On the two-year anniversary of Avicii’s death last Monday, his good friend Tiësto revealed that the young musical genius “definitely got heartbroken” about backlash to the then-unconventional sound of ‘Wake Me Up’ during his 2013 Ultra Music Festival set.
Tiësto shared his insight during a 24-hour livestream tribute to the late Tim Bergling hosted by Aloe Blacc, who sang ‘Wake Me Up’ on its debut at Ultra. In the video chat, Tiësto reminisced playing after Avicii and Aloe Blacc’s “legendary” performance that year. Fans in Miami, though, were shocked and many stopped dancing when they heard the new blend of EDM and country.
It was “an interesting moment,” Aloe Blacc said, adding, “I don’t know that the audience was ready for what we did.” He said it felt “strange” on stage and asked if Tiësto felt he needed to build the audience back up. Tiësto did not feel that way, but agreed that Ultra attendees did not seem ready.
“People don’t realize, if you have so many negative comments coming at you, that it can actually hurt you as a person. I think Tim definitely got heartbroken by what he thought was brilliant,” Tiësto said. “And it was brilliant. I mean ‘Wake Me Up’ is the best song in the whole world.”
“And he came to prove it,” Aloe Blacc commented.
Tiësto agreed, and continued to wonder if the criticism contributed to Avicii’s insecurities.
“At the moment, you put your heart and soul in your album. You play it for the first time live and the whole crowd is kind of booing it away. As a person that feels very tough,” Tiësto said. “I wonder if that had any influence in him later for those insecurities, you know.”
Tiësto reminded fans that posting negative comments on Facebook, Instagram or any social media platform can really hurt artists as people. Aloe Blacc recalled there was “a lot of backlash”, and he felt a 50/50 positive/negative reaction from the crowd.
“When you’re the person that’s receiving all of that, it’s definitely going to affect you and make you I think feel a bit self-conscious of what you’re doing,” the singer said. “I’m glad though, that it didn’t deter him from making that the actual song that he wanted to release.”
Tiësto concluded that the best part is when people start off hating new music and two months later, the world falls in love with it.
“It’s kind of like, you know I was right,” Tiësto said with a laugh.
Shortly after his Ultra performance, Avicii addressed his fans on Facebook. It indeed sounds like he was heartbroken over the reactions. “Wow, looks like I stirred up some controversy with my set friday night at UMF,” he wrote. “Seeing alot of people who dont understand.”
Avicii explained that his album was about “experimentation and about showing the endless possibilities of house and electronic music.” He clarified that it was certainly not country and that he “wanted to make a statement, and theres really no better place to make one than UMF mainstage.”
“People will soon see what it’s all about,” Avicii wrote. “My music is open to anyone who wants to listen to it and I will always stay true to my sound. Love you all who listen with open hearts and open minds.”
Avicii was right—and won over millions of hearts and minds. Late last year, ‘Wake Me Up’ earned the spot as the highest-charting dance music track of the decade. He can rest in peace knowing that.