The new star of Sunburn: Meet globetrotting multi-platinum artiste Alan Walker
Generation Y is all about colouring outside the lines. Raised by the internet, these millennials learned to embrace the DIY culture, created their identities, and carved out a niche for themselves. Their go-to mantra: anyone can make it. There are several individuals that personify this notion, but none more so than one of electronic music’s youngest global superstars, Alan Walker.
Born in Northampton (UK) and raised in Bergen (Norway), this masked 21-year-old wunderkind is currently amongst the hottest acts in the festival circuits. However, few years prior to being comfortably seated in the hedonistic upper echelons of EDM amongst bigwigs including Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake, Axwell and Ingrosso — all of whom are also headlining Sunburn Festival this weekend — Alan Olav Walker was just another geeky YouTuber who went by the moniker DJ Walkzz.
It was his love for computer programming and graphic design that turned Alan to a realm that combines both: gaming. Back in 2012, while watching fellow gamers stream their matches across platforms, the then 15-year-old precocious teenager realised that there was a dire need in the online gaming community for royalty-free music. So, armed with nothing more than a laptop and egged on by composers like Ahrix and Steve Jablonsky, he watched tutorials to create instrumental music on digital audio workstation software such as FruityLoops.
To say that things snowballed rapidly after his single Fade was picked up by a British label that promoted royalty-free music, No Copyright Sounds, would be putting it lightly. Since Alan is a self-taught composer, his energetic tunes didn’t adhere to the typical rules of song production and exuded fresh vibes.
This led to his music being used by literally every major content creator and online influencer on the planet — from walkthrough gaming videos to makeup tutorials and everything in between.
The result, Alan Walker becomes one of the most streamed artistes on Earth. Following which, he quickly signed to Sony in 2015 and re-released a breakthrough vocal version of Fade, titled Faded, which went multi-platinum in 32 countries. Faded is also listed amongst the top five most-liked videos on YouTube. He proved that he’s no one-hit wonder with his mastery of all things EDM by quickly crafting a string of other hit releases including Spectre, Force and Sing Me to Sleep. And in the process, amassed over 20 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views on YouTube alone!
If that wasn’t enough, he thoroughly cemented his arrival in both the mainstream dance music and pop-culture scene by officially remixing chart-topping singles by Sia and Bruno Mars. Eventually, all of this led to career-defining tours in 2016-17 alongside Rihanna and Justin Bieber. Quite a journey, for someone who dropped out of high school to make free music for the online gaming community.
Today, this post-millennial millionaire headlines some of the biggest festivals and shows worldwide, and has garnered more than 12 billion audio and video streams. Funny thing is, despite currently being on a world tour to push his debut album, Different World, this multi-platinum artiste still seems to find time for seven-hour-long marathon PlayStation sessions. Some things never change.
In the studio with Alan Walker
A rapid-fire Q&A with the superstar DJ.
What does music mean to you? What is the power of music?
Music has the power to unite people, to speak to people, to comfort people, and make people happy. You can speak to people through music, and it can touch them even deeper than anything else.
What are your chosen EDM buzzwords, from dubstep to electro-house, and everything in between?
I listen to a lot of EDM — not surprising. But I also enjoy listening to movie soundtracks — they give me a lot of inspiration.
Tell us about your new sounds for 2019? What are your most exciting possibilities for the New Year?
I think we will see a small shift in EDM and dance music in general in 2019, which I think primarily will find more creative collaborations, and a blur between genres.
Do you listen to Bollywood dance music? Would you enjoy playing at an Indian wedding?
I have listened a bit to Bollywood dance music, and I think it is really awesome! Why not play at an Indian wedding? It looks fun!
What does commercial music mean for you? What does it mean when a DJ or a musician says, ‘We don’t do commercial stuff’?
I think there is a very blurry line between commercial and non-commercial music these days. There are many instances where EDM has become more pop-inspired, and pop can also have heavy elements of EDM. And, if a track becomes very popular, it is hard for it not to fall into the ‘commercial’ category.
Who are the artistes on your personal playlist? Will you be making any musical tributes in your set?
Tiësto’s WOW is probably one of my favourite songs. For my musical set, there will be some good tributes in there — I guess you will have to wait and see!
Which are your favourite party crowds to play at?
My experience is that Indians love to party, and there is always a good party crowd no matter where I go! I am really looking forward to playing at the Sunburn festival at the end of this year, and I think the vibe will be incredible. Apart from that, I love playing at Tomorrowland.
Is there anything such as a DJ’s special breakfast?
Hamburger? Ha ha!
Do you have a detox recommendation? How do you chill after a party?
To chill, I Iike to play PlayStation, as well as producing music.
Give us your overview of being a successful DJ, between live gigs, tours, chart hits, record sales and online downloads.
I think everyone is different, so it’s important to find the model that works for you. Listen to the body and know when to take a break — that’s probably my best advice.
And, how important is social media for you?
Social media for me is quite important, it’s a good way to keep the connection with my fans and followers. Though, nothing compares to playing live for a large crowd! Feeling the energy from the crowd and making sure they are happy is truly a priceless experience.
A BANGING 2018 LINEUP
In its 12th edition, the Sunburn music festival is set to be hosted in Pune for the second year in a row, with more than 70 acts on show, and the theme, ‘Welcome to Paradise’.
On 31st December, DJ Snake will usher in 2019. Snake, who’s back in the country for the fifth time is still remembered for the video he shot of Lean On with Major Lazer, and then Magenta Riddim. Warming up audiences before he ushers in a NYE storm will be activist-DJ sisters Krewella and the Parisian Mercer.
On 30th December, Armin Van Buuren, the flag-bearer of the trance movement, and Alan Walker will headline the main stage. This will be Van Buuren’s sixth visit to India, having played his first show here in 2009. Meanwhile, fresh off the success of Tota Myna, India’s electronic mainstay Nucleya will also add his desi dubstep touch to the mainstage.
On 29th December, the Swedish super duo and 2/3rds of the now-defunct SHM outfit, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, who premiered their kid ink collaboration at the festival back in 2014, will close the day’s performances. They will be supported by Israeli DJ duo Vini Vici, among others.
Other acts at the festival include David Gravell, Ellie Prohan, KaRavan, Teri Miko, and Siana Catherine as well as domestic acts such as DIVINE (Gully Gang), Zephyrtone, Progressive Brothers, Omen, Julia Bliss, Madoc and Sartek.
While season 11 witnessed a stated footfall of 700,000 attendees, with 73 events across 36 cities, Sunburn Season 12 is expected to find over 1.2 million fans across all formats, say the hosts.
What’s more, in keeping with the theme ‘Welcome to Paradise’, the festival will host one of the country’s biggest campsites, giving campers a complete festival vibe with after-parties, adventure activities, bonfires and workshops, apart from a host of other activities.
Campout packages start INR 2,500 per person per day (includes complimentary breakfast). In addition, fans can expect a world-class experience at the fan village, with F&B by Eat Play Love, 30+ experience zones, flea markets, and even chopper rides.
Sunburn Festival 2018 will be held at Oxford Golf Resort, Pune from December 29-31, 2018. Tickets start at `1,799. Exclusive VVIP experience packages available on request.