Hey, have you heard of Avicii? He's pretty famous in the EDM world for songs you may have heard once or twice, including “Le7els,” “Silhouettes” and the current radio earworm “Wake Me Up.” The country-influenced mega-selling dance track (with vocals from Stones Throw-fostered singer Aloe Blacc) has crossed over to Country Music Television, on which it was referred to as the sound of “the honky-tonks on Mars.” Love him or hate him — and the author of this GQ story in April did not appear to be a fan — he's about as big a pop star as they come these days.
Tomorrow, the Swedish DJ and Ralph Lauren model (born Tim Bergling) plays the Hollywood Bowl. He's one of only a handful of electronic artists to ever headline the venue. He talked to us about his career and “Wake Me Up.”
People are making a big deal out of the country influence on “Wake Me Up.” Do you feel like you're helping spread country music around the globe?
First of all, I'd say the song is more folk-influenced than country. But yes, definitely, there are some cool inspirations to be had from this folk sound and I hope this album brings more acceptance and awareness to that sound across the globe.
The audience at Ultra music festival in Miami got kind of pissed when you had a bluegrass act come out and play during your set. What do you make of that backlash?
I knew it was going to be controversial at the time, but obviously the audience — hopefully even some haters — have really come around. It's important to believe in what you do.
Was “Wake Me Up” a conscious effort to break into the country market?
I made this track, and the album for that matter, with no particular audience in mind. The blend of genres just resonated really well with such a vast audience. There was complete transparency while creating this album; everything happened organically, there was never a plan behind anything.
Are you sick of talking about this?
Ha, not sick of it just yet!
You don't have any shows on the calendar for almost three weeks after the Hollywood Bowl set. What's your plan for this downtime?
No plan for the downtime as of yet, but hopefully just relax a bit and spend some time in the studio. Mostly I'll be in L.A.
Where do you hang when you're here?
I like to hang out at home, since I've been traveling so much. I spend time with friends, go out to dinner and just relax!
How do you manage being on the road and constantly traveling?
It's tough, but I'm pretty accustomed to it by now. The traveling can be the best and the worst. It's so tiring, but at the same time I'm able to see all these different cultures and cities, so that's definitely a perk that can make the occasional fatigue worth it.
What's the worst part?
I would say the attention. I love what I do, but I've never liked being recognized or being in the spotlight.
Do you ever not know what city you're in?
I think every artist has those days, with all of the traveling it's easy to get caught up and forget where you are!
What's the biggest misconception about you and your lifestyle? Do you only travel by private jet?
My flights are always dependent on my touring schedule. I fly commercial most of the time, but if I have to be in two cities in one day then there's no way I can get there on a commercial flight. And actually, I really like to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas; it's relaxing.
You were hospitalized a few years back for a pancreatic attack after too much partying. What does a night out look for you these days?
In the beginning, I'd party a lot…every night was a party. But I just realized that for me personally, my body and mind couldn't handle it anymore. I wasn't feeling good doing that to myself. These days, I still party, I just party sober… it's all been a learning experience for me.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
There have been so many great things, but probably getting nominated for a Grammy.
How do you deal with people saying mean things about you on the Internet?
My skin has gotten a lot thicker from when I started. I try not to let it get to me. It doesn't affect my daily life, but here and there it can be pretty tough.
Avicii plays at the Hollywood Bowl tomorrow night
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