He’s dead now, so hearing Avicii’s voice on the radio sent a little shiver down my spine.
When a popular radio station recently hosted a “Remembering Avicii,” I couldn’t help but turn the volume up. Avicii, who you probably know from his smash pop hits “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” gave a surprisingly lucid interview in 2013. Other dance music producers always seem wired on Red Bull and good times. Avicii was calm and thoughtful.
In the middle of the interview, Avicii gave a peek into what it felt like to be caught in the middle of what was then brand new fame.
“It’s crazy that I knew you back then,” the interviewer said. “5 years ago you were just coming up and now the whole world knows you.”
You could hear Avicii smiling across time through the speakers. He took a few moments before answering. Describing global fame must be more difficult than it looks.
“It has been a wild ride,” he said. “And it isn’t over.”
It wasn’t. Yet.
Avicii’s real name is Tim Bergman. He chose the stage name “Avicii” because it sounded cool.
“Avici” also happens to be the lowest level of Buddhist hell. Maybe that’s where the musician thought he’d wound up when his sudden massive fame led to more shows, more travel, more late nights, more demands, and more pressure. He drank more and slept less.
In 2014, he was hospitalized for pancreatitis. Surgeons cut out his gallbladder and appendix. Tim was 24 at this time. He tried to bounce back but quickly realized he would never be able to sustain the same schedule. In 2016 he retired.
Well, he tried to retire. He was pushed back into the spotlight.
According to Avicii, who predicted his death six months before it happened, there was a lot of pushback when he tried to stop touring.
“I have said, like, ‘I’m going to die.’ I have said it so many times. And so I don’t want to hear that I should entertain the thought of doing another gig.”
Too bad fame doesn’t stop just because you want it to go away. Fans stopped Avicii for a photograph only six days before he was found dead the artist was found dead in a hotel room.
Success can be more brutal than failure.
It’s hard to know what we should focus on when tragedy strikes. I’m a stubborn optimist, so I like to focus on what Avicii left behind.
Before the 2013 interview ended, Avicii answered a final question about his creative process. The interviewer referenced the first time he heard Avicii’s song “Levels.” Avicii had recently played the song at a festival. The crowd went nuts. It was unlike anything the interviewer had ever seen.
“I have to ask, though,” the question came. “Do you have any idea which songs are going to break out?”
That’s when Avicii gave an answer all creative people need to hear.
“Honestly, no. I used to think if I really liked a song, then the crowd would love it too. Now, I’ve learned that there is no way to tell what will be a huge hit and what won’t. But I mean…I wouldn’t finish the song if I didn’t like it. So I make the songs, and after that, it’s up to fate.”
There are guides out there on how to create a viral piece of content. All of them are total guesswork (including mine). Avicii knows the truth.
You don’t create art for fame. You do it for love.
That’s the reason Avicii downloaded an electronic music kit at age 16. found himself in Los Angeles with Judy Garland’s niece on a random Sunday at 9 P.M. It’s the reason he was jamming to his own beats in a studio alone even before the hits came.
Don’t chase fame. As we’ve seen with Avicii and many others, fame can lead to an early exit. Instead, chase love. That’s all that will be left when you’re gone.
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