Last week (July 17), Avicii gave a select audience a taste of his new album, “#TRUE” (PRMD/Island Records) from the highest level he could find— the terrace of the High Line Room at The Standard. The event, sponsored by Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply, also saw some highly-placed execs like Barry Weiss, chairman & CEO, UMG East Coast Label Group, Island Records president David Massey and President & COO of Island Def Jam Music Group Steve Bartels as well as Z100's Sharon Dastur bobbing their heads to the EDM bass and beats,
In a dimly lit room with a glass wall overlooking the Hudson River, Avicii (a.k.a. Tim Bergling) opened the listening party with a projection of the music video for his album’s first single "Wake Me Up," which some have described as EDM meets a country hoedown.
David Massey (President, Island Records), Avicii, Sharon Dastur (Program Director, Z100), Steve Bartels (President & COO, Island Def Jam Music Group.
“When you hear the album, you’re going to hear incredible production that is Avicii, and voices you’ve never heard before," Massey said in his introductory remarks. "It’s going to be special, it’s going to be groundbreaking…no one has really made a record like this before,” he enthused. An assertion Avicii himself soon substantiated.
“This is an unveiling that no one has ever heard before,” Avicii said. “The whole process is a mixture of influences I’ve had growing up. I decided to name it ‘#TRUE’ because it’s honestly true to myself and the music I listen to when I’m home. This is the kind of music that I was able to make along with all the collaborators and all the amazing musicians." Everyone in the room laughed, however, when Avicii admitted that he actually "can't play the guitar" or any real instrument for that matter.
The room heard seven new songs on repeat from “#TRUE,” including "Wake Me Up," which according to Massey is Avicii's biggest selling single of the year by far. The album will officially be released on Sept. 17. From what Backbeat heard we swore we heard what sounded like Adele singing on one of the tracks, but when we inquired later we found it was Audra Mae, an American singer from Oklahoma City (and grandaughter of Judy Garland!).
We spoke with Island's Christine Moon, the label's video promotions director, who described 23 year-old Avicii as “Provocative, breaks boundaries, isn’t afraid to do things that might possibly get some backlash -- which is very brave. Here on the top floor of the Standard, however, with an open bar and expansive views accompanied by fresh EDM beats, nobody in the room had backlash on their minds.
Additional reporting by James Rettig.