Alesso Talks Working With Brazilian Star Anitta & Producing First Urban Record: Exclusive

Harrison Boyce  


Just before his headlining set at Laroc Club outside São Paulo, the Swedish hitmaker chatted exclusively with Billboard about incorporating Brazil's funk sound, his foray into the urban music market & adoration for Anitta.

About an hour away from São Paulo's bustling city center, Alesso is backstage at megaclub Laroc, where he's inundated with a flurry of handlers and photographers backstage before his headlining set as part of the venue's weeklong celebration of Carnaval. 

"I'm here quite often now, and the Brazilian funk sound is just getting so big and the rest of the world is kind of paying attention to it now," Alesso pointed out. "I get inspired by everything, but lately some of this."

The nucleus of that inspiration is more than likely due to his recent collaboration "Is That for Me" alongside Brazilian pop star Anitta for her "Check Mate" project, on which she releases one new song a month. When asked if any other Brazilian artists are influencing his frequent visits to the Portuguese-speaking country, Alesso joked, "Only Anitta!"

He continued, "No, there's a lot of great ones, but Anitta has a special place in my heart and she's a very nice friend of mine. She's definitely showing me the Brazilian way. We're going to work way more often -- this is just the beginning."

In dance music's current state of heightened fusion with other music genres, Alesso -- while still attaining cross-genre commercial success with hits like "Let Me Go" featuring Hailee Steinfeld, Florida Georgia Line and Watt -- isn't allowing his mainstream appeal to necessarily dictate his new music ventures. 

He stated, "I'm definitely not so much influenced by dance music. I'm influenced by other genres that I can put in dance music because I think that's the future. The funk in Brazil is so interesting to see. Last time I was here, I went to this Brazilian funk club and I've never seen anything like it. It's this completely different environment I'd never been exposed to but so refreshing."

With a catalog of dance chart smashes under his belt, the Swedish producer released his first and only album thus far with 2015's Forever, but noted he needs to have a "certain sound or an idea to it," unlike his current method of experimentation.  

"When you start being known for a certain sound, you kind of feel like you're in jail," he said. "Now, I'm just jumping around a bit and trying different sounds, and I'm really having fun for the first time in a long time. ... I just don't like repeating myself, and the response has been incredible -- everything from having a big song in Brazil and a huge song now in the U.S. and Europe and Asia. It's not so necessary to have an album these days. People don't even listen to albums like they used to, which is quite sad, but it's fine. I think an EP is enough today, two to three records. So, maybe an EP."

A new component to his musical repertoire is a venture into the urban market, which he admits is "a new world for me." Whether or not the new music will lean more toward hip-hop or Latin urban sounds, he says both are in his line of sight. 

"I just started making my first urban record," he said. "My next single is very different, which excites me too because I can't wait to surprise my fans. The important thing is I always know what kind of Alesso touch to put on it to keep that sound, because I have an ear for what I want to represent. If I'm going to make an urban record, I want to be around those who can explain it to me. I want to learn about what I'm doing, not just throw it out and see what happens."