Sydney-based DJ and producer Alison Wonderland concludes her first ever North American tour in California to support her debut album Run, playing at 1015 Folsom on Friday, May 15.
Alison Wonderland is a stage name; she prefers to keep her real name and age a mystery. Alison’s highly energetic live shows incorporate a healthy combination of synth-pop, indie dance and house music, while supplying her own vocals. She likes to wear large t-shirts when she performs, enjoys American entertainment like NBA basketball and Star Wars, and has an open-minded willingness to play live shows anywhere, anytime. Those are the moments that make her most happy.
We asked Alison about playing Coachella last month, living in California and her plans for after the tour.
How did early exposure to classical music and learning to play the cello influence your style?
Honestly, I don’t think it did. I think I have a pretty well-rounded knowledge about music because of it. In terms of my style, I don’t think it really influenced it. The thing I do think it influenced was my work ethic. Because playing an instrument like that involves a lot of hours of practice every day.
When I go to the deck or learned how to produce, I sat down for hours. That work ethic that has been built into me carried over into this medium. To me, that was something that did carry over for me, which is weird.
What do you miss most about Australia?
I miss the fresh air and the fact that there’s a beach five minutes anywhere that I am. I miss the ocean. The ocean is something that is super important to me. In LA it’s harder to find than in Sydney.
What do you most enjoy about living in California?
The weather is pretty amazing. The Mexican food is really good. I have a lot of friends in California. I’m living halfway between Sydney and California. A lot of my best friends live in California. I love that there’s always something to do and there’s something for everyone here, which is cool.
What was your favorite Coachella moment?
Obviously playing my shows were my favorite moment because that’s when I was most happy. The minute I walked onto that stage for my first performance, I didn’t know what anyone would think and didn’t even know if anyone knew who I was. I was scared I would play my set and no one would hear my music. It was the complete opposite.
The thing I remember quite vividly, walking onto the stage, I was pretty nervous, and I looked down and saw my parents. They hadn’t been in the same room as each other in 10 years. They stood side-by-side and came to America to watch my show. I think I even said hi to them cause I was very excited. It wasn’t even calming, it was just, this is real. It was crazy. I started with, “Hi, I’m Alison Wonderland and this is my first show in America. Hi mom! Hi dad!”
Who was your favorite act you saw perform at Coachella?
Jamie XX was amazing. You know who I missed: Stromae. I really, really missed Stromae. I’m very bummed. Jamie XX was amazing though.
What are some of your dream collaborations?
Yeah, I do [have them], but I never really want to talk about it. I don’t want them to read one day that I was handing out evidence.
Do you plan to continue integrating your own vocals?
Yeah… For me, the whole body of work is the whole body of work. Adding very meaningful lyrics adds something to attract. I never want to push myself as a singer because I don’t want to become a pop star… It’s part of a whole thing. I never received formal lessons.
My vocals are mostly recorded through iPhone voice memos. I’m aware that I’m not a singer, like Beyoncé, but what I sing is from an honest place.
How did you first get connected to Diplo and his label Mad Decent?
I don’t know. It wasn’t on purpose. It was just because he was involved with music I meshed with. When I worked with Djemba Djemba, I didn’t even know he was involved with Mad Decent at all. It was all serendipity rather than purpose. They’ve been very supportive, especially considering I’m signed to Astralwerks. I think everyone is supportive of each other, which is great.
Do you prefer to perform at warehouse parties or large outdoor music festivals?
It doesn’t matter at all. To me, it’s about the vibe and the people that are there. I think it would be a sin for anyone to have a preference over one type of place rather than another. You should put equal amounts of love into every one of them, but they’re all different. Some are more intimate than others… It makes me happy.
Intimate venues though, I fucking love. I’d play any venue. [But] I like it when it gets sweaty and everyone gets squished up against each other and is having a crazy time. Isn’t that so primal and cool? Just such a release. Jumping around and not caring what people think.
How did you become a fan of NBA basketball and who is your favorite team?
I guess, in Australia, we have a…I don’t know if I should say this…our basketball team isn’t very good. A lot of Australians look at NBA as a higher important league to them. I just love it. To be honest, my favorite thing is All Star weekend and the slam dunk contest.
I was in Boston when I was young with my family, so I’ve always been a Celtics fan, but being in LA I always seem to be going to Clippers games. I kind of love the Clippers. Those are the two teams I usually go for. I just like watching good games.
Like when the Clippers play the Golden State Warriors?
Yeah! And Andrew Bogut. Oh my god. I saw him once when I was on holiday. He was very funny.
You also like Star Wars. Who is you favorite Star Wars character?
Obi-Wan. He has always been my favorite character.
What are your plans for after your U.S. tour, which concludes in California?
I keep touring, mate. I’m going back to Australia and I’m touring. In between that I’m going to write music and I’ll hang out with my dog, and hold hands with someone special or whatever and hang out with my friends. My life is mainly touring and writing music, which is totally fine, and I’m totally cool with it.