The Swedish DJing powerhouse Avicii is humble enough to recognise the influences helping him flood charts with his ridiculously catchy dance tracks. We sat down with him ahead of his headline gig at Live @ Atlantis.
Following a few years dominating airwaves with his distinctive take on EDM, it’s obvious Avicii’s here to stay. The 24-year old Swedish DJ was last in Dubai in 2012 and has since blown charts with tracks ‘Wake Me Up’ and ‘Hey Brother’ – both songs you can’t resist dancing to. He’s headlining Live @ Atlantis here on April 4 with his trademark surge of energy, but before that, we chatted to him to find out about the influences that help define and develop his sound.
In the dance world, who were your early influences?
I started listening to a lot of Daft Punk – way before I knew what house music was – and then progressed into a loft of Steve Angello, Eric Prydz, Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Laidback Luke. They’ve all influenced me and listening to them has taught me so much.
There are quite a lot of very successful DJs from Sweden (Swedish House Mafia, Steve Angello, Eric Prydz...). Why do you think Swedish people have been so successful in the genre?
So many artistic and creative minds come from Sweden. I think we just get inspired by each other. Also, it’s very cold and dark for eight months of the year, and there’s not really that much to do. That makes it easier to focus on a hobby, like music.
What track should people be listening out for soon?
Some remixes of my original tracks – I dropped True (Avicii by Avicii) digitally on March 24. It’s all new remixes of songs from my debut album, True.
‘Wake Me Up’ has been viewed a frightening amount (nearly 300 million times). Why do you think the song has been so massive?
I can’t believe how well ‘Wake Me Up’ has done. It’s been the biggest response I’ve had out of any track, by far. I didn’t make the track with a particular audience in mind and I think that’s why it resonated well. The mixing of genres allowed people from all musical tastes to find something they liked about the track.
You decided to use urban star Aloe Blacc on that track – what is the story then behind the collaboration and is it fair to say that the song has got a bit of a country sound?
It started out with Mike Einziger from Incubus and I jamming in his studio. I wrote the hook-line melody; he wrote the melody for the verses and the pre-chorus chords. Then the song was ready – minus the lyrics. So, I called Aloe Blacc, since we were already working on another track together. He came by and we just laid it down, I think we finished the whole song in about four hours. I would call it bluegrass more than country. Bluegrass has always captured my attention when I’ve heard it, that’s where I drew my inspiration.
Do you have much involvement with your music videos?
My manager, Ash, produces all of my music videos. He put an amazing team together that help me conceptualise the videos. I’ll have some ideas but the way they’re able to pull everything together and create them is incredible.
Do you tend to come up with a beat first and build the song around that or do you tend to hear melodies initially?
I always just sit down at the piano and make the main hook – what I want the track to be about melodically – and then I’ll build everything else around that. If I then think of something when I’m on the go and not consciously sitting down and working on music, I’ll use my phone or laptop and quickly get it down. Then work on it once I’m in the studio.
Madonna asked you to remix one of her tracks. How easy was it to say yes? Who would you like to work with next?
It was the easiest decision I’ve made – of course I wanted to remix Madonna’s track. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the most creative, cool musicians and vocalists out there. Working with Nile Rodgers was a dream of mine and I’ve been working with Chris Martin, so that was a dream come true, too. Adele is someone I’d also love to work with.
What’s the most significant thing Nile Rodgers taught you?
I wouldn’t know where to begin…every minute spent with him was a huge learning experience for me.
Do you ever worry that your music will be over-played and lose some of its energy?
Sometimes that’s inevitable with heavy radio play. I hope that my music never loses its energy.
You’ve been out to Dubai before – what can we expect from you when you hit Atlantis Beach?
You can expect a lot of energy and I hope to debut a couple of new tracks for my fans out in Dubai.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
True (Avicii by Avicii) has dropped digitally, so I’ll be doing promotion. But I like to keep fans on their toes, so expect great stuff in 2014.
Avicii plays Live @ Atlantis. Dhs250. Friday April 4, 4pm-3am. Atlantis Beach, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah.