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Superstar DJ Alok Leaned on Unpaid Ghost Producers to Create His Brazilian Bass Hits

Brazilian-American producers Sevenn, brothers raised in a religious sect, say they worked on at least 14 tracks for Alok for free, including a new song with Luis Fonsi.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Behind a walled compound off a dirt road ringed by palm trees and a lush green mountain, producer-DJs Sean and Kevin Brauer learned how to make music while living in the cult-like Children of God religious community for the first two decades of their lives.

The goal then wasn’t dance-music stardom – it was to produce Christian rock and folk music to support the religious movement. The Brauer brothers were home schooled, had no access to the internet and had limited interaction with “systemites” – Brazilians living outside the compound’s stone walls. But inside, they had a music studio and lived among musicians like guitarist Jeremy Spencer, who’d been one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac.

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One night in 2004, 16-year-old Sean jumped the 10-foot wall and sneaked off to a rave up the road in Ilha de Guaratiba, about an hour west of Rio. “I fell in love with this electronic music,” he tells Billboard, “and decided that I wanted to be a DJ.”

He spent the next decade eking out a living as a ghost producer — the anonymous creators behind tracks for other artists. Then in 2015 he met Alok Petrillo, the rising Brazilian DJ who went by his first name. Sean and Kevin formed the duo Sevenn and released “BYOB,” a remix of a 10-year-old System of a Down song, with Alok, putting Brazilian Bass on the global dance map. Over the next four years, Sevenn produced music that helped elevate Alok into one of the highest-earning music artists in South America.

Now the Brauers are speaking out about what they call a “commercially abusive, one-sided relationship” with Alok. Sevenn tell Billboard they worked on at least 14 tracks for the Brazilian DJ for which they have received no credit, publishing splits or compensation. The brothers also claim that they – not Alok — created the deep-house offshoot Brazilian Bass, the rising popularity of which led to Alok’s signing by Warner Music dance imprint Spinnin’ Records.

“Alok initially helped, and we were happy to repay the favor, until we started realizing that he was profiting hugely off our work without offering anything substantial in return,” the Brauers say in a joint statement.

Billboard gathered Spotify data for 12 of the 14 tracks the Brauers say they received no compensation for. If the Brauers had been compensated to reflect the contributions they say they made on these tracks, they would have earned about $263,000 to date — $223,000 in publishing royalties and another $40,000 in producer’s fees — on Spotify alone. That estimate could likely balloon to more than $1.3 million when royalties from plays at other digital services and radio are taken into account, not to mention global sales.

Billboard estimates that the 12 tracks — which include Alok and Liu’s “All I Want”; Alok and his brother Bhaskar’s “Fuego”; and Alok’s “Favela,” featuring Ina Wroldsen — have received a combined 1.024 billion plays and generated a combined total of nearly $4.13 million, in label payments ($3.38 million) and publishing royalties ($748,000) from Spotify. And using a standard producer’s rate of 4% royalty in addition to whatever flat fee producers of those 12 tracks were paid, Billboard estimates a total producer fee payout of $135,000.

Alok, in an email from his lawyers and managers sent to Billboard on March 7, six weeks after this article was first published, rejected Billboard’s analysis as an “unsubstantiated, inaccurate and speculative calculation,” saying that “the compensation that any party contributing to musical recordings or compositions receives is based on a wide variety of factors unique to the particular work and circumstances and is subject to negotiations by the various contributors or their representatives.”

As with many young artists that fail to understand the importance of contracts and lawyers – and the need to ask for credit and compensation – the Brauer brothers hoped to leverage their association with a rising star into a brighter future. They hesitated to advocate for themselves, and at one point even rejected Alok’s offer to pay them for work on two ghost-produced songs and to give them royalties on a third. Initially, they say, they did not fully understand royalties, and felt they were “getting a fair share in return in terms of opportunities and partnerships.”

The Brauer family has provided evidence to Billboard to support their claims, including emails and WhatsApp exchanges with Alok stretching over six years — as well as audio recordings of Alok discussing production requests, finalized tracks and Sevenn’s management contract with São Paulo-based Artist Factory.

