Avicii fans will tell you that the producer’s most recent EP, now solidified as his last work to be released during his lifetime, may just be his best work to date. It is a triumphant and optimistic collection of songs, including the standout single “You Be Love,” featuring collaborator Billy Raffoul.
“You Be Love” is touching and intimate, built on a simple foundation of acoustic guitar and Raffoul’s rich and soulful rasp. It feels like huddling around a warm fire, and as the electronic melodies begin to soar, the fire of your heart catches wind until it’s a strong, happy blaze. Raffoul only met Avicii for the first time when they got into the studio to write and record “You Be Love” from the ground up, and they formed a close musical bond that continued after the Av?ci (01) EP was released. Raffoul said he was ” completely blindsided” to hear of his friend’s untimely death on Friday, April 20. He was 28.
“It’s not what I expected to hear. It goes beyond dance music,” Raffoul says. “He was full of energy and just very happy to be creating in the studio. He was quite determined to put out his best piece of music next. I really think he did that and he really put himself completely into his music and he wanted to make his fan base turn. Which he did.”
Raffoul and Avicii met in Nashville while the producer made his way across the United States during a creative road trip with friends and collaborators. The singer says he remembers laughing as much as he did writing and creating, which immediately made Avicii stand out as a kind and warm-hearted person, just as much as he stood out in terms of musicality.
“He was a superstar who is known all around the world and [sold] millions and millions of records, yet so humble and you could talk to him like he was your buddy right from the get,” he says. “He loved music as much as anyone I’ve met … He was involved at the ground level. He wanted to make sure every word was right. Even though I was the one doing the singing, he wanted to make sure the words were something he would say and something he would stand behind and he would play every night, you know? I really respected it. I respected the hell out of that. He told you exactly what he wanted. He wanted it this way, he would tell you right away and not waste any time. We stuck together and got that song done the first day we spent together.”
Raffoul and Avicii teamed up again later that year in Los Angeles to write more songs that have yet been unreleased. The productions were not finished, as far as Raffoul could say.
“From a songwriting perspective, I guess he was not trying to overcomplicate things and kind of bringing the listener on a journey with you where you have constant themes and reoccurring themes,” he says. “Things I was doing on the guitar, he was planning in his head to do later on for the production. I got that afterwards, and I didn’t understand that at first because it was just my vocal and a guitar and he wanted it a certain way. But it was weird because the words were spinning in his head and what he was going to do with the song later.”
Avicii is remembered by friends, fans, family and peers as one of the most productive and influential minds of his generation, in the world of dance music and otherwise. He was instrumental in dance music’s shift toward a global pop powerhouse, and his presence will be missed on dance floors and on the airwaves for years to come.