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How Avicii was a generation’s first tryst with EDM

Avicii death came as a shock to all his fans, especially the ones he introduced to Electronic Dance Music.

music Updated: Apr 21, 2018 14:21 IST
Alisha Sachdev
Swedish musician, DJ, remixer and record producer Avicii (Tim Bergling) takes a selfie on Table Mountain, South Africa in this picture obtained from social media.
Swedish musician, DJ, remixer and record producer Avicii (Tim Bergling) takes a selfie on Table Mountain, South Africa in this picture obtained from social media.(REUTERS)

As school-going 17 year olds, we didn’t really know or understand what EDM was. But we knew Avicii.

Wake Me Up was our alarm clock tone, We Are One, One’s For Sure was our WhatsApp status. And Avicii’s were the songs we played endlessly on our newly-acquired smartphones and the music we danced to on our New Year parties besides wearing wristbands with glow-in-the-dark Avicii insignia.

Avicii, who was found dead in Muscat, Oman, on a Friday afternoon, defined club music for my generation when we’d just about discovered clubbing, and for quite a lot of us, Avicii was also our introduction to a dance music concert.

In 2012, when I first discovered Avicii, Levels was a hit. Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, and David Guetta soon became ubiquitous to our teenage existence. Those of us who weren’t actively downloading mp3 versions of the songs and exchanging them with classmates and friends, were still surrounded by Avicii by way of passive listening.

Avicii, one of the world's most successful DJs who helped lead the global boom in electronic music. (AFP)

Tushar Thapar, a 24 year-old features writer, recalls going to an Avicii’s concert in 2013, at the Buddh International Circuit. Avicii’s second India tour was his and his friend’s very first concert experience.

“I don’t even remember how or when Avicii made it into my playlist, but I would just play Levels and Wake Me Up on loop (well, who didn’t). He was my introduction to EDM — the good EDM that could make you dance sitting down. He was also my first EDM concert and what a night it was! Even right now, if a song like I Could Be The One or Fade Into Darkness comes up on shuffle, no damn way I’m skipping. Timeless stuff by an absolute EDM legend!”

Wake Me Up, Don’t You Worry Child, Hey Brother, Titatnium instantly became earworms for us who’d till then been hooked to pop bands (for a little too long) and cult rock bands which had — like dance music for my generation — been the go-to music for generations past — parents, older siblings and school seniors.

For several generations to come, Avicii continued to define EDM as one of the stars who became synonymous with the genre itself. Avicii broke into the scene just when dance music was gaining mainstream popularity. Electronic music, which had pretty much been a closet case since the ’70s, came into the world with Avicii and his peers, like Axwell and Ingrosso, who were also part of Swedish House Mafia.

Jude Sannith Sujendran, 28 and a media professional said, “For some of us in the early 90s, we grew up on a staple EDM diet of Paul Oakenford and Daft Punk. But when the 2010s dawned, Avicii’s sound brought this whole new lease of life to the kind of music that stirred us. Before we knew it, Levels was our new jam, and Wake Me Up would get our feet tapping. I think his music was a more hip, millennial take on EDM.”

What made Avicii, or Tim Bergling, appeal to us so much more — besides the fact he made EDM accessible to those who didn’t know the genre before — was that he was so young, so like us. In 2013, the year of Wake Me Up, Avicii was all of 23.

There’s where his tragedy lies too, perhaps. The perils of peaking too early in one’s career, especially in music, have been seen time after time. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Kobain, and more recently, Amy Winehouse are all examples of artists who attained the peak of their popularity at a very young age, and died at 27, the jinxed age for many a musical career.

The 27 Club also shares a similar tragic story. Most, if not all, died of a drug overdose.

Avicii had announced in 2016 that he was off the road. He decided to not do any more tours, but continue to produce music. In an interview to Billboard the same year, he said he had taken the call “for his health”.

People dance as Swedish DJ, remixer, record producer and singer, Tim Bergling, better known by his stage name 'Avicii', performs on the main stage of the Sziget music festival. (AFP)

In a letter announcing his decision to his fans, Avicii had written, “I know I am blessed to be able to travel all around the world and perform, but I have too little left for the life of a real person behind the artist.”

Through his musical career, he was regularly featured on lists of the world’s most successful, highest paid DJs, but at 28, he is now gone.

One of his tracks The Nights has a line that says, “One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember.”

We don’t know how Avicii died, and what he thought about his life when he passed, but for those of us who’ve had our first tryst with electronic dance music because of him, he’ll be remembered as a legend (if only with a sense of regret, he won’t make music any more).

For me, I pray, Alan Walker lives a long life.

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