Brazilian DJ Alok is currently in the middle of a global tour performing at some of the biggest shows of the year. One of the stops on his tour included the 30th anniversary of Beyond Wonderland. As he was getting prepared for his set list for the evening Alok was kind enough to chat with Quip Magazine.
Walking into his trailer with his rep Ari, Alok is leaned back into his chair with his head resting on his fist. He seems exhausted. But wouldn’t you be too after working a plethora of shows? Imagine having to perform in Las Vegas in the afternoon and then Beyond Wonderland in California at night. Let alone flying in from different countries around the world. It’d be demanding on anyone. Yet Alok manages to look up and flash a golden smile. We both take a breather before we start our chat. Alok is his actual name, which means “light, brightness, enlightenment”. During our conversation, he lives up to the definition. Alok shows an honest vulnerability about the hardship of a grueling schedule, his passion for music, and plans to help preserve the Amazon through his “Future Is Ancestral” program.
Vidal Granados: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us during your prep time. How are you enjoying your time at Beyond Wonderland? On the way over here, I was listening to your catalog and loved the vibe, especially your version of Mathieu Koss’ “Big Jet Plane”
Alok: [Smiles] Well unfortunately I won’t be playing that song tonight.
VG: No! It’s okay I heard it 6 times on the way here
A: [Laughs] Then you heard it enough… You know Beyond Wonderland brings a different type of atmosphere so I’m just really thinking and preparing for what I’m going to perform tonight. I respect the places I go so the set tonight will be completely different than what I played earlier today in Vegas.
VG: How are you feeling, you’ve been busy running around, how do decompress and relax having been going in nonstop motion?
A: To be honest I’m feeling homesick at the moment. I miss my wife and kids so much. I actually wanted to take a 3-day break and then come back to the US dates, but it would’ve made traveling even more chaotic. I did 5 countries in two weeks so it’s been quite intense. Last year I said I was going to get into a more balanced lifestyle. [Laughs] Hasn’t happened yet. There’s a bit of pressure involved because every market is different. Just because you’re successful in one doesn’t mean it’ll be translated somewhere else. So I put a lot of thought into my sets. But it makes me feel better seeing fans connect with my sound. Having been doing this for almost 20 years I’ve played at empty clubs before. Now I get to travel knowing people enjoy my performances. Every time I perform it recharges my energy. There’s an adrenaline rush and release I feel afterward. Being on stage makes everything okay.
VG: Being involved with music for the last 20 years, how did you get your start?
A: Both my parents are DJs. They were my biggest inspirations. I was born and raised in the electronic scene. Growing up in a talented hippie community, I was allowed to be free at a very young age. This freedom made my brother and I choose DJing as a way to make a living. Some moments in my life I wanted to abandon it because I felt it was too complicated to live off true art. It’s hard and sometimes you don’t have the income to execute your plans. But my dad didn’t allow me to give up. He said, “You have to keep going,” I said that I will but I’ll do things my own way and that’s how I created Alok.
VG: What advice would you give to struggling artists?
A: Dealing with art is subjective. You should still have a job! [Laughs] In order to keep funding your dreams. But it’s all about persistence and loving what you do. Find the balance of staying fresh while seeing what’s the current trend. You have to adapt to whatever media is currently happening. 5 years ago TikTok wasn’t even a thing. My parents are from the era of vinyl and CDs so you have to be aware of what’s going on and adapt. Who will survive isn’t always the strongest one. The dinosaurs are gone [smiles].
VG: Your project, “Future Is Ancestral,” is a climate change project to support the indigenous people of the Amazon in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact that includes a documentary and accompanying album whose proceeds will go to the natives. Please explain how you came up with this idea.
A: Eight years ago, I was going through a rather depressing point in my life. I went to a very isolated indigenous tribe in the Amazon to try and find answers. I was looking for inspiration. It was very remote but it was an amazing experience. We have this mindset that we’re more developed than other cultures. It’s not true just different perspectives. I learned a lot and got really connected with nature. Humans have become really disconnected from nature. We need to preserve it and indigenous cultures. 5% of the global population is indigenous but they protect 82% of the territories because they know how to live off the land. Whereas deforestation is done in the name of progress but harms the Earth. “Future Is Ancestral” means the answer for the future is in the past. People are starting to pay attention to climate change more and realize something needs to be done. We as a collective are starting to shift into an era of consciousness.
VG: Absolutely. Speaking of conscious awakening, you’ve stated in past interviews that you’re completely different compared to your 2019. We have all gone through a dramatic change in the last few years. It’s now spring, a new season for change. Are there any last words of encouragement for those seeking inspiration as we enter this new age of consciousness?
A: Continue to reflect, get inspired, and work on yourself. While things are looking bleak continue to fight on. Remember there’s still good in the world. Throughout history, there have been a lot of people who worked hard to us a better life. I want to be a part of that movement. I hope those reading join in.