On a windy late autumn night atop the W Hotel in Hollywood, EDM deity Steve Angello was bestowed the 2013 Eliason Merit Award by his Scandinavian peers at the Los Angeles branch of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce.
The red carpet event was awash with svelte figures enjoying Swedish snacks including beet-and-turnip skewers and a cold pea soup that would make those Danes in Solvang turn green with envy. Have you ever heard Swedish? It sounds like a person playing ping pong with their tonsils. The guests, taking advantage of an open bar, were downright garrulous in an anticipatory flutter.
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Angello arrived, bearded and in a leather jacket/baseball cap combo. He stood in stark contrast to to the besuited attendees in his wake. The part-time Los Angeles resident just ended a farewell tour with house music icons Swedish House Mafia. The Hollywood Reporter asked him a few questions amidst the tumult.
What do you foresee being the biggest challenge as you move forward in your career by yourself?
I’ve always been by myself. Swedish House Mafia was an extra bonus that we did together. I’m just gonna keep on pushing, keep on working, keep on having fun. The album is coming out in the first quarter of next year. There’s a lot of stuff coming.
Who would win in a fight? All three members of Swedish House Mafia or last year’s Eliason winner Dolph Lundgren?
(Laughs.) The Mafia, of course. Three against one. It’s not that tough!
What have you found to be the biggest difference between Swedish and American people?
I just like the Swedish work ethic. It’s different from American. I love that American way of thinking as well. There’s a bit more hope here. There’s a little bit of a dream. You can start as a taxi driver and one day own the company. In Sweden they would start off as a taxi driver and end up as a taxi driver.
How do you feel about winning this award?
It feels great. For me, it’s not about music, it’s not about chart success. It’s not about any of that. They’re recognizing that we’re working on the Size Foundation, the kids we’re helping. It’s a non-profit that I’ve been running for quite some time. We have orphanages help kids get through school so they can take on the task of being an adult. We’re trying to empower the young guys with education. I’m happy. That’s why I’m most proud about this award.
After the award presentation, the crowd sang Angello a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” in Swedish and hopefuls bid during a silent auction on items including a violin bass signed by Paul McCartney. Afterwards, attendees let loose during an afterparty highlighted with performances by MRTN and Rebecca & Fiona.
This article originally appeared in THR.