Alan Walker Talks Making His Best Music, Conquering the Stage, Vlogging and More [Interview]
Earlier this month superstar DJ/producer Alan Walker played two sold out nights at the world famous Hollywood Palladium; the penultimate shows on his Walkerverse world tour. The famously masked and hooded Walker played out a bevy of his hit tracks including “Alone,” “Spectre,” “Darkside,” his Hans Zimmer remix “Time” and of course, “Faded.” However, we got the chance to sit down and talk to Alan Walker unmasked before his show.
Although his identity is no longer a secret (you can see Alan sans his mask and hoodie on his Unmasked vlogs on YouTube), our chat was a very insightful look into a truly thoughtful person who’s doing a lot of good things for the world at large. On top of that, it’s also very clear that Alan is very comfortable in his own skin and is proud of the progress he’s made as an artist. Simply put, he knows what works for him, and he plays to his strengths. We discussed his evolution as an artist, his vlogging, the tour, and a few other topics. Check out the full interview below.
Hey Alan! Thanks so much for chatting with us. Tell us about how your year went? This was finally the first year that people were able to go back out again normally and I feel like lots of artists took advantage of it. How’s the Walkerverse tour been so far?
“Yeah, like you said, everybody’s literally out traveling, everybody’s touring, so, obviously it’s a big competition. But, we see the Walkerverse tour as our own thing, and it’s been quite a successful run. We had amazing shows in South Korea, India and to kick it off with in Dubai, as well. And then we moved it up to Europe, had a bunch of crazy shows all around, and now we’ve been on the North America end. Then we have one quick pit stop in Mexico at a festival. So, it’s definitely been busy over the past three months, but it’s been really, really fun. And, also to do our own headline show has been so unique, and also to build a show the way that we’ve done it for the tour and at this scale has definitely been a fun experience.”
What’s different, like you said, when you’re building your own tour, as opposed to, you show up at EDC or something, and you just play your set and boom, you’re out of there?
“So, for example, at a festival show, then I would focus more on energy. Obviously, I would do that too on my normal headline shows, but, it’s different. I would really focus on like, okay, this is going to be a party. Play hard remixes of my songs and also play just a fun dosage of chronicles for the Walker story. The focus has been to primarily just focus on the fans, and build this show surrounding that, that we want to please the fans and play like the top 20-top 25 Alan Walker songs and bring out some guest vocalists.”
I think it’s been 7 years since Faded was released. Tell us about how you’ve grown as a producer and an artist over the years. How is the growth reflected in the Walkerverse album?
“So, kicking off with Faded, I was still kind of in fresh waters around back then. I’d say like learning, exploring, what would be the sound of Alan Walker. And over the years I’ve learned a lot of new techniques and I’ve learned so many things while working with other people and producers and songwriters. So, it’s been such a fun and eventful seven years, and it’s crazy to think it’s been seven years, because time has literally flown so fast for me. I’ve done so many different songs and so many different concerts and all that’s always been incredible. But, to kind of take the signature Alan Walker sound and really develop it and to make it more pop-ish, try to meet new audiences and it’s definitely a learning curve. Everything is always a learning curve, you’ve got to try and see if you succeed or fail and then it’s a lot of baby steps. But, with the Walkerverse album, I felt like I was able to just put together what I love to do the most. Like finding influence in movie soundtracks and all that. I’m just making things that I generally like.”
Your mask and hoodie have always been one of your trademarks. However, I’ve noticed that lately you’ve posted photos and videos showing your face and your hair. What made you decide to take off the mask and show the world who you are?
“So, we were thinking about it, because for a very long time, the idea was that we don’t want to show off Walker’s identity at all, as I’m literally talking about myself in third person (laughing). But, yeah, like the sole intent was that we still wanted to build this mysterious image, like, have people wonder ‘who is really the guy behind the mask and why?’ And I would pose only from the back and have people ask why does he only show his back, for example. And, that was solely with the intention that I wanted people to focus on the music rather than me as a person. And, I think over the years more and more people would get more familiar with my face, because I wasn’t that serious about keeping it off social media. If people wanted photos, I would be fine with taking them. But, an idea that we could break it or make it for the fans that would know, we created the Unmasked vlogs which was the idea that we would take the viewers, the fans, the followers behind the scenes and give them the experience, what is it like to be a touring artist. What do we do? I kinda wanted to show people the upside, but also the downside, like little sleep, a lot of travel, a lot of hard work and everything mixed in between and still trying to make the best out of it.”
Have you always been comfortable on camera or is this something you grew into?
“As ‘Faded’ blew up, I just got introduced to a whole new world of things. Like, I’d never really been on a proper stage before. And, performing for crowds larger than a classroom was unheard of. So, yeah, it was really, really scary, but it was just like grow and learn. And, the more I did, the more comfortable I became. I did have a lot of stage fright in the very beginning, but the more I did to just go out there on the stage, the more comfort I found in it. Because, sooner or later I just realized people didn’t really care about who was on stage, almost. And when I started to get that realization, it made me so much more comfortable if I could just believe that people don’t really care. Certain people do, but, as long as you don’t mess up really.”
I think it’s really cool that you’ve advocated for environmentalism on your vlog as well. Tell us what are the things Alan Walker cares most about outside music, and how can you use your platform to make a difference.
“So, speaking of 2019, we created A Different World campaign. That was solely with the intent of making an impact for the better of our world, and climate was the main focus. And, that’s something I still believe in today. That’s why when MrBeast did the Team Trees donation, I was one of the first people that jumped on and donated $100,000. And, then when he launched TeamSeas.org with Mark Rober, then I also donated $100,000 again. So, I’ve supported them for like two, three years in a row, because I believe what they’re doing is really good intentioned. And, over the years, I’ve liked to support different charities. Like, for example, just recently in Norway I’ve donated to mental health and children’s cancer charity funds. So, I do like to give back and support everyone who needs it.”
I always like to ask this question to people who aren’t from Los Angeles. But, what makes this place special to you? What do you like the most about the city and the people? Any special places you like to visit when you’re here?
“For me, it’s always been the music capital of America, so it’s always interesting to come here, because you always know someone who’s here. So, that’s always fun. There’s just a bunch of people you know from here. So, that’s what essentially LA has become for me, it’s like a hotwire to know people.”
Any favorite food spots you like to visit when you’re here?
Is there any artist in the EDM world who you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet? Any pop vocalists or artists you’d like to collab with?
“I think Martin Garrix would be awesome. Or catching back up with Kygo could be interesting, we’ve previously worked on collabs before, but never finished anything. And Lady Gaga all day!”
Can you tell us what we can expect from you in 2023 and beyond?
“2023? Live, I have no idea, we’re still working on a plan on how we’re going to target next year. But, I think we’re going to still keep on building the Walkerverse tour for new markets. And, then, musically, probably going to continue down the same path. I also want to try and make like a classic Alan Walker album, kind of like what Martin Garrix did with his ‘Sentio’ album. Just go back to the roots, make some more of those instrumental tracks, that could be pretty cool.”
Any words for the fans?
“As always, thank you so much for the love and support this year. Yearly Spotify numbers were released, and, just seeing those numbers, it’s just so hard to digest and comprehend how big and how much love and support I get from people all over the world. I’m eternally grateful, I wish I could express my thankfulness to everybody.”
Get lost inside Alan Walker’s Walkerverse, out now on Sony. Check out the video below for a clip from the Walkerverse Tour!