Alan Olav Walker (born 24 August 1997), occasionally known as DJ Walkzz, is a Norwegian music producer and DJ. He is best known for the 2015 single “Faded“, which received platinum certifications in over 10 different countries. He is ranked 55th on DJ Mag‘s Top 100 DJs list of 2016
Walker is the son of Hilde Omdal Walker, a Norwegian, and Philip Alan Walker, an Englishman. By birth, he was granted dual citizenship on the basis of his parental origin. At the age of two, he moved to Bergen, Norway with his parents and sister. Walker grew up with two siblings, an older sister, Camilla Joy, born in England, and a younger brother, Andreas, born in Norway after the family moved from the United Kingdom.
Growing up in the digital era, Walker found an early interest in computers, which later turned into a fascination for programming and graphic design. He initially had no musical background; however, he later taught himself by watching tutorials on YouTube based on music production.
Debut on NoCopyrightSounds
In 2012, he was listening to a song by David Whistle (formerly known as DJ Ness), and reached out to the Italian DJ to find out how he produced his music. He was inspired by EDM producers K-391 and Ahrix, and is also influenced by film composers like Hans Zimmer and Steve Jablonsky. He started all his music on his laptop with FL Studio. In July 2012, with the help and feedback from his fans online, he began pursuing his music production career and slowly began posting his music to YouTube and SoundCloud.
Working in the genre of drumstep, a kind of slowed-down drum and bass, Walker’s track “Fade” gained attention after its release on 17 August 2014. The track was later re-released via the well-known record label NoCopyrightSounds on 19 November. Walker stated that the creation of the track was inspired by K-391 and Ahrix, whose tracks were also picked up by the record label. The track has over 220 million views on YouTube, 50 million plays on Spotify, and 20 million streams on SoundCloud. It has become the most popular track on the channel, and is widely-used by YouTubers in their videos. The tracks “Spectre” and “Force” followed in 2015.
Breakthrough single “Faded”
Walker signed with MER Musikk under Sony Music Sweden and his next single, “Faded“, was a remastered vocal version of “Fade”. It was released on 3 December and featured uncredited Naustdal pop singer Iselin Solheim. The single topped the year-end charts in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, iTunes charts in 32 countries, as well as entering top 10 in Spotify Global Chart. The music video on YouTube has over 950 million views and 5.8 million likes, placing it among the top 20 most liked YouTube videos. It has over 590 million plays on Spotify, and is also one of the Top 10 Most Shazamed tracks of 2016. The single also received official remixes from Tiesto, Dash Berlin and Hardwell. He later released an acoustic “restrung” version of the song, with all the EDM elements taken out.
Live performance at Winter X Games
After “Faded” became a massive hit, Walker quit high school in January.
On 27 February, Walker made his live performance debut at the Winter X Games in Oslo, where he performed 15 tracks including the song “Faded” together with Iselin Solheim.
By March, Walker had produced “30 to 40” songs in total, but “Faded” marks his first single with Sony Music Sweden, and the first to achieve such global success.
On 7 April, Alan teamed up with Swedish singer Zara Larsson at the Echo Awards in Germany, together they performed each other’s songs “Faded” and “Never Forget You“. Four weeks before, he achieved the first place on NRJ Euro Hot 30 for the first time, that only has been achieved by one other Norwegian artist, Kygo.
Follow-up singles “Sing Me to Sleep” and “Alone”
The single “Sing Me to Sleep” was released on 3 June, featuring female vocalist Iselin Solheim, the same vocalist in “Faded”. The song topped iTunes charts in 7 countries. Its music video on YouTube has over 210 million views, and it also reached 110 million plays on Spotify.
The single “Alone” was released on 2 December, featuring uncredited Swedish singer Noonie Bao. The music video on YouTube has over 190 million views, the track also gained over 100 million plays on Spotify. The song was described as “the final piece of a trilogy consisting of ‘Faded’, ‘Sing Me To Sleep’ and ‘Alone'” by Gunnar Greeve, Walker’s manager and co-writer for the single.
