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Artist Profile: Avicii

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February 22, 2013

Posted by: The Kat

Boy Gone Global: How a young Swedish DJ turned up the levels and took over the world with his electro house melodies


While the average 18 year old is trying to figure out what to do with his life, in 2008 a then unknown Swede named Tim Berling bypassed the daydreaming and began remixing tracks from his bedroom. Little did he know the world would soon be calling the young man a DJ prodigy, ranking No. 6 in DJ Magazine’s “Top 100 DJs” list just three years later.

While he’d always had a fascination with making music, he’d never felt skilled enough to play an instrument until a friend introduced him to music production program FL Studios. Once he downloaded the demo to remix “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation, he knew he was hooked. Berling started making his own electro house tracks and sharing them on music blogs under the moniker Avicii, an alias based off Avici, Buddhism’s lowest level of hell. He acquired the handle after adding an extra “i” at the end after other names he’d tried to register for his Myspace page were already taken.

Later the same year, the promising 18 year old first received attention for “Lazy Lace,” a remix he made after falling in love with the hook of the theme song for the Commodore 64 video game Lazy Jones. Having heard Avicii’s music online, world-renowned DJ and producer Tiesto invited him to perform a weekly residency at the world’s largest nightclub, Privilege Ibiza. But the party didn’t stop there. Later in 2008, British DJ Pete Tong released Avicii’s first single “Manman” on his Bedroom Bedlam label, and, perhaps most pivotal in the young DJ’s career, was signed to Ash Pournouri’s At Night Management.

Pournouri messaged Avicii on Facebook after coming across his music online and asked him to meet for coffee in Stockholm. Since then, Pournouri has acted, not only as his manager, but also a friend and second father, helping him develop his sound as well as marketing and stage production ideas.


Video: Tim Berg – Seek Bromance

In 2010 he had his first chart-topping hit under the alias Tim Berg with the electronic house track “Bromance,” followed by the remix “Seek Bromance” with vocals by Amanda Wilson of the UK house act Freemasons. Berling produces music under several aliases, including Tim Berg, Tom Hangs, Ashwin, and most famously Avicii. He considers Tim Berg his more experimental alter ego, while Avicii is more social, and Tom Hangs more commercial. While he feels lyrics are important to a good dance track, he credits a great melody as the key component, a musical trait for which he’s become celebrated.

Between 2011 and 2012, Avicii collaborated alongside several of electronic dance music’s biggest names, such as his influences Daft Punk, Eric Prydz, as well as Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell of Swedish House Mafia. Over the last two years he’s toured nonstop across the globe, including performances at some of the biggest U.S. festivals, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo, Electronic Daisy Festival, IDentity, and Ultra Music Festival. At 21, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording along with David Guetta for their collaborative track “Sunshine.” During his 2012 Ultra Music Festival performance, both his career and fans alike were blown away when he premiered “Girl Gone Wild (Avicii’s UMF Remix) with Madonna, who also introduced his set. Showing no signs of slowing down, in September 2012 Avicii became the first electronic dance music artist to headline New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, which added a second show after the first date sold out in under two minutes. His hit single “Le7els” earned him a second Grammy nomination later that winter for the 2013 Grammy Awards under the category Best Dance Recording alongside other EDM power players Swedish House Mafia, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, and John Martin.

Not to be contained, Avicii began partnering with big names outside the music. Iconic Americana designer Ralph Lauren recruited the then 22 year old to be the new face of the brand’s Fall 2012 Denim & Supply ad campaign, an undeniable sign electronic dance music is no longer confined to European nightclubs and American warehouses of the its rave era predecessor. In January 2013, Avicii and Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson partnered to create the world’s first crowdsourced hit song, wherein the 23 year old producer would create a track using the sound files shared by fans over the Internet. All royalties from the song would be donated to House for Hunger, a charity organization founded by Avicii and Pournouri to help battle hunger worldwide.

Earlier in January, Avicii announced over Twitter that his laptop was stolen and that he’d not backed up the project files to the eight new tracks he’d produced. Aside from his MacBook Pro, other essentials Avicii has said he cannot live without include his V-moda Crossface LP2 headphones, San Miguel Premium Beer, and General Snus smokeless tobacco, the latter of which he turned into a song, simply titled “Snus.”