As the world listens to the already-successful EP Avīci (01), the question of why Avicii shocked the industry by retiring from touring continues to come up and in a new introspective interview with Rolling Stone, the Swedish superstar opens up as he never has before. Ultimately, he was unhappy with “success for the sake of success.” In fact, he achingly reveals he’s “traumatized” by concerts and just began to listen to music after cutting it out.
Responding to his name drop in Mike Posner‘s hit ‘I Took a Pill in Ibiza‘ he described the island’s parties as “toxic” because of the isolation and worry he felt from partying. Electronic dance music, the genre in which he has found and maintained stellar success, he sees as purely money-driven, which became a catalyst for his genre-bending starting with ‘Wake Me Up.’ Stress, overwork, and physical pain from health scares—including drinking too much, several surgeries, and hospitalizations from illness—resulted in him being unable to even stand up for himself and say no to demanding promoters.
The relentless pursuit of profit which threatened his physical and mental health drove him to reading works of philosophy that helped him to see he is an introvert—and perhaps explains departing from manager Ash Pournouri who turned Bergling the person into Avicii the brand. This existential moment helped him to see caring for his own emotional well-being was ultimately more important than money and fame:
“None of us today can fucking handle our emotions – most of us are running around being reactive. That’s why I had to stop touring, because I couldn’t read my emotions the right way.”
He also addressed falling out with Madonna. Amidst writing sessions for her Rebel Heart album, tour commitments and health concerns meant Bergling couldn’t be as present toward the end of the process. Frequent collaborator Magnus Lidehäll was brought in to complete the tracks, but Madonna ultimately revamped them entirely with her personal friends Diplo and Kanye West. When Avicii infamously said his versions were perhaps catchier, and fans agreed, the deal was done and he admitted his disappointment and regret with sadness to Rolling Stone, yet again citing being overextended for the dissolution of their creative partnership that began on such a high note at Ultra 2012.
Avicii’s interview with Rolling Stone is important in an era in which celebrities are increasingly revealing their struggles with mental health issues like the depression and anxiety, and even trauma. With exposure comes awareness and hopefully other young people Bergling’s age will seek help and make life changes just as he did to ensure a happy and healthy life.
Check out the full interview by Rolling Stone right here.