These materials show how Alok leaned heavily on the Brauers to keep his new music flowing as he became the best-known dance-music DJ to emerge from Latin America, with 19 million monthly listeners on Spotify, as well as a social-media influencer with 26 million Instagram followers who typically earns more than $10,000 per paid post, according to his former manager.

In a response to repeated requests for comment, Alok’s management team initially sent an email declining to address specific questions but contending that “in spinning a false narrative” Kevin and Sean were “trying to portray themselves as victims and litigate their disputes with Alok in the press, as well as the court of public opinion. Alok has no intention of taking the bait.”

The response notes that Alok had “an ongoing lawsuit against Sevenn in Brazil arising from Sevenn’s failure to credit and pay Alok for a number of Sevenn’s record releases.” (The lawsuit, which Billboard has reviewed, was one of two filed by Alok’s team in January and came more than eight weeks after Billboard first sought comment. This one was filed on Jan. 12 in a São Paulo civil court, and focused on five tracks, including “BOOM” with Tiësto.)

After the article was first published, Alok went on Instagram Stories and broadly denied many of Sevenn’s claims, including that he had failed to compensate or credit the duo properly and that they had largely created the Brazilian Bass sound he then popularized. Both publicly and via emails sent to Billboard from his team, Alok has portrayed Billboard’s story as the result of “collusion” between Sevenn and Alok’s former manager, Marcos “Marquinhos” Araújo, “to attack Alok’s image.”

DJ Alok
Alok Alexei Barrionuevo

The Sevenn-Alok situation illustrates a larger issue that has been bubbling up in the dance music world for years: the role and treatment of ghost producers. Big DJs have relied heavily on uncredited producers to keep them relevant, especially during the heady days of the EDM boom from 2010 to 2016 when DJs began touring the world much of the year, often at the expense of studio time.

DJs developed factory-like systems where ghost producers work as salaried employees and get an occasional publishing credit. Some superstar DJs, including Steve Aoki, oversee the work of uncredited but compensated ghost producers in an executive producer-like capacity, according to two industry sources. (A spokesman for Aoki said he was unavailable for comment.) Others, like Tiësto, have mentored talented young producers – including Avicii, Hardwell and Martin Garrix — in exchange for music that keeps the mentor’s music fresh. In many cases these are “collaborations” in name only.

“Some of the world’s greatest EDM music has been made in collaboration — sometimes with other artists, and sometimes with uncredited producers,” says Lorne Padman, a producer and vp at Dim Mak, Aoki’s label. “The important element is to ensure that the uncredited producer is fairly compensated with a deal they are happy to agree to, that gives them either a fee, master royalty, publishing split, or a combination of any of these. What is not fair is to compensate with nothing — that is just straight theft and protectable via copyright law — or to strong-arm a bad deal after the fact.”

For DJ-producers committed to making their own music, the wide use of ghost producers is a source of frustration. “We live in the age of Milli Vanilli, and almost everyone that’s famous is the Milli Vanilli,” says Dutch artist Laidback Luke, referring to the late-’80s R&B duo that was stripped of its Best New Artist Grammy when it was revealed members Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus had been been cast to lip sync vocals recorded by others. Today’s EDM DJ’s “are brands,” he says. “They make money. They have a following, and they get consumed.”

In the case of Sevenn, Alok never offered regular salaries for music production, the Brauer brothers say, and rarely paid them anything. Even when Alok had opportunities to prove his production mettle, like a 2017 remix of Mick Jagger’s “Gotta Get a Grip,” he turned to Sean Brauer to rework the track from start to finish – without paying or crediting Sevenn, they say.

Their working arrangement was loose and ad-hoc. “It was like, ‘Come hang out, come work,’ that level of like, ‘we’re buddies,’” says Carol Brauer, one of Sean and Kevin’s sisters, who is helping oversee Sevenn’s financial affairs. The brothers, says Kevin, 29, would work with Alok for “eight, nine hours and then [he would] not even offer you a fucking penny for the work.”

