The New Size: Steve Angello rebuilds team, prepares for new album, puts creativity at the core
Steve Angello is building a new team from the inside out. The Size brand of 2014 and beyond will look almost completely different than the one of 2013 and prior; it will be well evolved, it will take on a model that no dance centric label ever has. “We’re at a really good point now, we’re really expanding the team,” Steve says on the Monday after the weekend in which he gathered his Size battalion.
Size will now be taking on an in-house model, further embracing their keeping-it-in-the-family sort of philosophy that’s trickled throughout each of the label’s projects. The team, in terms of management, has grown from 6 members to 15 according to Angello. “We used to use other management as administrators… [now] we just do everything ourselves instead,” says Steve. “It’s just more space to be creative, it gives us more speed when we need to move fast.” He explains the shift from external to internal management, “There’s different creative control when you don’t have to link up to other people, when we run everything within the group. My biggest goal has always been creativity, and sometimes creativity gets lost in communication.”
He compares the assembling of his now-new team to that of putting together a tech start up. He’s collected some of the brightest minds and hardest workers in all areas of expertise, those from established companies and those that have achieved success in their respective divisions. “I really want to close all doors and just add the greatest team I can,” he puts it simply.
“I’ve reached a point in my life, where I’ve had all the success in the world. We had so much success with Swedish House Mafia, I don’t really want to try to re-do that. I will never be able to do it, Swedish House Mafia can only be done once. I’m not trying to follow the same path or do the same things.” At this point of his life or career, the monetary success has taken a back seat, and as he says, “At the end of the day it’s not about selling records it’s about enjoying what you’re doing.” Angello attributes the benchmark to his time spent in the industry, the countless hours, and his desire for expansion.
“We’re at that point where we don’t care about the trophy, we just care about the fight. Our focus isn’t to make money, our focus is to be creative and have shit loads of fun.”
Who’s joining Size? Senior managers. Junior managers. New marketing and tech teams. A new film division. Steve speaks confidently of his new team, “We’re just adding great minds.” He confirms Junior Sanchez will remain heavily involved in artist development, but in addition to familiar faces, plenty of new ones will be involved. For the label, he’ll be bringing someone in that he’s looked up to his whole life, someone who (still confidential) will “help us structure it and monetize on building, and really help us build.” Then there’s Scooter Braun, who Steve speaks highly of and hints at future collaborations with.
“Scooter is great. He’s very, very hungry. He’s one of the few guys in the music industry that really thinks outside the box. He thinks different…. and we think alike. He’s great and we’re doing some fun stuff together that I can’t really say now.”
Of course, you can’t talk Size without its artists, both established and newer, that have been in extended development. “I’ve put the guys in the studio the whole winter. I’ve locked them in. Everyone has sent me about 7 to 15 records they’re really happy about, so we’re getting it down to about 4 or 5 per artists and working out really good plans for these guys.” They’ve been waiting patiently to put out material, but as Steve asserts: “Now is the time.”
The head of the label speaks candidly on the development of its artists, more specifically how he’s avoided one of the biggest obstacles for dance music artists: touring. “While you tour, and you’re super busy touring, you’re only going to make records that will fit your sets then. You’re not going to make records that would change you as an artist in a year.” That’s what makes him so adamant about forcing artists into creative zones, even if to capture or recapture an extra 20% of creativity.
“When you leave someone in the studio for quite some time, something happens. Every record starts sounding different, every records starts having elements that it wouldn’t have, every record sounds different from each other. I think that’s really important to drive the genre forward.”
Steve looks back and puts it as simple as possible: “They figured this out in the 40s: you go in the studio for a year, you make shit loads of music, you tour for another year, and you take another year off again to make music.” So when he explains that he’s blocked his team from the world, and that he’s locked them into the studio, or forced them to be creative, these are more back-to-basics tricks of the trade than hard-ball label-head tactics.
The new Size will see the release of Steve’s new album, Wild Youth, which has been one of the most talked about unreleased projects in recent memory. It’s no longer a myth, however, and album art has begun flooding streets, first in Miami. He says the problem was having too much music, in fact, way too much music. “I was sitting a couple of weeks ago, going down from 50 songs to 40, the next week from 40 to 30, now I’m down to like 17 or 18.” He continues to confirm the final number, “It’s going to be 14.”
“I’m doing so much stuff around the album. Doing so much stuff that hasn’t been done, different marketing. We’re building physical objects. It’s going to be a whole experience from the album perspective. I like to put myself in a weird position and challenge myself every time, that’s what I’ve done here. I really took on some stuff that I thought we’d never be able to pull off and we did.”
There’s going to be a lot going on surrounding the album’s release, the campaign, he says, will be massive. These details remain, still, under wraps, and the notion of “physical objects” raises curiosity. Of course, this is the same sort of mystery and anticipation that surrounds all Size projects, the sort that Steve’s embraced. What can he reveal about the album?
“The whole album sounds different, every song is super different. That’s the good feedback when I’ve been sitting down with a lot of artists playing the album start to finish.” He breaks down the comments he hears from peers who have sat down for listening sessions. “The first comment is: we never expected this. Second comment is: This sound really makes me think. The third is: this is really a complete album.” Relieved, he admits that sort of reaction is just what he was aiming to achieve.
“I want to write something that’s going to be part of my life forever. Every song, lyric has something to do with my childhood or my present time. Every song means something, every track is inspired by a time in my life.”
From the sounds of it, the album will be outlining Steve’s life from start to today, and the campaign will be doing the same for the public eye. “You can tell which song is from which time of my life,” he says, “people will be able to put the puzzle pieces together.” Dishing details on one track in particular: “it doesn’t sound like Daft Punk, but you can hear that I’ve been inspired by Daft Punk when I was young.”
He admits the process of making the album has been maturing, but an emotional roller coaster. Despite moments that he’s pulling his hair out in the studio or waking up wanting to trash the work, he says his perspective on music is different today than it was when he began, that it even feels like he’s been watching himself from the sideline.
Moving forward, it seems fans can expect Size projects to come at a speedier and steadier rate, as is the goal with the rebuilding of the team. More importantly, for the creativity to be at the forefront and unscathed. Steve and his creativity, will be coming through with a personal touch to each project. As he points to colorful managers whose personality shines through their artists, he strives for the opposite. Then there will be new sounds with the individual releases, where Steve says the focus will move from tracks to fit his sets to a much wider array of genres.
“I’m not going to take no and I don’t give a shit what anybody tells me because I’m always going to put the art first,” he continues, “I’ll never listen to anybody who tells me to cut corners on being creative.” These words resonate that plans are soon to be set ablaze. His take-no-prisoners approach has begun with reassembling his team and company, positioning himself to be involved in all aspects, and now moving for his beliefs to be in action — all while simply enjoying the ride. “We’ve always been art driven, and I’ve hit a point in my life where I have nothing to prove to anyone,” Steve sticks by any sentiment previously made. The one that that speaks the loudest? That’s the one that indicates a long, enduring future for the Size brand, and that says it’s here to stay:
“I’m not done yet, I’ve just started. I haven’t even put in the second gear yet.”