Steve Angello: Troubles & Success [Part 3]

This is the third and final part of Triumf’s interview with Steve Angello. See parts [1] & [2].

How much do you see your family?

Things have been good this summer. I have seen them five days a week. If I go away for a longer period, like a tour in Brazil, then I take them with me. If I go to Australia, they come with me etc. I see them a lot more than before. But honestly speaking, it gets tougher and tougher to go away from home… It is not as fun as before. I miss my kids a lot. The other day I was on a flight, listening to José Gonzales… Looking at photos on my phone. Seeing those pictures of my kids almost moved me to tears *laughs*. It gets harder and harder for me every day, especially now when they are big enough to communicate. They will be like, “No! Are you leaving again daddy?!”… And I stand there like… “Damn, how long is this trip?” I want to spend more time with them. I mean I have to take responsibilities as a father. I don’t want to be that kind of father who asks the kid when they turn 10, “Hey, what grade are you in?” I want to be present… I know what a father means to a kid, especially since I lost mine at an early age.

Do you meet a lot of ‘gold diggers’?

Like, women?

No, people in general.

Lots of them. I mean you meet a lot of people who like you because you are an interesting artist to them. They will try to flatter you a lot, they want to be your friend. I mean, I meet a lot of people all the time. I meet people every day who are nice to me just because I am who I am. There are also people that you have a great dialogue with that you have known for years that suddenly turn strange and ask for the strangest things. Then you have the kind of people who call you twice a year to ask for concert tickets or event passes for friends etc. I guess one has to live with that, but personally, if I knew a football player, I would not be calling him all the time to get game tickets. I am not that kind of person. It is how it is though, and it does not cost me anything, so I usually do it.

I am quite a ‘down to earth’ guy. I still have many friends that I have known all my life. Then of course, you lose friends along the way. You grow apart. I mean our lives are so different. I am constantly on the move. All of a sudden you have not spoken to a person for months. Months become years, and that’s it. But I do keep in touch with a lot of childhood friends, and it is great meeting up with them still. But I don’t really have any “new friends”. I have my friendship circle and I am not really in need of more. My mother used to say “You can never have more real friends than you have fingers on your hand”. And when I think about it, the older you get, the more important your family gets.

Steve dives into details about life on the road and the ever present draw of alcohol and drugs: 

As i said, I was never really interested in alcohol as a child, and I was never a social drinker. I could not go out and have a beer like that or have a glass of wine. If I ever drink, I would drink until I drop. That was the only point of alcohol to me. But as I said, drinking was never my thing to begin with. It did become a thing after touring constantly for ten years… 1600 gigs with no break. I would be like, ‘yeah lets have three shots to get into the vibe’. That was however, pure stupidity, because I have had a lot more fun DJing sober than I ever had during those gigs where I was drunk. Sometimes I can be like, ‘should I have a shot and see what happens’, but usually I do not because I look at my friends who drink a lot during gigs and feel like shit the day after. I wake up early after playing until 5 am. ready to work again. Often when I play on the west coast in the states, the gig ends as Sweden and the rest of Europe wakes up, so I will jump on conference calls right after a gig. I have never been as effective as I have been this last year. Alcohol is the fucking devil!

There is a lot of drugs in the DJ environment though. Are you not affected by it?

I mean, of course I have been affected by it. I have tried stuff just to try it, but there are so many better things to do with your life. We partied hard for a long time, but I don’t like it anymore. It’s no fun to party like that and then wake up to work the next day. That is what people do not understand! My job is very intense! I mean I can do 21 gigs in 21 days, how are you going to do that if you party all the time? I have friends who don’t really understand that. They will meet me up for a gig in some European capital, and they start drinking immediately. They will be like “C’mon man, let’s party!” and I always have to say no to that. A lot of them take it the wrong way, but I mean think about it, I have some 250 gigs more to do this year. People often take it the wrong way. That obviously makes it less fun for my friends to come and visit me since I don’t party, but it is a choice I have made. I chose to not have that in my life and I have never been as productive and creative as now.

Are you an alcoholic?

No. But I mean, they say that you are an alcoholic if you are drunk more than 60 times a year. I have had times in my life where I drank 200 days in a year. So I guess that would make me an ultra-alcoholic right? But as I said, I don’t really like drinking and I don’t feel like it is something I need to do. I have seen bad places though. When I was at my worst, I went to the doctor to do a medical analysis and he scared the shit out of me. He basically told me, “If you do not quit drinking, you will be dead in less than 5 years.” Back in those days, I could drink at least a bottle of Tequila or Jäger per gig. Just look at it. Lets say I drank two bottles a gig, that would be like 400 bottles a year. Just imagine 400 bottles in front of you. It is disgusting!

