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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
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Was the idea behind your album to create something that reflects the energy of your DJ sets?

No. I didn’t even think about playing it in a club. When I listened back to the album I was actually thinking, fuck, how am I going to play this in a club? But I think the minute I’m sitting in the studio wondering how I can make a good club track I should just quit. I had the choice to write an album that was full of club jams, but instead I nervously wrote songs. I was really scared about it, but I’m so glad I did it.

But you’re no stranger to writing lyrics, right?

I wrote lyrics and sang on an earlier musical project, White Fang, but no one was taking me seriously. So I ditched all that and concentrated on Alison Wonderland instead. When it comes to lyrics I’m really inspired by people like James Murphy because he’s writing from a very honest place. That speaks volumes for me.

What gives you the most satisfaction: Being on the decks in front of a huge crowd or being in the studio?

They’re such completely different things. Writing music is such a narcissistic and insular thing. I have to get into quite a deep spot in order to do that and I become very socially disabled when I’m making music. I go crazy but it’s also really therapeutic.

You’ve got a 22-date USA tour coming up in February. That’s a lot of cheeseburgers.

Ha! Yes, well the USA tour last year I did try and conquer a cheeseburger in each city, but generally I’ve found it so important to not get carried away with bad food while on tour because it’s just not good for your mind and general wellbeing. The last US tour I mainly did the festival circuit but this time around it’s going to be my own ticketed shows. I sold out the [1,200-capacity] Fonda Theatre in LA in a day, which is crazy. It’s mad to think that people actually want to come and see me!

What’s the story behind the ARIAS and pineapples?

When I first started working with my manager – who also happens to be my best friend – I never thought something like being nominated for an award could happen with music I was making in my bedroom. But he always believed in me. We promised each other that we’d get matching tattoos if I ever got nominated for an ARIA. That’s how much I thought it was never going to happen. Now we both have little pineapples on our arms.

Is it true you watched the new Star Wars on Christmas Day? That’s pretty nerdy.

Yes! I saw it in 3D in Park City, Utah, when it was snowing like crazy. What else would you do on Christmas Day?

You’ve remixed Justin Bieber’s track ‘What Do You Mean’. Clearly you must be a fan...

I love him. His album is amazing. Yeah, I did a remix and he liked it, so I was pretty happy about that. Pop music is in a really good place at the moment and I’m not against anyone trying to legitimise it again. There are so many great pop musicians right now: Halsey, Taylor Swift, Adele, Drake. Pop isn’t a swear word any more, and I’m not opposed to anyone trying to make music that they like.

Alison Wonderland’s debut album ‘Run’ is out now on Universal Music

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