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23 year old Swedish/ Greek house star Steve Angello has already enjoyed a meteoric rise up the DJ pole, and now that he’s hosting his own new monthly night at Ministry Of Sound as well as mixing the latest Ministry Sessions CD, his profile is sure to go stratospheric throughout 2006.
And writing on the sleeve-notes of the Ministry CD he pays tribute to all the usual suspect supporters of friends, DJs and fans, plus ‘all the resident DJs I’ve battled’, a group Steve tells Skrufff he still gets inspired by.
“I remember when I started out a couple of years ago and I’d come to a club as the main act, they’d look at me like I was a small kid who’s got into the business by not working hard or not doing whatever,” he recalls. “That’s not true, I’ve been working my ass off to get here.
I often come across residents who play the ten biggest records they can pull out of their case before I’m just about to play, just to prove that they’re better than you, but that’s not the case. It’s better doing a good party and doing your job, than just trying to show off,” he says. “I always just laugh when that happens, have a drink, have a shot and say ‘OK, let’s party, lets do it.’
You have to enjoy it. I’ve played with a lot of residents that I love who are good residents, but there are some residents that are shit, they don’t give a fuck and there are some residents that admire you and some that just love your music. I always cheer then and give them some new tracks. For me, it’s a question of attitude more than anything else.”
Steve’s own attitude is about having fun and hard work, an ethic that’s clearly paying off.
“I have always been driven, everything I have done I have always been doing 179%. I have always been going the extra mile and putting in a little bit extra,” he asserts,
“I saw an opportunity and I went for it. There’s no thinking and there’s no backing up. If I want something I get it. That’s basically how it’s been for me.”
Unusually focused, even for a DJ twice his age, he’s clearly absorbed the lessons that growing up in a crime family in Athens taught him, that saw his father murdered when Steve was just 13,
“When you grow up in a family like that you have to make a choice, you either go with the family tradition of being a gangster or you do something else,” he says, ” I discovered music and that’s what saved me, otherwise I would have been the same.”
Fighting talk aside though, he’s cheerful and positive and highly enthused about his new night at Ministry.
Interview by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : You’re just about to release a compilation for Ministry Of Sound and also host your own night at the club, how did the whole Ministry relationship form ?
Steve Angello : I had my first gig at Ministry a couple of years ago after I started working with the Cement DJ agency, then at the beginning of last year I played a Subliminal Sessions party there with Eric. We had a good time, it was a really good party and I basically rocked it. We spoke about me doing it more often at the club and now we’ve been working together for a while and trying to get something sorted, which is the Size night, named after my label. It’s going to be my label party, but more based on me bringing guests and people I love to hear play rather than just the big names.
Skrufff : How different is it being the host as opposed to being resident ?
Steve Angello : It’s totally different. Being a resident is a resident; I don’t like calling myself a resident, I prefer to call it my club or my party where I’m a resident. It’s my party and I want to pick the DJs and I want to be more involved than just arriving there and doing my set and going home. I like the whole idea of building something, more like a lifestyle.
Skrufff : Do you mingle amongst the crowd much ?
Steve Angello : Yes, of course, I’m planning to get there earlier and earlier for every party, then walk around, do the bar, check the VIP people and go around with my friends, have a couple of drinks, check out the girls …
Skrufff : Are you tempted to base yourself over here ? Is that an option ?
Steve Angello : No. I like being based here in Sweden, I like Stockholm, I love this place. I just want to do strong, big parties in the UK, to be there as much as possible, a couple of times a month. I’m a big fan of the UK scene. I love the people going out to party, they have energy and they love it. They don’t go out just to be out, they go out to party and I think that’s important.
Skrufff : Loads of Swedish producers are having a big impact musically at the moment such as John Dahlback, Ceri Lekebusch,
why do think Sweden is such a creative place for electronic music, given that there isn’t a very big club scene there ?
Steve Angello : I think it’s because Sweden is really boring; really, really boring. There’s not much to do, we have winter six months a year, basically. The sun is up for three or four hours, then it’s dark. You go to sleep when it’s dark and you wake up and it’s still dark. There’s not a lot of people running around the streets. This winter has been really cold here as well, so people just want to be inside all the time. For a young kid starting in the music business there’s nothing better than to sit in the studio. So I think that’s the main reason because we have so much more time to put into the studio than other people in other countries, because we live in a country we don’t have to worry about so many things. We know that we are going to have a place to stay and have food on the table.
Skrufff : There’s all these innuendoes in your biography about gangsters and the underworld, what’s that all about ?
Steve Angello : My father was Greek and we had a rough situation with his family and his fathers and mothers before that- every generation has been involved in the mafia situation. I grew up with it and for me it wasn’t a big deal until my father passed away in 1996. That’s when I realised how dangerous it was. He was shot dead. I stayed in Athens for three or four months a year after that, spending the rest of the time in Stockholm because my mother still lives in Sweden. I was going back and forth and I was a kid at that point, you don’t understand much then. But when you get older you have to focus more and choose your path. When you grow up in a family like that you have to make a choice, you either go with the family tradition of being a gangster or you do something else. I discovered music and that’s what saved me, otherwise I would have been the same.
Skrufff : Has the situation changed for you much in Greece over the years ?
