The Egil Has Landed

Photo by James BunoanIt should have felt like a lead-packed sucker punch, but Swedish Egil didn't yelp. He was too much of a gentleman to make a big fuss about it.

Radio behemoth Clear Channel had just pulled the plug on his dream gig: running Internet radio station Swedish Egil quietly marked his baby's demise by holding up a sign to the station's web camera with the message, "See you in December." With that, he left the studio and drove home. The website soon went dead.

And so went another one of his trademark quixotic attempts to give Southern California an all-dance-music radio station. His well-known evangelism made him something of a dissident DJ when he spun at KROQ, the defunct MARS FM and the FM version of grooveradio in the late 1990s. But he'll be taking his chances again when he re-launches this December. Why?

"I'm not sitting down, trying to do some frickin' research to see how I can make the most amount of money and to see where I can get the biggest audience," says Egil, his booming voice still skewing toward a Swedish accent. "I know how to do that. That would be some form of adult contemporary, and I'm not interested in that. It's not about the money."

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Although it made him a star DJ, his dance advocacy (or fanboyism, whatever) tends to leave him without a steady gig. He left not-yet-behemoth KROQ for LA/OC radio station MARS FM, the focus point for Southern California's burgeoning rave scene between 1991 and 1992. Then Egil's overlords quashed the format because they thought more money was to be made, naturally, in adult contemporary. The same thing happened when he launched grooveradio's FM broadcast in 1996. Perhaps he should have known he was heading down a rough road: years before, a particularly dim KROQ program director complained about his music this way: "But that record—it's got rhythm!" Duh.

That said, Egil's not a complete kamikaze. He still programs two channels on Sirius Satellite Radio, produces mix CDs such as Presents House Grooves, and spins at mega raves such as LA Sports Arena's Monster Mash. At age 49, the man born Egil Aalvik is still an important figure in the youth-obsessed dance world, says Michael Paoletta, dance music editor for Billboard Magazine.

"You say Swedish Egil, and that name holds big cachet in the dance/electronic music world," says Paoletta. "He's introduced a wide variety of music. It's a real education tool. His music makes for more variety, surprises and adventure."

But you know what else makes for surprises and adventure? Like Donner-party surprises and adventure? Launching an Internet radio station after the dot-com boom went bust. Still, though Egil is supporting his new with sponsorships, ads and his own cash, his strongest card may be his pugnacious faith in dance music, which is rooted in having one of his first ideas for a dance-music show torpedoed in the mid-1970s. Egil had raised the roof at a rock club by playing what is now called urban music. He asked his boss, a DJ named Eric Chase, why they couldn't play that music more often. Chase said the format would never work.

"And because he said it would never work, it became my mission to prove him wrong," Egil remembers. "I still talk to him today."

Oh, yeah? And what does Chase do now?

"He's my voice-over guy for," Egil says with a grin.


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