But coming out of the Children of God, “we were like little blank CDs,” says Sean, 33. “We were entrusting everything to our lord and savior papa Alok. We had no idea of the world. We had no idea how business works. All we knew how to do was make music.”

Says Kevin: “We were fucking naïve.”

‘Culty Prisoners’ and Music Studios

Sean Brauer says today that he and his siblings were “culty prisoners” of Children of God. Their mother doesn’t see it that way. With all the restrictive rules in the community, Jody Brauer made sure that music was a big part of her children’s lives.

Jody built music studios, including the one at her 13-acre compound, known as The Oasis, and another in Rio, for Spencer, who helped found Fleetwood Mac in 1967 and then left the band abruptly in 1971 to join Children of God after meeting some missionaries in Los Angeles. While Jody was “not a model member,” she says, “it was advantageous to keep me in the group because, hey, I was building studios. There was a lot of music coming out of those studios, not just for my kids, but for other people.”

The daughter of a Hollywood TV producer father, Jody Brauer grew up in the fast lane in southern California. After nearly dying from a cocaine overdose, she says she encountered some “traveling minstrels” from Children of God who encouraged her to get clean by joining them in Brazil, where the religious sect was sending missionaries.

After arriving in Rio in 1976, she met a Brazilian federal policeman, Edson Oliveira, and embarked on a 30-year love affair that produced eight children.

Community members were only supposed to listen to music made within Children of God, which believed that a large pyramid called the Kingdom of Heaven would land on Earth and only the group’s followers would be allowed to go there. (Children of God had communities around the world, and among those who grew up in the cult were actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rose McGowan.)

Children of God
The Oasis, a Children of God compound in Rio de Janeiro where the Brauers lived. Alexei Barrionuevo

As Sean was discovering electronic music, Kevin formed a one-man “Disney metal” band and learned to play several instruments and to do multi-track orchestral arrangements. Kevin traveled around Rio and to São Paulo with a Children of God cover band that played classic rock and country songs.

“You weren’t allowed to have money, everyone was equal,” Sean says. “We would go to stop lights and sell CDs of music made by the group and preach the word of God and try to get more people to join the cult. And some of the pretty girls would go out ‘flirty fishing.’ They would try to find rich men to partner with so that they would get money.”

Flirty Fishing was a recruitment practice of Children of God, and founder David Berg also instructed followers to practice “sexual sharing,” which involved having sex with minors – and even family members. In 1995 a British judge ruled that the group, and some of its top leaders, had engaged in abusive sexual activities involving minors — though Children of God had abandoned those practices by that point. (The group later changed its name to The Family of Love and, more recently, to The Family International.)

Jody Brauer says she didn’t engage in such abusive practices at her compound in Rio or allow others to do so with her children, but the shift in that direction led her and other Brazilian members to exit the group. Even after the sect began collapsing around 2008, Kevin and Sean lived on and off at The Oasis until 2017.

From “BYOB” To “BOOM”

Sean Brauer was going nowhere fast in the music industry.

A decade after his first rave, he was struggling financially and tired of working as an uncredited ghost producer charging a few hundred dollars per song. Then in late 2015, a European DJ who Sean had been working with flew him to Portugal to help him produce new music. In Lisbon, he met Alok. The son of two psytrance DJs who’d founded the weeklong Universo Paralello (Parallel Universe) rave in northern Brazil, Alok was already a well-known DJ with model good looks and a flair for marketing and promotion. As he rose from the underground into a pop star, he faced criticism from the Brazilian psytrance community, who considered him a sell-out.

For Sean, Alok was a way in. “For the first time in 10 years, my career actually had a glimpse of hope,” Sean says. But while in Portugal, Brauer learned his father was in a coma, and he soon headed back to Brazil. Days later, Sean sent Alok his rough demo of a remix of “B.Y.O.B.,” a song by metal band System of a Down, promising to polish it. “This is incredible,” Alok responded. “Send it.”

When it came time to choose a DJ name, Sean turned to Kevin, who was teaching English in Rio and still dreaming of being a rock star. “Do you want to travel the world and be a DJ?” he asked his brother. And Sevenn (Sean + Kevin) was born.

