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A Story of Friendship and Musical Magic
STOCKHOLM — The iconic EDM group Swedish House Mafia’s biggest hit, “Don’t You Worry Child,” had humble beginnings. Born from the bond of newfound friendship, Swedish singer-songwriters Michel Zitron and John Martin Lindström joined forces in a Stockholm studio over two Sundays in May 2010. They spent their time reminiscing about their Swedish childhoods, sharing stories of teenage love, and exploring their relationships with their fathers, including Zitron’s father’s religious beliefs.
The result of this intimate collaboration, released in 2012, was “Don’t You Worry Child.” Swedish House Mafia transformed it into a legendary dance track, reaching the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. This song became their final release before a five-year hiatus, marking a significant milestone in their career. Now, after a decade, Swedish House Mafia is making a comeback with a new single and a forthcoming album.
A Departure from Tradition
In an interview with Billboard, the members of Swedish House Mafia expressed their desire to move away from the signature anthemic big room sound that “Don’t You Worry Child” represented. Nonetheless, both Zitron and Martin cherish the song as an example of the best that the EDM scene had to offer. Zitron reflects, “We love melancholic songs with impactful choruses and compelling stories. That’s what defined the EDM movement. This is a song that can make you cry on the dance floor.”
A Serendipitous Union
Zitron and Martin’s friendship was unexpected. They had attended the same high school in Stockholm, but their paths never crossed, despite both being involved in music. Martin played in a rock band, while Zitron had been part of a boy band. It wasn’t until many years later that they were introduced by mutual acquaintances in the Stockholm music scene. They discovered that their musical styles, pop and indie rock, complemented each other perfectly. Their connection deepened, and they became inseparable, meeting every Friday afternoon to work on songs and sharing their raw emotions through music.
From Hangovers to Studio Sessions
One fateful Sunday afternoon in May 2010, Martin and Zitron found themselves in the studio after a wild night of drinking. As they discussed their lives and shared their experiences, a melody began to take shape. Zitron opened up about his challenging upbringing in the immigrant-heavy Tensta borough of Stockholm, marked by a broken home and a strained relationship with his devout Finnish-Romani father. Inspired by his father’s wisdom, the iconic chorus of “Don’t You Worry Child” was born: “My father said, ‘Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child. See heaven’s got a plan for you.'”
Meanwhile, Martin recounted his story of growing up in the affluent south suburbs of Stockholm. Despite his father’s wish for him to pursue a career in motorsports or join the family tire business, Martin followed his passion for music instead. During their hangover session, they reminisced about young love and the places where they first experienced it. This gave birth to the rousing pre-chorus of the song: “Upon a hill across the blue lake, that’s where I had my first heartbreak.”
A Twist of Fate
Initially, “Don’t You Worry Child” wasn’t intended for Swedish House Mafia. Martin and Zitron planned to use it to launch their own electro-pop indie duo. However, fate intervened when Zitron played several tracks, including the demo for “Don’t You Worry Child,” to Sebastian Ingrosso, one-third of Swedish House Mafia, in Stockholm’s Cosmos Studio. Impressed by their talent, Ingrosso asked Martin and Zitron to contribute lyrics and vocals to a song he was working on called “Save The World.” In just one day, they completed the task, and Ingrosso loved the result.
In January 2011, while in Los Angeles with his Swedish House Mafia bandmates Axwell and Steve Angello, Ingrosso urgently contacted Martin and Zitron. He proclaimed, “We need to have this song. It’s gonna be a No. 1. I promise you, man.” Ingrosso’s infectious enthusiasm convinced them, and they promptly handed over the music file. However, the production process for the song became an arduous journey that revealed personal tensions within Swedish House Mafia. Nevertheless, with the dedication of Ingrosso and Axwell, the song was finally finished.
A Chart-Topping Triumph
After almost two years since Zitron first shared the demo with Ingrosso, “Don’t You Worry Child” was released in September 2012. The song swiftly became a phenomenon, spending an impressive 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at No. 6. Swedish House Mafia chose to keep Martin’s original vocals from the demo, paying homage to the authenticity and magic of that initial recording.
In a display of their indelible bond and shared accomplishment, Zitron and Ingrosso commemorated the success of “Don’t You Worry Child” by getting matching tattoos on their chests.
The Journey Continues
For a time, Martin and Zitron rode the wave of EDM, even DJing at prominent clubs like Pacha in Ibiza. However, they eventually grew tired of the commercialization of the genre, and their passion waned. Both artists, now 40 years old, have since collaborated with renowned musicians such as Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Tiësto, and Gryffin. Additionally, after a decade-long wait, they have finally embarked on their own artist project, VCATION, creating music inspired by 90s house. The first single, tentatively titled “Love You Long Time,” is set to release next month.
Looking back on their journey, Martin fondly remembers the profound impact of Sebastian Ingrosso’s A&R skills. His belief in them, despite their status as indie musicians, gave them the opportunity to shine. Zitron acknowledges the significance of Swedish House Mafia’s recognition, stating, “I genuinely idolized those guys. Having them embrace our song was a true blessing.”
Additional Reporting by Katie Bain