Alan Walker is a rare talent. At only 20 years old he's created not only one, but multiple mega hits that have generated over a billion views, massive Soundcloud appeal, and hundreds of millions of Spotify plays. With a regular release schedule and a focus on bridging the gap between EDM and pop music, Alan Walker has all the makings to be one of our next biggest stars in the scene.
EDM Canada caught up with the Norwegian artist at ÎleSoniq in Montreal where he played on the mainstage to a packed crowd in early August. We talked in depth about how he created his hit tracks, future releases, and who's at the top of his wishlist for a future collaboration.
Your tracks are emotional and more on the chill side, how do you translate them into your festival sets?
I play a mixture of playing my tracks in its original form and doing live edits of my own songs or playing a remix of them. I try to mix a bit of my own songs so they can get a taste of Alan Walker and playing up tempo, harder tracks, so they can get a different vibe. I don't play constantly down tempo because people may get bored so I would say my shows are like a wavy experience. I play a mixture of BPM's of down tempo, up tempo, and melancholic songs.
What is the process that you use to make your tracks, especially your latest single 'Tired' and using a new vocalist like Gavin James?
“Faded” was a song I have written back in 2014, and “Sing Me To Sleep” was a follow-up to that track. I had both of these melodies just laying around and never used, but then we got the vocalist in the studio and wrote the lyrics along with a few different songwriters. We had her sing both tracks and she absolutely nailed them, so we used the same vocalist for both songs.
With “Alone”, that was the first time I started and finished a song in a studio on the same day. We worked the lyrics on the same day and everything came together. Usually I write the entire track as an instrumental and then I send it to a vocalist. The vocalist then makes their adjustments and then I go back and change the song to fit the vocals.
With “Tired”, it was my music lawyer who introduced me to Gavin James. His manager told my lawyer that he had already done the lyrics to “Tired” and was looking for a producer to create the track. My music lawyer then sent the track to me and I just tried it out.
"I'd love to do a remix or an original track with any vocalist or artist, it's just a matter of timing and everything needs to come together."
How long did it take you to create the instrumental to “Faded” and your newer track “Tired”?
With “Fade”, the predecessor to “Faded”, it took months because I couldn't figure out what to do with the second drop. I really want to create my tracks to have a 1st drop and then have a variation on the 2nd drop. When it came to “Faded”, we combined the melodies into one drop.
For “Tired”, I tried to evolve the Alan Walker sound to try to show a new side but felt it was maybe a bit too much for the mainstream.
Do you have any new songs that you're ready to talk about? You've had a steady release schedule and it's been a few months since you've released “Tired”.
I have a couple songs coming out, one is called “The Spectre”, which is similar to the story of “Fade” to “Faded”, where I take one of the old songs, re-create it, give it a vocal and a brand new mix.
The other track is with a new French duo called Y&B. It's called “Diamond Heart”, and it's kinda like a Faded 2.0.
When will both of these tracks will come out?
“The Spectre”, hopefully very soon. With “Diamond Heart”, sometime later this year.
You have remixed so many major stars like Sia, Miley Cyrus, and Bruno Mars. When do you think it will be time to sit down with one of them and create an original track with one of them?
I'd love to do a remix or an original track with any vocalist or artist, it's just a matter of timing and everything needs to come together. I'm always up to working with a new one.
If you had one artist on your wishlist that you'd love to work with, which one would that be?
If I had to pick an artist, it would have to be Ellie Goulding. A lot of people thought she was the vocalist on “Faded”, so I think having an actual song with Ellie Goulding will be pretty cool.
With the festival season winding down, do you have any plans to release any EP's or LP's, or more touring announcements?
Nothing yet, I have thought about it, but nothing 100% yet. I did 53 shows this summer, and in the Fall I'm going to Asia tour. It's a busy year but I think me and my team are handling it quite well.
Why the mask and hoodie for your live shows?
The mask and hoodie was a style that was inspired by my personal habits and interests. I wanted to find a unique way to put out Alan Walker and then myself and my team discussed my personal interests. The hoodie came from those discussions and also from inspiration from the video game Watchdogs, and the TV series Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot was a big inspiration for the music video for “Faded” because in Mr. Robot you always saw a guy in a backpack, same as in the music video.
We wanted to use the hoodie and mask as a symbol of unity, and that anybody can be a Alan Walker, no matter who you are, your ethnicity, what you've done, or what you do. I think that's a pretty cool image to have.
I don't want to hide myself, it's for the artist image. I've done pictures with and without the mask, and if you search, you can find me.