Days later, Sevenn released “Colors of the Rainbow,” a moody “sad song for dad” they wrote after their father died (their sister Kathy Brauer is the featured singer). In producing the two songs, Sean says he experimented with bass sounds and created two presets – a knock or “thonk,” and a longer “ripped up saw wave with a filter on it” — which became the signature for what Alok later dubbed Brazilian Bass. “It was very simple,” Sean says. “I wasn’t trying to be innovative in that sense…but then everyone and their dog started doing it.”

Alok, in the March 7 email, says that the Brazilian Bass subgenre, though not in name, started as far back as 2010 and was “championed by Alok in 2012.” Sean Brauer’s sound, he says, was based on a preset in music software Ableton’s Mechanism Library that was available as of November 2015 for purchase non-exclusively. (As Alok related to Billboard in 2019, he dubbed a stage “Brazilian Bass” at Tomorrowland in São Paulo in 2016, giving the emerging sound a name.)

After “BYOB” was released, Alok promised the Brauers a big future. “You’re going to be the top 1 ‘EDM’ [act] in 2 years,” he texted Sean in Portuguese on Dec. 24, 2016. “I’m going to transform you and your brother into two monsters of the market.”

Alok, via Artist Factory, an artist agency he was a partner in, and his then-manager Araújo, delivered Sevenn their first live gigs, initially for 2,000 reais (about $500) for Tomorrowland Brasil in May 2016 and later upwards of 10,000 reais (about $2,500) for weekly gigs. Sevenn also played the flagship Tomorrowland in Belgium in 2018 and 2019. Alok assigned a manager to them, Gabriel Lopes, another partner in the agency. (By contrast, by late 2018 Alok was averaging $100,000 to $150,000 per show, according to Araújo.)

The Brauer brothers, in turn, say they tried to help Alok however they could, sending him ideas, demo tracks and mastered versions of requested music, sometimes from the road — often with quick turnarounds. “I need a massive intro for Sunday at Villa Mix. Could you guys help me? I have to finish 4 songs yet. I am fucked,” Alok wrote to the Brauers in June of 2017. “Fuck let’s do it, what style are you thinking?” replied Kevin, who says he worked from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day to get the requested “massive intro” done.

Alok seemed to have a sense of what he wanted, regularly sending Sevenn reference tracks and videos, and directing them to make the songs in specific beats per minute. “So, I want something sophisticated but also with orchestra,” Alok said in a Whatsapp voice message to Kevin when requesting the Villa Mix intro. “You know that soundtrack you made for my video of Samsung? It’s crazy. I love that kind of introspective intro.”

By late 2016 the Brauers say they were becoming nervous about working with Alok. That November, Kevin wrote a track for a Budweiser ad, “Love Is A Temple,” for which Alok was paid about $200,000, according to Araújo. Kevin says he received no producing credit. Then when the duo created “BOOM” — which would become their biggest streaming hit to date with 158 million streams on Spotify — they released it before Alok had a chance to show it to other big DJs. “We thought [Alok] was kind of going to take it for himself,” Sean says.

Sevenn
Sean and Kevin Brauer, the original members of Sevenn Jean Flanders

With Sevenn’s original version of the track already out, Alok took “BOOM” to Tiësto and introduced him to Sevenn. The Dutch DJ split credit with the duo and divided the royalties evenly. That March, when Tiësto played “BOOM” at Ultra Miami he brought the brothers on stage. “Brazilian Bass in the house” he told the crowd, as Sean, sporting his trademark mohawk, jumped up and down with his brother. (Spinnin’ released the song in April of 2017. To date, Tiësto has not released a track with Alok.)

“Tiësto was incredible to us,” says Sean. “We didn’t expect it at all, because it was the exact opposite of what we had from Alok.”

Now Alok, in his lawsuit, is claiming he is owed an undetermined amount of royalties for “BOOM,” along with “Tam Tam,” “Beautiful Tonight,” “BYOB (Sevenn remix)” and “It’s Always You.” Eduardo Senna, Sevenn’s lawyer, called it an “absolutely bogus lawsuit,” adding that “never in my entire career have I seen a lawsuit filed with no narrative and no evidence attached whatsoever.”

