Listen here: AN21 on the Status Quo of Dance Music and Artist Responsibility
The other day we got to sit down with AN21, also known as Antoine Josefsson, and had a discussion while he was taking a break in the studio in LA. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, many house fans will recognize his musical moniker from tracks alongside his older brother, Steve Angello, who was once a member of Swedish House Mafia. Needless to say, AN21 has been in the scene for quite some time. When asked about what 2014 had in store for him, Antoine responded, “I am going to try and focus on solo stuff more, with fewer collabs as I want to develop and put out my own sounds more and more. It’s important to have a fresh breath of air.”
Growing up under possibly one of the biggest names in EDM, he said that when he was 17 he knew that he wanted to go into music. “I didn’t see the value in wasting 3 years learning mathematics, so I went to my mom and I said, I want to put 3 years into studying music.” From that point, it was a small step with his older brother already being deep into the music fascination. “Later that year, my brother hooked me up with a Macbook and Logic Express, but before then I had been a PC kinda guy, it just made sense to use the same program if we were to do stuff together.”
AN21 and Steve Angello
I was curious to know if there was any pressure on him with his brother’s reputation hanging over him. “Pressure, no I wouldn’t say so. Music came naturally to me like any other artist who loves their medium. It was organic, very unlike a math problem where I have to train my mind to get to ‘right answer’. And that reflects what I personally think is wrong with the Dance music industry as a whole, these other musicians are creating music based on what they think the crowds will listen to and pay for, rather than the music they (the producers) enjoy making and hearing.” Antoine said with an exasperated sigh. He then went on to talk about how he thought these kinds of artists were affecting the scene;
This pandering on the part of artists has turned the Dance industry into the fast food industry. A cookie cutter effect where everyone plays what everyone else is playing elsewhere. If it isn’t unique, whats the point ya know? The electronic genre as a whole won’t survive past being a fad if it’s constantly sold and made into a method of profiting and making money instead of what comes from your heart. These producers, DJ’s whatever you want to call them who are guilty of this, are killing the scene by not being creative.
Antoine went further and commented toward the need for artists to be perceptive of their impact on the industry. “Part of having such a large following is being responsible for making sure that our genre survives. Artists need to treat the stage as podium,” this was when I started nodding my head in agreement. “If everyone is focusing on quantity over quality, the listeners will stop believing in us and eventually abandon the scene. While it’s true that our genre has been growing rapidly recently, all things come to an end. It’s up to us [artists] to teach them the difference between good and bad for the sake of dance music’s survival.”
Coming from a strictly personal perspective, I couldn’t agree more. If the recent acquisitions by Sillerman and SFX Entertainment of some of the biggest firms in the EDM game are anything to go by, the logical conclusion is that the scene will soon be mired in a profit oriented cycle of who can get the most songs on Beatport or the radio. All things that can be made profitable will. And part of what makes the EDM scene so special to me is the somewhat conspicuous lack of label solidarity, that is to say artists can collaborate freely for the most part with other artists in other styles, as well as do their own thing in some cases. I sincerely hope that the responsibility that Antoine was speaking of picks up traction among the scene’s devotees and those who make music.
AN21′s new track Rebel, also featuring Dimitri Vangelis and Wyman comes out today. The track is a total banger and is sure to keep any party going into the darkest hours of the night so make sure to give it a listen from SIZE records by clicking here. Not usually being a fan of house music in general (although his music spans all different genres), I can gladly say that I have been swayed into being an AN21 fan and anxiously await more from their camp and suggest you give him a chance.