Alesso at Lolla 2019
Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy
Alesso On Lolla 2019, 'PROGRESSO VOLUME 1' & Making New "Hardcore Dance Music"
Swedish DJ/producer Alesso has been turning up clubs around the world for the better half of the last decade. The GRAMMY nominee has released an extensive amount of big dance tracks and worked with a diverse group of big-name collaborators, all the way back to his 2012 breakout single, "Calling (Losing My Mind)" with Swedish House Mafia's Sebastian Ingrosso and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder.
Between Las Vegas residencies and headline sets at festivals across the globe, Alesso doesn't get to slow down too often. We sat down with him a few days after his headline set at Tomorrowland in Belgium and just a few hours before his set at Lollapalooza 2019. In addition to telling us about his experience at both fests, he also talked about his latest music—including "Sad Song"—and the banger-filled PROGRESSO VOL. 1 mixtape.
You're about to headline here tonight. How are you feeling?
I feel pretty good. A little bit jetlagged, but I think I played the stage at the exact same set time four years ago, three or four years ago, and I love it so I'm looking forward to it.
I'm sure the crowd's going to be packed. What's your biggest hope for all the people at your set tonight?
I just hope that everything works in the production. We added a lot of production to it that cost a fortune, so it better be working. That's what I'm hoping, and obviously that people enjoy the show.
Do you get to enjoy Chicago or Lollapalooza at all while you're here?
Not really. I mean for the time I'm playing, that's pretty much what I get to see because then the festival is done. Today I had meetings and other stuff to do, but one day, hopefully. I mean, I would have stayed but I have other shows tomorrow and Sunday.
Making the most of the set then.
Exactly. I'll be like, "Can we stop? I want to go to this other stage."
Speaking of big shows, you recently played Tomorrowland, which looked pretty epic. What did the energy in that crowd feel like for you?
It changes a little bit every year. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's even more great and sometimes it's all right, but this year it was really good. I think it just kind of depends on what set time you have and how the weather is, and obviously what kind of music I play, of course. But I felt this year was one of the best ones.
That's awesome. One of the recent songs you put out was actually a remix of "Sad Song" that you did with TINI. What was it like working together and what was your creative vision going into that song?
I wrote that song like a year ago, with some really great songwriters in L.A. It's a [type of] song that I've never put out before. I've never put out that kind of style and just wanted to experiment with it. I think she had a great voice. She barely speaks English and she nailed it. And in order for me to play it on my shows, it needs to be more of an amped version so I remixed it myself, and I love that version, to play it out, especially. I'm going to play it tonight. Even if you don't know the song, I think you'll still appreciate the remix because it has so much energy and pretty cool melodies.
You remixed it so you can play it at your shows.
I mean I try to make originals original, and then if they need to be adapted to my shows I'll change that. Because before it used to be, you're trying to do both, both have a song the way it is, and it works on your shows. Or I mean, sometimes the song needs to be the way that it is and not trying to push it into another direction.
And one of your other recent projects, the PROGRESSO VOL. 1 EP, is super progressive house. It feels like some of the stuff you're probably bumping at your shows.
Was that project sort of, "These are like the dancefloor bangers I want to play at my shows"?
Yeah, exactly. I hadn't put out anything that sounded like what I've been known for in a while, and we live in this time where we think hits is everything that matters, especially for musicians. But now I feel, especially in dance music, what we need to do is go back and make club bangers and festival songs, because it needs it. That's why, honestly, I have way more effect in making those songs—I mean, I shouldn't say that because it's different with every song. For that EP it felt great, kind of going back to my roots. I'm going to put out another one this year. A lot of new music is on its way that's hardcore dance music.
Listening to it, it feels like this is where you started. Not going backwards though, just kind of like to the root of it.
Yeah. Thank you. It does so much for my live shows. It's like those are the ones that really take off when I play them.