At Netherlands-based Spinnin’, Jorn Heringa, the head of A&R, says he was unaware of how much of Alok’s music Sevenn was producing — and how little credit or compensation they were getting. “Honestly, I never heard anything about this,” he says. “I knew the Sevenn guys and Alok were doing things together, but I always thought they were friends, and they were helping each other out…Alok was a flagship in that territory.”

In November, Universal Music Publishing Group signed Alok to an exclusive global publishing deal. A source familiar with the deal says it is a go-forward arrangement that doesn’t include music published before 2020; Alok’s management says Kobalt administers his catalog. (A spokesperson for Kobalt says the publisher does not administer any of the 14 tracks in question.).

After “BOOM,” the Brauers, still clinging to the belief that he had their best interests at heart, continued to produce for Alok.

During that period, however, Alok did offer to pay the brothers for some of their work. In July of 2017 he said he would send them $10,000 for the Budweiser ad and for the master of the Jagger remix. “Hahahahahahaha you’re funny!! Dude you don’t have to pay for anything,” Sean wrote back on Whatsapp. “Dude no way you already paid for it,” added Kevin. “Let me do this…I will feel better,” Alok countered, who said in the same exchange that he would put Sevenn on the royalties for “Suave,” a collaboration with sertanejo duo Matheus and Kauan.

The Brauers say they regret shrugging off Alok’s offer. They also say they don’t believe it was real, perhaps a sign they failed to understand their own value. “We’d never received money like that before,” says Kevin. “$10k was unfathomable.” (Alok seems to have taken the Brauers at their word; he neither paid them for “Suave” nor added them to the publishing credit, says Kevin. However, Alok says in his March 7 email, Sevenn was in receipt of “all the artist royalties and/or withheld payments derived from ‘BYOB.’”)

Alok
Alok Performs In Newark, NJ at Bar Code on Feb. 23, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. Fernanda Calfat/GI

By August of 2018, Sevenn were starting to feel exploited and were becoming frustrated with Lopes, their manager. The Brauers wanted out of a 10-year contract they’d signed in 2017 which paid Artist Factory 40% of their gig and other income. They say Alok and his partners dragged their feet on contract discussions for more than a year – at one point, Alok denied the management contract even existed, according to a recording of a call between him and Kevin – and were holding back the duo’s career.

Lopes, the Brauers say in a statement, “did little to nothing in terms of managing us. He didn’t stand up for us in terms of getting royalties, advising us on strategic direction, helping us with AF’s booking errors that ended up costing us, and helping us to go after commercial opportunities.” (Lopes did not respond to requests for comment.)

Still, amid building tension, Alok did give the duo some producing credits in the ensuing months. In June 2019 he released a remix of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and then “Symphonia” the following February, both as collaborations with Sevenn. (Alok gave Sevenn 40% of all royalties on “The Wall” and split them evenly on “Symphonia,” Kevin says.)

In December 2019, the Brauers learned their mother had stage-four pancreatic cancer. Sean headed to Paso Robles, Calif., to care for her — handing off the reins of Sevenn to his brother. For Sean, suddenly faced with the prospect of mounting medical bills, it was a breaking point.

“After everything that was happening and watching Alok just explode, explode and explode and get bigger and bigger, then everything kind of built up on me and I flipped out,” he says. “You just want to give your fucking dying mom a good life and you don’t expect somebody who could be helping not to help, the person who’s saying he’s your dad, he’s your brother, ‘I love you,’” Sean says, his voice cracking. “[Alok] cried when he found out mom had cancer. How can you not offer to fucking help?”

Alok, in his March 7 email, showed Billboard three Whatsapp exchanges with Kevin in which he inquired about Jody Brauer’s well-being and offered unspecified help, saying on May 14, 2020: “If you need anything, I’m here, okay? Don’t forget.” (Billboard confirmed the date of the message with Kevin.).

Sean says it was then that he finally “woke up” and started pushing back harder. By late 2020, he became incensed that Alok’s team had allegedly used his music stems to create tracks for Alok’s Controversia Records label (which is part of Spinnin’), including for Alok’s remix of Meduza’s “Piece Of Your Heart” – with no offer to compensate him.

