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EDM Lounge Interviews Walden

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the young and talented Walden at the Atlantic Records offices in NYC. I didn't know what to expect when I got there, all I knew was that I was going to meet a 19 year old producer who's been touted as one of dance music's most promising newcomers. Most of the younger guys in the industry are a little cocky, but I can assure you Walden is not that type of person. I was astonishingly impressed by his attitude, his demeanor, and his personality. He is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, and appreciative people that I've ever met. If you're familiar with his music you may know him for his nice smooth Progressive sounds, but he also has a dark side where he switches forms to fierce Electro, which can be heard in his most recent EP, Machine Land. After some shows on the West Coast last month, Walden was back in NYC for his show at Pacha and he destroyed it.

DAVID: Besides that trip to Powerhouse Museum which many of us have read about, what else influenced you to produce music?

WALDEN: Just music itself really, I think jazz experimental, happy hardcore, hard trance, it's just kind of where I started, and I don’t know, I kind of branched out and eventually found House. I actually first heard Fedde le Grand's "Put Your Hands up for Detroit" and I've never quite heard House done like that before. There was some funky underground stuff that I used to listen to, but that was definitely that track that got me into it.

DAVID: That track did it for you?

WALDEN: Yea, I think so. My brother actually showed me the track and I was like "this is sick," I want to make stuff more like this. And then everything else just sort of came together.

DAVID: You were always into music though, right?

WALDEN: I think so, it was weird, it was kind of like maybe around 10 or 11, I was thinking maybe I'd be like a writer, or a drawer, or banking or something. I don't know, I didn't know what I wanted to do then. But, then you know, I found the Powerhouse Museum and the creative aspect of creating a song with a program immediately grabbed my attention and my interest in music came after that.

DAVID: Well that was a wise choice because you certainly have a bright future. Alright, so what's the EDM scene like in Australia and would you ever consider moving to the US when the time is right?

WALDEN: I think it's a little smaller in Australia, it's strong though. We actually just had Tommy Trash in Sydney at Pacha last Saturday, I wasn't able to check it out though because I was busy that night. But I've seen Martin Solveig there and Laidback Luke as well for the opening of Ivy Nightclub. You know, I think especially for the festivals we get quite a few big names and also at the big clubs like Chinese Laundry and HQ in Adelaide. I mean, it's good, but it's hard since Australia is quite isolated so we don't get as many acts as I think we should, but EDM definitely has a presence here.

DAVID: Well in this emerging industry, I'm sure it will definitely continue to pick up there. Being one of the younger producers in the industry, who would you say is your role model and which producers/DJs have influenced you musically?

WALDEN: I think right now who have influenced me are a lot of the Anjunabeats artists - I like Soundprank a lot, Audien is really cool. Pierce Fulton has a really unique sound that I like and in terms of the older guys, I've always liked the Swedes, especially more of the older house stuff from 3-4 years ago.

DAVID: Yea, because that's when the music really changed.

WALDEN: Yeah, that's when it exploded and the sounds changed. Axwell has always been up there for me and Fedde Le Grande, those sorts of artists.

DAVID: I've been listening to your music recently and it sounds pretty original. What do you do to make your music sound unique?

WALDEN: I'm not sure really. I'm still trying to focus on making my sound I guess. You know what, I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that I didn't learn to produce in the conventional way. I just kind of experimented in my own way.

DAVID: So you taught yourself basically?

WALDEN: Yea, I just experimented. I would just mess around with all the sounds and learned that way. Once in a while I'd look up a YouTube video. What I can definitely tell you is that I didn't look at the manual, I was way too lazy to do that. In the end, I think that's what helped me, doing things kind of differently. Maybe doing things the hard way somehow allowed me to find unique sounds that maybe people haven't quite used before.

DAVID: Cool. You said you were influenced by Jazz as well?

WALDEN: Yea, a little bit. I actually started learning piano when I was 14. I got piano lessons at school and my instructor was a jazz pianist. And I was like okay I don't really care about playing classical music or classical piano or reading music. I just wanted to learn the chords and scales and be able to make my own stuff and actually know what I'm doing. Before then, I'd look at the program and be like that sounds good, but I don't know why it sounds good. So it was definitely important for me to learn that and I think my music definitely changed after that.

