Etta James belted her way into our hearts back in 1962 with her timeless hit “Something’s Got a Hold On Me.” She sang, “Sometimes I get a good feeling.”
As popular as this song may have been over the years, about a couple years ago, a young producer breathed new life into the soulful piece with the power of modern technology.
He remixed the sampled riff with his original beats and created the ubiquitous song now known by millions as “Levels.”
Ladies and gentlemen, as you probably have already guessed, this is the work of none other than the Swedish savant and DJ/producer, Avicii.
Avicii, known as Tim Bergling offstage, has become the name synonymous with the percussion heavy and repetitive, electronic disco sound that is house music. However, the neon lights and mammoth-like stages that Bergling has become all too accustomed to are far cries from his seemingly humble roots as a pseudo-producer.
As a young teenager living in Stockholm, Sweden, Bergling had zero experience with production until he began listening to electronic music. “I remember that I heard the song ‘Zombie Nation’ by Kemkraft 400 and I really wanted to remix it,” Bergling said. “Once I downloaded the software, I was hooked.”
In truth Bergling said nobody, least of all himself, expected him to take to producing so naturally. In no time at all, what began as a hobby for the 18-year-old quickly turned into a craft he was then fully committed to pursue.
“Producing is not so easy so it really has to be something you love,” he added. “For me, it usually is not more than a couple hours until I come up with the right hook, but then it can also take hours without coming up with anything.”
Bergling began leaking his tracks online and soon enough his catchy remixes generated momentum. The buzz earned him a sizeable following and led to his discovery by manager Ash Pournouri.
“Once I met Ash, everything stared happening for me very quickly,” he said. “He really helped me figure out what was good and what wasn’t. I think all new producers need someone to be able to tell them things like when to drop a track or give feedback on how to wrap it up right.”
Ash’s trained ear coupled with Avicii’s knack for production certainly paid off. Bergling’s debut single, 2010’s “Seek Bromance,” was an instant hit and broke the Top 20 in numerous countries.
“I just could not believe it,” he exclaimed.
Now with countless smash singles under his belt and a rabid, effervescent fan base behind him, Avicii is no longer an underground phenomenon.
At the ripe age of 23, Avicii has managed to stay true to his house roots while infiltrating the mainstream; as such, his hypnotic work has captivated the hearts of what many view as the hardest region to crack: the lucrative North American market.
The overall success of Avicii’s revolutionary house style and its pervasive influence on society has solidified his stance as one of the pioneering faces for this movement.
Avicii’s continued impact on society has reaches far beyond simple melodies, as evidenced by his selection in a high-profile Bud Light commercial that debuted at the Super Bowl last Sunday, Feb. 5.
Yet despite Avicii and its rise in global popularity, house music still attracts a very niche audience.
Furthermore, some critics of electronic music continue to denounce it as a legitimate genre, referencing things such as drug and party subcultures to further tarnish its reputation. Avicii, who has felt his fair share of criticism, has taken the more “when in Rome” approach when confronted with such malignant assessments.
“All I can say to that is ‘Yo wuzzup, wuzup, are you ready to party?’ [Laughs]” he joked. “But in all seriousness, it is much more than just that. Anyone who thinks this is just about the partying probably isn’t really a fan of this music.”
In the end of the day, electronic music may never shake its stigmas or the people who rally against it, but as a performer Avicii can’t cloud his process with anything but thoughts of how to better himself for future.
Moreover, as the Avicii brand has grown, Bergling has finally begun to understand that his music must speak for the masses and with fame comes great expectations.
In an industry that is truly ever changing, even the biggest acts need to be constantly raising the bar. Bergling, who knows how fast someone can climb to the top and fall, is more then ready for the challenge.
“Well we step it up all the time although a lot of planning is going into the big show we want to present this year,” Bergling said. “As the brand grows and as we reach bigger fan bases we have to deliver accordingly.”