Q & A: Alesso
The Swedish house music producer performs in the country this week
In the vein of umpteen vendible house music producers, Alesso – famous mainly for making very popular music for commercial ravers worldwide by the time he hit 20 – is embarking on an India tour fresh on the trail of his mentors, Swedish House Mafia [who performed in November last year and are set to play again this week].
For those of you with taste who trudged an entire sentence through an article about yet another anti-inventive dance stripling, read no further. Here’s some phenomenal house music that’s actually worth listening, to have a good day.
For the rest: Alesso currently plays poster child to arenas that sell out within minutes – through Europe, North America and, evidently, South Asia. He’s playing packed dates in Delhi at Kitty Su, Mumbai at MTV’s Bloc Party [which is happening because, as a highly resourceful press release told us, “Bombay is the party capital and what better way to salute the spirit of the city and it’s (sic) culture by throwing the longest party ever in one of the coolest blocs in the city…”] and in Bangalore at the Chancery Pavilion.
By the time we were done with our telephonic interview, Alesso’s stock answer catalogue was scribbled through. His views on drugs, music and India were a rehearsed industry standard delivered in an unwavering European monotone. The 21-year-old quietly brushed over the video for “Years” [written and directed by Henrik Hanson] to make it his own, which was an interesting oversight. Here’s a paraphrased version of our interview.
What’s the story behind your hit video for “Years”?
In those three minutes, I’m trying to show the audience what my life was and what it is now. I’m really glad so many people appreciated it.
What’s up with Sweden and 20-something commercial house music producers? Avicii, Johan Wedel, you… Have you formed a bit of a clique in the business, monopolized it like a literal Swedish House Mafia?
Swedish producers have contributed to house and electronic music for a long time now – we work really hard, though, so it’s not like we’re at this position without any effort. We have a unique sound that people everywhere love. It’s not just us, however – the Dutch are doing very well for themselves. Sure, to some extent it’s the fact that we have the shoulders of giants like Dahlback and the Swedish House Mafia to stand on, but we also have a good culture for this sort of music.
Do you listen to any Indian music?
Not yet, but I’m hoping this place brings out the Indian vibe in me.
Anything special you’re planning to play for the crowd here?
Of course. There are some unreleased tracks I look forward to spinning – a new One Republic remix I’m very happy with that I plan to showcase over my Indian dates.
What do you plan to do in the country when you aren’t at your gigs?
I’ve heard there’s a lot to see in all the cities I’ll be visiting. India is one of the most unique and special countries I’ve visited yet, and I’ve been everywhere.
The electronic scene is usually portrayed as inundated with chemicals – MDMA, for instance, is this decade’s go-to for many. What’s your take on this, that people need to enhance their capacity for appreciation in order to truly get into this music? Have you tried any yourself?
Electronic music is associated with partying, that’s just the way it’s been. I don’t think people do drugs to enjoy music as much as to keep themselves going at a party. Sure, dancing is a great way to enjoy the beat. But I’ve never done or been curious about drugs, the friends I hang out with don’t do that stuff. Sometimes I’ll have a drink when I’m playing a DJ set but you’d never see me hammered either.
Is house music all you listen to? What else is on Alesso’s playlist?
A lot of rock, I’m a huge Coldplay fan. Some 70s/80s pop too, tunes from when I was growing up. Michael Jackson etc.
What do you think is your favorite venue and city for a party?
One set that really stood out for me was the Coachella Festival last year. That festival was massive, loved it.
MTV Bloc Party takes place on January 18th and 19th at Juhu Hotel. Night Bloc takes place across three venues from 10pm onwards. Tickets are available here for Rs 3,200 [with Night Bloc], Rs 2,800 [without Night Bloc] and Rs 2,100 [without Night Bloc for attendees between 15-18 years]. More details here.
DJ Alesso also performs at Kitty Su, Delhi on January 18th and at Chancery Pavilion Ballroom, Bengaluru on January 20th. More details here.