Walker & Royce started when Sam and Gavin, having known each other for many years, finally began working together in 2011. Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus noticed one of their very first releases, and the result was the Crosstown Rebels EP “You’re Not Welcome” and with that, Walker & Royce was launched into the dance music spotlight. Since then, the pair dropped their debut album Self Help which showcased their evolution and featured collaborations with notable vocalists such as Green Velvet, Dances With White Girls, and Sophiegrophy, resulting in an immersive, house-party atmosphere.

Can you tell us about your journey from being introduced in New York City’s early-aughts dance music scene to becoming established DJs and producers with a unique sound? How has your musical style evolved over the years?

Sam: It started in 1998: a Prodigy CD as the background music when playing quake 2 -> seeing Fatboy Slim Live -> a Chemical Brothers CD -> a Sasha remix of the Chemical Brothers -> Sasha & John Digweed live (mindblown) -> turntables & fruity loops -> reason -> Ableton -> work for Ableton -> git gud -> start writing trashy house -> start working with Gav -> make better house -> fail upward for 5 years -> get noticed by Justin Martin and Claude VonStroke -> release on Dirtybird -> start playing major shows and seeing what works -> make first album  -> continue to adapt and evolve -> start second alb-***COVID*** -> … -> restart engines -> second album.

Gavin: I was in DC before NYC where I was working at Yoshitoshi Records and going to parties like Buzz. Then Sam and I met at Studio Distribution in New York when I moved up there. NYC was immediately just a crazy melting pot and made me realise how nuanced dance music could be. While NYC was great for music, it was a super hard place to live so eventually I started doing more open-format gigs to pay my rent. Oddly enough this ended up having a large impact on how I viewed dance music. It opened my eyes to what people like and gravitate to which you can hear in our music now.

Your music has been described as a fusion of indie dance, deep house, and your unique style. How do you maintain a balance between staying true to your signature sound while also pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new sounds and styles?

Sam: No matter what we do we always sound like us, so I don’t have to worry about straying too far. I’m just not good enough to sound too different! To avoid getting stale, making sure you explore new instruments is always important to get you out of a rut.

Gavin: I think the balance is just naturally there, and when it’s off, we notice it. While we have different tastes and influences I think we have the same vision of what we expect to get out of writing music. We both always want to do something different so it seems to work out and we don’t get bored.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the title “No Big Deal” for your latest album?

Gavin: It’s mostly our sense of humour. We are being very sarcastic by acting as if our 2nd album is no big deal when it is something we care very much about. We put a lot of thought and effort into what we do.

Collaboration is a significant aspect of electronic music and you’ve worked with many different names on this project including VNSSA, Barnie Bones, Reggie Watts and more. Can you discuss any collaborations on this album and how they came about?

Gavin: We are so excited about the artists we have on No Big Deal. We do our best work with others and as dance music producers it feels right to bring other people into the mix. Some collaborators we have known for a while and worked with before like VNSSA and James Patterson aka J Patt. We also brought in some new people like Reggie, Barney and ZOF. We have been fans of Reggie forever and were honoured to have him on a few tracks. Barney is a newer discovery for us and we just think he is amazing. We have ZOF on a DnB track with us and it’s so dope.

Can you share any insights into your live performance setup and how it translates the energy of your studio recordings onto the stage?

Sam: Most of the magic is done underground in the studio. But we’re always trying out new stuff, you’ll hopefully always come away from a Walker & Royce show not knowing a bunch of the tracks. We also probably use too much echo.

“Connected” became a definitive house anthem, embraced by Solomun and many others. How did the success of this track influence your experimentation with different sounds and styles throughout your career? 

Sam: It was definitely a double-edged sword. No one knew who we were, and we were inexperienced. We had no management infrastructure at the time, which is incredibly important in maximising a release. And we couldn’t really duplicate it (nor should we have). So it was an early taste at success but fleeting and frustrating because we couldn’t do much with it. Musically it taught us an important lesson: always move forward. Don’t try to replicate a previous track’s magic.

Gavin: It was crazy because we didn’t know until after the summer season finished that Solomun had been playing Connected at his Pacha Ibiza residency. But what Sam said, we were just not ready for the attention. We released an EP on Crosstown Rebels around this time and we just started getting booked all over.  The success of the track gave us the confidence to push on, we knew we were on to something.

Who are your biggest musical influencers? 

Gavin: I would have to say Prince, MJ, Janet and lots of disco and funk. I was  already into dance music when I was young. Then DJs like Doc Martin, Deep Dish, Derrick Carter and more made me want to be a DJ.

Sam: Sasha and John Digweed for getting me into this whole mess

What advice would you give to aspiring producers and DJs who are looking to carve out their own path in the music industry?

Sam: You need tons of patience, writing music is not fast, it’s very time-consuming. You need advocates who cheer you on and others who are honest and critical so you can improve. And you need to have a unique sound.

Gavin: The road to success isn’t the same for everyone. Also, know that it takes time and it will feel like you are failing at first. Hang in there.

How did your individual musical backgrounds and influences come together to shape the unique sound of Walker & Royce?

Gavin: It is very much a yin-yang situation. We try to balance our tastes and opinions which ends up with me making Sam listen to lots of disco.

Sam: I was writing way harder stuff when Gav and I started working together, and he brought me down to earth and allowed me to explore the more musical, groovier side. He reminds me of what’s possible because I tend to have blinders on sometimes.