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Alesso: DJ Talks Tove Lo, "Heroes" & His First Live Show
Alesso is starting 2015 strong and shows no signs of stopping. His hit single with Tove Lo, “Heroes (We Could Be),” started the year on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his debut album is set to drop this spring.
Even with his album months away, he is already billed fifth, between Steely Dan and Alabama Shakes, on the poster for day one of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. It’s been a quick ascent for the GRAMMY-nominated Swedish DJ/producer, who was first introduced to the world by friend and mentor Sebastian Ingrosso in 2011.
Alesso spoke with GRAMMY.com about his friendship with Ingrosso, the advantage of having an experienced artist to turn to as he deals with his first big taste of mainstream success, and the rock band he loves.
When you think of what a dance show should be, who are the DJs that shaped that vision for you?
Ingrosso, Erick Morillo, Eric Prydz, those are the main guys I really YouTubed a lot to see how they do it.
Do you remember your first live show?
The first time I snuck into a club, I was 16 and I saw Seb [Ingrosso] and Steve [Angello, of Swedish House Mafia], they did a 12-hour DJ session in Stockholm at this outdoor place called F12. It fits like a hundred people, not more. They started from like three and they played until three.
Who would be the DJ you would most want to do a tag team set with?
That’s a good thought, I’ve never thought about it really. I think definitely Erick Morillo would be one of them because I remember going to Ibiza to listen to him and I never got tired of listening to his music. I would say Erick Morillo if not Seb. And I think it would be interesting, his style with my style, younger blood filling into it.
Now, as a fan, who would be the two DJs you’d want to see together?
I guess it would be very interesting Skrillex and Sebastian Ingrosso, to combine them. One thing that would totally work, they’re both crazy, both high on the music and both energetic so I think it would work somehow. I would want to see them together.
What has Seb taught you, as a mentor?
He told me one thing that I will think about and that is no one’s gonna care more about your music, your career than yourself. Don’t think people are gonna make stuff for you or they are gonna help you out. It’s all up to you. If you want to have a big record then you need to work your ass off, it’s up to you. You’re the one who makes the call, no one else. He basically told me, “work hard.” And also he helped me with don’t party too much, have fun, but not too much fun, don’t get involved with people that just want to use you or be with you. He helped me a lot to stay grounded and remember why I started and remember the passion for music, that’s what it’s about, because it’s easy in the beginning. You start touring and it’s all fun and you’re just drinking and you forget to produce or why you even started. That’s what I miss the most now when I’m on tour, to produce. I have to do it through my laptop on an airplane with all these noises and stress and no sleep.
How did Tove Lo get involved on “Heroes?”
I was in Sweden and I went to my label and said, “Tell me what’s new.” I didn’t want to work with someone who’s done hundreds of songs; I wanted to find someone who’s hungry, a voice that hasn’t been heard before. They played a bunch of up- and-coming ones they signed, I heard Tove Lo and I was like, “Who’s that? I love that, it’s no bullshit. She’s honest, she’s rough and pure, she stands out.” I said, “I want to meet her, I think we can do something great together.” Then a couple of months later we jumped into the studio together cause usually how most DJs/producers make a song is they write a track and send it to someone to write over it. But I wanted to start from scratch, so we were vibing out in the studio and it was the first time I really did this. Other tracks were someone had written something on it and I was like, “Yeah, it sounds good.” But this time I really wanted to start from the beginning. And I think that’s really important if you want to make a song where the vocal really stands out.
What is a record that makes you cry?
I think Coldplay “Magic” makes me cry. I’m a big Hans Zimmer fan too, so the music he made for Gladiator, those songs are unbelievable. It’s like he takes you to space or something.
Who would be your dream person to perform with on the GRAMMYs?
I’d say Coldplay, ‘cause they’re stepping in a little bit in the whole electronic scene now. I think it could work really well, my world combined with their world.
Is there one GRAMMY nomination that would mean the most to you in 2016?
Electronic album of the year, that would be amazing. It’s the most prestigious award you can get. So that would definitely mean a lot to me.