The 405 caught up with Levan Tsikurishvili, a Stockholm-based filmmaker and director of Avicii: True Stories, a compelling new documentary film premiering on October 26 in selected cinemas worldwide. Avicii: True Stories traces the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling)– one of the world's highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete shock to his fans and the industry. The film reveals the choices he faced and his thoughts at the time.

The showings of Avicii: True Stories will be followed by a 30 minute concert film of Avicii’s final show in Ibiza August 28, 2016. 

The film traces the artist/DJ's life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking.

Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta and Wyclef JeanAvicii: True Stories is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist's point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.

"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”, Tsikurishvili says.

Avicii:  True Stories (2017) is Tsikurishvili's 4th documentary feature. He has been following Tim Bergling since 2013, and on a near-daily basis over the last three years.

Levan, I'd like to start by asking what people who don't know about Avicii should know about him and the film?

What I think I want people to understand about Avicii is the actual person behind it which is Tim. What I mean by that is, it's so easy to judge nowadays from social media, and the press, and all the information we are getting from our phones. We really don't know who the person is, but you think you know – that is what I think is the biggest point with that. Also, there is the whole explanation of who he is and how his life has been the past 8 years.

This is not a documentary about only EDM, I think it is bigger than that at the same time, and I really hope people can understand that when they see it.

What was your initial inspiration for the project?

That is a very funny question actually – inspiration came from a director called Roy Andersson. I don't know if you know of him, but he is one of the oldest directors we have in Sweden, and his studio is actually just like a block away from my office. So, I really like him, and I really like what he does.

And when it comes to like specific inspiration, True is divided into chapters. This is a documentary feature film, but at the same time I tried to do more like a real feature film and divide it up into 3 different chapters – Chapter Number 1, Chapter Number 2, and Chapter Number 3 – that was a specific inspiration, and it really made my film something better once I realized I had to divide the movie into chapters.

From the beginning, inspiration came from a short film, a documentary, I did about Avicii in 2013. When I finished that, I straight-away wrote the next idea, treatment. And, yeah, that's how the whole inspiration came about.

During the process, of course, the story got bigger and bigger – I was supposed to release the documentary 2 years ago, my deadline was 2 years ago, actually. As the story grew, I pushed the deadline year-by-year. And, yeah. That was it.

Avicii broke through when EDM was a HUGE sound all-over the world. Do you think that era is still viable? Or do you suppose it's more cyclical, that it might come back? Will it be coming back as a larger trend and will it be coming back for Avicii too?

To be honest with you, EDM is a top music for me, music in general.

Yeah, I do definitely think EDM still has a big place in the music industry and EDM is still going to grow, if you want to say like specifically EDM. Other than that, I see EDM as like, you know, the bigger music in general, because I was listening to EDM basically from the beginning, like 10 years ago.

But nowadays if you are kids on the street, it's like “what's the difference between EDM and like normal music?” (Laughs)

They're not going to really be able to get an answer on that, because, you know, I grew up with EDM and EDM wasn't really big from the beginning but nowadays it's become main-stream. My grandfather can listen to an EDM track and still like it, so (Laughs)

So, I do see differences from the beginning, because, in the beginning, everything was on the down-low and you had to really go to these underground clubs to look for EDM and people don't do that nowadays. I mean, it's so easy to just plug in your radio and hear whatever favorite track you have, whether its EDM or not EDM.

So, yeah. That's what I think.

Who has influenced you most as a documentary story-teller and as an artist besides Roy Andersson who you mentioned?

Actually Malik Bendjelloul who did Searching for Sugar Man (2012) – I knew him, actually before he passed. I didn't really work with him but I knew him – I was in the same company as he was working.

So, I knew him personally, and as far as he has been an inspiration, especially for that documentary, but he also did amazing shorter clips of the Swedish nation. He had this really specific story-telling which was like really amazing to see because he was always putting the visuals to their narrative in a way that really talked to me. When I saw his work, it was very clear to me what he was trying to do, even though it was like TV stuff.

And you could really see that in Searching for Sugar Man, the narrative, the way he tells the story, it's difficult to explain, but it works. I do really think it's a masterpiece – I have been inspired by him definitely. 

Have you seen Searching for Sugar Man? (Laughs)

I haven't, but I think I am going to add it to my list.

Yeah, yeah. You know, the way he tells the story… it's very difficult nowadays in a documentary. People know everything about anything, and to be able to still get their attention, I don't remember how long the movie was, it was like one and a half hours, and still, I really watched each frame from the start to the end. It really affected me.             

Favorite films?

That’s very difficult. Very difficult. [Laughs]

It is for me to.

To be honest with you, I don't really have a favorite film right now. That is largely because I have been writing a drama series the last two years, and I almost always watch just the serious stuff with that.

I really need to refresh my memory but of course the Roy Andersson films, you know, all of them [Laughs] … are my favorite actually…

 

Catch Avicii: True Stories in select cinemas worldwide October 26.

 

Find the closest cinema to you that is playing Avicii: True Stories by going here.