On 21 and 22 December, Walker held the concert “Alan Walker is Heading Home” in his hometown Bergen for the first time at USF Verftet, where he performed 16 songs and tracks together with Angelina Jordan, Marius Samuelsen, Alexandra Rotan, Yosef Wolde-Mariam and Tove Styrke as singers. The concert was officially live-streamed on YouTube. Some unreleased tracks including “Sky” and “Heading Home”, which was first performed during his debut at Winter X Games and the song “The Spectre”, a remastered version of his earlier track “Spectre”, were also performed during the concert.
On 23 December, Walker released the single “Routine”, which premiered on his concert in Bergen, two days before and some concerts on the “Walker Tour”. The track was made in collaboration with David Whistle. Its music video on YouTube has over 10 million views, and 7 million plays on Spotify.
At the beginning of the new year, Walker’s YouTube channel became the most subscribed channel registered in Norway, after passing about 4,5 million subscribers, and currently has the most views among Norwegian YouTubers at around 1,3 billion views by 9 January.
Walker was originally known as “DJ Walkzz”. Since he has been a part of many different producing groups, he later became just “Walkzz”. He ended up using his real name, Alan Walker, as artist name. The recognizable logo consists of intertwined letters “A” and “W”, the initials of his name, was designed by Walker himself in 2013. He also uses a hoodie and face mask resembling the concept of black bloc on stage to create the rest of the image.
“At the very beginning, we were thinking about ideas like how can we promote Alan Walker as an artist, and then we created a symbol that’s kind of almost attach anyone. Therefore, you can just have the hoodie and the mask and you immediately become a ‘Walker’. That’s also a sign of no matter who you are, you can be a ‘Walker’, we’re all equal.” Walker explained the concept of his look, in an interview by KKBox. When asked in an interview by NRK, why he used the mask, he said: “It is to keep a low profile while maintaining the public image they have given me. I think it’s pretty cool. A little twist that makes people ask themselves questions about who really is the person behind Alan Walker.”, and applied: “Basically, all of the data-world, focus on anonymity. Anyone can join Alan Walker, and the masks show that they can be anyone.”
In the first promo pictures his management handed out, Walker’s face was barely visible at all. Also in the music video for his single “Alone”, he is all dressed as a black shadow figure. This is, according to the artist himself, a carefully planned image drawn up together with the record company Sony. “In a meeting with them we talked about how we could build the profile of Alan Walker”, said Walker to the newspaper VG. “They asked about my interests. I replied PC, computer gaming and stuff like Anonymous and computer hacking where hoodies play a role.”
Walker acknowledges that it’s a difficult time keeping a low profile. Preferably, both he and his management means that the hoodie with a logo on the back is what he characterized by. “When I first created an Instagram account I never had pictures of myself, nor of nature and such. But it is difficult to remain anonymous.”
On stage, he is accompanied by two other men who are also masked. “It’s rare to see a trio in electronic music. I think it is a cool concept. We are in a way a small band.”
At a press conference 9 November 2016, Alan said: “The concept with the mask is very cool, that is inspired by the hacker group “Anonymous” and the television series Mr. Robot. I have a background as a gamer and kept on with it before I started with music. By taking on a mask I can be immediately seen as a gamer.”
“I chose to quietly without a mask today. The concept ends in the trilogy. It will be interesting to open new doors and explore a bit. The mask is not lost permanently, but temporarily”, which means he will take a break from his image – for a time. “With Alan Walker, the music is the focus, not necessarily everything around. It is a recurrent theme in the music of “Faded”, “Sing Me To Sleep” and “Alone”, which is a kind of conclusion to what one might call a trilogy”, explains spokesperson Yonas Aregai for the record label MER.”
“A lot of people ask me why I am wearing a mask. The mask is more of a sign and a symbol of unity and being alike each other, rather than me being different.” said Walker, behind the scenes of the single “Alone”.