In the summer of 2013, it seemed like Avicii‘s hit single, “Wake Me Up” was inescapable. Although it was awkwardly debuted at Ultra to serious criticism from disappointed fans, it went on to dominate the summer charts. The single peaked at number 1 in 22 countries and reached the top 10 in 6 others. Every time you would turn on the radio or attend a live show, it seemed as if Avicii’s country-electronic fusion could not be avoided. A year and a half later, singer Aloe Blacc is still reaping the rewards of the tremendous commercial hit. He sat down to talk with Billboard at Sundance to discuss the song’s success while hitting on various other contemporary music topics.
On the success of “Wake Me Up”:
“We worked hard at it. Mike Einziger and Avicii and I were able to create something that I think touched the world in a great way.”
On performing “Wake Me Up” with Lady Antebellum during the CMT Ultimate Kickoff Party in Dallas:
“That was really fun. I was honored to be invited to perform with them at the CMT event. They’d been covering the song in the show, “Wake Me Up,” they invited me to sing it. For me, it was great to get in front of their audience.
On the struggles of coming up with the next big thing:
“What I think it comes down to is not focusing on whether it’ll be a hit, because there are so many factors that determine that. I’ve had songs that are huge hits over in Europe, but we didn’t have the same infrastructure in the U.S. to make it work. So as long as I’m happy with it and the musicians that I’m working with are not rolling their eyes in the studio, then we’ve got something nice.”
On the expansion of Spotify and music streaming:
“Streaming is obviously the way we all want to consume music. My only issue with the way things are going right now is that the laws aren’t changing fast enough. I’ve been talking to people in the House of Representatives and Department of Justice about what it’s going to take to change the laws so that they match the speed of technology changing.”
On the social media movement:
“I participate, I mean I do it because I want to be sure my fans know what I’m up to. From a personal level, I’m not really communicating with family or friends — I do that in real life. I come from a generation, an old school generation where you actually go to a concert and you dance, rather than living through your social media…It’s not as though people aren’t enjoying. What I’m used to is being in the moment and sharing that energy with my audience. So when the phones go up it’s fine, because I know that they’re still embracing the moment in their own way. But I just wish that I could see their eyes and their smiles.”