“So, how many people do you think will come to my set?” asked Alison Wonderland as I sat down with her at The Sagamore Hotel in Miami for lunch. She was referring to her performance at Ultra Music Festival on the Worldwide stage, which was scheduled for later that night.
The question kind of caught me off guard, as it’s not often an artist asks you that in an interview. “It’s going to be packed, you’ve got a prime slot. I think you’re a lot bigger than you realize,” I said with a laugh. “Oh, she definitely is,” chimed in her photographer. “You’re between Jauz and Yellow Claw,” he continued. “Everyone is going to be there Alex.”
This being the producer’s first performance at Ultra Music Festival, it was clear that Alison (real name Alex Sholler) may have been a bit nervous about her set, but as those who were in attendance can attest to, she had absolutely nothing to worry about.
Bringing an ample amount of passion, energy and emotion to her performance, not to mention some killer music, Alison Wonderland absolutely knocked it out of the park, delivering one of the best sets of the entire festival and proving once again that she’s hands down one of the most exciting producers in electronic dance music at the moment.
As I mentioned above, we were lucky enough to catch up with her in Miami on the day of her performance for an exclusive interview. Down to earth, extremely friendly and eager to chat, Alison spoke with us about the Aussie dance music scene, the feeling she gets when she’s on stage, her beloved long T-shirt collection and much, much more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Let’s talk a bit about the Aussie dance music scene. A lot of the artists there seem to be taking more creative risks with their work. Why do you think that is?
Alison Wonderland: I don’t necessarily think there’s a difference, I just think we’ve promoted that style more than American culture has. If you see a main stage set in Australia there will be a lot more of those future beats or deep house or techno, rather than main room house, which is what you get in the States.
Australian crowds are so supportive of their own artists as well. That wasn’t always a thing though, I only noticed it around the time that Flume started to get big. What it did though was it gave other artists who were makings similar music the courage and confidence to put out and release those types of sounds.
We have a really thriving community of producers and artists in Australia now, and it’s great. I really think though that once we started to see a couple of people succeed, it gave a lot of artists the courage they needed.
Personally, when I started out I was a bit scared, but once I saw my friends succeeding it helped me a lot. With my album I think I took a pretty big risk. I had such a following as a DJ at the time that it would have been the obvious choice to just put out a bunch of club jams. I decided not to be afraid though and I pushed myself to be really honest with my writing.
Do you feel like you can be more creative in your sets at Australian shows than you can be with your shows in the States?
Alison Wonderland: Nope. I think if you were to compromise who you are as an artist it would be a big mistake. Playing it safe is never a good thing. Now that I’ve released a lot more of my own music though it definitely makes planning a set a little bit easier.
When you go to make a song, do you start on the computer or on an instrument? And do you think one way is better than the other?
Alison Wonderland: I start on a computer, but there’s no advantage to either. I just think that if you have your way of creating then that’s how you should do it. Some people work on Ableton, some people work on Logic, some people work on a piano, it’s just whatever you feel most comfortable with. It also depends on the type of music you’re making, too.
How often do you get sent demos from young producers looking for advice?
Alison Wonderland: Oh, kids send me stuff all the time. And I’ll always write back and be honest with them and tell them what I think. Sometimes people will send me stuff that’s good, but it’s just an idea. Ideas are great, but where’s it going to go? You need to flesh it out, you know? And I’ll tell them that and they’ll usually send me something back that’s more developed.
Do you have anyone that you’re mentoring right now?
Alison Wonderland: Ya, there’s a kid in Australia who emailed me about three years ago actually. He was 15 at the time and told me that in his city they’re only booking DJs who play 128 BPM or Top 40, which he wasn’t into. But he was really digging my music and told me had made a mix that he wanted to play for me. I listened to it and it was actually really good.
Anyways, he ended up making some tracks that he sent to me a while after and they were all great. I used them in my Diplo & Friends mix actually. He’s been sending me a lot of stuff lately and it’s all blowing my mind.