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ALOK on his Hï Ibiza residency and new beginnings on the White Isle

Alok is midway through his debut residency this summer — at DJ Mag's Top 100 Clubs winner, Hï Ibiza — after landing his highest place in our Top 100 DJs poll last year at No.4. DJ Mag Ibiza spent some time on the island with the Brazilian DJ/producer to discuss his new Monday night residency, his life on the island, and those magical Ibiza sunsets

Alok’s story is quite a remarkable journey. He’s the twin son of DJ parents who both had careers in dance music themselves, chiefly in the psy-trance scene in Brazil. His mum and dad didn’t want him to become a DJ, they wanted him to go to university, because they knew that it’s often hard to make a living in music. But, learning to DJ at 10 and starting to develop a production career, Alok couldn’t resist. He attended university in London at the age of 18, working at the Prince Of Wales pub in Brixton by night to fund his studies. Moving back to his home country, he became one of the pioneers of the Brazilian bass sound, working his way to becoming the international superstar he is now, having accrued 27 million Instagram followers. DJ Mag recently caught up with Alok in Ibiza, where he is living for the next few months.

What were your first visits to Ibiza like?

“The first time I came to the island was in 2016 as a tourist with my girlfriend, who is now my wife. We spent about four days here, which was great — it changed my perspective on how it works over here. I’d always heard about the island, but it is totally different to when you live here. I said to myself that the next time I come here I really want to play. The next time I came, I was performing at Ushuaïa, and since then I have been coming every year.”

What’s your favourite memory of the island?

“There are a few, but I also feel that my favourite moments are coming. I suppose I think it was when I was performing at Ushuaïa to a very packed crowd, that made me feel alive on the island. I had always dreamt of being here. And the great moments catching the sunsets with my wife.”

What effect did the island have on you when you first came?

“I feel that once you are in Ibiza it is impossible to leave as the same person that you came in as — it changed me in such a way. I really felt the summer mood and summer vibe of Europe, and I could really connect with what is going on, understanding the mechanism of the island and how important Ibiza is for the whole electronic music scene. When you are here, you are fresh and you want to hear fresh stuff, people here are very well educated. After here and what happens in the summer, you can understand what is going on for that year until the next one to come.”

What has been your experience of the 2022 season so far?

“I am still pretty fresh to it all. I arrived and have had my first few gigs. This year is different as I am really living here, I am staying here for the next three months, this is going to be my base and I am also bringing my family here so we can spend time together — this changes a lot of the perspective. Usually I come and go but now I am living here, and I am loving it. It is going to be interesting having my family here. I don’t know where I am going but the journey with them makes everything more interesting. Saying that, it isn’t easy to have two young kids on tour as well but it is very rewarding.”

Is Ibiza still relevant in the global dance music scene? Are DJs and records still discovered here?

“Absolutely. Ibiza has this resilience. The island puts a lot of effort into make things beautiful. People are inspired by the place, and that goes with the music and the lifestyle.”

ALOK performing live

The island is getting busier and busier. How do you think a DJ can help create a sustainable environment in dance music in Ibiza?

“I think it is important, not that I know much about this level of things in Ibiza, but I know what is going on in my country with the Amazon and how important it is to preserve this. It is really about the mindset that we are building around this. As any person, not just as a DJ, we have to have a consciousness about things, this is the most important part because once you know what’s wrong, it isn’t a mistake anymore, it is a choice and you have a choice to do it right. The thing now is how can we bring this consciousness to everyone that is here, and of course start to do things right. It is about awareness, that is what maybe is missing. It is important to bring light to the aspect, bring awareness to it. We come here more to party and if we are not aware of the other points, it’s not right.”

What do you think needs to be done to address the diversity issue in the scene in Ibiza?

“My singular experience is like this: we are the same but we are not treated the same, which is historical. We need to create a level playing field, it is not about something that can be easily fixed up. It is about the process, and again we have to get conscious about it and have empathy for everyone. My mum is a DJ and my dad is a DJ and I’ve seen how the treatment of women is compared to men for the last 25 years they have been playing. I am now seeing more and more women playing which makes me happy and it is part of the process.

