Alan Walker is a well-known music producer and DJ currently ranked in 17th spot on the 2017 edition of DJ Mag’s well-known Top 100 DJs list. This young Norwegian, at just 20 years of age, has achieved a lot within a brief timespan in EDM. By February 2018, Walker received 3.4 billion views on his Youtube channel, and he has developed a global fanbase who love listening to his electro house and progressive house tunes, including Sing Me To Sleep and Faded.
Walker tries to keep a relatively low-profile, often using a face mask and a hoodie to conceal his facial features. This is a trick deployed by the man himself as part of his image; he explained his goals in an interview with Norwegian media broadcaster NRK, “It is to keep a low profile while maintaining the public image…A little twist that makes people ask themselves questions about who really is the person behind Alan Walker.”
Aside from the mysterious appearance, another fact that many of Walker’s mainstream audience might not be aware of is that he works with a co-producer for the vast majority of his tracks. Anders Frøen, better known as Mood Melodies, has produced music for a slew of famous singers and DJs, including Canadian Alessia Cara, Grammy Award nominee Jesse J, and Russian/German DJ Zedd. Most notably, however, is that Anders Frøen is listed on ASCAP as the writer for nearly all of Alan Walker’s tracks.
A lot of controversy ensued in 2017 after Alan Walker appeared alongside his co-producer Anders Frøen on Future Magazine’s hugely popular series The Track, wherein Walker and Mood Melodies described the creative process for Walker’s huge hit Alone. The song has racked up over 500 million Youtube views, meaning many within the EDM community were intrigued to glean some insight on what goes into the creation of such a mega-hit.
Unfortunately for Alan Walker, his appearance on the Track ended up becoming somewhat of a PR disaster.Throughout the video, it’s evident that co-producer Frøen carries the walkthrough, while Walker sounds wholly unconfident and unsure of himself. Many of the comments underneath this video speculate that Walker had no input on the track at all i.e. that it was ghost produced.
The reason for the controversy is not due to Alan Walker working with another producer, or even having someone produce his tracks while he tours and performs; Dash Berlin and Benny Benassi, after all, are both well-known for such an arrangement. Additionally, Tiesto doesn’t produce many of his own tracks.
The outrage appears to stem from the apparent dishonesty; some people within EDM think Walker simply doesn’t actually know what went into producing Alone. This video on the Zen World channel, titled Alan Walker’s Biggest Fail shows Alan Walker being specifically called out for the dishonesty and lack of knowledge.
Whether or not Alan Walker played a role in creating Alone is still up for debate. The comments about dishonesty and lack of knowledge fail to take into consideration Walker’s shyness and obvious introversion. Furthermore, this is a young guy who has spent the majority of his life living in Norway and speaking Norwegian—it’s not exactly the easiest task to express something as technical as creating music in a second language.
What is not up for debate is that ghost production or co-production arrangements are completely normal things. The hectic touring schedules of mega DJs give them very little time to produce their own music. Sometimes this requires a ghost producer to create entire tracks or a co-producer to do the majority of the creative process for a song.
Many big DJs use ghost production arrangements and they rightly don’t get slated, probably because unlike Walker, they haven’t attempted to create the impression that they made those tracks by performing a walkthrough. However, we’ll ultimately never know what exact role Walker had in creating Alone.