The way I see it, Swedes don’t think too much of themselves. I lost the count of how many times I have got incredulous looks after saying I left Brazil behind and moved here: “Why? Why did you do this? Why come here, to this cold land?”
A consequence of this self-image is that Swedes are really proud of those amongst of them who rise to international stardom. Think of Abba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bjorn Borg, Alicia Vikander. The same goes for Volvo, Ikea, and Spotify. They are national pride, helping to get Swedishness across the globe.
This last Friday, the country lost one of these stars: the bright young DJ Tim Berling, better known by his stage name Avicii.
This post is about him.
Who is Avicii?
Avicci was a pretty young guy, in fact just a year older than me, that is, soon to be 29. However, despite the short career span, he managed to make lots of huge world hits. He started playing at the age 16, and shortly after he got a record deal. It is interesting to see how fast things went for him, just ten years ago he was begging for feedback in Swedish music forums:
[the posts go like]
[avicii/timberman] Hi everyone, I hope this is the right forum to post in, but I have some songs that I would like to know what others like.
[avicci/timberman] No one?
[slejnard] But now 5 years later, “some” have listened.
Less than 5 years after this internet post, Avicii took over the world with this first single/EP, called Levels. This song reached number 1 across Europe and guaranteed the artist a bunch of platinum and gold albums. And I guarantee that you heard if before:
Shortly after, he released his first album, called True. It reached 1st place in the charts around the world, on number 5 on Billboard. It also came with a bunch of platinum, gold and every kind of certification you can imagine. The main hit was Wake Me Up, which I posted at the beginning, but there was also other super duper famous songs, like Hey Brother:
Imagine yourself in Avicii’s skin: you are among the most prominent DJ’s in the world, touring everywhere, producing hit after hit and you are not even 25 years old. That can be heavy, right? And for him it was. In early 2012 he was hospitalized and diagnosed with pancreas issues caused by excessive alcohol consumption, and maybe due to the heavy toll of touring 24/7, in March 2016 he announced he was done touring and performing live.
Last Friday, the news came out of nowhere: Avicii was found dead, at the age of 28. He was in Oman and died in his hotel room. By the time I write this post, there is no information on the cause of death, but it was disclosed that there was “no criminal activity or foul play”.
The news came out of the blue, it got everyone by surprise. But as I said, the Swedes are genuinely proud of those of them who take Sweden around the glove. Avicii was no exception. On Saturday, a proof of this could be seen in Sergels Torg, central Stockholm, where hundreds joined to pay tribute to the DJ.
There was even a church in the Netherlands who paid tribute:
I am not a big fan of EDM or Electronic music, but yesterday, as I listened to Spotify’s “This, is Avicii” Playlist, I realized how many of his songs I have listened before. This is indeed a big loss to music.