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[Herald Interview] World’s top DJ hopes to work with BTS

Brazilian DJ Alok (Gil Inoue)
Brazilian DJ Alok (Gil Inoue)
K-pop has become a truly global phenomenon, thanks to its distinctive blend of melodies, powerful choreography and an endless parade of attractive performers. Amid the popularity of K-pop worldwide, an increasing number of big-name artists are wooing Korean musicians.

It is a desire shared by Brazilian DJ Alok, who has worked with global artists such as John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Jason Derulo, Dua Lipa and Steve Aoki. While the world’s top DJ is still thirsty for more collaboration projects, he included K-pop superstar BTS on his wish list.

“It would be amazing to work with BTS. What the guys are doing has really put Korean pop music on the map all around the world,” DJ Alok said in a recent email interview with The Korea Herald. “To have the group feature on (my) production would be so much fun.”

Alok is known as one of the most prominent DJs in the scene, reaching all corners of the world with his talent and music traversing all different genres. The global electronic music megastar ranked No. 4 in the 2021 DJ Magazine Top 100 DJs poll.

Music has been part of Alok’s life ever since he was born. Since both of his parents are psytrance DJs and producers, he has been working as a DJ since he was 11, and a music producer since 15. His twin brother also writes music and works as a DJ. The musician said, “The door was always open for me to explore that creative side and have access to a vibrant world of music and artists.”

Brazilian DJ Alok (Gil Inoue)
Brazilian DJ Alok (Gil Inoue)
The 30-year-old musician has been a fan of world music and the individuality each country can present in its own style. With the hope of introducing Korean culture to both his home country and the rest of the world, Alok shared an official remix of the soundtrack for the Netflix smash hit series “Squid Game” in December last year. 

He was also involved in the “Global K-Oriental Project” launched by local companies including JTBC and Attrakt M last year to widely introduce traditional gugak music to the world. “Under the Full Moon (Alok Remix)” is the wrap-up work to the project, in collaboration with pansori singer Kim Jun-su and singer Sonnet Son which was released earlier this month.

“I wanted to bridge the sound of East meets West whilst also honoring the Korean sound itself,” he said. “I enjoyed the ideas that we originally came up with collectively, so much that it wasn’t a long process for me to then add my signature touch and thoughts on where we could push it creatively, it felt like an organic take for me to be a part of the project.”

The Korean title for “Under the Full Moon” is “GanggangSullae,” which refers to an ancient Korean dance used to bring about a bountiful harvest. Alok said that he took inspiration from feminine energy and feelings of revitalization and positivity. He guided the track with his own deeper style, yet still respected the original and its cultural elements, the DJ added. 

Brazilian DJ Alok (center), pansori singer Kim Jun-su (right) and singer Sonnet Son (Attrakt M)
Brazilian DJ Alok (center), pansori singer Kim Jun-su (right) and singer Sonnet Son (Attrakt M)
The DJ made his first visit to Korea in December last year, even shooting the song’s music video with Kim and Son at Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, which was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for its historical value. He felt it was a “natural fit” to bring together their sounds on the project.

He is seeking a greater opportunity to expand his base in Korea, where he can link up with local fans and peers through his music. The DJ was previously planning to visit Korea again in June, performing as a headliner for the “World DJ Festival Korea,” but his visit had to be postponed due to some changes in the agenda, he said.

“I hope to return soon to see how Korean fans enjoy the party, and I also hope to eat as much local Korean food as I can to really immerse myself into the Korean culture and learn more. Can’t wait to be back,” Alok said, thanking local fans for their support. He also hinted that his new music is set to be released on Friday.

Alok said he hopes to deliver a message of energy and positivity that allows people to feel free and let loose through his music. For those who are going through a difficult time amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, he recommended the dance-pop vibe “Run Into Trouble,” his collaboration with Brit Award winning band Bastille which will be out Friday.

His other suggestion was to listen to the compilation “Controversia by Alok Vol.005,” which was released a week ago. “There is something for everyone from the deep to the energetic and to more party-ready sounds that I hope will uplift fans at this time,” he said.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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