If ever there’s been a good sign of things, finding $20 on the floor of your dressing room at the American Music Awards has to be one. So, if the fates can be read, Alesso‘s upcoming debut AMAs performance of his hit single “Let Me Go,” with collaborators Hailee Steinfeld, Florida Georgia Line and Watt — for which an official music video just dropped — will be a good one.
When Billboard Dance got Alesso on the phone, the Swedish producer and DJ was preparing for the first rehearsal. Watt’s guitar strumming could be heard in the background as Alesso excitedly admitted that it would be the first time all the musicians had ever gathered together. Indeed, it was his first time meeting Florida Georgia Line in the flesh.
The music makers will make a full-piece band for Sunday’s (Nov. 19) AMAs performance. Florida Georgia Line will take their regular stances while Steinfeld helms the mic, Watt adds guitar and Alesso takes up keyboards, a nod to his musical beginnings as a piano player and a fun return to old form for the man now so used to commanding stages solo.
It’s not a wild stretch. Much of Alesso’s most recent work has seen him turn away from traditional dance floor formulas in favor of more straight-forward song structures and pop sensibility.
“The last year, I’ve been just in a very creative environment,” Alesso says. “I used to just think about what will work on a dance floor at a festival. Now, I try to put out a song that makes me really feel [something], that’s meant to come out through your headphones when you’re on your way to work, or off work in the car, [or] being with your friends. I’m just trying to make the most of each song wherever it goes, not trying to push it to a dance floor direction. If I want it to be a dance floor version down the road, I’ll just remix it.”
His greatest lesson was to stop overthinking and follow his heart, and it’s turned out to be a magical boon. “Let Me Go” has amassed nearly 100 million streams on Spotify, while his latest single “Is That for Me,” featuring Brazilian superstar Anitta, has earned more than 18 million since its release in mid-October. Alesso has all the proof in the world to trust his gut on this new direction, and it sounds like there’s plenty more work with Anitta to come.
“She’s the coolest chick ever,” he says of his new friend, with whom he can be seen having a lot of buddy-buddy time all over his recent Instagram posts. “She’s the biggest pop star I think in history in Brazil, and now she’s working with me, J. Balvin and Poo Bear. She’s definitely spreading her music into this kind of markets.”
Alesso and Anitta met thanks to shared management teams, and they’re also both a part of the Shots Studios family. Alesso promises his work will show up on Anitta’s future projects, and she on his. Alesso has quite a bit of new music planned for the near future, nearly one new release a month well into 2018. He’s got originals, remixes and exciting video projects in the works. Just don’t expect him to promise a full-length follow-up to 2015’s Forever any time soon.
“One day, I feel like I have an album on the way, the other day, I feel like I’m just going to put [it] out record by record,” he says with a laugh. “It changes really every week. I’m just trying to focus now on the next project and the project before, and not try to think so ahead. That was my problem, and then it ended up being no songs, but Shots Studios is really there for me with all these things. I think they’re making my life a little bit easier.”
Catch Alesso perform “Let Me Go” alongside Hailee Steinfeld, Florida Georgia Line and Watt on Nov. 19 at the American Music Awards on ABC, at 8 p.m. EST. Watch the official music video for “Let Me Go” below.