Sweden’s Axwell & Ingrosso are an electronic production duo featuring former Swedish House Mafia members Axwell (Axel Christofer Hedfors) and Sébastian Ingrosso. Formed in 2014 after the breakup of Swedish House Mafia, Axwell & Ingrosso signed with Def Jam Records and made their live debut in June at the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City. An appearance at the V Festival in England followed, as did performances in India. By late 2014 they had debuted two songs, “Can’t Hold Us Down” and “Something New.” The following year they delivered several more singles, including “On My Way,” featuring vocalist Salem al Fakir, and “Sun Is Shining,” the latter of which hit number one in Sweden. Following up on their success, Axwell & Ingrosso delivered three singles in 2016, though it was their 2017 Kid Ink collaboration “I Love You” that put them back in the Top Ten in their home country. The song was included on the More Than You Know EP, which debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart.
You unveiled Axwell /\ Ingrosso three years ago this month at Governors Ball. Does it feel like two years ago?
Ingrosso: It feels shorter.
Axwell: I think I have lost the concept of time in general, actually.
Ingrosso: When you’re on tour, time speeds up around you. But when you’re in your own little bubble, time stands still in a way. It’s like there’s a tornado around you, but you’re at the calm spot in the middle. We always say when the tour starts, “Wow, it’s so many dates, it’s so long.” And then in the blink of an eye you say, “Man, I can’t believe this is almost over already.” I have to remind my myself all the time to live in the moment.
How do you collaborate? Do you sit in a room until you’ve come up with a banging tune?
Ingrosso: Usually you split the ideas you have. Axwell will work on some and I work on some and then we switch. If I say, “I don’t know what to do,” he takes over the ball, and opposite of that as well. The ideal thing is to work in the same room because it’s sometimes nice for you to zone in, but we travel a lot.
Do you ever disagree on anything?
Ingrosso: There are moments during the making of a song where I say, “Maybe it should be like this!” And then Axwell says, “Maybe it should be like that.” And we try my way and it sucks and then we go back to Axwell’s way and it’s good again. [They laugh]
Axwell: If you write the song for example, it could only be written one way, if you understand what I mean. A song can be an acoustic with a little bit of electronic influence, it could be a ballad, it could be a pop song, so sometimes we have different ways of seeing what’s best for the song. What we’ll do is make three versions and know which one is going to be the main one afterwards. Maybe.
A lot of talented pop and dance writers come out of Sweden, from Abba to Max Martin to you guys. Why do you think that it is?
Axwell: Sweden is a small country, so possibilities have been limited here in the past, so you try find ways to strive to become something and be able to go outside in the big world. And because the weather is so shit, we kind of live inside our heads in the wintertime and end up in a dream world. Music is a great way to escape. We also have a lot of musical heritage from folk music to Abba. And in public schools there are a lot of music classes. So, it’s a couple of things.
The video for single Thinking About You is absolutely insane, in a good way. Swedish House Mafia also had inventive videos. Are you completely hands-on with them, or do you bring in a director?
Ingrosso: For Thinking About You, Ax thought of the idea with the face swapping and we collaborated on different ideas we could do in the best and funniest ways. Then we actually have a guy we work with in-house, Nicolas (Caeyers).
Axwell: Sometimes when you have an idea and you go to a big-name director, they won’t accept it. They have their own ideas and you can’t really try out yours. But when you have your own guy, you try stuff out. That’s why we’re so hands-on.
It capitalizes on the current face swapping craze, popularized by the filter on SnapChat. Do you guys face swap?
Ingrosso: We love face swapping. That’s a big part of our life, face swapping. I had face swapped my face on to a dollar bill and it was just so funny that we couldn’t get enough of it. So we had to make a video out of it.