Avicii’s Ascent


Yesterday was the first Saturday of Summer and the sky over Melbourne Showgrounds was bright blue. Looking out from the Stereosonic mainstage, the crows was cheering from all directions. Avicii takes in the scene around 3:30pm to pump the tunes. He crosses the stage, headphones in his hand, and springs into view behind the DJ desk. A cheer ripples through the sea of raised arms and girls on shoulders. For the next hour, Avicii has the crowd in constant motion. When his right hand isn’t at work, it’s stabbing the air, his eyes darting from the decks to the mass of bodies in front of him. From where the crew is standing side-of-stage, the atmosphere feels delirious, but Avicii’s keeping it together. Skipping back from the desk, sweating through his blue flannel shirt and mouthing the vocal lines, he seems coolly aware of his own efficiency.

Then there’s the Levels effect: the melody chanted back across the Showgrounds, Avicii-branded beach-balls bouncing over hands, plumes of CO2 smoke and bubbles in the air, the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Somebody That I Used To Know a cappella worked in to stretch it out. The festival’s only a few hours in and already Avicii has it at a fever-pitch. The weekend before, he’d looked out on a Sydney stadium at-capacity by mid-afternoon. The next day in Brisbane he’ll find another sprawling, chanting sea of people at the RNA Showgrounds. As he later puts it to inthemix: “I found the crowds in Australia just completely insane.”

It took Avicii just a few years to go from anonymity to mainstages. That swift an ascent has required some learning on the job. It all started inauspiciously enough for the teenage Tim Bergling, making sketches of music in his bedroom and looking up to Swedish success stories like Eric Prydz and Axwell. What Bergling lacked in polish he made up for with an acute ear for melody. Club promoter Ash Pournouri heard what the kid was doing and saw its potential. “I really loved his melodic progression, and could sense a talent that was rough and unfinished,” Pournouri later told the Vegas Seven magazine. He approached Bergling, who at the time was still in school, and an “unplanned partnership” began. Pournouri would educate his charge on the business, teach him how to DJ and help smooth the rough edges on his productions. The meeting of minds would later create At Night Management.

Soon, Avicii’s music had the attention of Australia’s Vicious Grooves label. “In early 2008 I was doing a Vandalism tour in Europe and did a gig in Stockholm, run by a guy named Ash, who is of course now more well known as Avicii’s manager,” Andy Van tells inthemix for this feature. “After the gig Ash wanted me to check out a new ‘young artist’ he had signed called Avicii. Avicii hadn’t released anything with any label but I heard some good demos and could feel the potential. My role at Vicious is primarily A&R and I am always open to hearing new artists. I suggested to my business partner John Course and the other Vicious guys that we needed to sign this kid and we all really liked what we were hearing.”

“With Avicii we always knew his sound was strong and that he was developing towards bigger and bigger singles,” adds John Course. “Vicious also signed Dirty South way before anyone else even knew he existed and we had a similar feeling as Dirty’s career grew. There is a tipping point where artists suddenly seem to arrive out of nowhere, but when you look behind the scenes there are always people or labels that see the potential and fight to get the word out.”

Avicii’s first release, the seven-minute house cut The Sound Of Now, came out on Vicious Grooves in 2008 (Melbourne’s Mic Newman, aka Fantastic Man, provided one of the remixes). From there, Vicious Grooves would release a streak of Avicii singles, including Street Dancer, Malo, Jailbait and the Cassius-indebted Sebastien Drums collaboration My Feelings For You.

Avicii is still yet to appear in Sydney with the rest of the Stereosonic line-up. The Festival begins on Saturday 24th of November  in Sydney which is already SOLD OUT! You better hold on to your tickets folks as many people will be willing to grab a few in the last minute! Visit the official website here to purchase tickets, check the following dates, line-up, public transport and more! Let us know if you will be attending to any of them by leaving a comment below, and if you had been to the last Stereosonic. Lets just hope the weather turns out to be good on those days! Eek