Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “John Summit.”
ALOK is a deeply thoughtful and reflective soul. A man with a real social conscience, a strong connection to nature and love of the human race that goes way beyond his fans, even though they number in their millions around the world. When we speak to him, he is still basking in the afterglow of the birth of his second child.
“They are like two different galaxies in the same universe,” he beams. “Every day I stare at them as if I’m discovering a new star in the sky. You have to remap and reframe your understanding every day, every minute. It’s a huge exercise of commitment as well as a learning process of the new as a premise of life.”
That's not the only learning the Brazilian has done this year. The extra time at home during the pandemic meant he has expanded his creative world by releasing several songs with international pop stars like Jason Derulo, Tove Lo and John Legend. He also reached out to new trap and hip-hop talents in Brazil to make tracks for the gaming industry that have gone on to pick up over 300 million plays. “Collaborations enrich my repertoire,” he says. “I work with artists who provoke me musically, and the exchange is always a learning experience.”
On top of this, he consolidated the GameChanger platform, which seeks to further qualify competitive scenarios by creating opportunities for young people to transform their lives through FreeFire, the most inclusive mobile game in the world. He also set up the Alok Institute, where he allocates 100% of his FreeFire character's royalties to socio-environmental projects in Brazil, Africa and India. The institute has already supported projects in those countries which promote income generation, fight hunger and create opportunities for human development in various fields. “Digital inclusion is also an important theme for the institute, mainly to give access to and create real opportunities for young people from underprivileged classes,” he tells DJ Mag.
As if that wasn't enough, he has also produced his first album in collaboration with Brazilian indigenous peoples. It arrives in 2022 along with a documentary, Future Is Ancestral, that follows the creative journey and his immersion in indigenous culture as a way of showing its importance to the world. Musically, the album shows a marked transformation from previous ALOK works, “due to the experiences I have lived and my growing desire to inspire people to live and build a new future for all of us”.
ALOK's mission goes way beyond music. He says he always reminds himself never to forget the people who don't have the same privileges he has had: “My biggest goal today is to transform my achievements into opportunities for less fortunate people and to be able to inspire more and more people to have this attitude. If we reviewed the meaning of success and had an agenda based on collectivity, inclusion and human dignity, it would be very powerful.”
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
“It was absolutely amazing and rewarding to see almost all of the 265,000 people who attended the festival having fun and sharing their energy. It was a remarkable moment which I will never forget.”
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
"Before the pandemic, I was doing over 300 shows a year, so with the drastic change I was able to expand the scope of my professional performance as a producer, consolidate projects in the gaming universe, develop audio-visual and launch the Alok Institute.”
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“It is very important to address issues such as conscious consumption, forest preservation, renewable energy, not as a problem but as a wish and as a solution.”
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
“With my first album, I have worked with the Brazilian indigenous people. They consider themselves instruments of nature, able to interpret and hear what the forest has to say and turn it into music, to bring healing, celebration, enchantment, reflection and inspiration to people.”
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
“'Found In the Wild' by Eli & Fur, because of its immersive atmosphere.”