As the dance world tries to make heads or tails of iconic producer Avicii‘s sudden death, we keep in our thoughts those closest to the man who lived, and not just those of us who enjoyed the mythological idea of who Tim Bergling was to music. Billboard reached out to his collaborator and friend Andy Sherman of duo Shermanology. He worked with Bergling on the hit single “Blessed” in 2011.
“In the beginning, [Avicii] says, ‘Let’s write something new … we have to make something brand-new,'” Sherman remembers. “Me and Dorothy had ‘Blessed’ on the shelf for quite a while, but it never really got the production that we were looking for … we gave them that record, and we just went back and forth for a couple of days. They made setups, and then they just sent us something back that was totally life-changing for us, and for the sound at that time as well.”
It was the start of an easy friendship that rekindled whenever Avicii was in Sherman’s native Holland or when the pair found themselves at the same festival.
“You could see that his health was getting worse,” he remembers. “You could see the color on his skin, or something like that. The thing is, at a certain point — and this is going to sound really strange — there was a certain point in dance when everybody was working so hard, and not only Avicii but other DJs got health problems. It was a bit like everybody was living in such a rush, and … I wouldn’t say [it was] ‘normal,’ but it got accepted a little bit more. It was more, I think, ‘Let’s work hard now and then we’ll see after.’ Maybe that was something that was in a lot of people’s minds at that time, so you didn’t really see the harm until it got really bad.”
Sherman remembers Avicii as a man who wasn’t afraid to take risks.
“He has been the main man who had the guts and the balls to combine the music, I think, that influenced him, in his whole life,” he says, “a person who had the guts to take country music and make a combination with electronic music. I think he didn’t only do a lot for dance music; I think he did a lot for pop music.”
The news of Avicii’s death is nothing less than a “shock” to his friend and collaborator.
“I think mostly people thought, if he’s taking a break, it must be better at the moment, he must be recovering, because it was a bit quieter,” he says. “I think everybody was like, ‘OK, he took a step back to recover,’ and then when this happens in a way like this, I think it’s just a shock for everyone. It’s quite hard to find the words at the moment, but I just want to thank everybody around him as well, because he has had a big team of people that he worked with for years, his family, his fans. It’s a really hard thing, but I hope this is going to be a wakeup call for a lot of people to watch your health, watch yourself, and put yourself in the first place. That’s the main thing I can say.”
Avicii was found dead Friday morning (April 20) during a trip to Oman in the Middle East. His cause of death has yet to be reported.