Swedish musician and record producer Avicii (Tim Bergling) takes a selfie on Table Mountain, South Africa Image Credit: REUTERS

News of Avicii’s death on Friday night broke hearts indiscriminately. Grief dripped from every corner of the music industry. From AJ McLean and Ellie Goulding to Tiesto and Skrillex, artists mourned the 28-year-old DJ and producer.

Born Tim Bergling, Avicii was a pioneer of electronic dance music. He shaped a generation of musicians. His humble demeanour, perennial smile and delectable beats managed to touch fans far beyond the confines of one genre.

In 2016, just days before announcing his retirement from the stage, he spoke to Gulf News tabloid! over the phone. He was in a better, more rested place than the last time he was scheduled to perform in Dubai, and ruptured his appendix.

“I’ve really had the time to focus on a lot of the everyday stuff that I honestly hadn’t had the time to focus on in like, eight years,” Bergling said.

“Before, I hadn’t properly set up my email routines. And it sounds ridiculous, but when you add 60 or 70 of those different routines that almost every functional adult human being has [that I don’t], it becomes a problem. I really needed to take a step back… so I wouldn’t feel overworked, so my health wouldn’t suffer.”

Did he fear failing people’s expectations of him? “I felt like that for a while. I almost felt trapped in whatever music I was making. But then I just took a step back and realised that — I mean, I shouldn’t be complaining about anything. Everything is in my power,” said Bergling.

“It’s almost like I’ve gotten to a place [that] I’ve seen other artists [reach], where they’ve all constantly been saying that the music is what matters to them, and that they don’t really care what other people think. I’ve wanted that for so long. But I think it’s finally starting to happen, a little bit.”

He also reflected back on his rigorous touring schedule from the age of 18.

“I skipped that experience of getting your first apartment, college, all of that. And by having missed that, one part of me is still — or has been, still — 18,” he lamented. “The first four years when I was touring, that was definitely the case. One part of me definitely wasn’t progressing the way it should.”

In 2014, when tabloid! asked him over email whether he had time to go home to his own bed and cook his own meals, Bergling admitted, “Not much, but I cherish the times that I’m able to. I’ll go home to either Sweden or LA and just turn off the Avicii part of me.”