Swedish Electronic Dance Music DJ Avicii Dies At 28

Apr 20, 2018
Originally published on April 20, 2018 4:00 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Too young and way too soon - that's what artists and musicians all over the world said today remembering one of their own, Swedish DJ Avicii.

(SOUNDBITE OF AVICII SONG, "HEY BROTHER")

SHAPIRO: Avicii quickly became one of the most popular electronic musicians in the world, selling out concert halls, creating radio hits and gathering Grammy nominations. He collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop music. Today he died at the age of 28. KCRW's Jason Bentley joins us now to remember him. Hi, Jason.

JASON BENTLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Who was this DJ, Avicii?

BENTLEY: Tim Bergling from Sweden. He really crashed the dance music world in 2012 with a hit single called "Levels..."

(SOUNDBITE OF AVICII SONG, "LEVELS")

BENTLEY: ...Which became ubiquitous. It sampled Etta James' vocal. And it really thrust him into the spotlight.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEVELS")

ETTA JAMES: (Singing) Yeah. Get a feeling that I never, never, never, never had before, no, no. I get a good feeling, yeah. Oh...

SHAPIRO: One of the things that I think listening to his music is that some DJs have a particular sound. But his big hits kind of run the gamut from, like, vintage soul to country to, like, big, anthemic, pop-hit sounds.

BENTLEY: Well, that's the name of the game with dance music, with EDM. You really have to be a chameleon to survive. And he did that well. He pivoted at a certain point to embrace almost a folk or country influence, which really shocked the dance world. But his single "Wake Me Up" with vocalist Aloe Blacc became a massive hit...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE ME UP")

ALOE BLACC: (Singing) So wake me up when it's all over, when I'm wiser and I'm older. All this time I was finding myself, and I didn't know I was lost. So wake me up...

BENTLEY: ...Especially on the radio. And it really signaled EDM's acceptance in the mainstream.

SHAPIRO: So he rose to fame really quickly. What did that do to him and his career?

BENTLEY: I think that's one of the key issues here with his passing, is everything happens so fast. And of course, this particular scene - you know, nightlife, sensory overload, an environment with drugs and alcohol - you know, you just have to think that it may have gotten the better of him.

SHAPIRO: You've mentioned a couple of his big hits. Is there one more that you think everybody will be listening to this weekend that we might go out on?

BENTLEY: Well, "Sky Full Of Stars" is a collaboration with Chris Martin and Coldplay. And it shows how he was embraced at the biggest level, with collaborations with Madonna and this one with Chris Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKY FULL OF STARS")

CHRIS MARTIN: (Singing) Because in a sky, in a sky full of stars, I think I saw you.

BENTLEY: And, you know, the last thing I'll say is a lot of his music had a certain hopefulness to it. And so it makes this story all the sadder to see his passing all too soon.

SHAPIRO: That's Jason Bentley of KCRW remembering the Swedish musician and DJ Avicii, who has died at the age of 28. Thanks so much, Jason.

BENTLEY: Thank you, Ari.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKY FULL OF STARS")

MARTIN: (Singing) Because you're a sky, you're a sky full of stars. I want to die in your arms, oh, because you get lighter the more it gets dark. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.