NEW YORK -- Brazilian Day, an annual Labor Day weekend smorgasbord of barbecue smoke, local beer and hundreds of thousands of people jamming a dozen streets in Midtown Manhattan, also features a star-studded musical lineup. This year some of the biggest acts in sertanejo (Brazil’s version of pop-country music) hit the stage. But with a performance peppered with confetti cannons and lots of hands in the air, it was Alok Petrillo, the DJ known as Alok -- Brazil’s biggest-ever electronic music act -- that closed out the festival.
After the global success of “Hear Me Now,” his 2016 song with Bruno Martini and Zeeba -- the first track from Brazil to break 100 million streams on Spotify -- Alok hit international paydirt. Tiësto called wanting to collaborate in a sub-genre Alok smartly gave a name to, Brazilian Bass. Offers rolled in to play in Ibiza, China and the World Stage at Rock in Rio, previously reserved for global stars like David Guetta. Even Mick Jagger tapped him -- at a party where a monkey pulled a llama by a leash -- to remix one of his tracks.
But it was an unlikely partnership with Marcos Araújo, the owner of Villa Mix, the Brazilian promoter that organized Brazilian Day’s lineup, that catapulted Alok to a $100,000-per-show level, rivaled among his countrymen only by Latin sensation Anitta and sertanejo duo Jorge & Mateus. On a continent where local DJs have mostly remained in the underground, Alok, 28, became the first EDM artist from South America to break into the global pop mainstream, proving to other skeptical promoters that an EDM pop star there could be as big as any act in any other genre.