Today, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso confirmed what had long been rumored: The two have signed to Universal Music Group's Def Jam Recordings as Axwell /\ Ingrosso with a debut studio album planned for release in 2015. Axwell /\ Ingrosso will remain on UMG's Virgin EMI in the UK (through which their Swedish House catalog was previously released). With a handful of performances under their belt this year, the duo's new material has made clear their intent to push the limits of their sound, going beyond the anthemic hooks of their former band.
Founded by Rick Rubin, Def Jam is known for its hip-hop roots. After splitting from former label partner Island Records earlier this year to become its own entity once again, the label has been expanding its roster, recently signing Ingrosso's protege, Alesso, who releases his debut LP this fall. Still, Axwell /\ Ingrosso is by far the labels' biggest foray into big room EDM to date.
"Their music is forward, innovative, invigorating and boundless," says the label's CEO Steve Bartels, who calls the signing a "a significant moment for all of us."
Bartels isn't shy about touting the label's legacy as a DJ-rooted musical touchstone, alluding to early releases by the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J, all of whom adopted aspects of DJing into what would later become mainstream hip-hop. "Def Jam has the artistry and energy of DJ culture within its pedigree, right there in our logo."
Following the split of their group with Steve Angello, Swedish House Mafia, in 2013 the Axwell and Ingrosso worked on solo projects before starting to work as a duo this year. They premiered new songs on Zane Lowe's BBC show in March before making their first official appearance at Governor's Ball in New York City this past June. Because Swedish House Mafia's two albums were technically compilations (neither Until One or Until Now were recorded as studio albums), the Axwell /\ Ingrosso album will be a first of sorts for the two producers.
Friends for over a decade, Angello, Axwell and Ingrosso shot to fame as Swedish House Mafia during the peak of the global EDM explosion of 2010-2012 with hits like "One," "Save the World" and "Don't You Worry." The production of the latter is chronicled in the documentary, Leave the World Behind, along with the tensions and dramas that led the group to split last year.
Axwell and Ingrosso are both still managed by Amy Thomson of ATM Artists who guided their career as SHM, and has now just signed a partnership deal with powerhouse manager Irving Azoff, Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan and investor Ron Burkle.
Zel McCarthy is THUMP's Editor-in-Chief - @ZelMcCarthy