INTERVIEW: Alison Wonderland

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Sydney’s Alison Wonderland has made quite a name for herself playing energetic and outrageous DJ sets across the country and abroad since entering the inaugural She Can DJ competition in 2011. While she didn’t take out first place, she was a finalist and that caught the attention of EMI. Since then Alison Wonderland, has been doing things a little differently with the release of her debut Calm Down EP.

Currently on her own headline Rural Juror tour around regional Australia, Wonderland is still taken aback by the fact people turn up to her gigs. Talking about her club show in Adelaide last week, “it was crazy, it was a really small club like 300 capacity. And at 9pm there were like 400 people lined up to get in, the club only opened at 10pm, and I only went on at 1am. So it was mental, that was mental, I didn’t expect it,” she says.

And equally so she was really surprised by the success of her own secret warehouse parties in May, which all sold out within a matter of days. “It’s a funny thing actually, because like five minutes before I was announcing the warehouse tour, I called my booking agent and was like ‘let’s make a deal if we sell 200 tickets in each city by next week let’s have a nice dinner’”.

A rather huge understatement in retrospect considering close to 10,000 tickets were snapped up within a week, so much so that some venues had to be changed and upgraded to cater for the very large demand. Again she wasn’t expecting that at all.

Alison says she’s really humbled by all the sudden attention she’s received over the relatively short time she’s been DJing. “There’s this pride in our music scene that I’ve never seen before” she says, “Australians are going out to watch Australian acts as much as they are going to see internationals, if not more”.

While she’s more known for her role as a DJ than a producer, the release of her own music isn’t exactly a huge change of pace for her. As Alison explains she’s always been a songwriter, originally starting out as a classical cellist before she made the move to electronic dance music. And she has actually been producing and releasing tracks since 2009 before she signed with EMI under another, more mysterious name: Whyte Fang.

“It wasn’t always my intention [to become a producer], I did it because I enjoyed it because it was like a therapeutic thing for me in a weird way. It’s totally different to DJing. Producing and making music is all in your own head,” she says,“EMI when they picked me up they heard my production and really encouraged it and I’m thankful for that”.

Her Calm Down EP features five original tracks with Alison herself on vocals, however she openly admits that she doesn’t think she can sing. “I’m not a Beyoncé. I write things in my range that suits my voice,” she acknowledges. In fact it was LCD Soundsystem’s frontman James Murphy that inspired her to give singing a go. “He’s the reason why I sing on my own tracks. If this guy can do it, and he’s got his own vibe going on, and he’s making it his own, then maybe I can try,” she says, though it took a lot of encouragement from a friend, a bottle of whisky, and a microphone to get her over the fence.

She also cites Swedish electronic music duo The Knife’s Silent Shout as the reason why she started producing her own material, however she isn’t exactly sure that there are any influencing undertones there as, “when I’m writing I don’t listen to any other music. It pisses me off because like when you’re writing, I just want to write and if a melody or something speaks to me then that’s what goes in,” she says.

Alison’s appearance on the extremely popular BBC Radio 1 show Diplo & Friends in April earlier this year was a real achievement for her. And something that exposed her to a larger audience. Diplo himself has called Alison Wonderland “one of the best DJs from Australia,” Wonderland hopes to work with a few of Diplo’s Mad Decent crew on future collaborations, something that she’s only recently opened up to doing since first collaborating with Blue Mountains electro duo Fishing on her song Get Ready last year.

“Originally I wasn’t open to working with other people because I’m such a control freak” she says, but that all changed after she heard Fishing’s extraordinary rapping talent. “It’s a bit like a relationship or going on a date really, you need to have this chemistry and I just happened to have it with these guys. They brought something out of me and I brought something out of them and we turned it into something. So yeah I’m all for it”.

Alison Wonderland’s Calm Down EP is available now.

Alison Wonderland’s Rural Jouror Tour Dates

Sunday, June 8 – Electric Circus, Adelaide
Friday, June 20 - Academy, Canberra
Thursday, June 26 - Wollongong Uni Bar, Wollongong
Friday, June 27 - Discovery, Darwin
Saturday, June 28 - Argyle House, Newcastle
Sunday, June 29 - Flinders Social, Townsville
Thursday, July 3 – Southern Cross Uni, Lismore
Friday,  July 4 – Fitzgeralds, Bunbury
Saturday, July 5 – Toucan, Mandurah
Friday, August 1 – Star Bar, Bendigo
Saturday, August 2 – Amaroo Hotel, Dubbo
Thursday, August 7 – World Bar, Queenstown NZ
Saturday, August 9 – Movitas, Mackay
Friday, August 15 - 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, August 16 – Karova, Ballarat
Friday, August 29 – Observatory, Hobart
Saturday, August 30 –  Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday, September 5 – Plantation, Coffs Harbour
Saturday, September 6 – Villa Nightclub, Perth
Saturday, September 13 – Smirnoff Snowdome, Thredbo

Partaker in dance offs, making playlists, and partying hard front centre of gigs. I like music.

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