EDC Las Vegas 2023 welcomes EDM enthusiasts, music artists and creatives for the largest EDM festival and DJ Alok is back in Las Vegas as the closing set for Saturday. Alok's sunrise set takes the audience from hyped to spiritual for a transcendental musical journey. I caught up with DJ Alok to learn more about what audiences can expect for his closing set, what is new since we last spoke ahead of EDC 2022 and his intentions behind his music.
Q: What was the highlight of your EDC performance and experience last year?
A: The fact that I was without coming to the U.S. for a long time and I kind of changed my whole set from the last time I came [was the biggest highlight.] So [the set was] very fresh and as I told you in the last interview, when I looked back I couldn’t really recognize myself so that was like repositioning myself again.
At the very end when I finished my set, the backstage people were talking about [how] they really enjoyed, also the comments on the internet. I think it was the feedback…positive feedback…it was a different feedback than I’ve gotten beforehand because sometimes in the past I used to play hits, hits, hits just to make the crowd excited all the time. [EDC Las Vegas 2022] I just played more of my stuff…I just tried to be myself, not feeling so much [of] the pressure. The feedback was very positive, way better than before.
Q: So you feel like you had more room to be creative on that set?
A: Exactly, I wasn’t so afraid. Actually, I was a bit afraid beforehand when I was thinking about what I was going to play and if people [wouldn't] react and this and that. But it actually was very, very nice. I feel also that I really got connected to the crowd of EDC here and in Orlando, also the other festival that they do in San Bernardino from Insomniac…Beyond Wonderland. I really got connected with them. I feel that it’s a new generation that really wants to hear something new and fresh and that they really want to be surprised.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most for this year's EDC performance?
A: Doing the closing set, the sunrise set, is very special because the best moment for me in the day is the sunrise. Even my wedding party was [at] 4 am because I wanted to see the sun rising. You can have the fireworks, the lasers, lighting, everything but the sunrise is a super effect. The sunrise and sunset in the desert is very unique as well so I think I am privileged to have this super effect of the sun rising. That’s what really excites me for this edition. It’s my first time doing the closing set at EDC.
Q: What does EDC and the Insomniac team mean to you and your career path? How has working with Insomniac impacted you?
A: They definitely changed my career in the U.S. because to be Brazilian and to try to cross those barriers, it’s a lot of challenges. We have to work 10 times more to be noticed and to be heard. I’ve been on the road for 20 years and I know how complicated it is, even if you have a hit, it’s not only that.
Insomniac, they just brought me inside those festivals and the parties…Before the festivals, they were doing private parties in clubs and setting out so they were getting confident to put me in festivals. So it was a way where they really believed in me.
I was so grateful because it really changed [my] perspective of how my career is going in the U.S. I’m finally getting really connected with this new generation. [Insomniac] is [always putting me] in good slots and it’s something very unique and special for me. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
Q: I discovered one of your most popular sets online, the Unicef Top 100 DJs Virtual Music Festival from August 2021, when I was researching ahead of our EDC 2022 interview last year. It's quite different from your EDC set. Can you share more about the range of your music styles?
A: I always try to adapt myself to different circumstances…The set that I do for EDC is totally different from the set for Tomorrowland, it’s totally different from what I do in Asia because the US market has singularity as all of the other markets have.
Q: I love writing, editing and digital creating to that set of yours. It’s such good energy and keeps me focused for intense creation sessions. Is that the type of consumption you imagined when performing it?
For this set specifically, I was imagining if people could put it at a pre-party or afterparty or working or working out. You know, different atmospheres [where] people could enjoy it. I did something more to please this kind of attraction and it worked!
Q: Love it! Such a great set for creative work. Is your family coming to EDC this year?
A: Only my wife. It’s going to be very [rushed]. It wouldn’t make sense to bring the kids, it’s too complicated with the kids…She came, we are spending four days in Vegas then we go back. Now the kids are with my mother, she helped a lot. Sometimes it’s good also because I have been traveling a lot and it’s good to have those moments with my wife as well.
I only bring [the kids] if I spend more than one month. This last tour I did I spent 40 days but I couldn’t bring them because it was seven countries…I suffered a lot, it was very hard for me. Now I am going to Europe and I will spend two months there so I am going to bring them. It’s like summertime there.
Q: You carry on the legacy that your parents set forth within the music realm. Do you hope your children follow a similar career path as you and your parents?
A: I just want them to be free to choose whatever they want to be, no pressure. If they want to be a DJ of course they will have my support, if they want to be a doctor like their mother, they will have my support.
I just really want them to be kind people. Everything I do I feel like can be an inspiration for them so even though sometimes I am far away I want them to be proud of it. They will always have me as a reference because I learn that your kids don’t do anything you tell them to do but they do everything you do, they repeat. So it’s really about [being an] example.
Q: It seems super important to you to give back since you reached a certain level of success. Can you share more about your philanthropy?
A: I didn’t have philanthropy in mind as something I wanted to do in my life. If you asked me like nine years ago I would say, “Why? Just get your money, buy a supercar, buy a nice house and that’s happiness.”
But there was a moment in my life [when] I had everything that people said was happiness, money, material, success and stuff, of course. I felt a huge emptiness, I felt that something was wrong. If that was the meaning of life, for me life had no meaning anymore. I was looking for meaning, I was looking for inspiration.
At first, I went to a very [isolated] indigenous tribe in the heart of the Amazon, which was a long trip…It was game-changing in my life and my perspective…I was doing songs to work on the top ten while they were doing music to heal.
It changed my mindset about how I was working with my songs. After that, all my hits just came and appeared.
After that, I went to Africa for a project that my friend raised there called Fraternity Without Borders. For me, it was a moment that was life-changing…I knew I couldn't change the world but I could change their world.
As soon as we started with this project I saw the difference in their lives. In a way, I was the person most transformed…it was something where we all were transformed.
From that moment on I just found a reason for my life. To [have such] success, it doesn’t make sense if you can’t do anything to improve and make this world a better place. Today, we have 20,000 kids in Africa already in this project.
I was invited to become a character in “Free Fire,” [the video game.] They asked me which superpower I wanted to have and I asked if it was possible to heal people.
My character became the bestseller and I out beat Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Beiber and BTS all of them came out but no one beat Alok; not because of me but because of [my character's] superpower. After that I wanted to heal inside and outside the game so I donated all of my royalties to my institute to the project in Africa to the project in India that I have.
Q: That’s so amazing that you are able to give back in such impactful ways. What do you want to give to your audience at EDC? What’s your main intention for your EDC audience?
A: I want the people that stay until the end to really have a great time…I feel a lot of responsibility to do the closing and to hold people to the very end and they all have huge traffic to get out so I really want them to have the best time ever…What is eternal? Sometimes one second, I just want to find this one eternal second [with them].
Photography by: gettyimages.com/Wagner Meier/Stringer; Courtesy of Maverick Helicopters; By Gil Inoue; Courtesy of @alivecoverage