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Alan Walker on Gaming, Coming Back to India and Movie Score Remixes

The DJ-producer resumes his globetrotting, which includes a four-city tour this week as part of Sunburn Arena

Anurag Tagat Apr 14, 2022

DJ-producer Alan Walker. Photo: Courtesy of Sunburn/Percept

It’s not entirely inaccurate to call Alan Walker a household name in India. The DJ and electronic music producer from Norway has played a handful of times in the country since 2016 (including supporting Justin Bieber) and of course, ruled the digital airwaves with his 2015 song “Faded.” But apart from that, it’s perhaps his songs appearing in the hugely popular mobile game PUBG that’s done the work for him.

Over a Zoom call from Helsinki, Walker says he’s seen proof of his widespread following in India while he was here the last time in 2019. “We were just driving to the hotel and I noticed this guy on a scooter, he had an Alan Walker sweater on. That was crazy. It never happens anywhere else,” the producer says.

What works in his favor is pretty much anyone’s guess – songs like “Alone,” “Diamond Heart” and “Darkside” plus his 2021 album World of Walker all take listeners on a ride on the melody wave, offering up tunes for several moods. “I’m really focusing on creating melodies that will relate to people in a way if they’re melancholic or happy – feel-good melodies. I think alongside that, there was a connection between music and gaming, which has played a big part in my journey,” he says.

Walker returns to India this week, following a two-year gap owing to the pandemic. His shows are part of outdoor event series Sunburn Arena, who will host the DJ-producer in four cities – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Gurugram and Hyderabad (which is already sold out) – between April 14th and 17th. In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Walker talks about the intersection of gaming and music, India and working on remixes of film scores, like he did with Hans Zimmer’s “Time” for Inception. Excerpts:

What is it like coming back to India at this juncture, as the world opens up? You’ll be one of the first few big international artists coming back to India.

Oh, well, so far, so good. I’m pretty excited to be back out traveling again, doing concerts and all that. And right now I’m in Finland, in Helsinki, and I’ll be making my way towards India very, very soon.

I’m really excited. It’s been long-awaited. The pandemic, of course, put everything to a halt. So now, finally, two years later, we can make our way back, start doing concerts again, and start seeing people, traveling. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to come back to India and go to four different cities in four days, so yeah, it’s gonna be busy, but it’s gonna be fun.

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What are you doing differently in terms of the shows on this visit to India?

Well, for the shows we’re doing more of a DJ set this time, in comparison to what we did last time, which was like a full-on band performance, which was also really awesome. But this time, we haven’t had that much prep and all that, so we’re just doing a DJ performance and having some special guests alongside.

This whole intersection of gaming and music has seen so much happen. Lots of musicians have been able to leverage it. Where do you see it going?

I think it’s heading in a great direction. What we’ve seen of the music industry working with game development or the gaming industry is far from the end. So, I think what we’ve seen in the past, or in recent years, is just the beginning of how music and gaming are gonna build each other.

What do you think musicians or even you personally should be mindful of while navigating this new territory?

It’s really important for me [that] it’s a game that I like. For example, PUBG Mobile, when I work with them – I play the game, I enjoy the game, and I’m familiar with the game and the franchise. That way, it was important that I know what it is and not just do a collaboration with them when I have no idea about it or no relationship with it at all. To me, that’s what I would deem very important when you’re doing such a deal with a game company or whatever – that you like the game, you play the game, and you understand whatever that’s going on with the game and the community.

What are your plans while you’re in the country outside of the shows?

It’s very back to back. It’s going to be busy. But we’ve been trying to see if we will have the opportunity and time to go around these places. We’re also filming vlogs, so we’ll be giving people a look at the shows and about general travel in India.

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What is it like constantly staying on top of movements in clubs and festivals, in terms of how quickly electronic music moves today?

It moves insanely quickly. It’s just about keeping an eye on all markets and having an idea about what’s popular. I look at top playlists, analyze a little bit, and see how I can include it either in my performances or in my own songs to have a sort of influence, I would say.

You’ve often mentioned that film scores and composers are among your favorites outside of electronic music. You got to work on a remix for “Time” as well on Inception. Do you see EDM and this kind of classical-based music converging more often?

I hope to see that because I think that’s a good mix. But of course, the movie scores can be very downtempo. It really depends on your mood and what you’re into. I hope we will see more of it, but I don’t think it will be a genre or specific thing that will blow up necessarily.

So far it’s been really fun, I’ve enjoyed making those remixes. I hope in the future, I can do either original tracks or even more remixes.

What else is coming up through 2022?

We’ve had quite an eventful year so far. We’ve been doing a few concerts. It’s often America and Europe. So now, it’s really nice to start heading in the other direction and end up in India finally.

2022 will be packed with concerts, I will be going back and forth from continent to continent, and hopefully more in Asia. It’s been very locked down, I would say, in terms of Covid and the restrictions, but it’s good that finally at least something is opening up, at least in India. I’m really excited about that. More concerts, more music and hopefully more eventful projects alongside.

Sunburn Arena ft Alan Walker India Tour 2022

April 14th – Mahalakshmi Race Course, Mumbai

April 15th – Bhartiya Mall of Bengaluru

April 16th – Hitex Exhibition Center, Hyderabad

April 17th – Backyard Sports Club, Gurugram

Get tickets here.

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