Even now, many people — especially those newly versed in the world of dance music — struggle to realise Avicii is just one guy. For all the radio play and Top 10 chart presence — high budget music videos and gym soundtracking — everyday laymen switching on X Factor still refer to Avicii as a “they”, as if he's actually a band, team or even a brand.
And in a sense, they're right. No longer is he a kid in his bedroom making tunes on his laptop. More than just a producer/DJ, he's the face of a luxury hotel and merchandise store (both in Miami). Marketing bods organising “crossover” collaborations, a production team on tour and a well-oiled PR machine work dedicatedly around the clock to ensure Tim Bergling is seen to be working miracles; travelling across multiple time zones to numerous gigs in a single weekend, partying through each night with a smile on his face and without sleep, but still with enough time (and headspace) to conjure ground-breaking ideas in the studio. Their job is to keep him superhuman — or at least seemingly.
However, when news broke in March that Tim would miss probably the most important gig of his career, a headline set at Ultra Miami, because he'd been admitted to hospital with a blocked gall bladder and ruptured appendix, it sent out the message that he is just a solitary human after all. Then, last month came the announcement that all upcoming tour dates (including TomorrowWorld, XS/Encore and Insomniac's Halloween) and promotional activities had been cancelled due to health issues stemming from surgery which led to the removal of both organs, and when we approached him for his annual Top 100 interview the request was declined for obvious reasons and not to our surprise.
The man whose ubiquitous hit 'Levels', perhaps more than any other, drew focus to the scale of the EDM industry emerging in the US in 2011, Avicii is the same guy who dared to combine country music with electronica on 'Wake Me Up' and 'Hey Brother' last year to wild worldwide acclaim. He's reigned supreme as the fresh-faced poster boy of a mass-marketed multi-billion dollar scene for the best part of three years. But his admittance in 2013 that he'd cut back on alcohol after being diagnosed with acute pancreatitis while on tour brought to light the pressures placed on an individual in his situation to a brand-new audience.
“You are traveling around, you live in a suitcase, you get to this place, there's free alcohol everywhere — it's sort of weird if you don't drink,” he told GQ. “I didn't expect it to last... I was so nervous. I just got into a habit, because you rely on that encouragement and self-confidence you get from alcohol, and then you get dependent on it.”
Despite the widely reported battles with his health, this summer saw him play Sundays at Ushuaia following an announcement in January that he hadn't had a drink in over a year. June saw the Swede team up with David Guetta to co-produce 'Lovers On the Sun' and things appeared to be getting back on track. During a recent Twitter Q&A, however, he admitted to his fans: “I never fully recovered from my surgery back in March.
I took some time off but less than what the doctors recommended because I had so many shows already booked. My management made me look long and hard at the life I was living and helped me realise it wasn't working. During these last months I really felt the wear and tear from the last four or five years of touring, where I really haven't taken a proper break at all”.
Using his time away from touring to work in the studio, he also explained “there will be lots of music coming out during the next six months”, so all is not lost for Avicii fanatics. Voted into our Top 10 for the fourth year in a row, this guy remains an EDM force to be reckoned with. Everyone at DJ Mag HQ wishes him a speedy recovery.