Quora is a forum similar to reddit devoted to connecting people to world leaders and influencers via direct Q&A. Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, who just canceled all of his shows for the rest of the year in anticipation of a highly packed schedule surrounding his sophomore album, Stories, decided to take time to sit and answer fan questions directly yesterday using the platform.
In the personal and highly detailed interview, the Swede covers everything from his musical influences to how to get discovered as an artist & more. But first let’s take a detailed look at how Avicii adapted country and folk inspired sounds to an electronic music sphere.
In summary, Bergling addresses his disdain for the actual genre of Country music, calling it repetitive and largely uninspired while also revealing the true inspiration behind his newfound identity in production – bluegrass and european folk music. He then delves into the discussion of genre labels for music, particularly the convoluted meaning of ‘EDM,’ proclaiming that ultimately it doesn’t matter; what does matter, says Avicii, is if people like or dislike it. As he says…
“Its just a different form of art that serves a different purpose.”
Check out his response in full below.
How did Avicii get into country EDM?
“The short answer is: I dont consider it Country EDM even if thats the label it’s gotten, but I got into that sound by the music I was listening to and loving at the time. Below is a more in depth answer.
It was never a point were I “got into” “Country EDM”. Firstly the country label even surprised me after my ultra appearance, and quite honestly Im getting quite bored of these labels people and artists feel the need to put on their music in order to make themselves sound more unique.
My first answer would be: My music stems from all forms of music, whether it’s considered country edm , blues techno or jazz trap doesnt really matter to me anymore. I love music. All kinds of music with the common denominator that its almost always melodic. It is true, my artistic image and first real romance with a genre was house music – I still get goosebumps when I hear Teasing mr Charlie by Steve Angello, or Shadows by Prydz and I still play and get the same kick from that type of music. After grinding for 6 years making what at the was considered progressive house music (for some odd reason) i.e Levels, Bromance, Fade into darkness etc etc I was eager to evolve, as most artists are. How dull it would have been if every Ray Charles song, every Beatles song was based on the exact same formula? The safe bet for me would definitely have been to keep milking that Levels recipe – I know how to do it and it comes quite easily to me. I obviously knew there was a huge risk involved in a rapid change in my music but I also loved every song on True, and I love every song on Stories. A couple happened to be influenced by country – or rather its subgenre Bluegrass and european Folk music. True represented very much what I was listening to at the time, like Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, of Monsters and Men, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and countless other examples. ‘A man of constant sorrow’ most famously sung by Dan Tyminski in the film ‘Oh brother where are though?’ Made me contact Dan and see if he’d be interested in singing on a song I’d written with Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare and that turned out to be Hey Brother. Wake me up was a proper jam song that with Aloe Blaccs Motown-esque sound made it into something quite other than conventional country.
Ive never really been a fan of country in general to be honest – the general mass of it follow very similar chord progressions and feels like the same song alot of the times. In lack of a less judgmental word at this time I see and hear a clear difference in the type of “redneck country” and bluegrass (noted here should be that there are “redneck country” classics that stands out and are amazing songs – but thats not the general mass unfortunately). A lot of the separation of the two for me has to do with the Swedish equivalent to country which ironically translates into “Dance Bands” which for example would be:
Nevermind the swedish language, Im sure you get the drift. So this is basically my explanation why the Country label surprised me, and also why I think labels on music are such a limitation. The instant people heard a banjo they put the label Country on it which is a very vast array of music that most people dont even realize is country, but the first thing that people think about when they see the word is a Texan cowboy or “redneck”.
Ive been experementing alot over the past three years, and have written and produced a wide array of songs with influences from a wide array of genres and I find it quite funny that out of the 10 songs on True there were really only two songs that could be viewed at as ‘country inspired’ and yet – thats the instant label I got because Wake me up became what it became. Unfortunately I think alot of songs from that album got lost, partly because of that Country label. For instance, my personal favorite track of True would be probably be ‘Shame on me’ or ‘Lay me down’
The last part I will address is the term EDM. Alot of producers and DJs, almost all of them, have despised that label since it just mashes it all together to electronic dance music. This creates a feeling from everyone that ‘Hey my music is different than X, therefor it should be called something else, have another label’. In reality it doesnt matter what label a song has, its either something you like or dislike. This is also why the term ‘guilty pleasure’ is odd to me, why would you feel guilty for liking something just because someone have put a label on it? A great personal example for me would be:
This is a great song, in almost every aspect. A pop song aimed more towards the female audience yes of course – you have to see, or rather hear, it for what it is. Where is the shame or guilt in this? Youre not going to watch Ironman 3 expecting to get the same sensation and emotional experience as ‘The Fountain’ or ’12 angry men’. You see Ironman for what it is – a great fn over the top and top of the line action blockbuster with supercool special effects and entertainment. It probably isnt a movie that will move you, you wont have to think to much to understand it. But that type of movies are also needed because sometimes you just want to be entertained – but theres no ‘Guilty pleasure’ in that. Its just a different form of art that serves a different purpose.
Im sorry for the essay but I’ve been asked this question so many times I felt I wanted to give it a proper, genuine response once and for all.”