Coachella 2012: Avicii has reason for good feelings
If there was a Defining Song of the Dance Tent at Coachella 2012, it might have been when Rihanna popped by Calvin Harris’ set for “We Found Love.” Or maybe the repeat plays of Kanye and Jay-Z’s “… In Paris” that showed up in several different sets. Or maybe Nero’s “Promises”? Or perhaps Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World”?
Ah, who are we kidding? You know the answer. It’s the song that goes like this: “Oh oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling.”
It is Avicii’s “Le7els,” and for the young raver crowd that posted up in the Sahara Tent all weekend, it’s so dance-floor-devastating it probably requires U.N. inspection. The song, built on soda-pop synths and an Etta James sample, completely embodies the year in big-tent dance music. And it took the artist born Tim Bergling into the international stratosphere of electronica artists.
“It’s great to play, the reaction really makes the place explode,” the 22-year-old Swedish DJ said. But he added, with the sly undertones of Mick Jagger asked to sing "Start Me Up" for the millionth time, “I’m obviously still tolerant of it.”
Though Sunday night’s conversation was dominated by the Tupac Victorian Parlour Trick, the night also represented an interesting turn in Coachella’s dance reputation. Avicii is part of the first generation of EDM artists who grew up in their careers viewing Coachella as a major international destination. That’s why Bergling chose it as the place to debut a good chunk of the visuals (including an incredible graphic-morphing DJ platform) and mixes for his forthcoming arena tour.
Coachella “is an experience you don’t want to miss as an artist, 100%,” he said. “That’s why we worked so hard to bring everything to the next level for it, with the organic 3-D-mapping [of his visuals]. We didn’t want any generic content; everything was crafted for the tracks.”
Avicii will debut a bit more of the production at his second Coachella set this Sunday. But in the leadup to his forthcoming arena tour, he’s already made powerful friends. His remix of Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild” went over so well that Madge introduced him at this year’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami (though a rumored MDNA appearance with him at Coachella went, sadly, unfounded).
“She’s one of the biggest icons of all time; everyone grew up with her,” he said. “To have her present me was huge.”
Turns out, for a young artist with a huge, iconic hit of his own, he sees such cross-pollination as a big part of EDM’s future. Now that dance music has arguably overtaken rock as a festival draw, Avicii sees its creative future not in growing more insular, but casting a wider net for ideas.
“It’s been great to see someone like Skrillex get so huge with such a hard sound,” he said. “But for me the really interesting thing is in collaborations. Elton John would be a dream for me.”
Surely they’d have plenty of tiny dancers waiting if they wanted to try it.
— August Brown
Photo: Avicii at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times