Jacobson, president of Geffen Records and someone who had been working with Avicii since his breakthrough record, “Levels,” says he had talked to the Swedish DJ (real name Tim Bergling) only two days before his passing. Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman, on Friday (April 20). He was 28 years old.
“We were working on it and it was his best music in years, honestly,” Jacobson revealed in an interview with Variety. “And I know because I [A&R’d] all of his albums. He was so inspired. He was so psyched. We had done a month of grinder sessions. We had to actually put end times on the sessions because Tim would just work for 16 hours straight, which was his nature. You had to pull him out. Like, ‘Tim, come on. Go to bed. Get some rest.’ … It’s just a tragedy. We have this incredible, magical music.”
Jacobson confirmed there are “a few” features on the album, but he’d “rather not say who.” He explained, “Tim had a list of people he was hoping we could reach out to for this album. That was actually the last communication I had from him two days ago, and that’s haunting.”
Discussions about what will happen with this music — and whether or not a new Avicii album will be released posthumously — have yet to take place. When asked about potential release plans, he answered, “I have no idea.”
He continued, “I’m going to sit down and talk to the family once everybody has a chance to take a breath. I’ve never actually had this happen with an artist I’ve worked with before and this closely. So, I don’t know. We’ll try to get some advice from the family and everybody’s going to put their heads together and try and do what we think Tim would want us to do.”
As of press time, Avicii’s cause of death has not been made public, although he did have known health issues, including acute pancreatitis. He announced his decision to stop touring in 2016.
Variety asked about the chance of “substance abuse problems,” to which Jacobson replied: “I can’t tell you much because I just don’t know. I will say this, if any of those rumors [about substance abuse] were really true, I feel like I would’ve seen it. And as much as I’ve been around him, I never saw anything. He didn’t party. He would go to a club to listen to the DJ.”
“He missed the actual DJing,” the Geffen exec said of Avicii stepping down from touring. “He loved pure dance music. You want to go lose your mind? Go to a middle of pit of a festival crowd for an Avicii concert. He understood the ebb and flow of a show, of a set, of how to get people to dance; How to know when to let them down. How to know when to bring them back up, and bring them back down again. Then you’d end up crying three-quarters of the way through the show and you didn’t know why.”
“His respect for art, creativity …. He strived to be a great artist. It was never, ‘The record’s good enough. Let’s go.’ It had to be great, and I’ll miss that,” he said.