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Poll 2021: Alok

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From: Brazil

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.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-05 12:50

Style: 
“Brazilian bass, dance pop.”
Best known for: 
“Bringing Brazilian bass music to a global level.”
Tune of the year: 
“Shouse ‘Love Tonight’.”

Poll 2020: Alok

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“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’."

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2020-10-20 10:06

Style: 
“Brazilian bass.”
Best known for: 
“'Hear Me Now’, ‘Piece Of Your Heart (Alok Remix)’.”
Tune of the year: 
“Frey, Sway Gray ‘Wir Sind Nicht Allein feat. Felix Rauber’.”

Poll 2019: Alok

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“Well, 2019 started for me with my wedding with my beautiful and beloved wife Romana,” explains Alok when DJ Mag asks how the last 12 months have been — congratulations! From then on it was all go for South America’s highest-ranking DJ; over the course of what he describes as a “very intense but productive year [for] me and my crew”, Alok played shows such as Rock In Rio, Tomorrowland, DJ Mag’s Miami pool party, and performed for an “unimaginable crowd” in Japan. One particular highlight, he says, was a “remarkable stopover at Burning Man where we spent a few days experiencing the unknown and unseen” — very mysterious! 

Alok explains he’s used his extensive touring time to develop his performance to the benefit of both the crowd and himself. And to top it all off: “We found out that we were expecting a baby and he will be due in January. So much information and feelings combined, it all made my year of 2019 more than priceless and unforgettable so far.” We believe another congratulation is in order...

 

Do you submit your DJ setlists to the relevant royalties collecting society?

“Yes, and a very good piece of advice is: pay your debts while you can and ask for your rights while you can too. There are several rules that apply when [talking about] royalty. And the more we sell music, the more we owe to someone or the more we are owed by someone.” 

What more can we do to combat the mental health crisis in our scene?

“First of all, you need to know how to distinguish what is lifestyle and profession. Being a DJ as a profession is often linked to lifestyle with endless, unmissable and incredible parties. Being aware that this can wear your mind and body apart from all [the] travelling can contribute to a healthier profession.” 

Are you personally doing anything to improve the gender balance of line-ups?

“Absolutely! I think the whole world is asking now for more equality in all possible areas and fields, not only connected to music but overall globally. I would even go beyond in saying that the current and next hypes will probably be the female headliners that are taking over the scene, especially the underground one. That is very powerful and beautiful to see and witness.” 

What changes have you made this year to be more environmentally friendly?

“I have been sort of going vegetarian for a while now, but in 2019 I have become more conscious about food and the environment. It is a choice and for some a daily sacrifice, but each of us must do something within our powers to contribute more to the planet we live on.” 

What was your favourite toy when you were a kid?

“I know it will sound cliché but trust me… it was a pair of CDJs that my parents had back then.” 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

“Pre-workout powder [laughs]. Coffee.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2019-10-16 11:24

Style: 
“Pop.”
Best known for: 
“‘Vale Vale’, ‘Hear Me Now’, ‘Fuego’.”
Tune of the year: 
“Lee Foss ‘Crawl (CamelPhat Remix)’.”

Poll 2018: Alok

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From: Brazil
DJ style: “POP.”
Best known for: “‘Favela’, ‘BYOB’, ‘Hear Me Now’, ‘Fuego’, ‘Never Let Me Go’, ‘Me & You’, ‘Ocean’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Vini Vici.”

Whether he’s opening his heart and getting all emotional on massive mid-tempo pop-sprinkled chartlets like ‘I Miss U’, laying down thick Brazilian bass mutants with his mates Vini Vici and Armin van Buuren, or travelling the world playing to some of the largest crowds of his career so far, one thing is certain: Alok has been having a blast this year.

“This year I have travelled and worked a lot at a very insane and crazy pace,” explains the young DJ, who’s now enjoying his fourth consecutive year in the Top 100 — jumping up to an impressive No.13. “I toured in Asia, North America, Europe and South America in surreal and amazingly remarkable festivals and events.”

But don’t worry if you’re concerned he’s over-working himself; just like all the wisest DJs this year, Alok’s paying attention to his wellness and those close to his heart. Echoing his dewy-eyed lyrics and feels on pivotal 2018 tracks of his such as ‘Bella Ciao’ or the massive ‘Ocean’, Alok is every bit the sensitive, caring soul his music suggests. “I always make sure I come home and give my family and fiancé some time, attention and love,” he explains. “It is crucial.”

Words: DAVE JENKINS

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2018-10-12 11:10

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