International Music Summit (IMS) co-founders Pete Tong and Ben Turner have paid tribute to late EDM icon Avicii as the Ibiza conference prepares to host its first Wellness retreat, Remedy State.
Announced last December, Remedy State will be held from May 21-23, before the main summit, and has taken on an added poignance following Avicii's recent death in Oman at the age of 28. The DJ retired from live performance in 2016 for health reasons.
“When EDM blew up he was the first member of the ‘audience’, as it were, that actually stepped up from his home studio and took over the world,” Tong told Music Week. “It definitely took its toll on him and it’s tragic - particularly in light of the fact that he’d already taken the decision in 2016 to step back [from touring]. But he was always so passionate about making music. That was where he was most comfortable."
Turner added: “We’re all completely devastated that this could happen to anybody so young and such an extremely positive talent. I’ve never seen a social media response like it in our world. I was blown away by how far his influence had spread.”
Remedy State grew out of IMS 2017’s most popular talk, Health Vs Hedonism.
“It was launched as a response to the discussion and that feeling that we needed to act on some of the issues that were affecting us,” explained Turner. “Where IMS is seen differently from some of the other conferences is that ability to take an issue and turn it into something that can actually create change.”
The 11th edition of IMS Ibiza, which will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel from May 23-25, will examine issues including alleged sexual harassment within the genre. She Said.So, a network of women in the industry, will chair a talk intended to assess the impact of the issue specifically to electronic music, detect root causes and endeavour to reduce its existence within the industry with a series of recommendations.
"When we started this summit we were talking about the validity of the DJ Magazine Top 100," said Turner. "Ten years later, we're talking about Health Vs Hedonism and sexual harassment - deep, intense and important issues. That just shows me, partly, how the electronic music industry has grown up over the 11 years that we've been doing this, but also about society in general and how things are generally changing for the better.
"There is now open dialogue about mental health, sexual harassment and clearly the conversation's been heading quite openly into the areas which we believe surround Avicii's passing."
Tong said: "It's very glamorous being at the centre of this world when you're the artist up on stage and you're travelling the globe, having hits and earning loads of money, but I think we've always known the downside. I've been in the business a long time and it's affected me.
"We have seen it first hand behind the scenes, so it's always been there through our whole time with the IMS and it's become more poignant in interviews where people have been maybe more honest in the last three or four years than they might have been 10 or 11 years ago."
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