Ten years ago, Avicii was just a 16-year-old kid going by the name Tim Bergling. His first DJ gig was at a high school prom in his hometown in Sweden. Fast forward to the present day and the 26-year-old is selling out arenas worldwide. Last week, he played to more than 300,000 people at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, alongside electronic DJs Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Steve Angello.
His next stop is the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday April 1, and as one of the biggest DJs in the world, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all five-star hotels, parties and popping bottles. However, the young Swede insists it isn’t all play.
“I haven’t left the studio since it all started,” he tells us, laughing. “I’m actually super-chilled. There are some aspects of my life that are a little bit rock star, I suppose, but there are very few times when I feel I can personally enjoy those moments.”
Avicii achieved commercial success with his 2011 hit Levels, and since then has gone on to produce some of the biggest dancefloor anthems of the decade including the country-infused electronic hit Hey Brother, Broken Arrows from his latest album Stories and the melodic hit Wake Me Up featuring vocals by American soul singer Aloe Blacc.
“I think I was expecting a hit for myself, but I had no idea it was going to get that big. The hardest part has been getting accustomed to people treating you differently. It’s so important for me to try and find the best people that will give me truthful feedback,” he says.
Speaking to us from Malibu, California, Avicii reveals he has taken time out from his touring schedule to work on his third studio album.
“When I was touring, it was really hard for me to appreciate being in the moment, because I was always headed somewhere else. So that’s something I’ve changed now.”
One moment he says he will never forget is his Ultra Music Festival debut back in 2013. “For me as a young DJ, that was by far the biggest electronic festival and the most respected. That was the first time I felt that I had gone up a step. It was very surreal.”
Despite being ranked number three in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs in 2012 and 2013 – trumping the likes of Tiësto – Avicii has remained incredibly humble. “When I started out, it was cooler for DJs to be in the background in music videos. I’ve had to actively try and change my idea of how electronic artists and DJs fit into it. So it’s not that I don’t want to be in them, I just think I’ll look like I’m hogging all the attention,” he says, laughing. With a two-hour set scheduled in Dubai to thousands of fans, the DJ has come a long way from playing at school proms. Don’t worry Avicii, we promise we don’t think you’re hogging the limelight.
*Avicii live in Dubai is being put on by Peppermint Experience, the pioneering event organisers of big name DJs for more than a decade in Dubai. Their most recent event in the UAE was David Guetta live on New Year's Eve at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, which was named Best International DJ set at the 2016 Time Out Dubai Nightlife & Music Awards 2016. Since launch in the early Noughties, Peppermint Experience have put on more than 120 shows, selling 1.3million tickets featuring the likes of Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk and Ferry Corsten.
Dhs395. VIP packages available. Fri April 1, 9pm. Zabeel Hall 4 & 5. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.peppermint-experience.com.