Interview with the world famous DJ Alan Walker
Smoke Mag was lucky enough to have a chat with Alan Walker, the 19-year-old Norwegian DJ, who is most famously known for his Platinum single ‘Faded’. Alan has recently released two new singles, ‘Alone’, which has already reached over 10 million views on YouTube after being released on the 1st December, and ‘Sing me to sleep’.
He has previously supported Rihanna on her ‘Anti’ world tour and has performed on stage with Tiesto at Tomorrowland. Amy spoke to him about how he broke into the music industry, his current Asian tour and the message behind his face mask.
Hey, so how are you doing?
Hey, I am doing perfectly fine thank you, it is a beautiful day in London.
It is lovely, you must be pretty tired, though, you are the middle of your Asian tour aren’t you?
That is correct, I arrived from Beijing two days ago and I am flying back to Taiwan tomorrow.
Oh wow, that is a lot of travelling.
Yeah, it can be hard at times, but I feel as if the team and I are handling it quite well.
As you are travelling a lot, do you have anything that you swear by to help manage jet lag?
I haven’t experienced any serious jet lag, I think if I did I would just force myself to avoid messing up my sleeping pattern.
That’s a good way of going about it. My first main question for you is, what made you go from computer programming and graphic design to music?
I have always been curious as to how people made websites and games, so I began conducting my own research into the field. It was the same situation with music, I spent many hours on YouTube just watching tutorials.
Do you think that teaching yourself put yourself at a disadvantage in the music industry?
I would say that it has helped me, because it means that I am working outside of the typical rules of producing music. I have never learnt what I should or shouldn’t do until I got in touch with people over the internet, so by not following the typical rules I have learnt new ways of twisting the sound of Alan Walker.
What genre of music inspires your own?
In the very beginning, I was very interested in the music that is featured in games, and also techno. I was really inspired by movie soundtracks and what we call electro house/Norwegian house which is the genre that I try to produce in my music today.
That’s really cool, so your song ‘Faded’ has been remixed hundreds and hundreds of times. Do you have a favourite remix or do you not really listen to them?
I sometimes go through Soundcloud and listen to the remixes that are out there, it is really impressive to hear how people have adapted the original sound into something very unique. It’s very hard to pick a favourite as there are so many good ones out there.
In your opinion, what makes ‘Faded’ so different that it caught the attention of millions of people from across the world?
I was thinking about it a while ago, I thought that maybe it is because the melody is so simple. I once heard a saying that was “sometimes what’s simple is what’s best” and I think that is the definition of faded, the melody is so simple! I would also say that the vocals from Iselin Solheim give the song a really unique touch and boosts the song a lot.
So where were you when you found out that you had reached number one in the Norwegian VG-lista chart?
I think I was just at home, because when ‘Faded’ was released I was still at school.
Oh wow! You were very young when you had your breakthrough, and still are quite young, what is it like to have reached number one in the charts while still at school?
It is quite an accomplishment; I would never have imagined that it would become one of the most listened to tracks in my home country or around the world. And that is pretty surreal, it is almost like living in a dream. At the same time, it is also really really fun.
Do you wish you had experienced your breakthrough in music at a slightly older age?
I don’t think so, because at this age that I am at now, 19, I feel as if I have been able to handle things very well, and I think that it was the right age for me to breakthrough.
So we noticed that you rarely show your full face in images, music videos or while on stage. What is the reason for this?
It is to create a unique symbol to give Alan Walker as an artist, there are so many people who are inspired by it. After the release of ‘Alone’ I have seen so many people posting pictures on Instagram with a scarf around their face or their hoods up writing, ‘you are not alone’. It is something new that has been really working, and it seems like people really enjoy what we have created.
It is definitely something unique, and it is nice to see that in an industry that is so obsessed with how people look, so it brings a stronger focus on your music.
Yeah, I think it is pretty cool. As it also makes Alan Walker a mysterious character.
So in terms of your fan base, what has been your most memorable crowd?
I would say any club, festival or show that I have played at. I have just done my first tour and it was incredible! I am currently on my Asian tour, I have done two shows so far and it has just been incredible.
I can imagine, have you managed to get any sight-seeing in between shows?
Yeah sometimes we get the opportunity to stay in the city for an extra day after the show, to do some sightseeing, it is pretty cool to be a tourist sometimes.
You were invited onstage with Tiesto at Tomorrowland, how did that come about and how did that feel?
Well Tiesto has remixed my single ‘Faded’, we kept in touch for a couple of months over email and then I told him that I was going to Tomorrowland as a member of the crowd, so he then asked me if I wanted to come up on stage with him. I was like wow, that was a crazy opportunity, something I would never have imaged that would happen.
Do you plan on returning to Tomorrowland?
I would love to, Tomorrowland was like stepping into a whole new universe.
Who would be your dream artist or DJ to collaborate with?
Either Martin Garix or Tiesto.
My final question for you is, what is next for Alan Walker and will we be seeing an album from you soon?
What’s coming up for Alan Walker in the future is not an album, I don’t think there is any point in releasing an album at this point, single by single is the way to go for me at the moment. There are definitely more singles and more shows coming up!