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An interview with John Alto

“Relatable lyrics stick harder” – an interview with John Alto

With American, Italian and Danish roots, John Alto is a DJ, an artist, a skilled producer and remixer with a passion for club music. His signature sound is dark, bass-heavy and cinematic, and he has worked with artists, writers and producers like Maurice West, Silque, Ganz, Nadine (from M.O), Nicklas Lif and Ofelia.

John Alto´s first release was on Martin Garrix´s label STMPD RCRDS in a collaboration with the German duo TwoWorldsApart. He was also commissioned by Sony Music to remix Coy´s Promises and for Norwegian super duo Seeb on their release, Free To Go (feat Highasakite). 

Over the course of 2022 and beyond, John aims to firmly establish himself as a solo artist of real note with a string of releases that explore the various shades of his personality, the first of which, My Heart feat Rallie, lands this April. 

Connect with John Alto on Soundcloud | Instagram 

Thanks for talking to us John – has it been a productive year for you so far?

I would say so, I have been working on different types of sounds, and genres in general, and also I have been able to pump out demos relatively often, which is great! But the plan for this year is looking really exciting, as well as the possibility of playing the new music live!

Where does your passion for club and electronic music come from? And when did you first start trying to make that passion into a career? 

It comes from the early days of EDM, with Martin Garrix’s animals, Dmitry Vegas & Like Mike, KSHMR and Skrillex. Also watching the after movies of massive festivals around the world really inspired me to fully commit to producing mostly electronic music in the likes of the artists who inspired me back then. Now I focus on my own sound design, as well as writing music that makes people feel something. 

Your debut release came on Martin Garrix´s label STMPD RCRDS – how did that come about? 

Around the year 2015, I started working with Ableton as a music production application, as previously I used it as a midi board application. So I got used to it pretty quickly. But in 2017, I wrote some music that solidified my curiosity about what I wanted to do. 

It’s fair to say “My Heart” sounds very different. Why the change of musical direction? 

Right before COVID, my manager and I travelled to Amsterdam to work with a few different artists. One of them was Silque, who is signed as an artist at STMPD. So I had the awesome opportunity of visiting the STMPD Studios, where we were able to network with the A&R, as well as other artists. A few days later, still in Amsterdam, I worked with TwoWorldsApart on a track.., STPMD loved the result and decided to release it. It of course made me very happy, it was also a great experience to work with one of the best EDM labels around, and to see how they deal with releasing tracks, as well as the A&R conversations, where we talk about my music in a constructive way, to then also decide what gets released. 

The track was actually written and produced in the summer of 2020, where I was playing around with different syntheses, as well as working with my girlfriend throughout the track, as the initial vocals were sung by her. But I have always enjoyed experimenting with sound design to maintain an interesting persona. I was also listening to some vocalised synths at the time, where the use of vocal arps were used throughout the track, and I really liked that idea, to maintain the subtle rhythm, but also the euphoric sound of reversed vocals. 

Is this a more melodic style than what we can expect from you from now on? 

It’s hard to say, as I enjoy both the melodic side of writing, as well as the heavier side of production. One of the main focus points for me when it comes to writing melodies is that I want the listener to feel… something… And you can’t really feel anything (emotionally) without some nice melodic breaks and verses. But I will continue to focus on melodics in most of my future tracks, and that would be within any genre as well. 

How did you hook up with Rallie on My Heart and what do you think her vocal brings to the record?

I have previously worked with Rallie when I was on a session trip to Stockholm, where we worked with Eric Turner to write a new track, which may still be an actuality in the future. After the session, I was really impressed by Rallie, I also really enjoy writing music with her, because it’s always a good vibe, no matter the topic. She has an amazing creative process when it comes to writing lyrics, where what you’d expect is not what she would write, which makes it all the more unique. 

You’ve said that your music explores different parts of your personality… in that case, what side does My Heart represent? 

I would say an emotional perspective on relationships, as I am in one currently, it is mostly a reflection of the importance of having someone, with the contrast of not having someone. The lyrics talk about honesty within a couple, and that the character is feeling invisible to her partner. This is a really common situation that happens regularly amongst people I know, However, it luckily doesn’t happen to me. I think relatable lyrics stick harder and become more memorable to the listener, which is why we chose this vibe.

Do you think it’s challenging for artists to establish a distinct sound for themselves? And how do you intend to do that? 

I would say yes, as most new artists usually find a way of copying other artists. But it’s pretty simple to spot out a unique sound, but is extremely challenging to continuously innovate your own sound, as well as, to maintain the interest level of your music, also regarding what’s in, at the time of your release. Sound design is becoming more competitive as more talented producers are entering the scene, which makes a distinct sound rather vital for newer artists to stand out from the rest.

What can we expect from you over the rest of 2022?

I have plenty of awesome demos that are being finished up as we speak, so the year will most definitely be productive and festive! I definitely want to focus more on music to be played live, due to the fact that covid restrictions are being decreased at the moment, which includes nightclubs and festivals around the world is reopened. That would be my goal for 2022, to play more shows. 

Finally, what’s the best dance record you’ve heard this year that we should all know about?

I have been a massive fan of the revival project from Swedish House Mafia, anything have released thus far has been amazing. But my favourite has to be “Moth to a Flame” featuring the WEEKND. If not that, then maybe “Once the Music” by Body Ocean will give you the funky feel on the dance floor. Great track for disco lovers and heavy tech-house lovers. 

Thank you.

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