A skilled producer and song writer, sought after remixer and world famous DJ, Tim Bergling aka Avicii amassed a prolific body of work during a lifetime so tragically short.
With an exceptional talent for fusing electronic dance music with other genres such as blues, soul, folk and country to create credible mainstream tunes, at the age of just 28 Avicii had collaborated with some notable industry names.
Coldplay, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Nile Rogers, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA, Carlos Santa, Wyclef Jean, Robbie Williams and Daft Punk…how many platinum selling albums do those acts have between them?
Then there’s the likes of Aloe Blacc, Rita Ora, Billie Joe Armstrong, Adam Lambert, David Guetta & Roger Sanchez…the list goes on.
Avicii’s path to becoming one of the most successful electronic artists of the 21st Century started in his late teens. Having played about with the guitar he began remixing and producing dance tracks from his bedroom in Stockholm, Sweden. Uploading tracks online and catching the eye of the likes of Laid-back Luke, Avicii honed his skills before winning Pete Tong’s “Fast Trax” competition in 2008. “ManMan” was then subsequently released on Tong’s Bedroom Bedlam label and in the year that followed he released a slew of deep house tracks such as “Muja”, “Ryu” and “Bom” whilst also remixing Tiësto’s “Escape Me” and David Guetta’s “One Love”.
2010 is when things started to really come together with some of Avicii’s first performances taking place in March at the Miami Winter Music Conference. As the year progressed Bergling appeared on the same bills as the likes of Eric Prydz, Judge Jules and Benny Benassi with appearances at Space in Ibiza and Pacha NYC.
The release “Seek Bromance” charted respectably across Europe whilst a collaboration with Sebastien Drums took on an incredibly funky remix of the original dance classic “My Feelings For You” by Cassius.
To cap off a fantastic year and aged just 21, Avicii made his debut on Pete Tong’s Radio 1’s Essential Mix (hear below).
With 2011 came Avicii’s first mainstream success with the track “LEVE7S” which featured a sample of Etta James’ “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”. A more radio-friendly sound than his earlier releases it demonstrated his flair for mixing organic and electronic and topped the dance charts around the globe going multi platinum.
With relentless demand for DJ appearances around the world, his meteoric rise from bedroom to stardom began to take its toll and in early 2012 Bergling was hospitalised with acute pancreatitis. This was, at least in part, due to heavy drinking.
2013 saw the release of Avicii’s debut studio album “True”.
Prior to the album’s release Avicii had first performed the lead single “Wake Me Up” at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. With a full band and live vocals from Aloe Blacc the tracks received a mixed response from the dance community with some finding the sound “thoroughly puzzling” and suggesting that the sound had been manufactured to appease record executives looking for greater commercialism.
With elements of bluesgrass, country, folk and funk mashed with European dance, overall the tracks had a far more commercial sound compared to the deeper house sound that had propelled Avicii to this point. It wasn’t just the sound either, the structure of the tracks were distinctly more song-like.
Avicii knew the album would be provocative to the dance scene and commented “[True] is about me being true to my sound but also to my own influences and musical preferences. For me it will be successful if it resonates with people – no matter how many. It’s what I stand for, so whoever loves it loves what I love. That’s what fans are to me.”
The catchy, crossover of styles won Avicii a deluge of mainstream airplay and army of new fans with “Wake Me Up” topping the charts around the globe and selling a staggering 11 million units worldwide. But this really was an accomplished album with the the likes of “Addicted To You” featuring Audra Mae providing some very credible dynamics to the Album which sold over 1.8 million copies worldwide.
2014 saw Bergling back in hospital as he underwent surgery in an operation to remove his gallbladder and appendix. Despite the set back to his health, 2014 bought about the release of The Days / The Nights EP together with a host of producing and co-writing credits.
Perhaps a highlight of his career as a producer is Avicci’s work with Coldplay on “A Skyfull of Stars”. There was a creative chemistry and a sonic combination seemingly made for one another and one he and Chris Martin would continue in future.
By September Bergling cancelled all the remaining shows for that year and had become very open about the stress and anxiety he was facing and his need to fully recuperate.
2015 saw the release of his follow up album “Stories”. It was always going to be tough to live up to his debut either commercially or critically, especially given the exhaustive year he had prior to its release. Listening over it now it seems to make sense that with his musical output and work rate so freakishly high, the album lacks an energy more evident in his debut but was also more song orientated.
The album received mix reviews and didn’t share the commercial success of “True” although still sold over 1 million copies worldwide. With the business machine almost back into full swing, in early 2016 Inc. Magazine ranked Avicii as Europe’s 6th fastest growing company. That’s a pretty bizarre accolade for a 26 year old music producer and not one he would have given a crap for. However, perhaps it came as a jolt of reality as just weeks later Bergling announced he would be retiring from touring for good.
In an article which now makes for hollow reading, Laidback Luke, who had helped nature Avicii’s young talent, was critical of an industry that had demanded far too much. This became all to evident in the documentary “True Stories” which provides quite a startling insight into his struggles.
The 2017 EP “AVĪCI (01)” saw a collection of six compositions with an accomplished level of song writing treated to a more tempered, refined production style. “Lonely Together” (feat. Rita Ora) and “You Be Love” (feat. Billy Raffoul) stand out in what most would probably agree was the intriguing 1st instalment of 3 EPs due for release. We can now only wonder where the other tracks would have gone musically.
Sadly on the 20th April 2018 news broke of Bergling’s death at his hotel room in Oman. In the days that followed his family released the following statement;
Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress.
When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most – music.
He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.
Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight.
Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed.
The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive. We love you,
Avicii was a big supporter of charities fighting hunger, malnutrition and HIV / AIDS. In 2012 he embarked on a 27 date tour called “House for Hunger” and, amongst others, is known to have been a generous donator to these good causes.
I discovered when I started making money that I didn’t really need it. When you have such an excess of money you don’t need, the most sensible, most human and completely obvious thing is to give to people in need.