The coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the music industry by shutting down various high-profile festivals including Ultra Miami and Ultra Abu Dhabi. But the sudden break in action could provide welcome respite for those involved in an industry in which the beats drop non-stop.
Taking advantage of this reprieve is DJ Alesso, 28, who is spending the time off perfecting his new single, One Last Time. Released on March 6, the collaboration with Dutch duo DubVision will surely please old-school Alesso fans, as it finds the DJ going back to the anthemic progressive house sound he made his name with. Alesso seemingly acknowledged this on social media when he posted: "I know some of you guys have been waiting for me to drop a song like this for a while."
While Alesso is now in an unfamiliar predicament of not being able to play the track live, he sees the positives. While the frenetic globetrotting may be fun at times, it comes at a price. More than a bad sound system, the true enemy of a global DJ is jet lag. "It ruins everything," he says. "It affects everything, from your performance to even recording. As a DJ you are always creating music on the road, so you need to find a way to deal with jet lag or it is a problem."
So how does the Swedish DJ deal with it? He wills himself to sleep, as well as sticks to a healthy diet and solid runs on the treadmill. "I know that it doesn't sound as cool as people think it is," he says. "But this is this best way to survive in this industry and take it seriously."
But it wasn't always that way. When Alesso first emerged on the scene in 2011, with his stellar remixes of Nadia Ali's Pressure and Sebastian Ingrosso's Calling, he admitted to indulging in the party lifestyle and the perks that come with being an international DJ.
He puts his recent wellness down to the growing discussion about mental health in the electronic dance music scene, which came to the fore after the tragic death of fellow Swede, Avicci, who took his own life in in Oman in 2018.
"There have been some really sad situations that have happened in the industry in the past, so my health has become a real priority now because without it I have nothing," he says.
"That is the most important thing in the industry because it is not as glamorous as it looks. You always have to keep working because if you stop, you will fade away and someone will take your place. So I don't view it as a race, I view it more as a marathon."
But it has ultimately been a rewarding journey, as it took Alesso from Europe to Africa to Asia. His Ultra Abu Dhabi gig was set to be his regional debut performance, so that remains a career notch he is yet to reach. But that will probably happen soon – Alesso says he is content to travel anywhere the music is appreciated.
“You don’t take these things for granted and it just shows how dance music is spreading,” he says. “I feel lucky because this is happening now, but also because of things like the internet. If I was born in another time, I don’t think all of this would have been possible.”
While his live shows may be halted for now, Alesso plans to remain busy in the studio. One Last Time is one of a bunch of new tunes the DJ will release this year. He can't reveal any of his star collaborations yet, but he says the tracks will follow the super-melodic style of last year's hit, In The Middle, and 2015's Heroes, which clocked up more than 200 million streams on YouTube. This is the Swedish way, after all.
"We care more about melodies than the words," he says. "In Sweden, we care more about the feeling that a song gives you. That's why melody is my focus. While it's good to have a strong message, it won't be as powerful if it doesn't have a powerful melody behind it."