INTERVIEW: ALISON WONDERLAND
GROUNDBREAKING AUSTRALIAN PRODUCER AND VODKA AFICIONADO ALISON WONDERLAND HAS BEEN PRAISED BY EVERYONE FROM ANNIE MAC TO DIPLO AND WITH THE RELEASE OF HER DEBUT ALBUM IN THE UK, RUN, SHE’S SURE TO BECOME AS BIG HERE AS DOWNUNDER. SIXTYNINE DEGREES LILITH HUNT SHEPPARD SKYPED ALISON JUST BEFORE HER HEADLINE PERFORMANCE AT PHILADELPHIA’S MAD DECENT BLOCK PARTY TO TALK ABOUT MAKING THE CHANGE FROM CELLO TO DJ’ING IN STRIP CLUBS, HER NEW ALBUM AND HER OBSESSION WITH PUPPY DOGS.
My dog has just arrived in LA and I’m not there to pick her up and it’s killing me!
Oh no! I heard you mention your dog in a couple of interviews actually, what sort of dog do you have?
She’s half Shihtzu and half toy poodle and her names Mollie. She is so tiny and fluffy but really cool.
She sits in all my studio sessions with me and I’m just so happy she’s now in LA. She actually went on a special dog aeroplane which I think I also mentioned in that interview; I actually talk about my dog a lot!
Don’t worry about it, dogs are amazing. You always see those memes about their dogs not trusting people…
Oh totally! If my dog doesn’t trust someone it’s a deal breaker.
Oh completely. It’s such a pleasure to speak to you. We’ve been listening to the new album in the office and we all said how strong it is with a totally fresh sound. There are some dirty, dirty beats in there!
Aw thank you! I really don’t know how to describe my sound, I really don’t! All I know is that quite dark beats speak to me a lot and melodies speak to me. I mean the reason I started producing is because I
heard a record called Silent Shout by a Swedish duo called The Knife, and that’s like what made me want to start making electronic music, before that I didn’t really think about it.
Growing up, you were a principal cellist in the Sydney Youth Orchestra and bass player in an indie rock outfit, skills, and there are definite influences in the style and complexity of the album.
I think the problem was that when I was playing Cello I was always highly distracted by other types
of music. So I’m really happy about where I’ve fallen into.
It’s quite a weird leap in a way to go from that to drop some incredible dirty beats now with the music you produce.
It was never the plan, it’s never where I thought I would be. I was honestly doing it number 1, for
cheap therapy, number 2, because I loved it. So I guess the funny thing is, if I have to say anything to anyone out there, I think the reason why I am able to do this now as a full time job is that it is a labour of love. And if you really love something you’ll work and put all of yourself into it.
Going back to some of your early mixes on Soundcloud, you can tell there are massive influences from Magnetic Man to The Rolling Stones. Who would you say has been your biggest musical influence?
Wow! This is so cliché and I feel so weird saying this, but I grew up on The Beatles and I always go back to them when I’m song writing. I mean the song writing on all their tracks is incredible. The
Knife again as I said earlier is probably my strongest influence; not influence I guess, but motivation. I don’t think most of my music sounds like The Knife but I mean they’re the reason I picked up a laptop and started making electronic music. I wanted to make electronic music that sounded like that, but I didn’t know what that was. Always a big influence for me is James Murphey, I really like the way that he writes his songs and his lyrics. I’m very inspired by that as when I write lyrics I’m quite literal and I guess listening to James Murphey’s lyrics and music it made me realise it’s okay to not have to use descriptive words you just have to write how you feel.
Annie Mac, legend that she is and pretty much the UK’s doyenne of musical taste right now
has described you as playing the best party set she’s ever heard!
I know that’s crazy! I was playing in this like dingy little bar in Sydney at about 1am, pretty drunk, and I saw some woman and I said ‘oh she looks like Annie Mac’ and she came up to me and spoke to me about my track. And the next day I had people telling me to check my twitter and then she kindly said some nice things, so that was really cool. At the time I was probably playing to about 15 people, I’d had way too much whiskey and I don’t even fucking remember my set to be honest!
Haha I love it! You sound like a girl after my own heart; booze, music and what’s this about strip clubs?
I used to go after my shows with my crew to strip clubs. Not for any other reason than I’d just go with
my friend and they’d play good rap music and the drinks were cheap. I always wanted to DJ at the strip clubs and eventually in Australia I got recognised by the strippers one night and I asked if I could DJ and they let me DJ. Then at 3am I spoke to my booking agent and I said ‘Hey what if one day I did a tour DJing in strip clubs?’ and that’s where it all kind of started. When I did my record I wanted to throw parties for people who had pre ordered it and buy the album, and I wanted them to have a fun time and do something stupid because I don’t take myself too seriously. So I actually put up a poster saying I was going to throw these parties and that if you bought the record you can come in for free, and that I was going to play and I played for about 3 hours at each of the shows. I actually didn’t write that they were strip clubs I just wrote the address, so unless they researched them you’d have no idea!
I’m sure for a lot of people it was a double bonus!
It was so cool though because all the strippers worked for free and they were really amazing. Honestly, so empowered: people don’t realise how empowered strippers are. There’s a bunch of men sitting there looking. They were the coolest girls and I got to play whatever I wanted, so yeah it was just a fun party. Actually the best part was the line of 500 kids lined up around the street and it was first come first serve, because the capacity was about 250. And the best part was the crowd was so respectful and no one did anything out of line and everyone just had a good time. It was really cool!
No matter how big or small the venue, you really do seem to get people buzzing.
You give me decks and I’m in my bedroom and I’m moving exactly the same. I mean my tour manager is sitting right next to me and he’s seen me practice in my room, and I’ll just still dance.
So what’s next for you then?
I’d love to play Glastonbury because I haven’t actually explored the UK and Europe so I’m really excited to see what happens. I have played Lollapalooza and Coachella with crazy crowds at each of these shows, I think I wouldn’t believe it. When I was a little kid I remember watching the Hulabalooza episode of The Simpsons and I always wanted to go to Lollapalooza and then I actually got to play it.
And then you have the album out this September?
Yeah that’s correct! I have no idea now what date I just know that it’s September and I’m shitting myself! I don’t know how that sound is over in the UK, so I’m interested to see what happens. I hope it works, I really want to go like explore the UK and Europe.
ALISON WONDERLAND’S NEW ALBUM RUN IS OUT NOW www.alisonwonderland.com.au