The final resting place of the EDM DJ/Producer Avicii is at the Skogskyrkogården cemetery in Stockholm. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden as Tim Bergling, and later became known as Avicii, one of the biggest figures as a DJ, producer, and songwriter within the genre of electronic dance music. Gone way too soon, Avicii passed away from suicide on April 20th, 2018. It was a complete shock to his family, friends, fans, and of course, the music world. While it was known to his peers that he was indeed suffering, no one imagined this to occur…especially at 28 years young.
Avicii became a household name between his 2011 breakout hit “Levels” and 2013 pop/folk crossover “Wake Me Up,” which featured singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc. He not only became an inspiration for young producers and DJs, but also to fans all around the world. At the time, Avicii was was among great company with Stockholm’s Swedish House Mafia (Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello), as well as other Dutch and French artists. Around 2013-2014, it was clear that the niche genre of EDM was becoming more mainstream as a result of these producers, more specifically, because of Avicii.
Likewise, it became apparent that Stockholm and other cities in western Europe were the origins of mainstream electronic dance music. However, places such as Ibiza, Amsterdam, Miami, and Las Vegas grew to become major EDM hubs.
Throughout the last several years, not only did a number of DJs idolize Avicii’s talent, but also several songwriters. Spin Magazine’s recent cover story emphasized the immense impact that Bergling had on so many people. His frequent collaborators mentioned that “[Avicii] was said to have a rare gift. His genre was a modern one, but his abilities were closer to that of a composer than a club hitmaker.” He was an absolute perfectionist and would actually hear everything in his head prior to composing it. It was considered a gift according to his peers and co-writers.
As the years went on, Avicii’s production had transformed from hardcore EDM with heavy synth sounds and intense beat drops to be geared more towards pop and folk music. But as he changed his overall sound, so did those that followed suit. For example, Kygo, a Norwegian DJ/producer, looked up to Avicii for inspiration, and there are several comparisons that can be made between their music. Some may argue that it can be traced to being from close knit European families or the desire to make a mainstream hit, but it also can be attributed to the incredible impact that these various producers had on one another.
Many artists look to others for inspiration, but they also sample and remix their peers’ songs. This can constantly be seen in EDM. For instance, Martin Garrix’s recent single, “Mistaken” sounds fairly similar to several of Swedish House Mafia’s iconic melodies. Likewise, DJ’s remix each others tracks all the time, and it’s actually become widely popular that about a month after someone releases a song, someone else remixes it. Further, everyone plays each others’ tracks at their shows, then covering or remixing it even more. For example, I was just at a Kygo concert a couple of weeks ago, and he played most of his own songs, but made a tribute to Avicii by playing “Levels,” and other EDM/Pop hits including, “Jackie Chan” by Tiesto, and even other DJ’s remixes of his own songs, including the Nicky Romero remix of “Carry On” featuring Rita Ora. These are recent examples, but sampling and remixing have been trends within the recorded music industry for many years.
On another note, Avicii’s fan base is so prevalent in Stockholm that there are constantly waves of people visiting his gravesite. A year later, and it still is such an immense shock to his fans and the entirety of the music world, that his recent posthumous album, Tim, is actually highly emotional. There are many instances of lyrical foreshadowing in each track that it was chilling to listen to for the first time. For instance, the album’s lead single, “S.O.S.” is “Can you hear me SOS, help me put my mind to rest,” and the album’s closing track “Fades Away” reads, “And I can’t go back and I can’t go back, don’t you love it, how it all, it all just fades away.” Both of these lines, and many, many more signify the pain and battles Tim was actually going through at the time. While he concealed this suffering to most of the world around him, his music was filled with so much joy and happiness. As a huge fan myself, it is still incredibly difficult to grasp that he is no longer making music; however, it is fortunate that he left all of his production notes with his family and co-writers and co-producers to finish the posthumous album. There was so much more music to be made, and it is evident that the world lost a beautiful talent way too soon.
I genuinely believe that as time will go on, this genre of electronic dance music will continue to evolve…especially as the dominant figures in the game change. Lines between genres continuously blur and intertwine, so as dance music becomes more and more mainstream, it may eventually be considered pop music. While I highlighted Avicii’s significance to the ever-changing landscape of the dance genre, there are a number of other producers who have greatly impacted the industry, fans, and of course, cities that have become hubs to this special type of music.
Listen to some of my all time favorite Avicii tracks.
(Contributed by Erin Blankstein a writer from The Clive Davis Institute x Billboard MUSIC INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS program)