Photo by Katie Bain
If Coachella 2012 is remembered for one thing, (besides Holo'Pac), it's likely to go down in history as the year electronic music dominated the lineup, from the festival's longstanding dance nexus the Sahara Tent to the traditionally more rock-oriented main stage.
Indeed, electronic music's current reign over pop/youth culture was exemplified last Friday night when progressive house trio Swedish House Mafia made history by becoming the first electronic act to ever headline the festival's main stage. "This is the pinnacle of what our type of music can do," said SHM's Axwell, moments before dropping a set that sent the massive crowd into states of sing-along euphoria from the front row to the nosebleeds.
Here, five of the weekend's electronic headliners -- Justice, Kaskade, Swedish House Mafia, Datsik and Avicii -- discuss the explosion of their genre and what playing Coachella means to them.
Years At Coachella: 3 How does it feel to go from playing the dance tent to getting a nighttime slot on the main stage? Xavier de Rosnay: It's a good surprise. It's great that Coachella trusts us to play the main stage at this time of the day. What are your impressions of the festival? We have a great relationship to Coachella, because the first live show we ever played was at Coachella in 2007. It was a very special moment for us because we had just finished our first album as well, so when we came here and played it was good and were like 'okay we just finished our first album and played our first live show. We feel great.' So we have a warm association. Justice plays Sunday at 7:45pm on the Main Stage Photo: Katie Bain
Years At Coachella: 3 Did you ever think you'd headline the dance tent? No. Even the first time I got booked it was like, 'What! Coachella called?" That was the big year Madonna came out and played in the dance tent and people were like, 'Oh, dance music is credible.' It was a good moment for us. Do you feel that your success has been a slow build or an overnight success? My rise has been slow and natural for well over a decade. Even with Coachella. Six years ago I was on at 2:30 in the afternoon and two years ago it was later at dusk, and now I'm closing the tent. Does the festival have a particularly unique vibe to you? Being a resident of California I'd have to say it's unique, because California is unique and there are so many music lovers here. We do put on the best festivals in the world. I think the blend of all the different genres is really unique. Dance music gets a lot of respect here, where in the US in particular, a decade or 12 or 13 years ago, that wasn't the case. Sure, dance music is cool now, but Coachella has always been very respectful. It's cool that someone can come here and see me and Radiohead in the same weekend. What is it like to be at the forefront of dance music's major presence this year? It's awesome. It's not anything I anticipated because I've been doing it for so long, and I just love the music. I think that for the people that are in it because they love it and have been doing it for a while, it's just really cool to get this recognition happen after so many years. Why is it happening now? It's been bubbling in the underground and it tipped and the timing is right. People have done the indie thing and the rap thing and are wondering what else is out there. This still sounds really new and fresh to a lot of people who haven't heard it. What can you say about the new stage show you're unveiling here? It's a full body experience head to toe, a full on assault of your senses and a rise to a euphoric moment. That's what dance music is all about. Kaskade plays Saturday at 11:15pm in the Sahara Tent Photo: Getty Images
Years At Coachella: 1 (SHM members Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso have all played solo sets in years past). Does headlining the main stage represent an apex in terms of EDM's popularity? Axwell: No shit. This is the pinnacle of what our type of music can do. Close the main stage at one of the most legendary festivals in the world. It's pretty crazy. Angello: It's beyond what we would have ever believed. You dream of it... Axwell: I didn't even dream of getting to this point. Ingrosso: Nope me neither. Angello: You always have high dreams when you're an artist, but to be here today with the boys... Axwell: We're not even nervous because we can't quite believe it's happening yet. How can you tell when you're playing a particularly great show? Angello: Crowd reaction. You become one of them. Axwell: The energy kind of goes like this: we start to send out little careful beams of energy to feel the crowd, like, 'what's up, what's up, what's up,' then when we get something back it's like, 'YEAH. Okay good! Let's fucking do this' and then it gets bigger and bigger. We feel it and they feel it and we feel it. That's how we know it was a great show. When I can feel that they are feeling it. How do you balance your solo careers, which are all massive in their own right, with coming together as a group and playing gig like this? Ingrosso: We don't. It's all a mess. We cope, but it's hard. We live in different parts of the world and we all have families and different labels and