DAVID: So with all this piano talk, I definitely hear some nice piano melodies in some of your tracks. Do you play live?

WALDEN: No I don't play live, I suck live. But just learning and knowing the chords have helped me a lot. I'd go and play some chord progressions on the piano, maybe a melody and when it sounded good, I'd go and replicate it on the computer and work from there.

DAVID: What's your biggest or proudest achievement to date? Whether it's a show that you played, a track that you released, the fact that you got signed, etc...

WALDEN: I think "Brightness, "my first track that was played on Pete Tong's BBC Radio 1 Essential Selection was a big moment. Actually, it was massive moment for me.

Also, I think doing the remix of "In My Mind" by Feenixpawl & Ivan Gough was big for me. I mean that track was in the Top 10 of the progressive house charts on Beatport for about two weeks. That was definitely a big release for me. That was a very cool moment as well.

"Machine Land" has done really well, "Ciaco" I was really happy with, "Intropial" as well. I'm just really excited for what's yet to come.

DAVID: "Intropial" is a sick track. It's definitely one of my favorites of yours. So this industry is very competitive, did you ever think you were going to be recognized for what you're doing now? You know, just messing around and then all of a sudden one of your tracks gets played by Pete Tong and the fact that you got signed by Big Beat, a division of Atlantic Records.

WALDEN: I think it was a little more about 'luck' and I'm definitely grateful for it. I love it. Being able to make music from a computer rather than learn an instrument, it was sort of a different way for me to find my musical creative side. And one day, Atlantic found me and then it turned into this. I didn't see that coming at all, but it's definitely cool that it happened and I'm grateful for the opportunity that I got.

DAVID: In terms of 'luck', I think it was more than that for you. There are so many people producing music these days. You don't need a recording studio, you know, you can do it from your house, in your room all day. It's not always luck; you have to be good, continue to produce good music, be unique, and stand out. And I think that's the case for you.

WALDEN: Well thanks, I really appreciate that. This is all still a bit surreal for me.

DAVID: So tonight is a very exciting night for you playing at Pacha. A lot of people are going to see you spin for the first time and a lot of people are going to discover who Walden is and what you're about. I know you were here last summer for a few gigs around the time you first got signed, but what's on your current agenda during this trip?

WALDEN: Well after Pacha tonight, I'm off to Ocean Club at Marina Bay in Quincy, Massachusetts.

DAVID: You'll have a great time at Ocean Club. I've been there a couple of times. It's a sick venue. Just hope for some good weather and it will be perfect. And if it rains, oh well, the rain doesn't stop this scene.

WALDEN: Yeah, I'm really excited for that one. I'm also going to Avalon in Los Angeles and then Spring Awakening in Chicago on Saturday which I'm really looking forward to. And then I got some bits and pieces here and there and I'm back to Australia June 26th. Hopefully I'll be back here, maybe Europe as well sometime in July. 

DAVID: Last question, what do your parents think of your career choice?

WALDEN: Wow, nobody has asked me that yet. They're really supportive.

DAVID: They've always been?

WALDEN: Yea they've always been. They've always wanted me to be happy and do whatever my passion was. But they also wanted me to be practical about it and also live a good and healthy life.

DAVID: Absolutely, sometimes you just have to take risks and go for it.

WALDEN: Definitely, this is one of those things where we saw potential in it and that it was something that I love doing and if Atlantic is willing to invest in it, then it's definitely worth the risk.

DAVID: Your parents never wanted you to be a lawyer or a doctor or anything?

WALDEN: No, not really. They were really easy about it, I think I'm really lucky to have them.

DAVID: Well that's how every parent should be. You're living the dream and it will only get brighter for you. It was nice meeting you and thanks for taking time out of your day for this interview. Good luck in your future and I wish the best of success to you.

Keep your eyes and ears out for Walden - hands down, no doubt about it a big name to look out for in the near future. If he's not back in the US by August, you can catch him at Electric Zoo as he is opening up Main Stage West on Sunday, September 1st.

Purchase: Machine Land EP

By David Selsey

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