ɅVICII – The Prodigal Child
“Wake Me Up” is the most Shazamed song of all time. Not bad for the 25 year old EDM Swedish DJ, dance-pop idol, remixer, and record producer Tim Bergling. Known as Avicii, this talented artist, discovered by Sweden’s At Night Management’s, Ash Pournouri, seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing what to play and also when to play it. Ranked #3 on DJ Mag’s top 100 DJ list, he earns more than $250,000 a night at many of the best clubs around the world for music that he sculpts and creates with talent far beyond his years.
Outside the box
Avicii had a fairly humble start in music releases, but Tim wanted to make an impact with more than dance music, he wanted to feel relevant in an industry that is sometimes unforgiving. His initial inspirations came from Steve Angello, Daft Punk, Axwell and Tocadisco. Fascinated by production, he would spend hours thinking outside the box in the genre and sub-genres of house music, and would come up with song after song with professionalism not normally associated with someone so young. His first song on Strike Recordings, ‘Lazy Lace’ was inspired by his remix of the theme music for ‘Lazy Jones’ a game on Commodore 64. ɅVICII, the name Tim derived from Avici, “the lowest level of the Naraka or ‘hell’ realm in Buddhism” became Avicii on MySpace, when Avici was already taken, he added the extra ‘i’ (Buddha World).
Tim’s first release ‘Manman’ on the Pete Tong Bedroom Bedlam label came after he won the Pete Tong Fast Trax in April 2008 with 70 % of the vote. This was soon followed by numerous requests from labels, promoters, and agencies worldwide. Noted Dutch DJ and producer, Laidback Luke, offered his personal congrats, and wished him luck with his career. Night Management signed him in May that year and by June he went on to sign with UK’s Ministry of Sound, Sweden’s Joia Records, and Australia’s Vicious Grooves. In 2009, Avicii released Ryù, and his original track hit Tiesto’s Club Life’s track of the week and Beatport’s Top 20 almost immediately.
In 2010, ‘Seek Bromance’ was a major hit across Europe and landed him #33 on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 list. ‘Levels’ boosted him to #6 on DJ Mag’s list in 2011 with almost no promotion, and in 2012 ‘Sunshine’ with DJ David Guetta earned him a Grammy nomination and pushed him to #3 on the list, a spot he held in 2013. In 2013, Avicii won the American Music Award for Favourite Electronic Dance Music Artist, his second Grammy nomination, and won his first MTV European Music Award. In 2014, Tim collaborated with Madonna, although the two had worked together in 2012 on the remix of her ‘Girl Gone Wild’ track. This month, there are unsubstantiated leaks circulating about Madonna’s 2015 studio album and Avicii produced singles ‘Wash All Over Me’ and ‘Rebel Heart’ (Dowling, 2014).
Sense of Rush
From his start at age 18 until he reached 22 the level of success achieved by Avicii in just four years is far beyond what any DJ, producer, or artist could dream of achieving in a lifetime. Yet the fervour was not without problems. Tim admits that he used to party, and drink, a lot. In 2011 troubled plans for an arena tour forced Avicii to cancel dates and play to half empty venues. He ended up in the hospital exhausted and in 2012 had a pancreatitis attack, thought to be caused by his heavy drinking. In 2013, more shows were cancelled after the condition resurfaced yet he refused to undergo surgery. When his hit debut LP, ‘True’, was about to be released, he stopped drinking, but in March of this year he pulled out of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival because his appendix burst and he had his gall bladder removed. In spite of his illness, ‘True’ topped the charts for six weeks on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums. Tim took one month off, but he was soon back to 12 hour studio days and touring.
Avicii is finally taking time off to connect with his family, spend some time with his girlfriend, Racquel Bettencourt, and learning to party sober. After a career marked with remixes for Jose Nunez, Livin Joy, Phonat, Little Boots, D.O.N.S. and many others, Tim is up there with the best DJs and producers in the EDM genre. Besides his Madonna collaborations, Tim has new projects in the works for 2015 that he says are more like rock and different than his typical EDM, soul, and bluegrass toned beats that he hopes will allow him to revisit his childhood influences. The music and the artist have certainly made an impact – earned millions, Vegas residencies, deals with Coca-Cola and Ralph Lauren, however, the Avicii talent is unparalleled.