Anyone who enters the DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list just over two years after the release of their first album is worth standing up and taking notice of. Enter Alexandra Sholler, a 31-year-old Australian better known to fans of her electropop and future bass tracks as Alison Wonderland.
Alison Wonderland’s debut album, Run, was released in 2015, and it is now certified gold by The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In addition to the success of her first album and her recognition by DJ Mag’s much-vaunted top 100 list, Alison Wonderland was also crowned New Artist of the Year at the Electronic Music Awards in September 2017.
Success for this Sydney native is driven by both her talent and the personal touch she adds to the tracks she creates. Her latest tune, Happy Place, released ahead of her second album, Awake, deals with the wild ups and downs of mental illness. This is a topic fresh in the minds and hearts of EDM fans following the untimely death of Avicii at just 28 years of age.
For Alison Wonderland, like many artists, she sees her talents as providing a way to express things that have meaning to her. Her music is her outlet, and there is a thin line between being able to invoke feelings through an art form and bottling them up; a line which Alison Wonderland is thankfully on the right side of.
In a 2015 interview with Vice, she described how her debut album was, “written about my relationships with love, friendship, the industry, Los Angeles, Sydney, and music. Everything I wrote was from a really honest place and that’s the only way to do it—it’s to let your art speak for you.” It’s an approach that has paid dividends for Wonderland so far, and 2020 looks set to see her rise to EDM stardom continue.
However, one thing that coincides with Alison Wonderland’s rise in popularity is an increasingly busy schedule, with many EDM festivals, major nightclubs, and venues all wanting to hire her as a DJ. As she described herself in a recent audio interview with Insomniac, “When I started DJing, I was getting booked as a DJ not a producer.” So Alison Wonderland is not unfamiliar with DJing, but the industry expectations for modern EDM DJs to encompass all aspects of being an artist has led to an increased difficulty of balancing production and live sets.
Alison Wonderland’s approach is that she has received help to make new music, but she has taken steps to ensure that those tracks accurately reflect the person who she is and the message she is trying to convey. Alison doesn’t passively hire producers to make her music; she’s actively involved. “I was in the room and feeling what they were feeling. I need to be getting out of them what they think works best.”
According to her track listings on the ASCAP website, Alison Wonderland has had help with Already Gone, which was produced by Alexander Timothy Burnett, Peder Losnegaard, Brendan Kai Picchio, Alexandra Sholler, and Maia Ruanui Witika. Producers including Fletcher Keamy Ehlers, Alexandra Sholler, and Yee Sheng Then made her song, Naked.
The story of Alison Wonderland encapsulates the problem of modern DJing perfectly. Here we have an artist who has shot to fame rapidly, and who now has less and less time to spend in the studio. By enlisting the help of other producers and ensuring she has input into what they are doing, we have a ghost production/co-production arrangement that works perfectly well.