Interview: Walker & Royce

01 November 2017 - - - The DJ List


For Sam Walker and Gavin Royce, the journey wasn't easy, but together they've been able to make what's best for them. As things usually go, it was a bit of luck that got them off the ground: Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus noticed one of their very first releases, a remix of SAARID's "Future Lately", on Nervous Records. The result was the Crosstown Rebels EP "You're Not Welcome" and with that, WALKER & ROYCE was launched into the dance music spotlight. Both gentlemen were kind enough to answer a few questions we had for them.

You can buy their new album 'Self Help' now at any of these new outlets.

Who introduced you to electronic music?

Royce: For me, it was my cousins in England. My family is from England and in 1989 I would go over every summer. My cousins were always going to raves - people called it raging - jungle, acid house, real weird house. I would come home from England with these weird tapes and wear all Adidas jumpsuits. Even before that I was already interested in Prince and Michael Jackson, and hip hop and stuff like that. Now that I look back at it, it was a natural progression.

Walker It was basically that I wanted different music to play video games to. From there I was into KMFDM and weird stuff like that, which then moved into Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Fatboy Slim. Then some Drum n Bass. Big beat and stuff. When I turned 21 I started going to house music clubs, saw Sasha & Digweed, and from there I was hooked on house.

How did you first meet CLAUDE VONSTROKE and became a members of the Dirtybird label?

Royce: I think a better question would be is how did he first meet us because we met him a bunch and he forgot it. We met him and JUSTIN MARTIN a bunch of times, I’d say “hey we’re Walker & Royce” and they’d just be like, “Cool man.” But, we met him officially at the first Dirtybird Campout, not sure he remembers that, because then he hit us up on e-mail.

First time we had a real convo with him was in Brooklyn at the Get Real show right before NYE in 2015. That was after we had sent him music and possibly discussed doing an EP. I think that was the first time he remembered meeting us and that was definitely the first substantive conversation we had together.

Walker: They have producers coming up to them all the time - we get it.

What's your current studio setup? Also what's your favorite piece of hardware at the moment?

Walker: It’s actually kinda lame. It’s a Macbook Pro, It’s just a laptop but it’s a decent one. Also a pair KRK VXT-8s, not necessarily top end speakers. And then a giant TV monitor, and the keyboards we use is a Bass Station 2, Modded 303, MFB Dominion 1, which is a modified analog synth, then other than that it’s just all plugins like Reaktor, Omnisphere, TAL stuff and samples. And it’s in my basement in New Jersey.

Probably the Bass Station 2, or the 303. Well the 303 is pretty limited, but it’s a classic piece of hardware and everyone loves it. The Bass Station 2 is really cool. Novation has this new piece of gear that we haven’t really had a chance to play around with called the Peak, a polyphonic synth, so we really want to mess around with that thing.

My favorite track off your new album is “Sunday”. Can you tell us the story behind the track? How long did it take to finish?

Walker: Sunday was one of the last songs we finished. Written all along the way, little by little, one of the first tracks we started with, and the last one we finished.

Royce: It was kind of a demo that sat around, that we sent around to a few singers, but it was something that we knew was a bit off genre. At the end of the album we felt like we needed a song to lead with, and that’s how it really came together.

Walker: We worked on it between other songs, almost like a palate cleanser.

How did you get involved with GREEN VELVET on “Rub Anotha Dub”? Can you tell us more about this track?

Royce: That first night we hung out with Claude was also the first night we met Green Velvet, coincidentally. He let us know that he was a fan of ours, which was a big surprise. I mean the guy's a legend, we’ve looked up to him since we were younger. That was before I even knew what House music was, but I still knew who Green Velvet was. Then it turned into us doing an EP for him, and staying friends. When we did the album he literally asked us to be on the album. We were like, let us think about that... yes.

Royce: We’re also doing a remix with him for ‘La La Land’ that’s coming out sometime next year. He’s someone we really we look up to so it’s awesome having him on the album. Definitely what we’re most excited about. I might get more excited for Janet Jackson, but not many other people would get me more excited than having Green Velvet on.

What's your all time favorite old school Dirtybird track?

Walker: Probably "Get Low" by Justin Martin. An older one but not super old. Also, ‘Who’s Afraid of Detroit’, but that’s such a big one. When was that?

Royce: That came out about about 10 years ago.

Walker: Yea, we didn’t even put that on the Top Ten Favorite Dirtybird Track list we made for Deep House Amsterdam, since it’s so huge. Basically his trademark track.

What do you do when you get stuck on a song and can’t quite finish it?

Walker: Take a big break, or if it’s a track that needs to be finished, either start over (which is really painful) or start changing it increasingly drastically. If it hits the ceiling, then something here’s not working and we really need to throw out more and more to make it work again. Sometimes the only thing you can do is walk away and come back later with a totally different perspective.

As producers, do you prefer to collaborate or work alone?

Walker: Well both, we did this collab with Will Clarke and that thing came out absolutely amazing.

Royce: And the one with Billy Kenny too.

Walker: It was a really good 50/50 collaboration. In both of those situations we gave them a basic idea, and they turned it into something better than what we would’ve come up with on our own. The other part of that is that we can’t rely on that all the time. We don’t want to start relying on other producers, but so far it’s worked out great and we have some more collaborations coming up.

Outside of your genre what DJ's do you enjoy watching at the club/festivals?

Walker: If techno counts…

Royce: As far as techno goes, I like watching people do live sets with real analogue gear, like Mark Verbos, a good friend of mine and a nerdy Berghain DJ.

Walker: I’d say Kink, but he’s right in our wheelhouse.

Royce: As far as clubs go, any DJ who can just rock it. Doesn’t really matter what genre. I have a lot of friends in NYC who do a lot of open format stuff, like Rock One is one of the best DJs I know, he can rock any party or any genre.

Walker: I haven’t seen him in a very long time, but one of the first DJs I ever saw out was Fatboy Slim. He plays all this weird music and make it all work. He has a way where he doesn’t stick to necessarily one genre, so anyone who can do that sort of thing.

What are your future releases and travel dates?

Royce: Really we’re just focused on the Self Help stuff, the tour and album. But we do have that remix with Green Velvet for ‘La La Land’ coming out.

Walker: We’ve probably been playing that in every set. I feel like we’d disappoint people at this point if we didn’t play it.

About the Author

Dale Take
claude vonstroke green velvet justin martin walker & royce

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