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Yesterday, at 23 years old and five years into a very successful career, Alesso released his debut studio album, Forever via Def Jam Recordings after becoming only the second EDM artist to sign with the label in 2014. Recognition of his skills by the biggest in the industry, including Avicii, David Guetta and Erick Morillo, led to him working with Swedish House Mafia early in his career and later touring with Madonna on her MDNA tour, before getting signed. We caught up with him last week in the few days before the big release to discuss how he knew it was finally time to drop his first solo album, his creative process, headlining Coachella and where he sees the future of EDM. Check it out below. You can purchase Forever, now on iTunes.
How did you decide right now is the right time to come out with your solo album?
It was bound to happen really. I thought it was going to take long for me to put out my first album, but I built my confidence and told myself to put it out. Don’t be scared even though it’s a big deal for an artist to put out their first studio album. Especially for me, because every song on the project as a whole needs to be so perfect. I just decided, let’s do it, why not?
You worked with artists like Roy English, Tove Lo and Calvin Harris. How did you decide what artists you wanted to work with and how did these collaborations come about?
It was different every time. Different situations, different conversations. It was everything from friends linking up to just asking if people would send something over. I knew Calvin before I made that song and we just decided let’s do a track together and have fun and make a cool song and it just went from there. With Roy English, I met him, I just started talking to him through emails and John Martin I knew him from Sweden and help me finish the song.
That’s great I imagine everyone would be willing to work on your first project with you. What was the most challenging aspect of putting the album together for you?
I would say the mixing and mastering. Because you usually have other people do that for your but I wanted to do all of it really. Especially when I wanted to tweak a sound or a mix, so that was the most challenging part because like I said it’s really normal for someone else to do it because it takes forever, so I wanted to challenge myself.
What would you say was the easiest part of it?
I wouldn’t say anything was easy about the album. There was so much I didn’t know that had to be done – everything from deadlines to ideas to finalizing the songs and chasing people who are on tour to finish the record with. It was very hectic and busy but in the end everything came together very well. That’s how I think albums should be. For me, I always wanted to just have a crazy time with album.
I understand. Albums should be challenging. It’s your work, you want it to be challenging
Yes, some tracks were faster, and some tracks took longer.
So, you were picking artists to collaborate with and contacting them. Would you say there was any significant differences how you approached things, both sonically and conceptually?
Everything kind of happened organically. I had ideas all the time, but the whole process of the album happened organically really. Every track that’s in there was not a forced collaboration or anything that was really planned. It just kind of happened.
What instrument tools software do you use when you were producing and recording the album
I use Logic Pro and UAD, the satellite thing and what else, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos and microphones.
I definitely want to ask you about your tastes. You just came off of headlining Coachella. Who do you think gave the best performance that you were able to see live?
I didn’t see anyone! I was on such a busy schedule. I just did a bunch of interviews and you know was planning the show with my crew, so I didn’t see anyone. And I had to leave the day after and I didn’t have any time off.
What did you think of your own performance then?
It was amazing. I had the best time. It was unbelievable. Like I had so, so much fun.
That’s awesome to hear.
That was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever done.
So where do you see the electronic music scene headed?
I don’t know. It obviously isn’t the same kind of mind-blowing thing anymore, because it was for a time when it was exploding in the U.S. I think it will still be here. Though it’s really important to focus on the songwriting and if you want it to be commercial and if you want to keep it underground, there’s always going to be a crowd for that too. It’s here to stay. I don’t think it will ever go away, but I’m talking specifically about radio. It will be more challenging these days because times are changing and people want to hear new stuff.
So do you consider it a risk to stay underground or go mainstream with it?
I don’t know. I don’t plan that much, I just go with what I like to produce and what I’m in the mood for. Like for the album I knew that “Heroes” was a strong radio record and I decided it’s going to be the single and probably and hopefully with radio support. And when I played I said “this isn’t going to be on the radio, going to be underground and at raves,” but it got featured on that video game and you know you just kind of have to make up your mind on what you really want. And sometimes you achieve and it and sometimes you don’t.
I wanted to ask you about the video game and even your collaboration with Carolina Herrera. Do you have any other collaborations with people outside of the music industry coming up? And how do partnerships like that come about?
When I collaborated Herrera, they initially asked me if I was interested. And I’ve never done anything like that before. And if its something challenging, and something new and cool, you know I’m up for it. They showed me how, they were explaining what the idea was and how it was going to look and what it represents and it all looked really cool, so I just went with it.
What are you listening to music wise? Whats on your radar?
Right now, I just listen to everything – from rock music to pop music, to classical music. I listen to everything, anything I’m in the mood for. Dance music as well.
Are there any non-electronic musicians you’re interested in collaborating with?
I have some cool ideas that I can’t really discuss. I think fusion collaborations with other genres and other artists may have never done dance music like that, I think that’s the future. To surprise people and create new genres really. Combine genres together that’s a cool thing to do today.
Yeah who would have thought Paul McCartney and Kanye West would be working on a track together
Yeah and that’s really cool. But I mean in the end it’s the result that matters.
Do you have any projects that you do want to share with us in addition to Forever?
No. I just want to leave it with the album because it took me a year and a half to finish that album. I just want people to focus on that. It’s my first album. It’s a beginning really.
What is the biggest misconception you think people have about you?
(Laughs) I don’t know? You tell me? Is there anything you heard about me that you think may be a lie?
I haven’t heard any bad things by any means and it’s very refreshing to hear someone so young and talented be so open minded so thank you for maintaining that in your interview today.
I mean, I’m an open book really, I’ll say whatever I feel I got nothing to hide really. I hope people think I’m alright. (laughs)