"A lot of people think that I wear the masks because I want to hide myself,” Alan Walker reflects in “We Are Walkers.” “The story is actually different. The mask is not necessarily because you want to hide yourself, but it’s because no matter who you are and what you have done in your life, anyone can be a Walker."
Produced by YouTube Music, “We Are Walkers” profiles Alan Walker fans from around the world as they create, connect, and share through YouTube. Each episode of the four-part Artist Spotlight Series follows the journey of a different member of the global fan community — collectively known as Walkers — as they demonstrate how they’ve been inspired by their connection with Walker and his music.
Walker 4684, a teenager from rural United States, helps decrypt Walker’s epic music videos, and posts her finding on a YouTube channel, while Walker 17075 studies Walker’s beats while creating productions all his own. Meanwhile, Walker 18370 follows a path all too familiar to Walker and his fans, but with his detailed drawings as the medium.
The stories offer a small glimpse into the Walkers’ expanding universe. Together, they’ve created an incredible online community, using YouTube to share work, build friendships and offer mutual support. "YouTube has brought together Walkers from all around the world, from many different backgrounds," Alan Walker explains. “To bring the Walker communities’ talents together is a form of artistic expression.”
The Walkers’ stories are so remarkable in part because they echo Alan Walker's own entry into the world of music. “My story began right here on YouTube,” he says in the show’s first episode. “This is a place for exploration and creation. Our voices here are equal in ways they aren't in our society.”
The journey started in 2012, when, at 15 years old, he decided to try making music. Like Walker 17075, his first step was to watch instructional YouTube videos. "I had no idea how to start, but I always used Google and YouTube to figure out stuff,” Walker explains in “Unmasked,” a multi-part documentary series shared exclusively with his subscribers last year. “I just started searching for tutorials on music production and stuff, got connected with some musicians online, and went on from there."
Removed from any old-school, place-based dance music scene, he posted his tracks online, got feedback from listeners and slowly built a following. "I can’t say that I have any musicians in my close circle that I could ask, so YouTube was the perfect solution," Walker says. "In the very beginning I did a lot of collaborations with different producers. I spent many hours just focusing on learning and being part of communities, to just improve and get better."
Alan's break came when "Faded," a reworked version of his early track "Fade," became a global smash, tallying over 2 billion views. Prior to the release his channel had amassed 67,000 subscribers. Today, he has tallied nearly 20 million, engaging in an audiovisual universe that grows more expansive with each video.
That universe took a huge leap forward with the “World of Walker” trilogy, a series of videos, completed in late September, that elevated EDM to the level of “Lord of the Rings,” combining his uniquely melodic beats with fantastic visuals shot around the planet. The first installment, "All Falls Down," introduced viewers to a group of post-apocalyptic kids who discover strange relics buried in the ground. By the end of "Diamond Heart," episode three, they'd traveled from lush waterfalls to mountain passages, and the story has expanded to new characters deep in the desert. The trilogy offered fans a teaser of things to come on "Different World," Walker's just-released debut LP.
Still, for all of World of Walker's grandiosity, the project's core was small-scale fan communication. Each frame is filled with easter eggs and visual puzzles for fans to decode. This is typical of Walker, who has put fan interaction at the core of his mission and continuously strived to, as he puts it, “connect fans with myself in a very unique way.”
"I try to place myself in their position, and imagine what I would want to see from the artists that I follow," he says, explaining that direct-to-fans approach. "I think the content I share on my channel helps people to get to know me better, and not just my music. And I think my core fans appreciate that insight and extra look at everything that’s behind the music as well. At least their feedback is really appreciated, and I try to make the content as interesting and diverse as possible."
The Walkers are equally appreciative. "We love to see a really active, passionate community, that's equally passionate as us, creating content on YouTube and sharing it with the world," Walker 4684 says in “We Are Walkers.” It’s a community nurturing people around the globe, helping them become more confident in their own skin -- and under their own masks. And to Walker 4684, this is the most important thing she has gained from her experience. “Just be yourself,” she says, “because being a Walker is being you.