“Not only does Axwell’s music have an innate feel for the dancefloor that betters most others, his versatility is even more impressive. Too many producers get caught in a trademark groove, becoming a prisoner of their own perceived style. Axwell’s material is so varied, yet never fails to rock big time.” – Judge Jules
Record buyers, label executives, DJs and his production peers equally hail Axwell in high regard. “I think Axwell is a brilliant producer,” says Miami’s Robbie Rivera. “His music has so much energy, soul and depth. He makes music for DJs which is what I love.” Roger Sanchez is another admirer and champion of his current placing at the apex of dance music’s elite. “He’s on fire right now. His productions go from strength-to-strength and always rock my dancefloor!”
“Axwell is probably one of the best house music producers in the world,” says fellow Swede and occasional production partner, Steve Angello. Together the two retooled Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ into the Data release ‘Tell Me Why’ as Supermode. With support from such illustrious DJs as Erick Morllio, Pete Tong and Judge Jules it peaked at number 13 in the UK singles sales chart.
Pete Tong has also recently crowned his upcoming single, ‘I Found U’, an Essential New Tune, helping it pick up additional Radio 1 support from Judge Jules, Annie Mac and the Trophy Twins. Positiva have it scheduled for release later in the year, and 2007 is already shaping up to be the producer’s biggest yet with remixes doing the rounds for an elite list of artists including Bob Sinclar (‘I Feel For You’) and Faithless (‘Music Matters’), following on from last year’s high-profile restylings for Madonna (‘Jump’) and Nelly Furtado (‘Pomiscuous’). Add into the equation a DJ itinerary that reads like a pilot’s monthly flight schedule – Miami, Paris, Barcelona, Moscow, Ibiza and such far-flung locations as Australia, South Africa, and even Morocco and Algeria – and the facts speak for themselves.
But as the adage goes, it takes many years of hard work to become an overnight success. Starting out on what would end up as his eventual career path, nine-year-old Axel Hedfors first took up the drums, before progressing to computers and music software when most kids were riding bikes and using jumpers for goal posts. Completely self-taught, he learnt to play keyboards and programme beats, and by the time he’d reached his late-teens was already delivering the fruits of his hard work, releasing acid techno tracks made with Fasttracker2 under the pseudonym Quazar (of Sanxion).
Born in Sweden, but a self-described native of house music, it wasn’t long before his recordings found an outlet on labels like Soulfuric, Guidance, and initially, as the newly dubbed “Axwell”, with fellow Scandinavian artist StoneBridge. “Axwell has found the perfect balance between underground and accessible, not to mention the sound quality, which makes him stand out,” says the man whose Stoney Boy label released his debut single, ‘FunkBoy’, in 1999.
After dabbling with Latin-infused house under the guises of Mambana (with Afro Medusa singer Isabel Fructuoso) and then Jetlag (with vocalist Noel McKoy and co-producer Brian Tappert), Axwell again changed stances.
The dawn of the new millennium saw him hone his house sound, and in the process not only his production stature, but also his demand as a remixer. The catalyst his pairing with Robbie Rivera and songstress Suzan Brittan in 2002 on ‘Burning’, a track that would eventually reach the summit of Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart two years later. In 2004 he also enjoyed a pan-European hit with vocalist Errol Reid on ‘Feel The Vibe’; a year later Ministry Of Sound re-released the song as ‘Feel The Vibe (‘Til The Morning Comes)’ with additional vocals supplied by Tara McDonald. A top 20 UK chart position followed. 2005 also saw him issue ‘Watch The Sunrise’, sung by Sheffield’s Steve Edwards (the man behind hits for Cassius, Bob Sinclar and Xpress-2) peaking at number three in Dance Singles Chart on his Axtone imprint. Twelve months later Positiva gave it a domestic release to critical acclaim.
Mix-wise he’s been responsible for restyling club and crossover hits for Usher (‘Burn’), Room 5 (‘Make Luv’) Stonebridge (‘Put ‘Em High’), NERD (‘Maybe’), Hard-Fi (‘Hard To Beat’), Moby (‘Slipping Away’), Deep Dish (‘Dreams’) and Pharrel Williams (‘Angel’). His versatility to be able to change from out-and-out disco to rock-infused indie beats, and then wordy hip-hop rhymes, helping propel him to most major label’s first port of call, in the process providing DJs with essential tools for their trade.
As with Axwell’s raise in profile, similarly a handful of his fellow Swedish dance producers have also raised the bar becoming part of an elite group of hit remixers-come-producers – or the Swedish House Mafia as the press has affectionately dubbed them. Amongst the aggregate StoneBridge, Steve Angello, Eric Prydz and Sebastian Ingrosso. Axwell collaborating initially with the latter on a remix of Ernesto Vs Bastian’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, before delivering their original production, ‘Together’ – the debut release on Axwell’s Axtone imprint. While with Eric Prydz the two joined forces to produce ‘123’ and ‘321’ under their Axer alias on Eric’s Pryda Friends label. It reported sold a staggering 13,000 12-inch units – pouring water on the much-hyped death of vinyl debate.
With ‘I Found U’ generating a massive buzz, you’d think it might overshadow ‘Get Dumb’, Axwell’s all-star pairing for Data Recordings with Angello, Ingrosso and Laidback Luke that is already creating a huge buzz in its own right, and similarly is set to take Ibiza by storm. But the two compliment one another perfectly and further underline why 2007 is shaping up to be a very good year for the native of house music.