Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger talks Avicii collaboration, Ultra performance in latest interview
Avicii made a splash at Ultra Music Festival last weekend when he brought a slew of live musicians to the main stage to perform music from his forthcoming album. Of those artists were country legend Mac Davis, Incubus members Mike Einziger, Ben Kenney, and Jose Pasillis II. This was no a random festival charade — these were the artists (among Nile Rodgers and Mike Shinoda) that have contributed to the album’s production. In a recent interview with KROQ, Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger opens up about his experience working with Avicii in the studio, joining him at Ultra last weekend, and the negative feedback from their performance
Having played guitar for one of the most famed rock bands of the last twenty years, Einziger admits that he’s “not at all familiar with the landscape of EDM.” “I was vaguely aware of his name. I totally knew his song “Levels” really well,” the rockstar continued. After sharing conversation and picking each others’ brains, Einziger found that he actually had a lot in common with the electronic producer and was intrigued by his prowess. “Where he was coming from musically was really interesting to me,” he explained.
Einziger took the time to affirm Avicii’s authenticity and creative instinct as an artist, claiming “[Avicii] wanted to make a record that was true to what he’d done in the past, but he also had this intense desire to do something drastically different and pave some new ground in that electronic world.” Further unveiling the mind of Tim Bergling, he shares the impression left before the two would go on to make magic.
“He wanted to make this record that really had a lot of soul, but infused elements of folk music, country – all kinds of different sounds you wouldn’t normally find in his EDM universe. He was really adamant about it, which is why it was such a good idea for us to work together. He’s so committed to the idea of not doing what everybody else is doing. That was exciting to me.”
The Incubus guitarist next gave a look into his in-studio experience with Tim, describing the workflow, name-dropping fellow collaborators, and even revealing titles of their finished productions. “Avicii started playing me ideas that he had, and it just gelled into us writing a few songs very quickly,” he depicted a unique studio session. Einziger confirmed one of the records will be titled “Wake Me Up,” an effort with Aloe Blacc (who was also at Ultra) on vocals.
Mike took lessons away from his newfound electronic production stint, and was amazed at the way Avicii conducted himself in the studio. “He’s really a great editor. He takes pieces of things and puts them together in ways I wouldn’t have expected,” Einziger reflects on one of the few learning experiences. He continues with astonishment, “It’s crazy working with him, when he does his thing, it’s all on his computer. It looks like he’s playing a video game.”
Touching upon all things Ultra Music Festival, Einziger speaks of how Avicii lured him on stage; “He asked me if I thought it would work, and I thought that it would. I did admit that it might come off as shocking to his audience, but yeah, we could definitely do it. He was totally fearless about it.” Moving on and being asked about the critical reception, Einziger opens up about the risk and the negative feedback.
“We all knew going into it that it would be kind of a tough pill for that particular audience to swallow… We were definitely popping wheelies the whole time… We could tell that the crowd wasn’t freaking out during that part of the show the way they had been earlier in his performance.”
It was a risk worth taking for the longtime rock sensation and it was a risk worth taking for a young, forward-thinking electronic star. Einziger admires the qualities he’s seen of Avicii and draws parallels to himself and his experience with Incubus; “Every time we put out new music as Incubus, it’s received very critically, no matter what it is. Some people don’t like it if it’s different, other people don’t like it if it’s the same as what you’ve done before.” In Avicii’s defense, he portrayed the perspective from a well-respected music veteran; “You’re kind of f***** no matter what you do, so you really have to put all that aside and have confidence in your vision.”
Reflecting on everything from meeting Avicii for the first time to working with him to joining him on stage, Einziger wraps up his interview with his artistic impression: “That’s why I like working with Avicii. He definitely has a vision for what he wants to do.” He may not have known much about EDM beforehand, but in the fashion of the scene he offers insight to their “very unexpected but really fruitful collaboration,” and leaves fans with anticipation.