“Brother, help me,” he texted Alok in Portuguese on Dec. 21, 2020. “Your business partners already stole my music and now they are making various songs and helping your career with MY sound. I don’t have any problem with it, I want the best for you and for your career to grow as much as possible! But could you please talk to them about arranging for me to get a percentage of the royalties for these tracks?” (Alok did not respond to the text, Sean says, and it was the last time he texted the Brazilian DJ.)

Two days later, he followed up on email to Alok’s managers, writing that “it’s unbelievably unfair to me that my style and my sounds are being used without my consent to create music.”

The Alok-Araújo Feud Boils Over

Back in Brazil, by late 2020 tensions were also building between Alok and Araújo, the powerful Brazilian manager-promoter and owner of AudioMix, which controls the festival company Villa Mix.

Alok had taken sides in the split of Araújo and his ex-wife Pétala Barreiros, lending her some security guards after she filed for a restraining order. In a series of videos, she accused Araújo of domestic abuse. Araújo has declined to comment on the allegations, saying through a lawyer on social media that Barreiros was seeking to “mislead public opinion” and was “persistently distorting reality.”

After the feud exploded in the Brazilian media, some of Araújo’s top clients, including Alok, started to break with the manager.

Araújo and Alok dissolved their business partnership in April, with Araújo saying he accepted payment for the separation penalty of 20 million reais ($3.5 million) in the form of a private plane valued at 15 million reais ($2.7 million). But he says Alok ended up selling the plane without his authorization and still hasn’t compensated his ex-manager for the negotiated penalty.

Since then, Araújo, who says he only learned last year the extent to which Sevenn had been involved in Alok’s music production, has been trying to settle contract issues with Alok and Sevenn in order to sign Kevin Brauer as a client.

Last July, Kevin finally reached his own breaking point. A lawyer representing Alok wrote to Araújo’s lawyer asking Sevenn to sign a statement that “Alok never appropriated any of [Kevin] or his brother’s musical productions,” according to a text message. If the Brauers signed, the lawyer said, Alok and Artist Factory would release Sevenn from their management contract without charging the 20 million reais break fee. Sevenn refused to sign.

Two months later, Kevin says, Alok ripped off his stage intro and played unreleased Sevenn-Alok collaborations to open his set at the Untold festival in Romania. “He actually fucking posted it on Instagram and that’s where some of my fans tagged me,” Kevin says. (The opening of Alok’s set and Sevenn’s Tomorrowland 2019 set are remarkably similar.)

Alok, in his March 7 email, claims he and Kevin “jointly developed” the intro (which was based on Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5”) in connection with the production of “Symphonia,” which they co-released. “As it was a joint work, either party could make use of this music,” Alok says. (Asked by Billboard to further clarify, Kevin says Alok had “zero participation” in the creation of the “2019 Tomorrowland intro.”)

In recent months, the tight-knit Brauer clan has rallied around Sean and Kevin.

“I think [Alok] just saw how innocent the boys were,” says Jody Brauer, who has been undergoing a new round of chemotherapy. “It was angering because I was like, ‘Hey wait you guys, he’s stealing from you.’ ‘But mom, he’s helping us.’…After a while, it started getting to be ridiculous…It just got to where we were almost being, like, stupid.”

Carrying the Sevenn Banner

Now estranged from Alok, Kevin is continuing to carry the banner for Sevenn. He is developing new music for a sound he’s dubbed “hybrid techno” — which he describes as a blend of “pop-melodic house-techno” with “great vocalists.” He’s working on a new track with Tiësto featuring a vocal from a 75-year-old jazz crooner, which he pitched to the Dutchman, and on a potential collaboration with Timmy Trumpet, he says.

Sevenn signed a three-year deal in late November with William Morris Endeavor for exclusive bookings outside of Brazil. (Box Talents, another artist agency of which Alok is a partner, handles bookings inside of Brazil.) The brothers continue to help each other with their music. Sean recently moved from São Paulo to Las Vegas to focus on producing, while Kevin tours the world as Sevenn.

