Around the world in 730 days: On tour with Swedish House Mafia

253 gigs. 23 countries. 2 years.

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The Independent Culture


If you’re into house music, you can’t help but be jealous of the task set for director Christian Larson, who followed Swedish House Mafia around the world to make a documentary about the group. If you’re not particularly a fan of house music, like myself, there’s a good chance you’ll come away from the film starting to see the appeal.

The Swedish director was originally inspired by the personalities of the three members in the group, and sees the documentary as a story of their friendship.

“I saw something in them.” said Larson. “They have some dedication and were kind of the underdogs in the beginning. Nobody knew what they were doing and I think their drive to break through and make it was really inspiring. The opportunity came to go along for the ride, and it’s the kind of opportunity you jump on!”

Although the group have made it as some of the most renowned house DJs in the world, their native Sweden have taken longer to get on board.

“When you get to Scandinavia people don’t really care! I think they’re starting to care now. They’ve seen they’re having celebrity suites...but it’s important to know that they were really struggling in Sweden before, so they were trying to break into other countries where the theme was bigger. I think they feel really happy to show Sweden - look at us we did it.”

Members Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso decide to concentrate on individual projects by the end of the documentary, and the film also picks up on some of the building tension in camp. Although this wasn't expected from the start, cracks started to show among the group.

“I think that was good for the film and you know, for me! It was a natural step for them, being together so much and best friends. So I think I could kind of see it coming a little bit - them being so pushed together and doing so much travelling around. I think they just really needed a break and it was easier for them to go back to their solo stuff that they had before.”

There’s undoubtedly a candid approach to showing their characters. Christian made it clear from the start that he wanted the documentary to come across as honest, only allowing them to see any footage when the first cut was ready.

“I had told them before that you need to trust me on this one and I think they really listened to me on that – they knew they had to do their thing and what they’re good at - and they gave me that mutual respect.”

The fans are a strong feature in the film, and their adoration of the group is apparent throughout. Christian commented about his interest in the fans, revealing their tendency to sometimes be over-enthusiastic.

“There are a lot of girls that are fanatic about the boys. I want to make another documentary about that. It’s kind of interesting, the girls around the DJ booth, the glow in their eyes, dying for the whole thing and they’ll do whatever it takes to get to the guys...I think that’s another story.”

There have been various rumours circulating that Eric Prydz, another successful house DJ from Sweden, used to be in the group, and so his exclusion from the film has been a talking-point. Christian wanted to set this straight:

“[Eric]’s never been an official part of the group, so it wasn’t an official decision [to exclude him from the documentary]. He’s seen the film and he loves it. He never was a part of it but they are still great friends and they see each other a lot, I think that’s just a wrong fact.”

And if there he had the opportunity to do the same project with another band or artist?

“Jay Z. I would love to do that. A documentary takes time, which is great, but now I’m into other stuff...but we’ll see.”

Christian has also seen success with music videos, including Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’, which won best collaboration at the MTV awards. He holds that the secret to success with music videos is to make them stand out: “Whatever you can do to get people’s attention.”

The documentary (released on DVD today) certainly achieves this, as the atmospheric feel is likely to leave you with the urge to go out, or simply go and listen to the music you love.

Swedish House Mafia have made up a list of their top ten club destinations around the world for the Independent Online, click on the image to launch the guide