Steve Angello : I have a big family in Athens still and I used to go there but now when you get older, people start to say ‘you look like your father’ and blah, blah, blah. It’s been in my life for such a long but to go back and see people crying about it, 24/7, is not something I want to do; I just want to go there and see my family but that’s definitely not what’s happening. Old friends are there. But I’ve also been busy so I haven’t had time to go back for a couple of years anyway.
Skrufff : Would it still be dangerous for you to go to Athens ?
Steve Angello : Yes, though it depends who I move around with when I’m there, If you hook up with old family friends then of course, it’s dangerous, People think ‘there’s Steve, he’s his father’s son and now he’s growing up and maybe he wants to be involved’
Skrufff : Have you had feedback on your DJ career ?
Steve Angello : Yes, they’re like ‘go with it, be happy and live the life you want, be happy you didn’t turn out like us, good luck’. When you’re in that shit, it’s hard to get out, you still have the same name and the same face so people will always recognise you. For me to be focusing on the DJing is much better than running around the streets doing bad stuff.
Skrufff : You’re already highly successful as a DJ and producer despite being only 23, were you particularly driven to reach the top ?
Steve Angello : I have always been driven, everything I have done I have always been doing 179%. I have always been going the extra mile and putting in a little bit extra. I saw an opportunity and I went for it. There’s no thinking and there’s no backing up. If I want something I get it. That’s basically how it’s been for me.
Skrufff : As a DJ, are you learning new technology all the time ?
Steve Angello : I’m not learning, but I’m just enjoying it more. You get to know people everywhere, you develop your crowd in some places, then it’s always fun to go back, because you recognize faces, you know people and you know that they are there because they love you. I feel blessed to doing something that I can earn money out of that I love- I would have done it for free. I actually think the DJ business today has become too developed, I’ve actually said no to a couple of gigs when they have been offering me shit loads of money. I’d rather do a good party for less money than a shit party for loads.
Skrufff : You’ve done lots of high profile remixes in recent months, such as Moby, how did you enter that major label remix world ?
Steve Angello : Firstly I’ve been a big fan of Moby since forever. The label approached me and asked if I wanted to do it and I just said ‘Yes’; straightaway, without even asking how much money there was involved. That’s how I work. If you would ask me to reix Jennifer Lopez and pay me fifty thousand I would say no straightaway. But if you were to ask me to Madonna and pay me ten thousand I would do it. I’m not the kind of guy who runs after the money all the time. I think it’s more important to enjoy what you do, because if you enjoy it you can do it longer.
Skrufff : What is it about Madonna that you prefer over Jennifer Lopez ?
Steve Angello : Madonna is an artist and I just took her as an example, but I think she’s one of the only girls in the business, I mean ladies that can really pull it off. For me, Madonna, is a real artist whereas Jennifer Lopez is a plastic figure. It’s an important difference, because she’s more like a product, and I don’t want to be a product. Like DJs, most of them go to a club, don’t smile, make shit loads of money and just walk away after two hours. I enjoy the party; you are going to see me smiling one hour before I play and one hour after I play.
Skrufff : Your sleevenotes on the Ministry compilation are very specific, you thank ‘all the residents I’ve battled’, have you had much jealousy from other DJs ?
Steve Angello : Of course. I remember when I started out a couple of years ago and I’d come to a club as the main act, they’d look at me like I was a small kid who’s got into the business by not working hard or not doing whatever. That’s not the case. I’ve been working our arse off to get here. I often come across residents spinning before I’m just about to play, who play the ten biggest records they can pull out of his case just to prove that he’s better than you, but that’s not the case. It’s better doing a good party and doing your job, than just trying to show off.
Skrufff : How do you handle these people ?
Steve Angello : I just laugh and have a drink, have a shot, say; Ok, let’s party, lets do it. You have to enjoy it. I’ve played with a lot of residents that I love who are good residents, but there are some residents that are shit, they don’t give a fuck and there are some residents that admire you and some that just love your music. I always cheer, I always give them some new tracks. For me, it’s a question of attitude more than anything else.
Skrufff : Another line on the sleevenotes says ‘We have to figure a way to get rid of your stalker’ to another DJ.
Steve Angello : That’s for Axwell. He had a girl stalking him that he didn’t know of. She turned up everywhere. We spoke about it a lot. He called me and said ‘Oh shit, I’m in Germany, this girl is here, she is crazy now’. I’m like ‘OK”. That was the fifteenth time.
Skrufff : How are you going to get rid of her ?
Steve Angello : I don’t know. We’ll figure something out.
Skrufff : Do you have any similar obsessive followers ?
Steve Angello : No. I mean I see people that turn up at gigs everywhere. There’s a couple of guys that I’ve been seeing from New York, from Sweden, to Spain, but they just love the music. If I would have had such a good time when a DJ was playing and I would have the money to travel around and see them, then why not? You see a city at the same time as your favourite DJ is playing and enjoying a party and just having fun.
Skrufff : Where’s the plan for you for the rest of the year ?
Steve Angello : I don’t know. The thing is, I’ve been doing so many gigs, I’ve done about 150 gigs in 2005. That’s shit-loads of gigs. I haven’t had that much time to focus on my label, Size. We are going to redo our website, make something special for the people. We are going to put more focus into the label than ever, I think that’s important because it’s a brand. People like to follow brands. It’s like a clothing brand. If you like sneakers by Adidas you are going to buy Adidas for the next ten years. I don’t want to sell records, I just want the people that buy my records to have more fun. I need to figure out some way to achieve that.
End of the interview
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