The heady rise and (partial) fall of Swedish DJ and music producer Tim Bergling (8 September 1989 – 20 April 2018), better known as ‘Avicii’, from the early days of his success in 2009-10 to his decision to stop touring in 2016.
As an Icarus style portrait of a sensitive young man who was thrust too readily into the hedonistic world of the international music scene, it’s a much more valuable piece of work.
I’ve just finished watching Alastair Campbell’s BBC documentary on mental health, and ironically, this documentary, seemingly more about the music and heady global lifestyle of renowned Swedish DJ, Avicii, evolves into a much more revealing and convincing insight into the culture around which poor mental health might fester than Campbell’s sanitised affair.
There’s very little focus on how Avicii ascended to the heights of international stardom, and there isn’t a huge amount of insight into the particulars of Avicii’s musical style – apart from the fawning plaudits of fellow musical superstars, which is more relevant as a key informant to the piece’s heaving subtext about Avicii’s vulnerability amid the narcissistic and avaricious world of international music stardom.
Director Levan Tsikurishvili seems to be almost subtextually guiding us to this victim thesis about Avicii, although, by about 2014, it becomes patently clear that Avicii himself is begging for the cavalcade of concerts and touring to end so he can return to his preferred guise as a techy, subterranean music producer rather than a ‘performer’.
Foregrounding a lot of the scenes of Avicii lounging about in hotels with his suspiciously large and opportunistic entourage are numerous cans of those healthy soft drinks Coca-Cola and Red Bull, half-eaten cartons of Krispy Kreme donuts, and ashtrays galore attesting to the ridiculous levels of smoking and drinking that must have been happening all the time just off camera.
Aviciibeing hospitalised for acute pancreatitis in 2012, and having his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014 (he was only 24!), was sure sign that his lifestyle was proving so hostile to his mind and body, yet the tragedy is how his management continually play the guilt trip of how many people (employees, patrons, and fans) are dependent onAviciimaintaining his schedule of concerts, simply to justify the continual milking of the Avicii cash cow – to the ultimate detriment of the man himself.
The coda of Avicii having extricated himself from the toxic world of touring in 2016 for a more holistic lifestyle centred around harmony and wellbeing is touching, though laced with bittersweet irony about the ultimate end-game of Avicii’s mental health battle just two years later in 2018.
Though the documentary barely scratches the surface of Avicii’s musical style, as an Icarus style portrait of a sensitive young man who was thrust too readily into the hedonistic world of the international music scene, it’s a much more valuable piece of work. (May 2019)
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About AVICII: TRUE STORIES
Avicii: True Stories, a compelling new documentary film by Levan Tsikurishvili, reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling). One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete chock to his fans and the industry.
The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking. Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta and Wyclef Jean, Avicii: True Storiesis a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist's point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.
The showings of this groundbreaking documentary will be followed by a 30 minute concert film of Avicii’s final show in Ibiza August 26, 2016.
Avicii: True Stories is distributed globally to theatres by production and distribution company Piece of Magic Entertainment. (https://www.aviciitruestories.film/)