As Avicii, Tim Bergling worked fast. Emerging in the late 2000s while still in his teens, the Swedish producer would, in a few short years, score international hits like “Levels” and “Wake Me Up,” earn a Grammy nom, and tour the world several times over in spectacular fashion. Those accolades don’t necessarily embody Bergling’s deeper impact — that before his death by suicide in 2018, he’d effectively catapulted electronic dance music from the clubs to the charts, guaranteeing the form a global stage and profile that endure today.
That legacy comes captured in Avicii Experience, an interactive exhibition newly opened in the producer’s birthplace of Stockholm, and spearheaded by entertainment company Pophouse Entertainment and digital culture center Space. Besides being a moving tribute to Bergling, the young person who struggled with his mental health, the presentation also celebrates Avicii, the EDM phenom, by exploring his music and creative processes through videos, instruments, interviews, and unreleased tracks.
Designing an exhibition that struck that balance between the personal and the professional, according to Lisa Halling-Aadland, Avicii Experience’s Content Producer, was no small task. “We had to consider a delicate balance between inviting the visitor into Tim’s life and career, while still keeping integrity and privacy in a respectful way,” she tells Jing Culture & Commerce. “Finding that balance has been a consistent work through this process.”
The exhibition, however, has the help of a number of tech-forward and immersive installations. Alongside recreations of Avicii’s workspace and stage setup, there’s also a digital touchscreen app that invites visitors to create their own mix or remix of “Levels.” And within a specially constructed vocal booth, audiences can don a headset to interact with Avicii’s collaborators like Aloe Blacc and Carl Falk in virtual reality, and sing along to the producer’s hits.
By forefronting interaction and co-creation, these installations center the audience in the experience, facilitating a connection with the exhibition’s subject. “The visitor,” emphasizes Halling-Aadland, “is part of creating their experience.” Here, she enlarges on the thinking behind Avicii Experience.
Avicii Experience has been billed as an interactive and immersive exhibition — why are these elements important to the exhibition?
Tim was very creative and explorative, and so was Avicii and the Avicii team. It felt natural to follow their lead in designing the museum. The visitor is part of creating their experience, in engaging with Avicii’s music and stories in various ways.
How do creative technologies such as those used in the VR vocal booth and Levels digital installation aid in the exhibition’s storytelling?
We wanted to offer a unique way for the visitor to get closer to Tim and his music. We started mapping out different ways technology could help us to do so and found these two great options. When the visitor can immerse oneself into an environment, it creates that sense of closeness that we were looking [for].
What were some key challenges when it came to designing an exhibition based around music, and how were these challenges addressed?
Tim was such a brilliant music creator that selecting the songs to focus on was challenging. There is just so much great music in the Avicii story and career, so picking out certain pieces to talk about more in depth was tricky.
Have there been any similar music-based exhibitions that served as inspiration or made an impression on you?
Being a fan of museums and exhibitions, I pick up influences and inspiration all the time. But one museum that felt very authentic and personal is the Jimi Hendrix museum in Hendrix’s old apartment in London. The personal and authentic touch is something we tried to create in some of the environments at Avicii Experience.
Since the exhibition opened, what has visitor feedback been like?
The feedback so far has been wonderful. To see fans and the public come into Avicii Experience with excitement and joy but also reflection is beautiful. They explore, learn and interact in a way that we really hoped to see. It’s a very rewarding thing for us to see after working on this for almost three years.
Finally, what do you hope a visitor will leave the Avicii Experience with?
We hope that the visitor leaves feeling that it’s okay to go through different emotions. At the end of the day, we hope that people will bring with them a sense of light, love, and passion for creating. The tragic parts of Tim’s life are there, no doubt. Therefore, it makes it even more important to bring in the light, the fun, and the beauty of his life and career.