Behind The Song: “Faded” by Alan Walker

“I was around 16 or 17 when I put out ‘Fade’ and it started to get huge, global recognition, at least on the internet,” Alan Walker tells. American Songwriter.

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It was 2014—the English-Norwegian producer and DJ was still finding his voice. Raised alongside the dynamic and ever-evolving culture of the internet, once he started figuring out how to make music, YouTube quickly became the dominant platform… and it raised him all the way to stardom. 

Today, Walker is one of the biggest artists on the planet—with 24 million monthly listeners on Spotify and billions of views on his YouTube videos (one of which currently holds the title for 20th most-viewed YouTube video of all time), his melody-driven electronic dance music has become astronomically successful. 

But when Walker’s instrumental track ‘Fade’ first started to get some traction, his journey was just getting started. “The original song was an instrumental, but I remember that back in 2014, a lot of people said, ‘Oh, it feels like this song has lyrics, but there are no words,’” Walker explained. “That’s kinda a weird thing to say, because it’s just an instrumental song with the same melody over and over again with a few alterations. But, that’s when I started to see that it had the potential to be flipped into, like, a vocal-friendly song.”

Walker sat on this idea for a bit—he envisioned fleshing “Fade” out into a larger song, but didn’t quite feel ready to execute it yet. So, he passed the time working on other releases. “The fact that ‘Fade’ came out first was actually really good for me—it was living its life on YouTube with a few million views and everything,” Walker said. “Then, I had my follow-up song, ‘The Spectre,’ which also did really well on YouTube, and then the song ‘Force’ too. So, I was already getting used to getting some recognition for my music.”

But even with the amount of mental preparation and training Walker had, little could’ve prepared him for what was going to happen next: teaming up with vocalist Iselin Solheim, they made an augmented version of “Fade,” which they renamed “Faded.” The end result is one of the most popular songs of all time (it’s the video that got that aforementioned “20th most-viewed video” title, coming in with nearly 3.1 billion views). 

“I turned the idea into an actual thing,” Walker said with a matter-of-fact sense of satisfaction. “It was a whole project, of course, but it was really fun. We got a fantastic singer, Iselin Solheim, who just absolutely killed it. She ended up being the vocalist for ‘Faded’ and ‘Sing Me To Sleep.’ But, no way did we have any idea how much ‘Faded’ would grow… it started to become big within, like, the first few weeks it was out.”

Now, holding records and shedding light into the lives of hundreds of millions, “Faded” is a monumental song in the world of electronic music. And for his part, Walker is still going strong—in May, he unveiled a concert film along with a slew of other fun projects, including singles, iPhone apps and more. But, Walker still holds fast that the natural progression of his career was paramount for his ability to keep a level head today. Even now, with some of the biggest hits of all time under his belt, he still goes through great effort to not let the numbers get to his head. 

“I don’t really like to get too overwhelmed with my success—I don’t want it to affect my mindset and way of thinking… I really don’t want it to make me become a douche or not humble,” he said. “So, for me, it’s still really hard to even look at the numbers and understand just how big this really is.”

Read more about Alan Walker’s new ventures HERE and watch the music video for his iconic tune ‘Faded” below:

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