This morning after finding out about the absurdly untimely passing of Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii, I was so overwhelmed with emotion I started driving aimlessly and wound up at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Immediately I realized why my heart had brought me there: this is where the last major culturally formative electronic dance music icon we lost way too soon is buried, Adam Goldstein aka DJ AM. He rests there along with Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., and numerous other musical as well as film and television icons. Looking back at the NEST HQ archives, I see we’ve never covered any of Avicii’s music; we’re a site that historically prefers to focus on new creators. But today we want to highlight the discography of an artist whose work I personally believe was commodified to the point where much of the profoundly influential magic he created was overshadowed.
Every video included in this post is here as a deliberate act of preserving a legacy that’s too prolific to be tainted — if you watch and listen to these, it becomes undeniable how pure his artistry is underneath what is arguably the most successful branding and marketing schemes in dance music. Avicii isn’t even in the above music video for “The Nights,” it’s just director/YouTuber/professional adventurer Rory Kramer remembering his late father in a tribute set to Avicii’s song, and his words ring painfully true today. And below is my favorite ever Avicii release, a remix he did of his own original “Silhouettes,” and you can hear in his sounds that whether his preferred medium was piano, violin, or production, he was destined to make magic. I just got chills hearing his voice at the beginning of this video as he talks about how he makes music, it’s mind-blowing to me that this work and video was created as a commercial for Ralph Lauren jeans; it’s actually called “Avicii’s Denim & Supply Remix.”
This remix is the perfect example of his artistry being channeled through a filter of what I consider to be distracting commodification, which sadly I feel like defined much of his career. In his own words from his documentary Avicii True Stories, which debuted at the Amsterdam Dance Event 2017, he says, “It got to a point where it was too much. People’s perception of who Avicii is isn’t who Tim is.” The whole point of writing this article, besides it being a way to process this horrific and utterly senseless loss to our community, is to honor Tim Bergling: the creator and human being. While no official cause of death has yet been released, it’s a matter of public record that Tim struggled with crippling health issues for years, including acute pancreatitis, due at least in part to excessive drinking, which resulted in the removal of his gallbladder and appendix in 2014.
As Tim published on his website last year, “WE ALL REACH A POINT IN OUR LIVES AND CAREERS WHERE WE UNDERSTAND WHAT MATTERS THE MOST TO US. For me it’s creating music. That is what I live for, what I feel I was born to do. Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it. But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense – the studio.” Fortunately we still got a little bit more from him before he passed, including “You Be Love” featuring Billy Raffoul off his EP AVĪCI (01) released at the end of last year, which is undeniably one of the most original and unique crossover songs he or any other historical “EDM producer” has ever made. And here’s hoping much more of his work released is going to be released post-humously.
I want to end on as happy a note as we possibly can with Avicii’s cheekiest videos for one of his most iconic tracks with Nicky Romero, “I Could Be The One.” The story in this video is hilarious and spot-on social commentary, another facet of his artistry I don’t want to see get lost. His music tapped into the modern human condition in a way even I almost completely missed until I sat down and really went through his YouTube channel today. The moral of the stories it seems like he’s been telling us all along come back to the same thesis: don’t wait until you’re already dying to really start living. I think we’re all really taking this to heart today. Thank you for everything, Tim, we love and will miss you terribly.
The remix I did of Levels hasn’t left my set since I mad it back in 2011. All though we weren’t “close friends” I feel this deep sadness through the connection we had through this song. Tim was a truly a genius and an innovator, yet sensitive and humble. This industry can be rough and from a far I saw it take a tole on him. I just wish I could have hugged him more and told him it would be okay .You’re music will forever be apart of mine and so many other lives. Maybe that’s the closest thing we have to immortality. I really hope you’re essence , wherever it may be in the universe is now at piece. And if in some miracle you can see this , I hope you know that as long as human beings are alive on this planet , you will forever remain an inspiration. Thank you Tim. RIP