Thursday, September 29

Alan Walker’s mask mystery unravelled


In an exclusive interview, the EDM virtuoso who’s set to perform for Sunburn Arena holds forth on his WalkerVerse Tour 2022 and the possibility of collaborating with Indian artistes

In an exclusive interview, the EDM virtuoso who’s set to perform for Sunburn Arena holds forth on his WalkerVerse Tour 2022 and the possibility of collaborating with Indian artistes

Scores of fans in India screaming Where are you now.., need to look no further. Alan Walker, who rose to fame with the electro house track ‘Faded’ at the age of 16, is set to bring his WalkerVerse Tour 2022 to fans in Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad this weekend.

Sunburn Arena schedule

September 23, 4.00pm: 4.00pm: Hyderabad: GMR Arena Shamshabad , Airport Approach Road Tickets ₹2,500 onwards; available on Bookmyshow.com

September 24, 4.00pm: Chennai: MGM Beach Resorts East Coast Road, Muttukadu Tickets ₹2,500 onwards; available on Bookmyshow.com

September 25, 4.00pm: Ahmedabad: Nirvana Party Lawn, SG Highway Service Road, Makarba Tickets ₹800 onwards; available on Bookmyshow.com

The British-born Norwegian DJ and EDM producer will be performing at the 15th edition of Asia’s largest music festival Sunburn Arena that’s making a comeback after a pause during the pandemic. Now twenty-five-years old, Walker first performed in India in 2016 and has since made multiple trips, endearing himself to the Indian audience with his trademark mask, hoodie and the track ‘Faded’ whose popularity refuses to fade even after seven years of its release. Popular with gamers as well as party chasers, thanks to his collaboration with PUBG, the DJ has more than 15 billion audio and video streams worldwide, over 42 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, 849.9k on Twitter, 8.9 m on Instagram and 10 million subscribers on Spotify.

Alan Walker at the Sunburn Arena earlier this year | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Feel of the city

Over a video call from Norway ahead of his India tour, Walker says he is looking forward to bringing the WalkerVerse Tour to the three cities in India. “This is my first time in Chennai and I heard about all the artistes who had visited this city before. I am sure it is going to be an awesome experience,” he says, adding that he enjoys getting to know the city he’s performing in by taking autorickshaw rides and eating at local restaurants.” The only downside to the rapid pace of my tour this time is that I don’t have time to explore the city and be a tourist for a day or two. Everything is super tight and happening so fast,” he says, adding that he hopes to visit Chennai just as a tourist in the future.

Beginning of the Fade

Walker’s penchant for movie soundtracks, gaming, programming and graphic design led to his developing an interest in techno and electro music. He created ‘Fade’ in 2014 as an instrumental tropical house track and later added electro house and released it on YouTube. Not too happy with the outcome, he reworked it with a complete electro track and acoustic sounds, added lyrics and released it as ‘Faded’ in 2015 under the Sony Music Sweden label.

The uniqueness of this version is the 90 BPM (Beat Per Minute) — an unusual beat for an EDM track. Explaining why he prefers a downtempo, Walker says, “My original ‘Fade’, before it became ‘Faded’, was at 128 BPM. I felt something was wrong with it. So I brought it down to 90 and was happy at the way it opened up the melody and you can hear all that’s being played between each kick of snares and hi-hats’ claps. It allowed highlighting the melody more than what you can do at the higher BPM.”

Melody is a passion, if not an obsession for Walker, an unlikely orientation for an EDM composer. He took inspiration from Ahrix’s track ‘Nova’ and K-391’s melodic style for the re-release of ‘Fade’ and with vocals by Norwegian singer-songwriter Iselin Solheim who would be his singer for ‘Sing me to Sleep’ ‘.

Alan Walker | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Live gig journey

After ‘Faded’ topped the singles charts across the globe, a live show became inevitable. Walker made his debut live show at the Oslo X Game show in February 2016, which was followed by a tour across Europe for various dance music festivals. By then ‘Faded’ became a worldwide phenomenon, putting to rest doubts about whether people can dance to it. The uniquely melancholic mood that Walker presented connected with EDM audiences. There was no turning back. Tracks like ‘On My Way,’ ‘Alone,’ ‘All Falls Down’, ‘Spectre’ and ‘Diamond Heart’ followed, drawing larger crowds at every gig that Walker helmed.

Collaborative cohorts

One of Walker’s first international collaborations was with Rihanna when he was asked to join her ANTI World Tour in Glasgow, Nice and Munich in June of 2016. He has also collaborated with Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Sia and Avicii and supported artistes such as Justin Bieber and Kygo performing at several festivals around the world with them.

“In a collaboration, there’s a world of music that can back you up. In music, anything is possible. Even collaborating with a stranger is manageable,” says Walker, adding “I am not necessarily looking for anything specific in collaborations, other than one good song, where we get the flow, we get the vibe and the feeling of finding a perfect match in melody, sound and music.”

The Alan Walker-Hans Zimmer collaboration in 2020 on ‘Time’ from Christopher Nolan’s Inception, was another milestone for the young DJ who tweaked the maestro’s number with digital patterns. Stating that Zimmer is a great inspiration, Walker says, “He’s naturally incredible and I hope I will one day make an actual collaboration song instead of reworking his older songs.”

As for the possibility of collaborating with Indian artistes? Walker responds, “ I would love to! I have been looking for an artiste like Badshah. That would be interesting if it can happen.”

Mask maketh the man

Not without my mask and hoodie | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Walker’s signature mask-hoodie inspired a line of merchandise selling Alan Walker, the brand. “The intention behind my wearing the mask is not necessarily to become a mysterious icon. I wanted the focus on my music more than me as a person,” He shares. “I am often asked about my mask and hoodie. They symbolize the unity of the EDM community. Anybody can wear it and become a Walker, anyone could be in my footsteps, anyone could relive the dream that I have, anyone could achieve what I have done.”

Mostly seen in black, he was in a pristine white jacket-hoodie for this interview. He laughs when asked about the change in color code. “I have been experimenting recently. It’s a kind of fun because it opens up Alan Walker’s universe to more colors. We have always been very monotone with the selection of colors and it has always been black on stage. We realized that with no headlights, the audience could hardly see the artistes on stage. When we collaborated with Dolce & Gabbana I got a neon green hoodie for a gig in Las Vegas… We realized we could implement colors not just as merchandise but for the artiste’s on-stage presence as well,” he says.

Walker who started learning to mix music for fun as a child is now part of a large number of DJs that Scandinavia has produced. Is it the air? “It’s the water,” smiles Walker through his mask. “It rains so much here that everyone is indoors most of the time and spends time gaming, programming, collaborating, producing music and doing anything that can be done on the computer.”



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