: Yeah, yeah! Maybe if you put it out there, that’d be perfect. They’ll be throwing clean pairs of socks at us in the DJ booth while we’re playing.