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Q+A: Alison Wonderland

From Aussie club DJ to one of the hottest properties in dance music worldwide: Alison Wonderland takes us through the looking glass

  • Henry Johnstone
  • 8 April 2016

She has the best pun-based name in dance music, but Alison Wonderland is no gimmick. Since cutting her teeth on the Sydney club circuit in the mid-00s the DJ and producer has risen to become one of dance music’s hottest properties. Having conquered her native land via headline festival slots, sold-out warehouse party tours and ARIA award nominations (the Aussie version of The Grammys), Wonderland, real name Alex Scholler, now calls Los Angeles home – a city befitting of her raucous EDM and trap-centric sound. Last year was the most ambitious of Scholler’s career to date.

Her debut album ‘Run’ debuted at #1 on the American Billboard dance charts, and sent her head-first into massive festival spots at Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival, not to mention an attention-grabbing set at our Lab LA. Hell, she even capped off the year with a Bieber-approved remix of the pop prince himself. Yet amid all the success, she retains a remarkably down-to-earth attitude. There are no definitive goals and her mission remains refreshingly simple: keep doing shit that makes you happy.

You spent much of 2015 making a serious dent in the US. A tough question, but what was the pinnacle?

I think what got all the cogs running last year was the release of my album, which went to #1 on the Billboard dance charts in the States. A week after that I had my first ever US show at Coachella. I think that’s when a lot of people started taking notice and everything became very real. I know it sounds clichéd, but I’m just really thankful to be able to play a show like that after slogging it out for so long.

Then there was your Mixmag Lab gig in LA, which has had quite a few views on YouTube...

It’s reached something crazy like 1.7 million views now! I was super nervous about playing that show, as I’m a big fan of Mixmag. I loved the fact that there were cameras filming my hands because it gave me the opportunity to show the years that I’ve spent mixing. I was really feeling that set – I was only supposed to play for an hour, but I did an extra 20 minutes. If I had my way I’d play for hours and hours! I threw a house party at my place in LA recently and played for six hours.

How do you find living in Los Angeles compared to Sydney?

It’s definitely a lot faster-paced than Sydney. A lot of my friends are there now, so there’s always something going on. It’s very easy to just say yes to everything! I definitely don’t find it easy to wind down when I’m in LA. I get my chill time now when I go back to visit Australia.

Not having to deal with Sydney’s ridiculous lockout laws must be nice.

To see what’s happening in Sydney is really fucking with my head. It’s so sad, because that’s where I started my DJing. Back in the day I could get a gig at 4am in a back room somewhere every night if I wanted to. That culture of kids being on the dancefloor in the early hours and discovering an amazing track through a DJ is something that’s really lacking there now, because of all the great clubs that have closed. The Sydney scene ten years ago shaped who I am as a person and artist, so to see it like it is now makes me really sad. Granted, in LA everything closes at 2am, but because there are so many venues to go and see music it doesn’t matter so much.

You toured the UK and Europe last December. Did the crowds react differently to your sound compared to punters in the USA?

No, not really. I think if someone’s going to come to my show then they kind of know what they’re in for and will have at least heard a track off my album. It was really overwhelming actually, every show was packed and fans brought their vinyl along. It’s crazy because when I was writing those songs I never thought people would actually be singing along to them. Getting to meet Annie Nightingale was pretty cool, too. We had a great interview on Radio 1.

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