Aloe Blacc Reflects on Unreleased Avicii Collabs in Live Tribute to Late Producer

Aloe Blacc
Zach Bell

Aloe Blacc

On the third anniversary of Avicii's death, Aloe Blacc hosted his annual celebration of his late friend and collaborator.

Streaming on Instagram Live earlier Tuesday (April 20), the hourlong program focused largely on Blacc's unreleased Avicii collaborations, with Blacc also welcoming a cadre of other former Avicii collaborators including Dan Tyminski, the vocalist on 2013's "Hey Brother," and Sandro Cavazza, the vocalist on 2017's "Without You."

Blacc started the celebration by recalling that one of the connections he and Bergling initially shared was Blacc's label, Interscope Records. According to Blacc, while Neil Jacobsen -- then an exec at Interscope -- wanted to sign Avicii, other executives did not, as at the time they were focused on working with Zedd. Jacobson still wanted to help Bergling create his album, Blacc recalled, so he connected the young producer with Blacc so the two could collaborate.

Upon this meeting, Bergling shared a song with Blacc called "Black and Blue," which was written by Mac Davis, the recently deceased country legend who'd also contribute to "Wake Me Up." While "Black and Blue" was never released, Blacc did perform it live during Avicii's iconic 2013 performance at Miami's Ultra Music Festival, where the debut of "Wake Me Up" was famously booed by the audience.

"We got onstage and the whole audience is expecting exactly what they'd seen all day before -- lasers and confetti cannons and smoke and pyro and girls in bikinis dancing on turntables," Blacc recalled of that show. "Tim came out with three to four musicians, and we kind of just performed live music at an EDM festival, which was extremely daring and a huge risk. He certainly took a hit for it with a lot of the early comments that were made online, but ultimately he changed the face of EDM by doing that." Blacc then played a clip of "Black and Blue" from that 2013 Ultra performance, noting that he could play such music via Instagram without copyright infringement because of its unreleased status.

Taking a question from the audience in regards to the potential release of such unreleased music, Blacc noted that, "I don't have the power to release it. It's really in the power of the people who control [Tim's] estate, and ultimately everyone feels that without Tim here to finish the song in the way hew was gonna finish it, it's not gonna be an Avicii track."

Blacc then shared some of the backstory from another unreleased collab called "Please Forgive Me," which he and Bergling worked on together at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles. "I always walk into the session with a lot of song ideas, and I roll up and pick some lyrics that might work," Blacc recalled. "In my phone was this concept I hadn't used yet. As Tim was playing the beat, I was scrolling through and I found the right words for the music he was making."

"I always thought this was such a powerfully strong instrumental and lyric," Blacc said while playing part of a track called "Please Forgive Me," which Bergling never finished because it didn't quite fit on his 2013 album, True. "Songs that speak about real human emotions, those kind of things I'm big on...There's so much out there in the marketplace that doesn't have a heart."

Blacc then shared one more unreleased Avicii collab called "I Wanna Be Free," a funky, soulful and heavily keyboard-based track they'd started working on during a recording session with Nile Rodgers. ("That," Blacc recalled, "was a fun room to be in.") While intended for True, the track was never released, although leaks of this song and others abound on the internet. "My feeling is that if Tim let it out," Blacc said of such leaks, "maybe he wanted it out."

Then joining the program from his home in Nashville, Dan Tyminski reflected on the recording process of "Hey Brother," noting that what he initially received from Bergling "was a really dressed-down guitar iPhone demo. I sang my part to it quick and sent him some vocal tracks, and what I heard around the corner just blew my face off."

Tyminsk and Blacc then reflected on taking part in the Avicii tribute concert that happened in Stockholm in December of 2019, with Tyminski noting that "it was one of the craziest things to be a part of...I haven't been part of anything that touched me in such a way." He then strapped on a guitar and performed an acoustic version of "Hey Brother."

"He changed the lives of many and he brought people together," Tyminski reflected. "He's still bringing people together."

Finally, vocalist Sandro Cavazza joined from Sweden to reflect on the road trip he took with Bergling across the United States, the time Bergling rented an Italian castle to record out of (he set up the piano in the wine cellar) and his track "Forever Yours," a collaboration with Kygo that the pair debuted at the same 2019 tribute concert. "There is no bigger Avicii fan than Kygo," Cavazza said of the inspiration behind the song.

Upwards of 1,700 people tuned into Instagram Live for the hour-long program, which encouraged donations to the Tim Bergling Foundation, an organization founded by Bergling's family that works on suicide prevention initiatives.

"I will always spend this day," Blacc wrote on Instagram, "honoring my friend's life and music."