You have said that you do not remember a lot of those gigs?

I don’t remember the moments. You remember the big gigs where you did not drink that much. Now I remember everything. I can play and tell the dude that works with the lighting after the gig how to improve etc. I can do that shit now because I am the most sober dude in the place. As an artist, you have to be a pro! If you are gonna play an arena, you have to deliver! Imagine any other superstar going up on stage totally drunk! Take Justin Bieber for example, he can come late to a gig because he is a spoiled brat, but you will not see him come on drunk. The dance music culture used to be very underground, and there was a lot of drugs involved, but when movements grow, you have to take care of them. We are here to inspire the next generation, and how would it look if we had thousands of DJ’s flying around the globe stoned out of their asses, what kind of role models would we be? You have to quit it all!

How much do you think about your image?

Not at all. I am who I am. I do what I like and no one tells me what to do. What people call image of course depends on how other people’s perception of you. I mean, it is easy to have clear opinions about people when you do not know them. I don’t share much of my private life except for the pieces you see on Instagram. If I like a fast car I buy it because I like it, not to look cool. I don’t want a Bugatti just to have a Bugatti, I would want it because of the engine, the cylinders etc. It is a genuine interest. I could have a bigger house if I wanted to, but I bought the house I liked. I don’t know nor do I care how people look at me, because I am who I am. And I change and evolve over time just like any other person. I don’t care what people say really. If I feel like selling everything I own and just live on a rusty bike tomorrow then I’ll do it, regardless of what people say and think. I just wanna make music.

After speaking about drug and alcohol abuse, Steve Angello goes on and lets us know a bit more about his tattoos and why he and the Swedish House Mafia chose to work with certain companies during their stint together.

Do you regret any of your tattoos?

Yes. Or wait, no not really. I don’t regret it, but I do have a tattoo that is not finished because the guy who started it just disappeared all of a sudden. Then when I finally found him again, he didn’t have the time to finish it, and after that I have not had the time to see him again… So I have had a half finished tattoo on my arm for more than two years now. That sucks! Then there are a few more that are not ready, but they are no problem. I don’t regret any of the tattoos, but sometimes I feel like perhaps I should have placed them differently. I have a scorpion on my chest that I did when I was 14, and you can hardly see the details of it anymore. That one perhaps I should have places somewhere else.

SHM did a lot of commercials for brands such as Absolut Vodka and Volvo, why?.

I felt it was cool. I mean those are Swedish brands. We did H&M, Absolute Vodka and Volvo. IKEA was probably the only thing missing. It was fun promoting big Swedish brands. It went hand in hand with what we did. It was a great project really. We were very involved in the whole process. It is hard to find stuff like that nowadays. I get requests from many big brands , the last one was Philips… But I can’t really identify with them. It’s not my thing. And I mean, I don’t need the money, so if I don’t want to do it, I won’t.

Speaking of Absolut, you just said that you are against drinking?

No, don’t get me wrong. I have invested in a Vodka brand myself. I mean that as an artist and a public figure, you have a certain responsibility. You can’t sell out shows and show up drunk, we need to set an example. Not that I feel like people should be held from drinking. I don’t drink, but that it is my choice. I can still like the products. I don’t drink soda or energy drinks like Red Bull either, but that would not keep me from working with them.

When asked about his political views, Steve is a bit more reserved when answering.

Who do you vote for in Swedish politics?

I have never voted. I mean, since I am not currently residing in Sweden, I am not up to date with the politics.

Are you a feminist?

I would not call myself that, but I am for equality.

Well isn’t that the same thing?

Feminist sounds a bit hard does it not? Or is it?

Hahaha, well I don’t agree with you there, but I have understood that it is controversial for men to call themselves feminists in the states.

In the states, I guess men just say that they believe in women’s rights whereas women call themselves feminists.

What music do you listen to?

José Gonzales, Jönsi, Sigur Ros, Coldplay, Röyksopp, Mike Snow, The Hives Robyn. I listen to a lot of different stuff. Sinatra as well.

How much do you take for a gig?

Between 380,000 sek (about $55 000) to 2,000,000 (about $300 000). But your birthday party I will play for free. I know it will be alcohol free right? *laughs*

Do you want to recommend something to the people hearing your words?

Go to school!!!

Interview parts [1] and [2]