Collaborating with iconic artists takes some significant patience and effort. During his interview with Rolling Stone for On Your Radar, Alok reveals that it took him 10 different versions to get Mick Jagger’s final approval for his remix of Rolling Stones’ “Living in a Ghost Town.”
The Brazilian DJ recalls meeting Jagger for the first time while performing at a secret party in 2017. That meeting spawned Alok’s remix of Jagger’s solo song “Gotta Get a Grip.” (That one took six versions, he remembers.)
“Then after Covid, he just called me saying, ‘Listen, we are releasing a song now from Rolling Stones after eight years of not releasing. Would you like to jump in and do a remix?’” Alok remembers. “I said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ I love to collaborate.”
Alok says he was in the studio one day, recording himself playing the piano, so he still has one of his conversations with Jagger on tape. “I answered the call, and I told him, ‘Listen, now I understand why you did this song “I Can Get No Satisfaction” because you’re never satisfied,’” Alok recalls telling him with a smile. “This is my last try with the tenth version.”
The DJ, who’s dropped songs with John Legend, Ellie Goulding, Bastille, and others, says the most difficult part of collaborating is finding the balance of getting a perfect glimpse of each artist. “Sometimes it’s a bit complicated to find a balance,” he admits.
During the interview, Alok also discusses how his upbringing in Amsterdam, raised by two DJ parents, influenced his career.
“I was born and raised in the electronic scene, because my parents were DJs for a long time. But I had one element, that was the most important thing for me: I had the freedom,” he says. “I had the freedom because we used to live in a hippie community in Amsterdam, on a squat, which was an abandoned hospital. I felt like I could be myself. This freedom gave me the opportunity to follow my dreams.”
But things weren’t always so bright: Alok remembers struggling with finding his identity in music while following his own dreams.
“At one point in my life, I wanted to abandon everything. I was looking at the world around me, and it was hard to live true art,” he says. “Sometimes it’s complicated in the financial aspect, so I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.”
Then he had a conversation with his dad, who validated his artistic expression. “He challenged me, and I said,’ I’ll do what I want to do but not what you want me to do,” he says.
His sound, Alok explains, was at first influenced by the “underground scene counterculture” of psychedelic psytrance, though he took a more pop route in the early 2010s while hiding from his parents. His parents later came around: “My dad understood that what I do is the continuation of his story,” Alok says.
This year, Alok released his album Controversia, and dropped songs such as “Over Again” with Solardo and “Mami Mami.