If True indicated it, Stories confirms it. Avicii's second full-length album situates the 26-year-old away from his Ultra-headlining past and more toward a genre-bending production wizard. Just like his 2013 debut LP, his latest mixes a slew of genres—arena rock, '90s hip hop, a little bit of reggae—but this time the songs are blended and ordered in a way that feels more cohesive rather than like a mixed bag of musical candy.
While Avicii's been laying low after post-emergency surgery issues forced him to cancel the rest of his 2014 tour schedule, Fuse checked in with the Swedish producer to talk Stories, musical influences and how he's feeling nowadays. Check it below and be sure to stream the new record as you're reading.
Congrats on Stories. How does it feel to release your second album? It's still not totally common for producers to release full-lengths.
Thank you, it feels great. I've been working on this album for quite some time, so it's really exciting to have it out there for everyone to hear.
Just like on True, there's a whole mix of genres, but I feel like Stories is more cohesive overall. Were you consciously trying to have these songs coincide more?
Yes, rather than departing from True, I wanted Stories to build upon it. For me, Stories refined what I didn't feel was perfect last time. I carefully considered lyrics, even delivering one of my most personal songs. All of the songs on this album have a story I wanted to tell.
What genres and types of sounds were inspiring you the most while you were making this record?
I drew inspiration from so many different genres—I explored rock, reggae, blues, jazz and many more. Much like True, I didn't limit myself. The collaborators on this album inspired the direction of the sound as well. Once I'd get the melody down and hear the vocals, I'd know where to take everything.
I give all of the featured artists' equal writing credits, and that's what this album is all about—the songs.
It feels like you’ve got your finger on the pulse with new artists. You had Aloe Blacc on "Wake Me Up," and now we're being introduced to people like Simon Aldred and Audra Mae. How do you decide on who you work with?
I just choose vocalists that I really like, mainstream or not and regardless of genre.
What songs do you think you pushed yourself most as an artist on? A song like "Pure Grinding" comes to mind for me, it feels like you really tried something new there.
For me, the entire album showcased that. I wasn't consciously pushing myself harder on one track over another. For Stories, I wanted to meld together both traditional and electronic styles in new and innovative ways within my own music. "Pure Grinding" definitely serves as a case in point, with its collision of hip hop, soul and electronic.
While making this album, you had a few health concerns. How are you feeling now?
I'm still taking it easy, but I’m much better. I'm getting back in a routine and focusing on living a healthy lifestyle again. I'm staying active and trying to eat as healthy as possible.
Did those health scares manifest themselves in any way into the album? How did they affect the process and creation?
They did in a way, because it gave me a lot of time to focus on completing the album and really hone in on what I wanted to accomplish and ultimately create. And as I'd mentioned before, lyrics had a lot more meaning to me this time around.
And what's coming up next?
No set plans yet. I started working on Stories shortly after True, so who knows… maybe some more studio time.