Avicii Working With Nile Rogers, Mike Shinoda, Mac Davis on New Album

'It’s going to be a lot of acoustic elements, but kind of twisted a little bit'

Avicii performs at Wynn Las Vegas at Park City Live during the Sundance Film Festival.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Avicii performs at Wynn Las Vegas at Park City Live during the Sundance Film Festival.
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Avicii knows that in the current world of EDM, it’s all about singles, so to him it’s the perfect time to make a complete song cycle. "Everything is single-oriented now, but that’s why the only reason to make an album is if the whole way through is a great album and every track is like a single," the Swedish DJ, whose real name is Tim Bergling, told Rolling Stone. "No one’s doing this approach to the electronic music, so it’s exciting to me that EDM is at a place where it’s even possible to do it like this."

When he says, "do it like this," what he means is put together an eclectic group of artists from all walks of music to make his next album, which he says is due in late spring or early summer. The roster includes Mike Einzinger of Incubus, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, disco king (and David Bowie and Daft Punk collaborator) Nile Rodgers as well as Mac Davis, the country great who wrote the Elvis Presley hits "A Little Less Conversation," "Kentucky Rain," and "In The Ghetto."

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For Avicii, working with all of these different and talented artists allows him to complete his vision. "If you put me in a room with someone like Mike [Einzinger] or an amazing singer, I have the melodies in my head and I know exactly where to take everything, but I’m not able to do it myself, I’m not able to sing. So when I’m with someone who does sing and all these acoustic instruments, I know exactly what to do with it," he said.  

That vision is a collection that he promises will be much more song-based than anything he’s done yet. "I have access to those people now, so it’s going to be a lot of acoustic elements, but kind of twisted a little bit. It’s way more songs than I’ve done before and it’s everything from folk records to more soulful," he said.

He’s particularly excited about the teaming with Davis. "We’ve done two songs together, it’s a trip," he said. "He’s singing on one of them. At the moment in the production, it’s kind of a duet between him and Aloe Blacc and the other one has Audra Mae singing on it. And Mac is one of those, he comes from an era that really doesn’t exist anymore, especially in lyrics."

The two came together, indirectly, via golf. "Neil Jacobson at Interscope, they play golf together and he knew that I was looking for all of these kind of weird influences for my album, like folk and country," he said. "I think that’s going to be one of the highlights on the album, the kind of songwriting. When you put a voice like Audra behind it, it’s kind of like Adele meets Nina Simone. When you put a voice like that behind what Mac writes and me in charge of the melodies, it’s so amazing the place he took it. I just met him and he played it on guitar, a song he had from before, and then we switched it around a hundred percent. But we kept like the vibe of his lyrics. It sounds like a classic."

"Classic" is a recurring word as Avicii discusses the new album. "Me and my manager have been through this so many times, we want eight to ten songs on the album, no more, and we want every single one of them to be a classic," he said. "I’m not being cocky enough to say that’s what I’m going to accomplish, but that’s the goal." To that end, although he estimates that he already has twenty tracks done, he is still looking for more  hence a four-day session this coming week in L.A. with Nile Rodgers.

"That could be so amazing. Dude wrote 'Le Freak,' that’s all you have to say," he said. "We were going back and forth with conversation and he’s like, 'Oh, I’m so looking forward to this, it’s like when I told David Bowie. . . .' There’s so much history."

If the album does become the classic Avicii envisions, he has a hell of a backstory for the future Behind the Music. After starting the new year with eight tracks completed for the album, Avicii lost his computer. "My driver stole it, it is fucked up," he said, and launched into a story of New Year's Eve pre-concert mayhem in Las Vegas. "My crew took the bags to the room and then they missed that one car 'cause they thought all the luggage was in one car," he said. "They didn’t check in that car, it had my computer bag in it. He went on the run and he’s blacklisted, but I don’t even care about getting him back, I just want my computer back. I had eight songs done on the album already. Luckily enough I still have all the MP3s, so the ideas are still there."