Electrifying, infectious, and mega-talented – Alan Walker has been on the up and up the last year, quite literally rising (in the industry and on the charts) as one of dance music’s youngest phenomenons.
Skyrocketing 38 spots on this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 poll, Alan now sits at #17 and received the Highest Climber award. Recently he participated in a YouTube panel at the Amsterdam Dance Event, and delivered a smash performance alongside Gavin James for their joint track, “Tired.” Just days ago he stole the win for Best Norwegian Act at MTV’s EMA awards, making his second year in a row with this prestigious title. In just a few short years, he has truly honed in on his craft and continues to climb the ladder, setting in stone his place as a large piece of the future of dance music.
“When I was a kid, I had a fascination for programming and graphic design. Music kind of just happened spontaneously a few years back. I found a track on Youtube that I liked – it inspired me and it made me start exploring producing myself. Everything started online with people, or rather nicknames, from around the world helping each other out. Now music is a big part of my life.”
His most recent hit single, “All Falls Down” featuring Noah Cyrus and Digital Farm Animals, set off to a raging start with over 24 million views on YouTube in just three weeks. The concept, Alan explains, ties into several of his other tracks’ videos. Time capsules, burials, solar storms – all pieces you’ll find in these mind-boggling intertwining stories.
Alan possesses the ability to consistently deliver soul-striking performances that speak straight to your heart through a brilliantly uplifting journey. His talent and love for his craft emanate through each of his productions and create an insanely passionate and powerful delivery each and every time.
Last weekend Alan appeared for the first time at the 7th annual installment of Insomniac’s EDC Orlando, scoring a special sunset set on Saturday. Taking the booth at kineticFIELD, he provided fans with an explosive and seemingly boundless set. He switched between his heartfelt melodies like “Faded,” “Sing Me To Sleep,” and “Tired” to heavy headbanging beats, to crowd favorites like Swedish House Mafia’s “Save The World” and Coldplay’s “Hymn For the Weekend,” all while underneath the breathtaking Gaia structure that was mainstage. Of course he didn’t forget more recent releases like “The Spectre” and “All Falls Down,” as well as the crowd-gathering anthem – “Alone.” What a perfect way to spend sunset on day two, gearing up for the night time to come alive.
Amidst all of the buzzing excitement throughout sunshine-y day two, Alan sat down with us to discuss his latest productions, enchanting melodies, inspirations, his fluffy white dog, bowling, and more. Check it all out below in our Nocturnal Times exclusive Q&A.
Nocturnal Times: This is your first EDC Orlando – how does it feel to be here?
Alan Walker: Amazing. The weather is kind of unpredictable at the moment, but I think the whole experience is going to be amazing anyhow. I walked around a bit by the outside entrances and saw the stages and everything.
Nocturnal Times: Do you ever just put on your hood and go walk around the grounds?
Alan: Well I just did! You walk by so many people but the people don’t recognize me which is also kind of good. It gives me the opportunity to go into the crowd after I’ve been performing. I actually did that at Tomorrowland – I went into the crowd with my friends.
Nocturnal Times: How did you enjoy your Tomorrowland performance this Summer?
Alan: It was incredible! Being here for EDC Orlando is also amazing, and I’m really looking forward to performing.
Nocturnal Times: Have you noticed any difference between EDC or any of the Insomniac brand shows as compared to other shows/festivals you play (EDC Vegas, Ultra, etc.)?
Alan: Well if you’re going to compare Vegas and Ultra we can definitely compare the weather – it is so warm! But both of the festivals are great – I did the Worldwide stage at Ultra and circuitGROUNDS at Vegas and it was an amazing experience.
Nocturnal Times: Today you’ll be on mainstage playing a sunset set – how do you feel about it?
Alan: Being able to play mainstage is an honor. It makes me a little bit nervous, but more hyped to perform! I’m on at 16:52. I remember Tiesto said that his favorite time to play is during sunset.
Nocturnal Times: Being from Norway, how do you compare festivals at home/ in Europe or Asia to those in the U.S.?
Alan: I actually don’t know! It’s more like a festival is a festival. Almost like people are always ready to party. But festivals in China are kind of new and up and coming, so each year there are more and more. Lots of clubs and festivals are opening up, but it’s definitely a new market that is up and running in Asia in general. In Europe I’d say it’s pretty much the same as here in the U.S.
Nocturnal Times: With all of the traveling you do, do you ever get to a place and just wish you could stay a little longer and explore more?
Alan: Absolutely. Sometimes you get there and just think, “Ah, I really don’t want to go.” One place I’ve always wanted to stay at is Hong Kong, I don’t know why, I just really like that city. I also recorded a music video over there for “Sing Me To Sleep.”
