Four years after his death, Avicii's innate artistry and incomparable studio presence continue to inspire the music industry's most illustrious players.
After torpedoing a four-year hiatus, Hardwell recently caught up with Apple Music 1's Zane Lowe to chat about his relationship with the late EDM icon whose talent, he said, "was truly unseen in dance music."
"For me, the death of [Avicii] was definitely the trigger for me to, well, pull the trigger myself, and be like, 'Yo, I'm taking a break. That's it. I'm losing one of my friends now,' and worst feeling in the world," Hardwell said. "There is no way. There is no solution in-between. There is no way you can still tour."
"[Avicii] was the best musician—electronic musician—I've ever met. He still is till this day," Hardwell continued, rhapsodizing about his late friend and fellow electronic dance music pioneer. "You're never going to convince me there's someone better in making melodies and chords, and writing such catchy hooks. He knew exactly what he wanted, songwriting, the way the singer should sing, the way he wrote his melodies, his signature in every song, still being super diverse. "I learned a lot from him, especially his musical talent."
Hardwell also waxed poetic about the difficult decision to step away from the music industry in 2018 after "struggling with something inside myself."
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"This is not a discussion. I'm just taking a break. I'm done," Hardwell recalled telling his father in an email. "I'm done living this wonderful dream that everybody thinks it is, but I'm just done dealing with jet lags. My health... I couldn't sleep anymore. My own house felt like a hotel room, which was super weird. A lot of signals that I had to stop for a while."
The pitfalls of life on the road for a touring DJ can be debilitating, even for a seasoned vet like Hardwell, who said he travelled on roughly 200 flights per year and saw his health decline. There is perhaps no artist more emblematic of the breakneck lifestyle than Avicii, whose poor mental health stemming from the stress of a grueling tour schedule led to his tragic 2018 death.
"And then on the other hand," Hardwell continued, "how hard the decision was, even harder when you think about, 'Yo, my tour manager, he has quit his job, my sound guy, the guy who makes my visuals.' So yeah, it was a really tough decision, but I had to do it and I'm really glad that even like in my inner circle, my own team really accepted it and was still there for me. I really needed a year to...Probably sleep. Go to bed and being tired, like seriously tired. Not tired because you did a lot of stuff, but being in the same timezone and feeling healthy again, eating healthy, working out whenever you want. My bed felt like my own bed again, instead of a business class seat in an airplane."
You can watch the full interview via Apple Music 1 below.