“I don’t think I’ve made it,” says ALOK rather humbly, despite placing so highly in this year’s poll. “This is a recognition for all Brazilians and Brazilian artists. I hope I can be a ray of light to those people who believe that their art can take them above, as that is why I keep taking my beats out into the world — to wake up the positivity and good choices in the people who feel them.”
This year has been a big one for him both personally and privately: his first son was born, his wife is pregnant for a second time, and he is officially the second biggest electronic artist on Instagram, as well as hosting the biggest live stream of 2020, which trended at No.1 globally on Twitter. He was the first-ever DJ in his homeland to be aired on prime time, which has very much opened a new dimension for electronic music in the country. It has been a booming scene for a while, but right now it has never been hotter, which is part of the reason why ALOK started CONTROVERSIA, a label on which he has signed up a wealth of new talent in the last year.
“I want to push talent and give them the extra support needed to get recognised,” says the 29-year-old, who this year made his first foray into the gaming world when he was invited by Garena to become a Free Fire character. “As a player, it is crazy to see me as a character with superpowers. Also, part of the profit from the sale is converted to socio-educational projects.”
In the studio, he has decided recently that less is more. “I’m using things that break formulas a little bit, are experimental and new. As there is no face-to-face party, you end up being able to make more visceral music, without thinking too much about rocking the dancefloor. Sounds that may be more introspective, not really thinking about how it will resonate in the clubs.”
One such tune this year was “very special” to Alok. ‘It’s Don’t Say Goodbye’ was created with Turkish mega-talent Ilkay Sencan and features Sweden’s Tove Lo too. “She got very excited about the song and wanted to give her own twist to it. We loved what she did. Still get goosebumps every time, listening to the record,” he says.
The enforced downtime that has come as a result of the global pandemic has been great for ALOK, who has had the pleasure of “really witnessing first-hand my son Ravi growing. It’s happening so fast but I am so blessed with such a great family around me.” It’s had such an impact that ALOK even admits, “I have definitely decided to tour a lot less when touring will kick-start again, and definitely take my family around with me. For me, family is the most important thing in life.”
As well as promising lots of new music and collaborations that will continue to blow up his Brazilian bass sound, ALOK explains his philosophy is drawn from a famous Bruce Lee quote. “We should have the same ability water has, to flow, to adapt.” That is certainly a mantra this ever-evolving artist lives by.
What three things have most helped you through Coronavirus Lockdown?
“My family, studio and game streaming.”
What lessons should the industry learn from this crisis?
“It takes so many people to put up one show and many of them work in silence and behind the scenes. This crisis has brought into perspective how important these people are to the industry itself.”
What steps need to be taken to address the racism in the dance music scene?
“Within the reality that is structural racism, the important thing is to open space for these questions to be answered by people who are truly representative voices on the issue. We want them to show us what is relevant in this discussion.”
What industry changes are you personally pushing for to make the dance music scene more inclusive?
“Last year, I did a show with an interpreter next to me translating the lyrics into Brazilian Sign Language (also known as Libras). It was a true connection!”
What’s the greatest dance music track of all time?
“David Guetta ‘Titanium’.”