The king of the sun-kissed summer anthem; the mogul behind one of the hottest imprints on the planet; a superstar DJ whoâ€™s never lost the giddy enthusiasm of a fledgling clubber; and arguably the most successful and influential remixer of the 21st century. By anyoneâ€™s standards, Axel â€˜Axwellâ€™ Hedfors is a giant of modern-day dance music â€“ and heâ€™s only going to get bigger.
Axwellâ€™s steady ascent into clubland aristocracy began back in 1995, when the eager Swedish teenager began teaching himself the arcane science of drum-machines, synthesisers and sequencers, and started releasing his very first tracks, as part of techno duo Quazar. By 1999, heâ€™d moved towards a housier sound, as evidenced by his debut solo single, Funkboy. An impressive calling card, it paved the way for a steady flow of increasingly confident underground hits, until Axwell struck crossover gold with 2004â€™s glorious â€˜Feel The Vibeâ€™.
An unstoppably uplifting and instantly memorable track, the original version of â€˜Feel The Vibeâ€™ (featuring vocalist Errol Reid) dazzled every corner of clubland, before an overhauled version (with new vocals by Tara McDonald) gate-crashed the UK top 20. 2005â€™s â€˜Watch The Sunriseâ€™ (featuring Steve Edwards) proved to be another unstoppable anthem, as was his 2006 collaboration with fellow Swedish House Mafioso Steve Angello, Supermodeâ€™s â€˜Tell Me Whyâ€™ (released via Ministry Of Sound, it reach #13 in the UK and #3 in the Netherlands). But it was 2007â€™s rave-referencing â€˜I Found Uâ€™ (#6 in the UK charts) that really cemented Axwellâ€™s status as a producer who could marry artistic innovation with strong commercial appeal â€“ a rare thing indeed, in any genre of music.
â€œI do feel pressure to maintain a certain level of success,â€ says Axwell. â€œThatâ€™s a weight that lies on my shoulders â€“ but all that pressure comes from myself. I want every tune to be better than the last one: to sound stronger, to be phatter, to work better in a club. So itâ€™s pressure, but itâ€™s good pressure. It pushes me forwards, creatively.â€
â€œFor me, itâ€™s all about asking questions of myself. Would I play this? Would I play it during peak time? Is it the phattest thing Iâ€™ve ever heard? Is it the most futuristic shit out there? I question the track â€“ and myself â€“ the whole time. Iâ€™ve got a good expression: the goose-bumps never lie. If you get goose-bumps during the production stage, then youâ€™re on the right track...â€
Axwellâ€™s Midas-like touch â€“ along with his peerless technical ability â€“ has made him the go-to guy for artists looking to get their latest release reworked into a storming dancefloor juggernaut. Madonna, Nelly Furtado, Moby and Pharrell Williams have all come a-knockinâ€™, while productions such as his masterful reworking of Hard-Fiâ€™s â€˜Hard To Beatâ€™, his sublime remix of The Temper Trapâ€™s â€˜Sweet Dispositionâ€™ (along with Dirty South) and of course his unstoppable version of TV Rockâ€™s â€˜In The Airâ€™ have gone on to become as big as â€“ or, in many cases, bigger than â€“ the original tracks.
Part of what makes Axwell such a sought-after producer is his dazzling stylistic agility; he can switch between house, techno and electro (and everything in-between) without even breaking a sweat.
â€œAxwell has an innate feel for the dancefloor,â€ says long-time fan Judge Jules, â€œbut his versatility is even more impressive. Too many producers get caught in a trademark groove, becoming a prisoner of their own perceived style. Axwellâ€™s material is so varied, but it never fails to rock â€“ big time.â€