Walker & Royce photographed by Matt Doheny

A Look Back at the Careers of Tastemakers Walker & Royce

Stemming from a background of widespread styles in dance music and years of evolving their eccentric sound to support it, Walker & Royce have crafted a striking name for themselves within the music industry. 

The dynamic duo recently delivered a summer season tune with a heavenly remix of Idris Muhammad’s 1977 disco classic, “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” in collaboration with DJ and producer Chris Lorenzo. Sampling Muhammad’s uplifting rhythmic flow and intertwining their deep-house twist, the trio served up a track that isn’t just danceable — it’s irresistible.

Prior to Sam Walker and Gavin Royce’s success in producing boundless beats for thousands of listeners across the globe, the two spent their early twenties as interns that packaged and mailed CDs in envelopes for a music distribution company in New York City. 

After the internship, we stayed friends for a while, we were kind of doing our own thing,” says Royce. “I was DJing a bunch in the city, and Sam was working at Ableton.” 

We were seeing each other once in a while while I was still learning to produce,” adds Walker.  “After I quit working [at the music distribution company, Gavin and I started making music together. Gavin was more of the figurehead and networking, while I was locked in my basement as a studio nerd.” 

Walker & Royce photographed by Matt Doheny
Photo Credit: Matt Doheny

DJing or producing was not the initial plan for the guys, however, being involved with the music industry was. During that time period, they were both working for the same record label. While Walker was geared towards the mixing and mastering realm, Royce was aiming for the artist and relations side.

“I DJ’d but being a bigger name was kind of like pipe dreams to me,” said Royce. “I always wanted to be involved, and I think it due to persistence [that] everything eventually fell into place.” 

With the lack of social media presence during that era of dance music, it was vital for those who wanted to continue their careers in that field to be perpetual with seeking opportunities themselves. By spending the early stages of their musical paths handing out flyers and experimenting with production software, Walker & Royce garnered their way into the mega world of electronic dance music.

In 2011 the artists finally teamed up to mix and produce, and the two were like yin and yang. Their contrasting tastes in music between new disco and hard EDM, eventually made them meet in the middle and slowly meld into the genre of house. 

Writing a tremendous amount of music and prosperity landed the pair into the spotlight they were destined for since their interning days. Their remix of SAARID’s “Future Lately”, imprinted on Nervous Records, caught Crosstown Rebels owner Damian Lazarus’ attention. Shortly after catching a notice, the duo’s EP, You’re Not Welcome,” was released on the Crosstown Rebels record label. Hot on the heels of their first release, Walker & Royce then signed their next track, “Connected,” on OFF Recordings with support from maestro DJ and producer, Solomun.

It’s good that we don’t agree because maybe if there is too much agreement, then you’re walking into a trap and you focus too much on one sound that’s maybe avoiding all these other influences,” said Walker. 

Royce added, “When Sam and I started making music together, it was a little bit out of necessity, but then it kind of worked right away, and then it wasn’t until then we saw it as a possibility to be a career.”

Maintaining a reputable horizon with expansion and diversity in their sound, Walker & Royce sunk their teeth into house music and started up their own record label, Rules Don’t Apply, which emphasizes their core value of being limitless when creating beats. Starting off as a radio show a few years back, RDA revolved around a message of encouraging aspiring artists to not feel restricted or refrain from expressing themselves to fit in a certain genre.

Walker & Royce photographed by Matt Doheny
Photo Credit: Matt Doheny

Within almost a year of kickstarting their label, the cohesive pair has signed an array of enriching house tracks from talented and driven artists around the world. Ranging from bouncy synths to dark-driven basslines, their label continues to signify the meaning of next-generation innovators. 

“The message is to do what you feel is right,” Royce told MP3 MAG. “Regardless of what other people are telling you. That is where the magic happens.

Striving to defy RDA’s accentuation of trendsetting music, on September 2, they released a three-track EP from West Coast act, FOOLiE, who provides an idiosyncratic spin of Sci-Fi-influenced house music. ‘The Reason’ features enthralling vocal hooks, piercing synths, and high-momentum beats that solidify RDA’s anthem of distinction in house music. 

Michela is a writer for MP3 MAG. With six years of studying journalism under her belt, Michela is an aspiring dance music journalist who interviews artists, writes about their upcoming releases, and also covers electronic dance music festivals.