The Pain That Plagued Avicii
The Pain That Plagued Avicii: Health Troubles, Wrestling With Fame and Retreating From a “Toxic” Culture
Wherever the party is happening this weekend, the lights will be flashing and the bass thumping in honor of Avicii.
The EDM world lost one of its biggest stars of the past decade today when the Swedish-born DJ and producer was found dead in Muscat, Oman. He was only 28 and, while he had announced in 2016 that he was done touring, having suffered health setbacks and feeling the effects of what he deemed a “toxic” lifestyle, the young man—born Tim Bergling—was still making music. In fact, he was just nominated for Top Dance/Electronic Album for the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.
He tweeted his thanks on Tuesday.
“WE ALL REACH A POINT IN OUR LIVES AND CAREERS WHERE WE UNDERSTAND WHAT MATTERS THE MOST TO US,” read the last statement on his website.
“For me it’s creating music. That is what I live for, what I feel I was born to do. Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it. But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense – the studio.
“The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.”
Surely his fans would’ve loved it, whatever it was.
A two-time Grammy nominee, Avicii was most known among the Top 40 set for his hit pop collaborations, such as “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blac, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” and, most recently, “Lonely Together” with Rita Ora. But he was a prolific songwriter and producer and, at one point, a tireless DJ whose output was vast—and, inevitably, more of it is about to be discovered by the masses in the wake of his death.
He was a kid when he got started, signing his first contract when he was barely 18, and it was off to the races. He cited 2011’s “Levels” (or “LE7ELS”) as a game-changer as far as his level of recognition went. But while he barely had time to catch his breath as his name joined a select few from the EDM world to achieve mainstream, global stardom, the lifestyle soon caught up with him.
When he was 21 he suffered a bout of pancreatitis brought on by excessive drinking, prompting him to quit alcohol.
“I used to party a lot. Everyone does in the beginning when they’re getting accustomed to this world. Every night is a party,” Avicii told TIME magazine in 2013. “But I just realized that for me personally, my body or my mind couldn’t handle that amount of—like I wasn’t feeling good doing that to myself.”
Asked how it was to be working in a historically substance-friendly environment while sober, he said, “No, I mean, I can still party. I just—I can be sober and party. It’s all a learning experience. I’ve gone out partying sober and I’ve met my new girlfriend from day one sober, and I’ve done everything sober. And I see how drunk everyone else is and I feel like, I kind of like not being hungover tomorrow.”
As he told GQ, “I just got into a habit, because you rely on that encouragement and self-confidence you get from alcohol, and then you get dependent on it.”
But going to work clear-eyed and sober didn’t change the pressure, the hectic schedule and the toll it took on Avicii’s relationsihps. He admitted to Us Weekly it was hard to find time for a proper personal life.
He did have one, however, with Canadian model Raquel Bettencourt, who for his 25th birthday captioned a collage of them on Instagram, “Happy Birthday My Love. Incredibly lucky to have such an amazing person in my life, who I can truly say is my best friend. Love Racqattack.”