On a Thursday evening in late April it was impressive to see how the helicopter pad on the top of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotel, Swissotel The Stamford, was filling up with guests in large numbers. Enjoying the welcome drink and inviting Singapore skyline, they had come for the night’s guest entertainer at level 71’s New Asia. Sweden’s most prominent and well-known house music producer and DJ, Stonebridge, was back in town. The last time he had played the same venue was during the Formula 1 weekend the year before.
Stonebridge is one of those disc jockeys who have been in the game for over 20 years, working hard to entertain with his infectious sexy house music style. He has got one of those jobs you cannot really apply for, but which is entirely based on inspired and persistent hard work in the studio and in the DJ booth of nightclubs.
And for the rare few who really gain success it can pay off big time – which eventually it did for Stonebridge around six years ago. Thus his career is rather different since he had his big breakthrough after more than 15 years in the business.
He recently launched his third artist album, ‘The Morning After’, containing club anthems for the global club music crowd and is clearly by now also a draw in Singapore, since the night attracted a huge crowd and the club promoter told him afterwards that it was their “best night ever”. His reputed ability to move a crowd, numerous remixes and also own albums probably helped to attract attention.
Indeed Sten, or Stone, as he prefers to call himself, confirms that the own tracks and top-selling albums has been a main factor in boosting the career.
”It changed everything and the world opened up after ‘Put ‘Em High’ was a big hit. I got bookings in Australia, Asia and the US as opposed to UK and Sweden only before. Every time I release a new album, I get lots of bookings across the globe. I notice this when I do my mix albums as well and I think people are coming to my gigs to see and hear me play the singles and other music I make.”
He started getting busy around 2002, doing Hed Kandi (‘the world’s mot glamorous house music and lifestyle brand’) gigs.
“The real madness has been on since 2004, so 6 years on the international circuit.”
It all started with the Swemix crew back in the 1980’s in Stockholm and he has been producing and remixing other artists within dance, pop, R&B and soul every since.
Often he was referred to as the remixer of Robin S and the track ‘Show Me Love’. And Sten clarifies that it was NOT the Robyn tune, the well-known Swedish music export success.
“This is a common mistake in Sweden as they both have a ‘Show Me Love’. Yes, it used to be my name tag until I had my first hit under my own name, ‘Put ‘Em High.’ I would say I’m often introduced as behind that remix or something related to Hed Kandi. I’m very pleased that my three albums and the label are gaining recognition as the Robin S thing was so long ago. It made it in 1992.”
During the past two years Stonebridge has remixed top selling artists such as Ne-Yo, Paradiso Girls, Pussycat Dolls, Jennifer Hudson and Jazmin Sullivan. More recently he did Basement Jaxx and Yoko Ono.
Having gained worldwide recognition as a “name DJ”, Stonebridge is nowadays a frequent visitor to prominent clubs in Asia, coming here on tour at least twice per year and also playing perhaps less apparent cities such as Surabaya in Indonesia. The Swedish ‘beats-chef’ is in particular a fan of the crowds in that country.
“My favourite DJ destination in Asia is a tough question, but I pick Seoul as the crowds there are phenomenal.”
As for Singapore he played at several occasions, where a Ministry of Sound gig was the first when that club was up and running for a while.
”So far I’ve done two in New Asia. Never did Zouk here, but in Kuala Lumpur. The same goes for Attica, which I did in Shanghai, but not Singapore. I’ve grown to really like Singapore actually.”
As a business city he compares it to Dubai and Moscow, but sees things moving towards a really healthy scene.
“The first time I played in Asia, things were totally different and people didn’t know how to act in the club. It was more like a concert, but now it’s pretty much the same as all other places as it’s become a global thing. Mainly because of the internet and the way people can follow DJs and music,” Stone says on the progress of the nightclub scene.
And Asia’s significance for him as an internationally touring DJ compared to other parts of the world?
”It’s very important and placed in between Europe and Australia. Also the recession didn’t hit as hard here so I’d say very important.”
Stonebridge who has played on all continents today finds the most vibrant club scene – believe it or not – in South America.
“It’s where you will find the best crowds even though Australia in their summer can be totally mad too. It appears like Europe is waiting for something new. House music and clubs have been around for over 20 years so it’s not as exciting anymore, it seems. I think the recession also took a lot of fun out of the equation.”
“We need to put the fun back in clubbing and I see this happening more now. Miami [Winter Music Conference] was fantastic this year and pretty much all parties played a more uplifting sound,” he says on the state of scene.
On the Internet’s effect he says: “It was amazing in the beginning, with MySpace and Facebook as phenomenal tools to promote music and parties. As things progressed, clubs stopped doing flyers and posters and used only social media, which in turn has resulted in less promotion as people tend to delete the hundreds of invites they get every week. I think we need to go back to old school promotion, especially word of mouth, but also new ideas like decor, themes and festival-like parties.”
Meanwhile digital media, all the download stores on the Internet and the rapidly increasing volume of electronic music producers is resulting in a flooded market.
”It’s crazy and really hard to find the good stuff as it gets lost in the 2000-tracks-per-week flood. It can take one or two years to build a really big hit now, but I also think it puts more pressure on us to produce better music, so it may be a good thing.”
Except working on songs for some artists in L.A the other most exciting thing for Stone in 2010 is of course his new artist album from which he will release several singles.
If living in any of Asia’s big cities or when visiting one and keen on night life, do scan the entertainment calendar and you might find Stonebridge visiting! As for Singapore, he might be back for the Formula One weekend.