A man of few words, Avicii speaks to Aoife Valentine as we trail him across continents to talk about being dubbed a ‘prodigy’, his relationship with David Guetta, and that Leona Lewis song
Avicii is not an easy man to get in touch with. As probably the youngest well-known electronic dance music (EDM) producer and DJ in the world right now, maybe Otwo should have seen this coming. Although it is not entirely unimaginable that his hectic schedule may have him tied to the DJ booth, a chase across continents for a chat was not what we saw on the cards. We narrowly missed him as he checked out of the Ritz in Taipei to play a gig and then jump on a plane to Australia, at which point he dropped completely off the radar, as pilots aren’t known to facilitate mid-air interviews.An hour after he lands in Sydney, Otwo finally reaches Tim Bergling, the man behind Avicii. After such a long journey, he could be forgiven for being more than a little cranky taking a late-night press call, but he didn’t seem remotely perturbed – then again, late nights are presumably something he’s very used to. Currently on tour, before he even made it to Taipei, he had, in the fortnight previous, played many shows between Miami and South Africa; playing a different club every night of the week is nothing new for the twenty-two-year-old sensation.
“We’ve been touring America for about two years and even in that short amount of time, electronic music has just blown up; it gets bigger and bigger every day… I mean, Electric Daisy [Dance festival in America] has been around, I think, since 2000, but the amount of people going now – it’s remarkable.”
Undoubtedly, ‘Levels’ has brought Bergling considerable recognition, along with his earlier hits ‘Bromance’ and ‘Seek Bromance’, all of which have contributed in no small way to his listing as the sixth greatest DJ in the world at the moment. Their success, however, was not something he ever foresaw. “When I’m making music in general I never go in with an idea of making a hit … I try to just make what I like – it’s really hard for me to know which tracks other people will like.”
With such a rapid rise to fame, and the press constantly throwing the word ‘prodigy’ around, it would be understandable for Bergling to be feeling the pressure at this stage, but he assures us, “I’ve been working too hard to be overwhelmed! But I mean, I definitely get overwhelmed when I see that amount of people at a show… I understand it’s been a remarkable journey, but I can’t see myself as a prodigy.”
He has been hugely involved in remixing tracks, most notably a recent high profile number for Madonna, but it is something he can make less and less time for as his success grows. “I used to do a lot of remixes but I’ve been doing way less than I used to. I don’t [approach a remix] in the same way I would my own track – I usually look for a vocal and try to build my own track around it.”
Despite retreating somewhat from remixing, it is still something that Bergling feels is important for building good relationships and a sense of community between DJs. “It’s often a first point of collaboration between DJs. You say, ‘Okay, I’ll do a remix for you if you do a remix for me,’ so it’s a great way of getting to know new artists you didn’t know before.”
He cites his own relationship with David Guetta – leading DJ and producer, sitting pretty at number one on the Top 100 DJs list – as being the perfect example of this. “I’ve been working with David a lot, with remixes and stuff. He just approached me and my manager about doing a track together and he already had some parts and that’s kind of what happened… He’s been supporting me a lot, so it was good to finally do something with him.”
Up until this point, Bergling has been keeping his answers more than concise, however when the topic of collaborations with pop singers comes up, it’s clear it is a touchy subject for him. “It can be quite difficult to get pop singers to sing without giving them a feature. Personally, I’m just trying to focus on doing my own thing with the music. I don’t really care if something is commercial. I just care about the music and that’s all that me and my manager have cared about from the start – we won’t do anything just for the sake of it, so we wouldn’t do a track with whoever just to make a track.”
Perhaps his now resolved legal dispute with X Factor winner Leona Lewis has made him more wary of venturing into collaborations with pop stars, but it is an issue he wishes to remain mute about, saying only that, “I didn’t really do the track. I don’t know what I can and can’t say.” As a general rule however, he feels the growing trend of mixing pop and house music can only be positive. “For EDM I think it’s phenomenal. It can reach many more people and make them aware of maybe more underground EDM music.”
Legal disputes aside, refusing to comment on what to expect from his first arena tour beginning next month, and even more guarded when it came to his future plans, Bergling is still quite the mysterious man. “Right now I’m just trying to keep the rhythm of what I’ve been doing; keep working with my manager, keep the music. I mean I have a lot of upcoming music and a lot of upcoming stuff, it’s just I don’t know how much I can say.” Even hesitant to commit to the idea of a debut album, he only says, “I would love to have time to make an album. Right now there’s just no time for it, but hopefully sometime in the future, sure.”
Before disappearing off into the night, he did happily confirm his excitement about getting back to this side of the globe. “I’m super looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Dublin so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Avicii plays The O2, Dublin on June 3rd. Tickets are priced at €45.40.