Avicii: Sweden’s Best Export


Interview Alif Omar Mahfix + Aizyl Azlee

Performing in Malaysia for the first time at Malaysia’s premier EDM festival, Heineken Thirst 2012 and heralded by some as the next Guetta (not a comparison he approves of), Avicii is definitely the next big thing… nay, he is already the big thing in dance. Having toured for 3 and a half years, it’s not surprising that he’s already reached the kind of fame other DJs are envious of at just 23 years old. JUICE manages to snag a one-on-one with the young Swede, getting him to reveal to us his love for Ikea and what other Swedish export he’d like to see dominate the world.

Hey Tim, how was your set last night?
It was great. Today I’m just taking the day off, doing almost nothing. I’ve just been in my room sleeping all day and doing a little work.

Madonna called you “amazing” this year. Does praise ever get any higher for you than coming from the indisputable queen of pop’s mouth herself?
Of course not. She was super sweet. And when she came to Miami for Ultra [Music Festival 2012], it was so much fun. It was a last minute thing too but everything worked out.

You’re only 23. Does it get overwhelming to rise to the top so soon?
Not really. I’ve been so busy working, ya know. I’ve been touring every day for like 3 and a half years, playing about 300 shows a year. Last year was 320 shows. It’s hard when you don’t have the time to sit down and think about things, so no, I haven’t had the chance to feel overwhelmed.

Your DJ name is the lowest stage of Buddhism hell. Is there any significance to that? A representation of the decadence associated to dance, perhaps?
[Laughs] There’s absolutely no meaning behind it. I heard about the word from a friend and I was picking a name at the time. It sounded really cool and you can do a lot of stuff with it like play around with the myth behind Buddhism and stuff.

Are you maybe interested in spirituality and Buddhism then?
No. Not at all. [Laughs] I’m terrible.

It’s okay, we’re apathetic towards spirituality ourselves. Avicii isn’t your only stage name… why the many monikers?
When I first started producing, I had done a lot of different electronic stuff. I had done everything from movie scores, drum and bass to trance. I had tried everything. But with having one name, people started affiliating a certain sound with Avicii and you kinda get a broader audience so I can’t really do all the things I do. But with Tim Berg or Tom Hangs, I can kinda play around. A lot of people know we’re the same person but they understand “oh, this is Tim Berg stuff” or “oh, I prefer his Avicii stuff”. It’s an easier way of organising things.

Yeah, we like Tom Hangs. The name sounds real porny.
[Laughs] That was actually just for fun. I needed another alias. My manager was getting a lot of more commercial work, a more commercial sound and we didn’t want to put it under Avicii. So if we were going to do anything that was on the verge of sounding cheesy, we’d credit it to Tom Hangs.

We heard your first introduction to dance was Daft Punk. You a big fan of the whole French sound?
I am. For sure. Especially the old French house was the kind of stuff that I started off listening to and it was really funky and groovy, and it instantly caught my ear.

Then what do you think of Justice (who will be performing alongside you guys at Thirst)?
They’re good. I’ve played with them before but I can’t say I know them personally. But they played before me at Ultra this year and yeah, I really like it. I’ve got so many of their bootleg tracks, so definitely.

House remains an EDM favourite. However genres like dubstep (and more recently trap) despite becoming huge initially eventually became just another fad that gets ridiculed a lot. What is it about house that those genres lack?
It’s the melody and the hooks. I think in all music, not just EDM, that’s the kind of thing that keeps a genre alive, no matter what instrument you use. With a lot of new sounds you can get easily fascinated by it at first but if it lacks melody, it gets repetitive very quickly and it’s hard to make it stand out.