As 2018 draws to a close, Alan Walker can look back on the year and smile. In addition to appearing at all the major EDM festivals, the 21-year-old Norwegian DJ/producer played a variety of global venues – like Ibiza’s Ushuaia – as the tour opener for Kygo.
But it’s been like that since 2015 when Walker broke out hugely with his Iselin Solheim-fronted earworm “Faded.” In recent times, Walker has maintained the momentum with story-rich videos for melodic tunes like “Tired” (featuring Gavin James) and “All Falls Down” (featuring Noah Cyrus and Digital Farm Animals) – he now has 15 million YouTube followers. And in late 2018, he expects to release his debut, artist album World of Walker. We recently caught up with the often-masked Walker who looked back on his big year.
DJ Times: From this past year of touring, what were your favorite shows?
Alan Walker: I know everyone states these three, but performing on the main stages of Tomorrowland, Ultra and EDC Las Vegas… all three were really completely insane. Those festivals are just something DJs aspire to. You push for it. They were big milestones for me.
DJ Times: Before “Faded” became your big hit, the original version (“Fade”) was meant to spread as royalty-free music through YouTube gaming channels…
Walker: That’s correct, and I still try to do that with my music. The idea is to allow people to use the song freely, without fearing blocks from copyright holders. I feel like it’s a win-win situation where content creators get access to free music – and I, in return, get my music spread across the world to new audiences.
DJ Times: What influences you, musically?
Walker: I’m really inspired by film scores and soundtracks. There are a lot that producers can learn from this type of music. People like Hans Zimmer tell a story and provide a whole new emotion to visuals in a movie. That is not easy. It gets very clear if you watch a movie scene with and without sound on. It really lets you see the power in music production.
DJ Times: What’s your preferred production set-up?
Walker: FL Studio is my preferred DAW. I’ve been producing in FL Studio since the beginning, and don’t have any plans of changing that anytime soon.
DJ Times: How do you balance the idea of evolving your sound, while making music that your audience already loves?
Walker: Oh man, that is definitely a fine balance. I’m constantly trying to make sure that my signature sound is maintained in my music. However, you can’t be afraid to try new things, because people will get tired of the same old stuff after a while. You have to be true to yourself as an artist but willing to experiment with sounds.
DJ Times: Compared to mainstream-EDM sounds, many of your productions are more quiet and emotional. How do you translate these tracks to festival audiences?
Walker: Good question. It definitely helps to use various remixes and edits, either by myself or others. But I also try to take the audience on a journey that continuously builds energy during my sets, and vary between different tempos and keys. It’s all about reading the room.
DJ Times: Is it difficult to switch from performer to producer?
Walker: Personally, I don’t think so. But there are some different aspects to take into consideration. As a performer, you get an immediate reaction. You can actually see how the crowd moves. As a producer, however, you won’t get that feedback until later. So, producing, you are putting in a lot of work before you get that positive energy thrown back at you.
DJ Times: You are currently sitting on an artist album (World of Walker). What was it like to make a full body of work rather than standalone singles?
Walker: The album is something that I’m constantly working on, and it is always evolving. But it’s definitely interesting to work on a cohesive project with multiple songs that will work together as well as individual tracks. Excited to get it out!