What a year it was for main stage Swede, who proved once and for all that his reigning EDM anthem 'wasn’t just a fluke. The ball got rolling in the first half of the year with what was arguably a brilliantly conceived controversy at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival.
It saw Avicii opening his set with a round of expected peak-time favourites — before he blew things out mid-set with a completely different kind of breakdown, with 15 minutes of live instrumentalists and singers brought onstage to perform some very country-focused jams from his upcoming album.
Branded in its wake as “kazoo-gate”, the reactions to the main stage shake-up were predictably divisive, with some hilarious Twitter tirades thrown around by his DJ colleagues, and one particularly unimpressed fan who took to Facebook to instruct his former hero to “find a new career bro your finished [sic]”. However, it seems like it was all part of the Avicii masterplan.
“Disruption is good when a scene is half stuck,” he told Billboard in June. “We wanted to bring 15 minutes of something fresh to break [Ultra] up. We knew people would be provoked.”
By the time the IMS Conference rolled around in the opening week of the Ibiza season, Avicii collaborator and disco legend Nile Rodgers was heaping unabashed praise on the young DJ. “My respect for him is just ridiculous,” Rodgers told the room gathered. “As a writer, as a partner, he allows me to be completely free in my ideas. He’s probably one of my favourite songwriting partners in a long time, and that’s saying a lot.”
Avicii’s gamble well and truly paid off by June with the release of his single 'Wake Me Up', featuring vocals from American soul singer Aloe Blacc who’d joined Avicii onstage in Miami. The single smashed the UK record for the fastest-selling single of 2013, and took the No.1 spot in a staggering 63 countries before going on to sell over a million copies. When his debut album 'True'finally dropped in September, its No.5 debut on the US Billboard charts represented the first time that a solo dance artist had ever charted that high. 'True' was the realization of Avicii’s melodic mission. Telling Rolling Stone shortly before the album’s release that dance music had become “too focused on the dirty drop”, with 'True'he definitely went against the tide of predictable main stage EDM, expanding on his brand of vocal driven, big-room melodic house with a range of solid, and often experimental pop songs. True' has done better than I could have ever hoped,” Avicii admits. “I set out to challenge myself creatively, and the fans have embraced it.,
Avicii’s decidedly short and guarded answers to his Top 100 interview reflects the well-oiled PR machine that has helped orchestrate his swift rise to the top. He’s been masterfully managed by fellow Swede Ash Pournouri since the early days, credited by Avicii as a massive influence on his career, and who himself has earned the reputation as one of the most daring, lucrative and successful professionals working in the dance music industry.
While there’s been moments when the ambitions of Camp Avicii were seemingly aimed too high — his production-heavy Le7els arena tour of the States in 2012 received a fan response that fell well below expectations in terms of ticket sales — the gambles in 2013 definitely all paid off.
Aviccii told DJ Mag that 'True' remains his sole focus for the moment.
“I am always working on new music, but I think there is still a lot to explore in this album.” As for what’s coming up? “I don’t know what I can say and what I can’t say,” he claims, giving little away in typical Avicii fashion. “So you’ll have to stay tuned!” It’s safe to expect a few more surprises in 2014.