In November, Kevin played a show in Tucson, Ariz., before flying to Rio two days later for an Alice in Wonderland-themed rave at a marble shaping shop, earning a 12,000-reais (about $2,200) payday to spin for 1,500 people. Backstage after his 90-minute set, with sweat dripping from his bleached blonde hair held up by a red bandana, thoughts of his brother Sean, their struggles with Alok — and the nature of loyalty and partnership — were not far off.

“When Sean told me he’s going to be Sevenn, I said, ‘Look, regardless of what you do, half of Sevenn is always yours, this is your baby,’” Kevin said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this thing going. He gave me this opportunity. I can’t make it without him.”

Sevenn
Sevenn Jean Flanders

On New Year’s Eve, Alok headlined a festival on Pipa Beach in the north of Brazil, one of five shows he did in four days — after returning from South Korea, where he promoted his recent single, “Squid Game (Let’s Play).” Sevenn, meanwhile, played a private New Year’s party at an undisclosed location in Brazil.

Days later, Senna, Sevenn’s lawyer, determined that Araújo, as a managing partner in Artist Factory, could unilaterally terminate the contract with Sevenn without penalty, and he did so on Jan. 10, seemingly ending the contract dispute. (That same day, however, a lawyer for Alok filed the other lawsuit in São Paulo against Sevenn, this one claiming they were not fulfilling their contractual obligations under the Artist Factory contract, which Senna says ignored the waiver signed by Araújo.)

Then, last Friday (Jan. 14), Alok released a new song, “Un Ratito,” a reggaeton collaboration with Luis Fonsi, Lunay, Lenny Tavárez and Juliette. Kevin had begun producing the track in 2017 as “Let’s Make Love (nanananana).” This time Kevin was listed in the Spotify song credits as one of 14 writers, but not as a producer. Kevin shared his original demo with Billboard, on which he sings and plays the guitar, along with text and voice-message exchanges with Alok about the song and links to at least five other versions he and Sean sent to Alok stretching to mid-2018.

“The melody, the drums, the guitar – almost everything you hear there was something I did,” Kevin says. “The production is mine.”

Alok has denied that any part of Kevin’s original musical production survived to the final version of the track, saying he had other musicians re-record the musical parts, including the main guitar. “Kevin’s claims that he made contributions to the recording (as opposed to the composition) are patently false,” Alok says in his March 7 email. (As Billboard previously reported, Kevin’s publishing share for “Un Ratito” is 11.25%, the same as Alok’s, and is only exceeded by 11.5% shares given to two other co-writers, according to a court filing.)

After Kevin requested the major streaming platforms to take down “Un Ratito,” YouTube removed the video from Alok’s channel on Jan. 24. Three days later, a judge in Goiânia, Brazil, ordered Google Brasil to put it back up. After the case was sealed to the public and more legal wrangling ensued, Alok reposted the video on Feb. 11. (The case is ongoing: Kevin filed a copyright claim lawsuit against Alok on Jan. 25 in a São Paulo civil court, which Alok’s lawyers are litigating.)

Alok did not ask Sevenn for authorization to release the track, Kevin says, nor did he discuss with him the specific publishing percentage he should receive. Araújo says he sent the original demo of the song to Universal Brasil President Paulo Lima some four years ago, pitching it as an Alok-Sevenn-Luis Fonsi collaboration. (Neither Lima nor a UMG spokesperson responded to requests for comment.)

Despite their complicated history, Sevenn say they did not intend to pursue legal action against Alok for royalties or publishing splits. But given the latest development with “Un Ratito,” which had more than 12 million streams on Spotify as of March 17, the Brauers have taken steps since its release to engage in what could be a protracted legal battle.

“Honestly, it’s shocking that once again my work is being used unfairly,” says Kevin. “It feels like another betrayal. This is a case in point of what we’ve been saying. To the young and upcoming artists out there, we hope this serves as a warning to know your rights and treat it like a business.”

Additional reporting by Ed Christman

UPDATE: This article was updated on March 17 at 3:20 pm EST to include additional responses from Alok.