INTERVIEW: Walden (2013)
At 19, Walden has already remixed superstars like Mika and Estelle. Having started with Acid Pro at 12, his love of producing music isn’t just an overnight thrill. His productions range from electro and banging to ambient and vibey – and have gained him support from big names like Tiesto, Roger Sanchez, and Morgan Page. Actually, Morgan Page is such a supporter that he invited Walden to join him on the forthcoming 3D US bus tour. Coming from Sydney, Australia, the rising producer/DJ seems to have a long and successful career on his horizon.
Ron Slomowicz: Let’s start by going back a bit, the first time I heard about you was when you mixed Zoe Badwi’s “Accidents Happen,” how did that mix come about?
Walden: After I got in contact with Atlantic they put me with a record label over here that they worked closely with called Neon Records. After I met them we got hooked up doing the mix.
RS: How do you approach a remix as opposed to an original production?
Walden: The original song has to touch me in some sort of way, and I always try to find a method to take the song in a different direction without losing the soul of the record. Normally I just take out the vocals, or certain elements of the song that I really like, and then try to do something that will have more of my own feel to it without losing the original feel of the song.
RS: How did you approach “We Are Tonight,” the Paul van Dyk and Christian Burns record?
Walden: That one was more of a trance record and I didn’t want to stray too far away from the feel. I pretty much just used the vocals and rewrote chords and melodies, then picked a sound that I thought would suit the record really well. I was pretty happy with the mix.
RS: Is it more of a challenge to produce or remix a trance record like Paul van Dyk’s or a pop record like the Zoe Badwi record?
Walden: Not really, I guess it depends on the feel of the vocals. I felt like with Paul van Dyk’s vocals it could have easily been on a progressive house record as well as a trance record. With “Accidents Happen” and with pop mixes, I find them a little more challenging because I like to go with a less commercial sound. Turning “Accidents Happen” into a club record was a little bit harder than working on a Paul van Dyk remix.
RS: When you did the “In My Mind” record for Ivan Gough, did you have any idea that it would get as big as it did?
Walden: No, but I knew that it would get a lot of exposure being the “In My Mind” record and with it coming out on Neon, but I didn’t expect it to chart that high on Beatport. I was pretty stoked about that.
RS: Going back to your production, the new track “Machine Land” feels a bit harder than your previous tracks, is that a direction that you are going in?
Walden: I have to say that my sound is always evolving and changing, but right now I am trying to take things in a more rhythmic and housey feel. My upcoming productions are still big room and progressive house. I have a new single coming out soon which will pretty much be the epitome of that. I think that my latest productions have been a bit more groovey, not quite as electro as “Machine Land,” but with the same sort of beat and vibe.
RS: How is the “Xaya” track coming?
Walden: It’s alright, it’s good, but I don’t know if I am going to release it yet. It may just be an EP track, we still haven’t decided. I am definitely happy with it, but I don’t know if it is the best one in terms of what I have been working on recently; but I am really glad that people like it.
RS: Where did the vocals for “Intropial” come from?
Walden: They came from a sample library called Vengeance, but everything that I did had an extra layer of the vocals, and I did some pitch changes. Those weren’t recorded originally or anything.
RS: How does the Australian scene compare to the US and European scene?
Walden: I guess the best way to put it is that it is a smaller version of the dance scene in America and Europe. It’s got its clubs and good vibes also.
RS: Are you excited about Electric Zoo? What is it like spinning at those big festivals?
Walden: Yeah, really excited. It is truly an energetic experience when I get up at a festival and there is a big crowd. I have only played at festivals in North America, but people are really receptive, up-for-it, and superenergetic. It is always awesome to play for festivals over there.
RS: Congratulations on getting on the Morgan Page 3D Tour, how did the two of you hook up?
Walden: It is still a little bit hard to get used to; I am pretty pumped about it. I have never been on a bus for a month, so it will definitely be an interesting experience. I am looking forward to hanging out with Morgan and Project 46.
RS: When you travel do you have a parent or guardian with you?
Walden: No, just my tour manager.
RS: Aren’t you like 18 or 19 years old? Do you have problems getting into the clubs when you are spinning?
Walden: I’m 19 but no, most of them are pretty cool about it. A couple have been a bit stingy about it, understandably so, because they have to worry about their licenses and whatever. I have never actually been turned away and we always manage to get into the club so it hasn’t been too much of a problem thankfully.
RS: I talked to Audien about it and he said that he always gets watched and he can’t pick up a glass or anything like that.
Walden: Yeah, you get in the booth and as soon as you’re done you have to get off.
RS: What exactly do you do with Mixify?
Walden: Previously I did Mixify with Pierce Fulton, Dallas K, and other people that he had on board. I also did live sessions for my Brightness Sessions mix. I can’t really remember exactly how Mixify came about, but after doing it I realized that it was a cool way to do a mix and also chat with whoever was in the chat room listening to the mix and get their vibes or ask questions about what they thought of the song. It is a really cool way to play music and talk to people at the same time.
RS: Where did the Brightness Sessions name come from?
Walden: It came from “Brightness” my first original EP, I couldn’t think of a better name so I picked Brightness and it has worked out.
RS: If I listen to a Brightness Session is that going to be similar to what you play in a live set?
Walden: Yes and no. The music selection is very close to what I would play live, but I can be a little more flexible with a mix as opposed to when I am DJing in front of a crowd. In front of a crowd, it is more about improvisation and actually reading the crowd and playing the right tracks at the right time, as well as your own stuff. In the Brightness Sessions, I try and let the songs play out more just for the showcasing of the music that I enjoy, whereas at a set it is live and a different vibe.
RS: When you are playing live how much of your own music are you playing versus other people’s music?
Walden: At the moment about 30-40% of my own but for this next tour in the US I will be playing around 50-60% of my stuff. I think that I have enough releases now that I am really confident and really happy to play tracks out live, and my unreleased stuff. I have a lot of tracks coming out and I am really looking forward to the tour.
RS: When you are playing are you playing on CD or laptop?
Walden: No, I just spin USB from a CD-J, it’s not very original but it works alright.
RS: When you are producing what software do you work in?
Walden: I work in FL Studio.
RS: Cool. How do your parents feel about your career?
Walden: They are really cool about it, they have been really supportive. At first they wanted me to get my university degree and have a plan b, which is fair enough, but after Atlantic contacted me, they were pretty supportive of me pursuing it and deferring university for a couple years, I have been really lucky to have them.
RS: How did you choose the name Walden?
Walden: That’s my surname.
RS: Random question for you, what is your favorite food made with tomatoes?
Walden: Probably tomato soup, I am a big fan!
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Walden: I would like to thank them for all their support and for listening to my music. I hope to bring much more music to you all in the future.
Interview conducted August 2013. Photo Credit – Katie Kaars.