DJ Alan Walker on remixing Hans Zimmer's song from 'Inception': 'It's a moment I'll never forget'

The producer and DJ remixed Zimmer’s song 'Time', from the 2010 hit film starring Leonardo DiCaprio

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 12: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) British-Norwegian DJ Alan Walker performs live on stage during a concert at the Columbiahalle on April 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns)
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It is one thing to remix a popular track and quite another to entirely rework a piece by your musical hero.

It’s a position masked producer and DJ Alan Walker found himself in earlier this year when offered the chance to collaborate with Hans Zimmer.

The legendary German film composer –the man responsible for countless evocative scores for blockbusters such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Gladiator, Dunkirk and Batman's The Dark Knight trilogy –wanted to shake things up and appeal to a younger audience.

So he decided to collaborate with the popular Norwegian-British DJ, to remix his most streamed Spotify track, Time, from the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring 2010 film Inception.

Speaking to The National, Walker says he still has fond memories of first meeting the maestro last year during his European tour.

“It was a moment that I will never forget,” he says. “I was so excited to meet my hero who has inspired me immensely. It was a priceless moment. I can only speak for myself in that Hans Zimmer has been a true inspiration for my music career, probably the biggest inspiration of all.”

Bringing out a visual universe

This explains the expansive sounds of Walker's own compositions. While tracks such as Alone and Sing Me to Sleep feature the hard-edged electro-house sounds that have led the DJ to dominate clubs worldwide, they still hold a key sense of melody and cinematic atmosphere.

My team and I focus so much on building out the visual universe with every content piece

It’s no wonder, then, that key parts of Walker’s success are his dazzling music videos and stage visuals, both aspects of his craft he describes as a “universe of [their] own”.

“It’s definitely important to build a visual profile and identity around my music, as I think it plays an equally important role to the entire experience,” he says. “That’s why my team and I focus so much on building out the visual universe with every content piece.”

A respectful and masterful remix

So how did Walker approach Time? Was the plan to out-visualise one of the masters of the form?

Well, not entirely. While listening to the finished work, it's clear Walker is a subtle presence throughout – and that’s a good thing.

The original composition, characterised by its pensive strings and yearning melodies, is retained. Walker's main contribution is upping the tempo to crescendos that explode in festival-ready synths and rhythms.

Walker says keeping his sonic print relatively low key was the most authentic way to approach this work. The remix, therefore, is essentially the sound of a student learning from a master.

“When it comes to music production, one of the things I value the most is the atmosphere and melody of a song,” he says. “And I feel like Hans has mastered that element, so I try to learn from that as well.”

Walker's tour plans post-pandemic

Walker hopes to play the track in a future festival, although he admits he doesn't know when he will take to the stage again. His career has taken a hefty hit because of the coronavirus pandemic, he adds.

“We had planned shows all over the world and it was sad to hear that there was a pandemic. But, of course, the most important thing is the safety of the people, so it made sense that shows could not go on as planned.”

With all that upheaval, Walker feels a new way of doing business is needed when it comes to the dance music industry, although he doesn't yet know the way forward.

Until those discussions begin and venues reopen, he plans to stay indoors and allow his fans to dictate his next tour plans through his social media accounts.

“Their devotion and dedication is thrilling,” he says.

“It always makes me happy when I see their supporting comments on my socials. So I try to make sure I visit wherever they are as often as I can.”