The name Alan Walker might ring a few bells in your head — computer hacker, black hoodie & mask, platinum-certified hit single “Faded” — and if it doesn’t, well you might just be semi-deprived of good music. On Day 2 of Firefly Music Festival, international superstar Alan Walker dropped by our tent a couple hours before his set to answer a few questions.
He recently released “Tired” ft. Gavin James and currently on his first headlining North-American tour. Amidst his massive success with music and growing fan base, Alan has remained exceptionally humble, a fact that speaks to his ingenuity. As we sat down to pick his brain, it became apparent that behind the masked hood persona lies a 19-year-old’s goal to connect and unite listeners around the world through his music.
20something: What kind of experience do you want your live shows to give to people?
Alan Walker: Most important is to give the audience a unique experience. What I’ve been doing with my live shows is combining dance music with more uptempo and harder stuff so that it’s kind of a wave through the whole show.
How did you come up with the melody for “Faded”?
AW: “Faded” was actually a song I wrote in 2014. At that time, it was released as “Fade” and in 2015 I got in touch with my management and we discussed making a new version of “Fade” with vocals and a brand new mix. We got vocals from Iselin Solheim and we also got her on “Sing Me to Sleep.” Yeah, that’s how it pretty much all happened.
How did you connect?
AW: She was a friend of a friend who I met in the studio and he was like, “I know this girl that has this voice like Ellie Goulding” and I was like, “Yeah, why not try her?” So she came in the city and signed a demo.
If you could have been the creator of an existing technology, what would it be?
AW: Virtual reality is something that’s really up and coming right now. Even Facebook announced that it’s trying to work on virtual reality. I think that’s really cool and maybe I’ll be working on something.
Favorite hangout spot in Norway?
AW: Not necessarily, I’m around the whole city. Between Bergen and Oslo…I don’t know, there’s not necessarily anywhere special. If anywhere, somewhere in my hometown Bergen.
After self-teaching yourself piano and producing, is there anything else you want to learn?
AW: I think it would have to be something interesting. There are so many options there, but maybe another instrument. I know how to play drums, guitar, and piano, so maybe the trumpet. I met this artist who plays trumpet at his live shows and I’ve tried his trumpet and it was really hard.
So you like to skateboard…if you could collaborate on a skate shoe with any brand, which would it be?
AW: Maybe Adidas. I’m a big Adidas fan, the shoes I’m wearing now aren’t really for skateboarding, but maybe something that’s pretty comfortable.
If you could create a video game, what would it be about?
AW: Typical game, what teenagers like. War.
You’ve mentioned before how fellow Norway producer K-391’s style has influenced you. You also recently put out a new song “Ignite” with him. How was working with someone who has inspired you?
AW: It was really cool. “Ignite” the song we’re putting out — we’re just waiting for vocals right now. Actually, it’s an older song by K-391. We wanted to give it a 2017 edit with vocals and hopefully, it gives the original K-391 song exposure too.
Do you have plans for vocals that you can talk about?
AW: For the time being we are still looking for a vocalist.
Would you still use the same vocalist as you used for “Faded”?
AW: No, I don’t think so. She has too soft of a voice for that song. We want something rougher, but I would love to have a female. Maybe even a rapper.
You’ve talked about how you love food and travel. Weirdest thing you’ve tried?
AW: Cow brain in Indonesia, I didn’t like it. I took a bite and I was immediately like, what was I thinking? It was so squishy.
What kind of musical direction do you see yourself going in the future?
AW: A little more mainstream, but not necessarily too mainstream. I want to keep the old original Alan Walker style in my songs and maintain the Walker sound.