managements, and it's a just mess, but it's a nice mess. What does a typical day look like for each of you? Ingrosso: We wake up as everyone else does, make breakfast, plan the day, write some emails. Try to make some music and work, like anyone else. Angello: Plus we have families. Axwell: But to be honest, there's no such thing as a typical day. That's why we like our lives. There's no day that's similar to the other. One day we're shooting a movie, one day we're in a studio. The next day we're having lunch on the beach. The next day we're wondering what the fuck happened the last day. I cannot really say what's a typical day. Does Coachella have a unique feeling for you? Ingrosso: Absolutely. We are the only electronic act headlining the main stage and we feel honored because there are so many good electronic acts out there right now, and they chose us. We are happy for that, and Coachella has a really good reputation and has for so many years. It's pretty big around the world. Axwell: It's also a really beautiful festival. Ingrosso: I've never been to a festival in my life that's been so clean and beautiful with the palms and the lighting. Have you been to a festival in Europe? Angello: Don't go! Ingrosso: This trailer is like a house. This is like a holiday resort. Will there be an opportunity to go incognito and check out the crowd? Ingrosso: I just did! We have a friend called Alesso who just played in the Sahara tent, and I went into the crowd on my friend's shoulder and danced. It felt it. I love it, man. It's the best. It keeps me alive. Every time I go into the crowd and listen to another electronic act, it's like, 'okay now I understand why people like us. I understand why I'm doing this.' Swedish House Mafia plays Friday at 11:30pm on the Main Stage Photo: Facebook: Swedish House Mafia
Years At Coachella: 1 You just finished a massive tour, Deadmeat, with Steve Aoki. How did that go? It was amazing, to say the least. It was one of the most fun times I've ever had. We did over 50 shows in two months. So it was a lot of traveling and a lot of ups and downs, and overall it was a lot of fun. Steve and I are super good friends. We play two different sides of electronic music, because I play dubstep and he plays melodic mainstream house, but it worked. It was a great balance of the different styles of electronic music and it was great to expose audiences to both. How did your set go here last night? It was great. I played right after Afrojack. It was cool. We brought in this crazy stage set and we had all this CO2 and these robotic ninja guys that came out. It was different and awesome. I didn't even know exactly what it was going to be. The team said 'just do your thing and DJ and we'll take care of the rest.' So I did that and it all worked out. Had Coachella been on your radar? It was a goal. Last year I talked to my agent and said, 'dude, you've gotta get me on Coachella,' and he was like 'work your ass off and we'll try to get you on the bill.' Now here I am. It got really cold last night and a lot of people left after Afrojack, but then a ton of people swarmed in and were there just for dubstep, so that was cool. Datsik plays on Friday at 11:50pm in the Sahara tent Photo: Katie Bain
Years At Coachella: First You just finished your first ever set at Coachella. How did it go? It was amazing. This is such a good festival. I'm so happy I got to experience it. What's unique about it for you? Being in the desert surrounded by palm trees and lit up balloons; it's a very beautiful festival. You debuted a bit of the production that's going to be featured in your upcoming arena tour. Yeah. On Sunday I premiered some of the production and showed everyone what it was about. This second weekend is going to be more full on. Just because of logistics, we can't premiere the entire thing at the Coachella stage, but it's still going to be big. Why did you choose to do this at Coachella? It just felt like the perfect opportunity. We've been working on it for so long and my manager really wanted to do it before the arena tour starts so people could see what's going to happen at those shows. Is this an opportunity for you to attract new fans? 100 percent. Everyone who comes to the arena show has some expectation of me and knows a bit about what they're getting into. Playing at a festival provides an opportunity to expose my music to more people. At Coachella, people who have never heard of me might be surprised. What was the crowd reaction like? Today it's so easy to get feedback. I just need to go on Twitter and I'll see it seconds after the show. Everyone who was there had an amazing time. It was all positive on my Twitter feed. I was going up against Snoop and Dre and Tupac, so I think it went really well, going up head to head against those guys. I just wish I could have seen Tupac get on the stage. What does it mean to you to be closing the festival in the dance tent? To play Coachella at all is something I've been looking forward to, so to come and play and close it out is such an honor. It feels like another goal that's been accomplished. It is. Avicii plays on Sunday at 9:40pm in the Sahara tent Photo: Facebook: Avicii
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