“I wish we could have more diversity and I’m looking to see what I can do for it that will work. It’s about listening to the voices. I am very optimistic about every generation that comes, and every generation is more open-minded. They come and can lead the changes. This new generation has way more diversity in its perception, which is a good thing for the future.”

Hï Ibiza was voted the best club in the world in our DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs poll this year. What does it mean to you to be holding your debut residency here?

“It’s crazy, the club is very sophisticated and has a lot of technology. It is great, but it isn’t just about this, it is about the whole experience inside the club and also on the island, everything matched together. That’s why I think it is the No.1 club in the world, as it matches everything. To be part of this is great and to be a part of this history, and hopefully we can go on to write more history together. What I feel now is, for me, I have a great opportunity. I look at myself from 2019 and can’t recognise myself. I am changing, I feel fresh now, like a new version of myself. I feel it is the right moment for me to be at the club.”

ALOK in Ibiza

“I feel that once you are in Ibiza it is impossible to leave as the same person that you came in as, it changed me in such a way"

What are the main challenges in keeping the concept fresh and exciting throughout the season?

“The music industry has changed a lot since the pandemic, it is about cycles. When you see something that is trending that’s not what you have to do, as it is already there, you have to think about the next step, the evolution of the trending. That is what I am always thinking about.”

We’re a few months into the season now, how are your nights going?

“They are going really good. I actually started in the second room, now I’m playing every Monday in the main room, but the second room was a really nice experience because it is very intimate. I’ve been playing lots of big parties so to do this was a very cool experience for me, people were very close to me and it was great. But I’m back playing the main room every Monday, although depending on the vibe I would love to go back to the second room sometimes and play there and do an intimate set.”

Your DJ sets always tend to reflect influences from a wide scope of genres — how important is it to include a wide range of influences in what you play?

“It is because I don’t like to limit myself. I have been playing for the last 18 years and for the first seven years I lived in a prison that I created. I used to play very underground psy-trance, inspired by my parents of course, but it was like anything that was different from that. For me, I was judging, that was the way I was created, right? I used to judge DJs who went on stage and spoke on microphones, but funnily enough now I go on stage and speak with a microphone. Essentially the way we judge the world is the way the world will judge us. That’s how we think. The moment I was on stage speaking on the microphone, I thought that everyone was now judging me. Once I stopped doing all that judgement, I stopped being in the prison that I created. As I said, I don’t like to limit myself in any kind of style or genre, and I take influences from any style that touches me and just go with it.”

Do you feel that this brings to Ibiza something that has perhaps been missing?

“I mean, Ibiza this year is very surprising in that there are very strong parties across all genres — reggaetón, EDM, underground parties. I think if you ask me what genre I am doing I would say ‘free spirit’. Ibiza has this free spirit vibe, but people here are also very educated musically so you have to be into innovating yourself.”

ALOK performing live

What are your Ibiza essentials, the things you have to do while on the island?

“I love to go out on a boat to Formentera, find those cool spots, and also the sunsets to me are unique. I suppose the first time I went to Ibiza I only went out. The second time I started to understand about the island and now it is really the balance. I spend more time now enjoying the island than I do going out. I only go out once or twice a week, the rest I am enjoying the island.”

So talking about not going out as much, what is your favourite thing to do in Ibiza when you are not in the club?

“The favourite thing for me is getting a boat, to go around and check out the sunsets — this is one of my favourite moments in life. Enjoying these beautiful surroundings with the family.”

Do you think that you’ll ever get bored of the allure of Ibiza?

“No, no, we as human beings created the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, thing... we created that script but for the universe, every day is a new day. I can’t get used to it, it is always going to be special.”

Musically, what can we expect from you over the next few months, what’s keeping you busy?

“During the pandemic I released so many songs, I think about 42 during that period of time, and I didn’t release any club songs. So now everything is back, I am going to do something different — focus on one track and work it hard over a longer length of time, more than just a string of releases.”