Avicii fans touched by ‘emotional’ museum in Stockholm

By Maddy Savage
BBC News, Stockholm

Published
Image source, Sean Eriksson / Universal Music

Avicii's musical legacy is being celebrated at an interactive museum in Stockholm, which also raises awareness of mental health in the music industry.

The DJ - real name Tim Bergling - grew up in the Swedish capital before becoming one of the world's biggest dance music stars.

He was 28 when he took his own life in 2018, at a hotel in Muscat in Oman.

The entrance to the new Avicii Experience feels a bit like a posh club, with a red carpet by the door and pink and green fluorescent lighting. Then, concrete stairs take you down to the basement, where the exhibits are.

There's a reconstruction of the tiny studio in Stockholm where Tim mixed his hit Levels in 2011, as well as the mansion in Los Angeles where he used to play his grand piano looking over the city's skyscrapers.

In a replica of Tim's teenage bedroom, you can see he enjoyed playing World of Warcraft, reading Harry Potter and eating takeaway pizza. He also listened to music there, including The Voice's Tom Jones and classical composer Beethoven, and experimented with making his first electronic sounds.

Image caption,
This is the recreation of Avicii's teenage bedroom

"It was never so clean - I can tell you - as it is here. It used to be very messy," his Dad Klas Bergling told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Tim's family came up with the idea for the museum so there could be a public space for fans and tourists to celebrate and learn about the DJ's musical legacy. The exhibits also include photos and films of the star and new interviews with friends and people he worked with.

Fans from the UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway were among the first through the door at the official opening on Saturday 26 February. Entry costs about £17.50 (220 kronor).

Only 15 people are allowed in at a time, with slots for the rest of this week already sold out.

"I'm a little bit sad [and] happy, you know. It's brought up so many emotions and memories as well," Swedish visitor Adam Fransson, 20, told Newsbeat.

For him, seeing Avicii's collection of trainers and guitars was one of the most emotive parts of the experience.

"I feel he's here in a way, you know, he has touched those things."

Image caption,
Adam was one of the fans who visited the museum on its opening weekend

There are interactive elements too, including a touchscreen mixing desk where you can create your own remix of Levels.

A VR karaoke experience lets you sing along to hits including 'Wake me Up', 'Without You' and 'Broken Arrows', replacing the original vocal artists Aloe Blacc, Sandro Cavazza and Carl Falk, who simultaneously cheer you on from the virtual studio inside your headset.

"I think it's worth the money. They named it the Avicii 'Experience', and it really is. It's not a usual museum," long-time Avicii fan Hanna Palm, 17, told Newsbeat.

"[There] could have been a little more about the big hits - it was a lot of unreleased tracks and demos - but that was the only thing I kind of missed."

'Maybe he felt lonely sometimes'

Although the Avicii Experience is designed to be fun, it doesn't shy away from Avicii's mental health problems and the pressures he experienced while working in the music industry.

One room attempts to simulate the high-paced lifestyle he lived before deciding to quit touring in 2016. Inside it, you're surrounded by mirrors and bombarded by the sounds of packed clubs, planes and paparazzi following him around.

"You can really, like, see his journey and understand what he went through," said 25-year-old Laura Lindström, who travelled from west Sweden to visit the Avicii Experience with her cousin.

"I guess it must have been very stressful for him, and maybe he felt lonely sometimes, even though he had so much people around him."

Image caption,
Laura wanted to pay her respects to the DJ by visiting the museum

The museum's cofounder is Per Sundin, who used to work for the label Universal Music in Sweden, where he sealed Avicii's deal for Levels.

He told Newsbeat Avicii's death had been a wake-up call for the music industry.

"I really think that the record labels and people working close to the artists think more about this, talk more about it," Per said.

Image source, Johanna Pettersson
Image caption,
One of the exhibits is Avicii's first "real" recording studio

Universal Music now offers therapy to its artists, as well as advice on how to manage their money. Tim's Dad Klas reckons it's a step in the right direction, but he says more still needs to be done to help people starting out in the industry.

"When you're 18, 20, and you earn a lot of money and you're out partying, it's a dangerous world. So, that should be controlled."

He thinks labels, promoters and even clubs should be made to pass a test - like a driving test - to prove they've got the skills to treat artists fairly and stop them burning out.

"Don't let young artists work 14 days in a row without resting, fly all over the continent back and forth. They should pause, sleep and rest."

Image caption,
Messages from fans to the DJ are on display at the Avicii museum

Avicii's family is also trying to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health through the Tim Bergling Foundation, which they set up in 2019. The organisation is currently working with schools, businesses and football teams in Sweden, and helps fund a national 24-hour helpline for young people.

Meanwhile some visitors to the Avicii Experience told Newsbeat they believe that Avicii's music itself continues to have a positive impact on many fans' mental health.

"I have been feeling down myself…and his lyrics have meaning and they really get into people's minds," said Hanna.

"You can forget about your own life for just a minute and just lose yourself in the great melodies that he has produced," said Laura.

"It just makes people happy".

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