FMUOASL with Alison Wonderland [Exclusive Interview]
cover photo taken from Alison Wonderland’s Twitter
Alexandra Sholler, otherwise known as Alison Wonderland, has been one of the popular female electronic artists in the electronic music industry for the past few years. She has been recently performing at numerous festivals around the world and has been on a few headlining tours in the US! After making history at Coachella this year, she brought along her cello to play during her sets on her latest tour. With a handful of select openers for each of her tour stops, we had the opportunity to sit down and check in with Sholler after her two-night run in Denver. Without further ado, Alison Wonderland!
Festival Squad: Thank you for taking time during your busy schedule to sit down with Festival Squad! With your tour just starting, you sold out 2 nights in a row in Denver, how does it feel to get that started?
Alison Wonderland: Really, really happy; I was really nervous. I always get nervous when I release anything or announce a tour because I don’t really have any perspective on me as an artist, if that makes any sense? I don’t really know how anyone else sees me or if anyone wants to see me play. Even if one person buys a ticket to my show I am happy, but to sell out two shows in a row in Denver is insane. Every time I play Denver, I have had such a great time.
Festival Squad: Being from Australia, has there been any major adjustments to the culture here in the US that you had to adapt to?
Alison Wonderland: Yes, the food is so different! Here is the thing, I favor Australian food over American and Australian coffee over American because I am Australian and I am used to it. There is one thing I find really weird…there is random words that are completely different from Australian and American that I didn’t realize when I first came here. For example, I kept asking for a serviette at every restaurant I ate at, but it is a napkin here and no one knew what the heck I was talking about. A witch’s hat is called a road cone here, sidewalk is pavement or footpath, a liquor store we call a Bottle-o, tomato sauce is ketchup, and the trunk of a car is called a boot. So, there is a lot of tiny things that I have had to adjust to. When I have said a few words, people have not understood me so I have had to accentuate my R’s a lot. I spend a lot of time in LA and it is quite similar to Sydney.
Festival Squad: Do you currently reside in Los Angeles?
Alison Wonderland: I am in between places. I kind of feel more like a Gypsy these days because I don’t spend more than a week anywhere. Again, I have made friends and taken note where to eat in different places. Here in Denver, there is a place called Watercourse, which is a vegan place that I have eaten at before that is pretty dope.
Festival Squad: From DJing in strip clubs and producing music in your bedroom to playing at some of the world’s biggest festivals, what do you say your favorite festival is that you have performed at?
Alison Wonderland: Probably my own. I started a festival in Australia called the Wonderland Warehouse Project. Just kind of playing something I made that is about the music and the vibe that I wanted, it is really overwhelming. There are a couple of festivals that aren’t mine that really stick out; the first time I ever played EDC Las Vegas, I could never forget that because they don’t really have festivals like that in Australia. I had never googled EDC and didn’t I know what I was playing; I thought it was going to be a small crowd and a small festival. I ended up playing to thirty or forty thousand people for the first time.
Festival Squad: Wow…
Alison Wonderland: I walked out on stage and I was literally like “What the fuck is this…?” All of those colors and lights and kandi everywhere and I had literally never seen anything like that! That was in 2015. There is a moment where I looked up at the crowd and I just started crying and it’s on camera, it’s on film somewhere. I was so overwhelmed because something brought me back to when I was playing music in small clubs for no one and making music in my bedroom when no one was writing back. It was just the most overwhelming thing. Coachella was a crazy one, the first time I played was in 2015. It was my first proper American show, so that was pretty memorable.
Festival Squad: I saw you made history this past year at Coachella being the top billed female DJ ever. How did that make you feel overall?
Alison Wonderland: When I played my debut show, I was playing at 2pm and now I am playing at 10:30pm. It was crazy to play a headline slot at the Sahara Tent when three years ago I was playing more of an opening slot and I had more music to play of my own. Before that, I only really had done my Calm Down EP, a couple of remixes, and Run, which is my album before this. Then Awake came out two weeks before Coachella.
I was super nervous because no one had really heard the album yet and was really nervous playing a lot of those songs. It was cool, it was the first time I ever really sung live this year, played my cello, brought out Trippie Redd, it was really special. I think I was really nervous because my dad was there and he had only seen two of my shows ever. So, he flew from Australia with my step mom and I really wanted my dad to be proud of me.
Festival Squad: I remember the first time I heard about you was after EDC Orlando in 2015 when you played that Justin Bieber remix in your set.
Alison Wonderland: DUDE! That is one of my favorite things because I made that on my laptop and had never really heard it out and decided to test it out that night. It was one of the only other times I have fully cried. I turned around and looked at my tour manager and was like “I can’t believe it, this is something I made!” It was very overwhelming, very cool.
Festival Squad: Your last album, Awake, was a deeper dive into your personal life and a lot of the tracks are very touching. What inspired you the most to write and produce the tracks on Awake?
Alison Wonderland: The reason I opened up a lot more on Awake is probably because I was going through a harder time than when I was when I wrote Run, but I was very open with Run and I was very impressionable at the time and I was kind of seeing a lot and learning a lot about things. Then when Awake came around, it was more of an aftershock of me diving into those things because it was written in real time and I was going through a pretty difficult period. I genuinely think that writing Awake helped me get through it and helped me realize a lot. I guess Awake was almost like therapy for me because I came out of it really clear and a way better person just from realizing what was going on in my life. Every time I would write a song, I would be like “Holy shit, that’s really happening in my life.” And would make a move. I really feel like, for some reason, my subconscious helped me a lot. It was a very emotional album for me and a very emotional time, so when I put that out I felt almost exhausted because I had been holding this emotion in for so long. Awake was a really heavy album for me to write.
Festival Squad: My favorite song off the album is Easy. That song really hits you in the feels…
Alison Wonderland: It’s one of my favorites off the album; it’s why I sang it live. It still means so much to me because it is a really true feeling. When you are feeling really down, you kind of feel self-loathing and you forget about what is good about you. There is so much negativity that takes over your mind and you try to push everyone away because you feel like such a burden and that is basically how I was feeling when I wrote that song.
It was actually crazy, because when I wrote it, that morning I had walked into the bathroom because I was too embarrassed to cry in front of someone. I wrote that song on the day that happened. It is a very special song to me and I really was not doing well. There is one lyric in it, “Cause I know myself and I know this isn’t who I am, yeah.” It was kind of a little reminder in the song that “Hey, this isn’t me. When is it going to get better?” It was a hard song to write and the one I’m most proud of lyrically.
Festival Squad: You have collaborated with a handful of artists, most recently Dillon Francis I saw. Are there any other artists that you are hoping to collaborate with in the future?
Alison Wonderland: I would love to produce for Kanye one day or play cello for him. Just anything, even just press one snare sound and I would be happy. Kanye is one of my favorite artists.
Festival Squad: Your social media presence has always made me laugh with your funny tweets and posts about Molly, your dog. I have to ask why don’t we see more posts about her?
Alison Wonderland: You want me to tweet more about Molly? Ok, I am going to do that more for you! Honestly, I didn’t even think about it because I was in Europe this month and have been touring. My manager has been looking after her, but he is also my best friend so I trust him. I will make sure I make sure I tweet out a really cute picture of Molly because she is the love of my life.
Festival Squad: Do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2018? What about long term?
Alison Wonderland: I have so much that I can’t tell you about…but I am releasing some more music. It is going to surprise you a little bit, but it’s in a good way!