“The experience of going to an EDM show or house show is something that turns on a lot of people to house music, the kind of unity and energy of the crowd, you know I’ve been to all different kinds of concerts like from rock to hip-hop and you don’t get that at any other genre,” Bergling muses as his car makes its way to North Jersey. “Not even close to the energy level and unity and it’s different, you can get similar to what it’s like with really hard rock bands, but then it’s more aggressive.”
Surely the scene around such shows adds to the appeal. While in the concession line during Avicii’s set, a young man approached another concertgoer asking if he had any molly, the preferred slang for the drug MDMA in such circles. When he explained he had none, he turned to two teenage boys behind him in line. The pair sadly informed him that they had just asked him the same thing in the bathroom. Bergling, for his part, said he shies away from the chemically enabled side of the scene.
“When you do 300 shows a year, it’s just impossible,” he says. “You can keep it up for a while, but if you keep it up for too long you’ll just crash. You can’t do it.”
Extracurricular activities aside, Bergling holds a unique appeal among his EDM contemporaries. While some peers favor style cues from the rock star playbook such as oversize masks and asymetric haircuts, Bergling prefers a simple post-college style: jeans, untucked button down, backwards hat. His unassuming style surely had a hand in his gig fronting campaigns for Ralph Lauren’s Denim & Supply line this fall. Staring at him atop the giant head from which he DJ’d on his latest tour, and upon which was projected a very impressive light show, he could have been any one of the kids doing their best to dance in between Radio City’s rows. It is actually a fitting uniform in the barrier-to-entry-low world of EDM.
His presentation seemed to suggest that, with the right memory stick and a good enough ear, any of you kids could be him. And not so long ago, he was a kid in Stockholm studying the work of his own heroes like Swedish House Mafia.
“I always had wanted to make music and I always had melodies in my head, but I can’t sing and I can’t play guitar. I wasn’t that good,” he said as the SUV moves through North Jersey. “I wasn’t seriously thinking that I was going to be a guitar player in a band or anything, but this was an actual possibility.”
A short while later, the car arrives at the terminal curb. Bergling pops out and is through the glass doors for a flight back to Stockholm. And then one to Dubai. And after that another to Kiev, Ukraine, bags and memory sticks in tow.