October 31 2017

We Rave You spoke to Levan Tsikurishvili about making the Avicii: True Stories documentary

We Rave You was present at the Avicii: True Stories premiere during Amsterdam Dance Event. They spoke to the documentary filmmaker Levan Tsikurishvili.

“People’s perception of who Avicii is, isn’t who Tim is. I don’t really like being the center of attention.”

We watched the story unfold in front of our eyes without ever having truly seen it. Until now. The kid whose breakthrough talent catapulted him to the music elite and superstar status was in for a ride he never could have anticipated and it’s become quite clear that it was a journey that young Tim Bergling was never a willing participant of. Between the years of 2008 and 2016 this shy Swedish producer would end up playing 813 shows and his dance music moniker ‘Avicii‘ would become a worldwide phenomenon. The recognizable brand would bring riches to not only him but also to the many employees who were making big money off of brand ‘Avicii.’ Bergling’s story very much mirrors that of another superstar – Michael Jackson, whose fame cost him the most valuable possession of all – his life. Luckily it seems that this particular tale will have a different end for the young Swede.

The Avicii story began when the young producer won a production competition held by Pete Tong in 2008. In 2011, he transformed into a titan seemingly overnight with progressive house classic “LE7ELS.” The year that followed saw him become the first DJ to pull off a worldwide arena tour and he continued to shatter expectations of dance music when he unveiled the dance-country swing of ‘Wake Me Up’ at Ultra Music Festival Miami in 2013. The year 2015 should have been a peak for the producer, but behind the scenes, stress, anxiety, alcohol abuse and illness were quite literally eating him away. At that point he had played more than 800 shows and after an eight month break from touring, in March of 2016, Avicii played Ultra Miami one more time. What should have been a momentous event was followed by a retirement announcement just ten days later. After several failed attempts to pull out of upcoming performances, on the night of August 28, 2016 in Ibiza, Avicii played his last show.

There’s an abundance of pivotal scenes that show the downfall of the young superstar in ‘Avicii: True Stories,’ a compelling new documentary about the Swede that arrived in selected cinemas on 26 October. After five straight years of astronomical success, the young headliner finally took control of his own life. Having witnessed his health deteriorate to the point where he was unable to eat or even drink water while being pumped with addictive drugs in order to be able to perform, Bergling finally stood up to the poor management that lead him to the daunting state he was in. Avicii the brand was making too much money for some, while Bergling struggled with his personal demons that seemed to go conveniently unnoticed by the decision makers in the star’s life. Monumental performances were experienced by the public, but what was never shown on stage was comprehensively covered by the new documentary revealing the story behind the scenes.

‘Avicii: True Stories,’ is directed by Bergling’s longtime friend and visual collaborator Levan Tsikurishvili. The documentary filmmaker had been following the star since 2013 on a near-daily basis. The film delves deep into the decision-making that goes into making such a drastic call before the age of 30, and also the star-making process from a vantage point rarely seen. It’s a compelling and cautionary tale that touches on an industry’s greed to cash in on the dance music craze and the pressure an artist feels when his managers and agents all-too-willingly risk health and friendship in order to keep the train rolling at maximum speed. The film traces the unvarnished truth behind the success of the Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist which ultimately lead to his shock retirement. The documentary is followed by a 30 minute concert film of Avicii’s final show in August 2016.

The film features appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta, Laidback Luke, Tiësto and Wyclef Jean and is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the rarely seen artist’s point of view. The documentary maker Tsikurishvili explains:

“I wanted to do a brutally honest film about Tim as a person and not only about Avicii. Everybody knows Avicii but very few people know Tim. I think this documentary really shows Tim’s struggle and strength of character. Being a worldwide superstar artist is not as easy as it looks on Instagram.”

We Rave You had an exclusive chance to chat to the talented documentary maker during this year’s edition of Amsterdam Dance Event and he gave us a valuable insight into the revolutionary documentary that would serve as a documented narrative of the rise and fall of one of today’s most recognizable dance music figures.

Tour documentaries have a long history in music, beginning with Madonna’s ground-breaking ‘Truth or Dare’ to the recent ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two.’ Was there any pressure to match the notoriety of previous works, or to be more creative in a genre that’s become common?

“This is actually not a tour documentary, but a part of the film contains the touring pieces as well, as it has been a big part of Avicii until 2016. So no, not at all. I have chosen my own way to tell the story in a way I thought it was great to tell, without any pressure from other touring documentaries. I often find inspiration through TV series since I’m a sucker for different kinds of story telling forms and it’s a great to see how the series directors are telling their complicated and parallel stories. You as a director have to find a way to tell the story that really talks to the audience regardless of the circumstances and timing.”

Curious about the full interview? Read it on WeRaveYou.