Avicii performing in 2012. Photo credit: Copyright Drew Ressler/rukes.com.
In the April episode of his Levels podcast, Swedish superstar Avicii has a lot to say, including a passionate defense of his friend Sebastian Ingrosso. In case you missed it, Ingrosso and Axwell (okay… Axwell Ʌ Ingrosso if you want to be official about it) set off a firestorm of criticism a few weeks ago in a New York Times profile, in which they referred to underground music as “amateur.” They later defended themselves by explaining that English is not their first language, so the word choice itself may have been… ahem… amateur. In the podcast, Avicii backs up his friends, arguing that the newspaper clearly placed the quote out of context. Avicii, a longtime fan of Ingrosso, has had his own troubles with the press before, so it’s not surprising when he tells listeners “don’t believe believe everything you hear in the press. It’s all sensationalism.”
Swedish house drama aside, Avicii, a.k.a. Tim Bergling, treated us to all sorts of other tidbits in this episode. Here’s some of what we learned.
- Tim is promising exclusives from his back catalog that “no one has heard before,” to be revealed over the next few episodes of the podcast. He started with an old bootleg of Kings Of Tomorrow‘s “Finally” at the end of this month’s show, a throwback to Avicii’s classic sound full of rich piano, catchy claps, and soulful vocals.
- He’s developed a serious “bromance” with Martin Garrix, which is pretty adorbs if you ask me.
- He’s working on his upcoming album, Stories, 8 hours a day. As usual, Tim will be pushing genre boundaries, announcing that the album features some songs at a slower BPM, and at least one that’s not in 4/4. I can’t wait to hear that.
- He will be returning to perform a residency at Ushuaia Ibiza on Sundays in July and August, which he seems super excited about. (I mean, who wouldn’t be?)
I find the Levels podcast to be very hit and miss. Last month’s episode was a heaping helping of generic, big room bangers, and frankly made me consider unsubscribing. This week made up for it though, with plenty of progressive and electro house in the mix and enough variety to keep things interesting. And a handful of the songs really on this episode stood out to me:
“Holy shit!” was my reaction when I hit that drop. The track starts inauspiciously enough, sounding a bit like an old western tune with a folksy stringed instrument strumming on the off-beat and a reverby electric guitar-like lead crooning away. There’s the build – “and then it hit me!” – and boom, you just got dropped into some seriously funky deep house. Someone call The M Machine because it looks like their sound’s got a new challenger. I’m left wondering who’s responsible for this creative and killer track. (Not sure what ID means? Read the definition in the EDM Dictionary.) [Update 11 May: Looks like this track is the work of Pep & Rash.]
I’m a sucker for a good electro house beat, and this song had me hooked from the beginning. It’s got some serious Deadmau5 influence going on, invoking most obviously “Some Chords.” Between the monotonous electric lead, the driving kick, and the thrumming bass, it’s a great, danceable track, even if it doesn’t have all the subtlety of a Deadmau5 production. And hats off to Avicii for mixing this one seamlessly into the much more ferocious “Summer” by DIMARO, whose lead synth sound is nearly identical.
One of my favorite things about Avicii is his deep respect for his musical roots and influences. This song is a perfect example of that, in which he pays serious tribute to Stevie Wonder, essentially ceding the entire break to the soulful musician as he rocks the fuck out on a talk box. The clip is excellent – it shows off Stevie’s virtuosity while incorporating the priceless reactions of the audience as well as a low-fi sound that places us in time back to the 70s. The song then segues into an acid-influenced big-room electro beat which, to be honest, pales in comparison to Stevie’s jamming. Tim calls Stevie’s performance “the definition of swag,” which is entirely accurate.
Oh, and if you’re wondering who Ash is, that would be Ash Parnouri, Avicii’s longtime manager and an industry mogul.
Check out the full track list below and catch the podcast on iTunes here.
Avicii Levels Podcast Episode 035 Track List
01. Dear David – I’ve Been Waiting
02. Eric Prydz – Generate
03. Merk & Kremont – Get Get Down
04. Martin Garrix & Tiesto – The Only Way Is Up
05. ID – Red Roses
06. MOGUAI & Joey Beltram vs Cobra Effect – The Zound (Energy Flash)
07. Valentino Khan – Deep Down Low
08. Mike Candys & Jack Holiday – The Drill
09. DIMARO – Summer
10. Firebeatz & DubVision – Invincible (Instrumental)
11. AVICII & ASH – Papa Was A Rolling Stone
12. Henrix Feat Celeda – The Underground (David Tort Digital Lab Remix)
13. Kings Of Tomorrow – Finally (Avicii Bootleg)