Nocturnal Times: Switching gears to music releases, you just released “All Falls Down” with Noah Cyrus and Digital Farm Animals. What brought you guys together on that track?
Alan: Digital Farm Animals asked if I would do production around it, and I was like, “Yeah – how could I not take this opportunity.” The vocal was great – it was just a demo vocal, not really finished lyrics or anything, it kind of just had a melody. Then we started working around it and in came Noah Cyrus. We recorded the vocal in her studio and bam!
Nocturnal Times: Can you tell us about your inspiration/ the idea behind the music video?
Alan: Well in the end of “Tired” you kind of see the beginning of storytelling. It’s connecting to “All Falls Down.” You can see it with the time capsules and everything like that, and the burying, and also finding them. At the end of “Tired” there is a solar storm hitting and “All Falls Down” kind of goes a long, long time before it happened. There’s going to be a total of three videos – a trilogy. Like “Faded,” “Sing Me To Sleep,” and “Alone,” and then “Tired,” “All Falls Down,” and more to come.
Nocturnal Times: Do you have one or two favorite songs to play live? Any that are super special for any particular reason?
Alan: I really like to play “Alone” because it gets people so hyped. And also my other song “The Spectre.” That one is always such a good reaction from the crowd when I play it. On the vocal parts people get like “Yeahhh!” and then buildup melody starts and people are like “YEAHH!”
Nocturnal Times: Can you think back to the first time you had a giant crowd in front of you, and you were just like, “Holy shit this is happening” – what was that like?
Alan: The first time I did a live debut show was at the X Games in Oslo. I was super nervous – I think it was 15,000 people!
Nocturnal Times: How do you handle making a mistake during a performance – how do you bounce back?
Alan: Well, it really depends on what kind of mistake you made. A common mistake is that you stop the wrong song, and then it’s dead silence and you’re like “Ehh I messed up” but you just go and get on the mic and talk.
Nocturnal Times: You come from a background where you taught yourself how to produce mainly with YouTube tutorials. Do you think this was any harder than say, if you had a mentor with you the whole time?
Alan: Well to be honest it hasn’t been that hard. Instead of for example, paying to learn, you learn for free on YouTube. The mentor that was there in the beginning, he was kind of helping me out with just the basics, and then recommended what to do, like for example what to do with YouTube tutorials, because it is very hard to learn as just one person. It requires hours and hours of dedication but it is really, really fun and it’s a long journey but definitely worth it!
Nocturnal Times: You’ve blown up in the last year or two. How does that make you feel, knowing that you still have so much ahead of you? Where are you hoping to go?
Alan: Well it all started back in 2014 after “Faded” was released. Having success has been really helpful after “Faded” because it really made me familiar with the process and it also helped me to stay humble and keep my feet on the ground, instead of when you have a major hit and it goes straight to your head. For the future I really really hope that it’ll go in a good direction and people still like my music!
Nocturnal Times: Are there any certain artists that you would name as major influences in your life or in your production style?
Alan: Yes! For example there is a Norwegian producer called Mio. I would say he is probably one of Norway’s best producers but he’s so underrated – pretty much no one would know him. Also there’s a guy that’s called K391, and he’s kind of like the Godfather of the Alan Walker vibe. He is the one that inspired me to create the fade. Then you have Arex from the Netherlands/Holland. He inspired me to have that sound, and when you put the three of them together you kind of have Alan Walker. When it comes to melodies I’m really inspired by movie soundtracks.
Nocturnal Times: What do you have planned for the last couple months of 2017?
Alan: Well so far there is touring, and I’ve got a couple of songs coming up. I’m also bringing my parents on tour, and for New Year’s Eve I didn’t want to do a gig. I wanted to be home and see the fireworks.
Nocturnal Times: Do you ever find it hard to balance your regular young adult life with the hectic touring/traveling lifestyle?
Alan: Well choosing to tour a lot is kind of like you’re choosing to put family and friends to the side. That can also be very tough because you rarely get to see them. I keep frequent contact with my family and friends. I also miss my dog, but touring has never really affected me in a bad way. When I first have time off I try to spend time with both family and friends…and my dog. His name is Happy (as he pulls out adorable photo.)
Nocturnal Times: What do you guys do for fun while you’re on tour? Can you tell us what’s up with all the bowling you do?
Alan: Well, I really like to go bowling! I don’t know why. It’s kind of weird but I don’t know. I don’t really feel like it’s the most typical thing to do, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing it too often. When we are touring we try to go to as many tourist attractions as possible!