Tim Bergling of Avicii Talks About Meeting Madonna + the Future of EDM
Electronic dance music is hot. David Guetta is topping the charts worldwide, Skrillex is winning Grammys and Deadmau5 is big enough to feud with Madonna. But Avicii (real name Tim Bergling) is on the road to outshine them all. He’s also smart enough to make friends with the Material Girl, who introduced Ultra Music Festival goers to the 22-year-old before his set.
If you don’t know the name, you know the hit ‘Levels.’ The song has powered dance floors from Las Vegas to London to Avicii’s home country of Sweden. But ‘Levels’ also provides the hook to Flo Rida’s monster smash ‘Good Feeling.’ Next up? His new single ‘Silhouettes,’ which is just as catchy .
Just ahead of his set at Boston’s TD Garden (he’s the first DJ to ever headline the Garden), he spoke with Pop Crush about Madonna, vinyl and the future of EDM.
First things first, what was it like meeting Madonna?
It was crazy. It was such an honor. But it was also fun, not too serious. I got to hang out with her for about 15 minutes before she introduced me at Ultra. It was the kind of thing where I didn’t really realize what was happening. It’s like I was out of my head.
I imagine Las Vegas and Miami are the top spots in the States for you to play, are they your favorites?
I like them a lot but it’s actually the East Coast that I like the most. Cities like New York and Boston — I love playing there.
EDM beats are huge, you can hear them in big collaborations by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, as well as Nicki Minaj and David Guetta, but it took awhile for the music to catch on in the States. What got America going on the EDM scene?
Well, it started over here. But I think what’s made it big is when David [Guetta] starting making more records with American artists. Then suddenly artist like the Black Eyed Peas and Akon were introducing house beats to American audiences. That introduced electronic music to a lot of people. It opened their minds. I just think people were looking for something new and this was it.
I imagine there are a lot of pop artists who want you to produce for them, any collaborations coming up?
There are a lot of requests I get, like from Flo Rida, and there are artists I want to work with. There are so many talented pop stars out there. But I’m too busy now. This year I will do 300 shows. Next year things will slow down and I will spend more time on production. We’ll see then but right now I want to push Avicii as an artist.
When will the music peak? When will it be played out?
I think it has a long way to go. There are so many sub-genres of EDM, there’s dubstep, melodic house, so many more. It is going to stick around.
You have graduated to playing stadiums and festivals for 20,000 people. Do you miss the clubs at all?
The two things are so different. In clubs I can experiment. You can’t experiment in front 20,000 people. You can’t get the feel, the vibe of the room in a stadium. But both are great. I can’t compare them. But at either a club or a stadium I like to play my own music.
You’re only 22 and are one of the most in-demand DJs on the planet. Was it the success of ‘Levels’ that brought you to the next, well, level?
[Laughs] The remixing other artists thing has been going for a while, for maybe two years. But it was just this year that my own name was getting out there. But it is not just me. The whole scene is blowing up right now and all the DJs are benefiting.
Do you have any plans to release an album?
Like working with pop stars, it is about time. I am so busy. I would love to release something at some point and next year I will have some more time. But right now my team is really focused on releasing singles, that is what is important right now.
I just heard that ‘Levels’ came out on vinyl, was this a big deal for you?
It was. I was really excited.
As a master DJ, I’ve got to ask, does vinyl really have a different sound?
Of course it does. I’ve never touched it. [Laughs] Well, of course I’ve touched it. But I don’t use it in my shows. When I came along people were not using much vinyl. But it has this really cool feel. It is retro and I like that.
Watch the Avicii ‘Levels’ Video