Scandinavia seems to breed disc jockey artists these days which catch attention even from far away places like Thailand. At least this can be the conclusion if looking at the first Bangkok International DJ Festival, arranged at the turn of the month Nov/Dec 2006, where Sweden’s Axwell (Axel Hedfors) and Denmark’s Benjamin Pedersen a.k.a. Kid Massive were invited to play at the club Bed Supperclub, among several other highly respected artists.
Axwell, 28, who has made a name for himself on the international club music scene as both a producer and DJ, will in fact have performed no less than 100 DJ gigs on basically all continents by the end of the year.
Rated as number 93 in DJ Magazine, Axwell revealed in Bangkok that he was also booked for gigs in Dubai later in December, Singapore on Christmas Eve, as well as Sydney, Australia on New Year’s Eve.
Prior to Thailand, he had played in Switzerland and was on his way to Portugal for the first time directly after Bangkok. Previously in the year he had visited countries such as Colombia and South Africa.
Being a DJ of Axwell’s calibre simply requires a lot of time spent flying. But it pays off on the salary, which can reach up to 3 million SEK “only” on the dj:ing part for a DJ on his level.
However, reaching there does not happen over night: It took Axwell 7 years to become a ‘name’, and being also a producer of music seems a necessity for success.
After his hit ‘Feel the vibe’, it really took off for Axwell; getting radio play on BBC’s highly essential station Radio 1, massive support from the world’s biggest name DJ’s, and the song reaching number 16 in the UK charts.
“You often get bookings based on some production you have done. Not only DJing,” said Axel believing he was booked for Bangkok due to that the Swedes within the scene has become quite known, besides that he has worked with other artists who were previously invited to perform in Thailand.
Another strong recognition was when he was assigned to remix a track by Madonna, ‘Jump’, from her latest album.
“The Madonna remix is the biggest remix so far, which I got through having done many fat tracks.
Axwell is part of a group of DJ’s titled the Swedish House Mafia. Simultaneously they created an unprecedented buzz around DJ’s originating from Sweden.
“Swedes are indeed hyped now within house music. Many want to have a Swede in their roster. Some artists claim to be Swedish for that reason without being it,” said Axel.
We were a group who collaborated a lot in achieving the right type of sound. And when you are many pushing at the same time, you get a strong result when all break through. Then it is not only one artist, but many tunes at the same time which helps boosting.”
Benjamin (Kid Massive), 29, who played in Asia for the first time, explained before his gig that he had moved on with his girlfriend, also a DJ, to Paris since Denmark’s scene is too small.
“There’s no real club scene as such and very difficult to build up anything with only five million people. The music I make and play, there’s no wide appeal for it from the crowd.”
France on the contrary has a soulful house scene with lots of clubs and with the advantage of being placed basically in the middle of Europe, according to Benjamin who regrets there is no collaboration among Danish club producers in the same way as in Sweden.
“The Swedish producers have the bonus that they all pushed together at the same time.
In Denmark, we have this ‘Jante law’, meaning: ‘You shall not think that you are smarter or better than the rest’. Internally we then keep one another down. Danes suffer under that immensely so it’s difficult for them to collectively support each other. There’s a Danish collective of very good producers, but sad to say they don’t work together as the Swedes, but more individually, which I think is a shame.”
If they worked together they could have reached more success, believes Benjamin, a hairdresser by profession and DJ for fifteen years as well as producer for the past five past years.
“For me it was a natural progression to start making music.”
Today he is a regular guest DJ at the club Bargrooves in London and receives radio airplay on various international radio stations.
“I was booked to Bangkok because of my productions. The A&R guy is a fan of my music. That’s a good sign,” continued Benjamin. “I am playing Paris soon and then I’m going to Dubai, and will doing a lot of gigs in the U.K. It’s going well.”
Benjamin agrees the key to success is being both a producer of music and a skilful DJ.
“Yes, you can reach only so far as a DJ. There are so many people who only play records, and it’s hard to make a name for yourself, unless you’ve been a DJ for 20 years, those old school guys who were there when it all started, and having a name for themselves.”