Meet EDM’s Anti-Hero — Avicii Follows an Uncharted Path on First Full-Length Album, ‘True’
On a Sunday afternoon, Avicii stands onstage at Encore Beach Club at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, fist-pumping in the air as hundreds of scantily clad revelers dance to his beats. His DJ set isn't filled with huge build-ups and drops, typical of the electronic dance music sound that's currently so hugely popular the world over. Rather, the crowd is singing along to the chorus of vocal anthems that cross over from pop music to his own original productions.
The one common theme: All of the songs in his sets have distinct melodies. Whether it's his remix of '80s anthem "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics or the refrain from "Liar, Liar" (his new collaboration with L.A.-based indie band Blondfire), his legions of fans know every word. As the familiar chord progression to his currently single "Wake Me Up" begins, a roar rushes over the crowd. He's saved this huge hit for the end of his set, which ultimately concludes with his new track "Lay Me Down" (featuring Adam Lambert and produced by Nile Rodgers, who came back in a huge way recently through his collaboration with French DJ duo Daft Punk), and lastly his bootleg unreleased remix of Jay Z's "Holy Grail."
In a few hours, he's going to do it all over again, as Avicii's also booked to play at the hotel's XS nightclub later that night for Nick Jonas's 21st birthday party.
Avicii (real name: Tim Bergling) holds two residencies in Vegas (the other is at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan), with more residencies around the world, including a huge slot at mega-club Ushuaia in Ibiza — not bad for a young man from Sweden who just turned 24. Just five years ago, he was tooling around remixing other people's music at home in his bedroom in Stockholm.
Everything changed for Avicii in 2011, when his song "Levels," featuring a familiar sample of an Etta James lyric, because one of the biggest electronic music songs of all time, garnering him his second Grammy nomination. "Levels" was followed by two more huge hits, 2012's "Silhouettes" and 2013's "I Could Be the One" (with Nicky Romero). A huge commercial endorsement with Ralph Lauren followed.
On September 17, Avicii releases True, his first full-length album of all original songs. What's most unique about "True," however, is that it sounds completely different from anything else out there, drawing on musical influences that range from American bluegrass to house music. Many of the songs almost sound country, but they're executed with a soulful R&B edge. It's impossible to try to pigeonhole the music on True to any particular genre. Avicii zigged while every other DJ was zagging, and it certainly threw many of his fans for a loop at first.
But now, the new music is starting to show up everywhere — in nightclubs and beach parties — but also in television commercials and in the introduction to lifestyle segments on "The Today Show." It's music that's loved by both the hardest club raver…and your mom.
Yahoo Music caught up with Avicii on the eve of his album release to chat about his new music, his collaborators, and more. His answers demonstrated a surprising musical maturity, which left us unsurprised by his continued march to the top of both the dance and pop charts the world over.