Sydney-based DJ Alison Wonderland toured Europe as a cellist for the Sydney Youth Orchestra and got sidetracked watching random local punk bands in Germany. Now, the energetic lass has the support for the likes of Pete Tong and Annie Mac. 100% chats with lady who’s just about to release her debut compilation, Welcome To Wonderland.
“I used to take the train to Hamburg and Berlin a lot while I was there and I was really into punk and weird electronic stuff back then so I used to go and follow around these really obscure punk bands and weird electronic outfits,” Wonderland begins, touching on the topic of her adventures about Germany during her year spent in the country. “I was really into these really weird bands that no-one had ever heard of, I don’t think they ever went anywhere but they were friends of a friend and I just followed them around.
“I think there was one point, and you can check with my mother on this, she got a call from my school to say that they’d lost me but I’d actually been following this punk band around Germany instead of playing cello. I did a lot of that over there.”
Upon her return from Germany, Wonderland had a “bit of a freak out” and decided to play bass guitar in a few local bands in Sydney before stepping up behind the decks. Since taking to the turntables, Wonderland has got the dancefloor masses moving at Field Day, Good Vibrations, Sydney Fashion Festival, Future Music Festival, Parklife and is on the Splendour In The Grass bill for this year. “It’s my favourite big festival, hell yeah!” she says in anticipation. “I’ll tell you some gossip about Splendour. Well, it’s not really gossip, it’s an embarrassing story.
“The Smashing Pumpkins, when I was younger I was obsessed with them, and the first song I ever composed was about Billy Corgan. And I have a goal at Splendour to go up to him and sing it to him because I still know all the words. They had this song called Ode To No One and I kinda copied it. And then wrote a song about him. It’s just such a big deal; out of all the bands, I had a massive obsession with SP. If I get a photo with Billy I’m actually going to cry.”
If Wonderland’s reaction to UK DJ and BBC Radio 1 host Pete Tong’s inclusion of her remix of Sam Sparro’s tune Wish I Never Met You on one of his recent playlists is anything to go by, then crying with Billy Corgan is quite possible. “That was so crazy!” she says, still in awe. “I’d come home from a gig at 4.30am the night before and I had to wake up early ‘cause I was catching a flight and you know when you don’t want to get out of bed? So I went on Twitter and I had like 20 alerts… and danced out of my bed and was like ‘fuck fuck fuck fuck’. Then I found out that Annie Mac played it a few days later. It’s really surreal; I really look up to those people!”
It has indeed been a pretty surreal year so far for Wonderland. She played the Grammy Awards after party at Capital Records’ LA office in February and backed this up two weeks later getting behind the decks at the Brit Awards after party on a boat on the Thames. “The other day it kinda hit me that I’d played all these gigs and I was like, ‘What the hell!’, it was really weird,” she says, excitedly. “To be honest, I take something away from every gig I play. I don’t like to discriminate between big gigs and small gigs ‘cause there’s always something awesome that happens at a gig for me so I can take something away from all of them. But playing the Grammys after party was pretty surreal, only because I’ve watched the Grammys since I was little kid and been like, ‘One day I really wanna be there!’. I had to pinch myself a few times.”
Now, releasing her debut compilation album Welcome To Wonderland after 12 months of solid work, Wonderland says she’s “very happy about it all”. But, there’s no stopping this young lass, she’s already got plans for a debut studio record in the works. “I’m just composing sketches for the album so it’s more just demos to get everyone’s opinion on what is good or what I may have written in a crazy state of mind,” she says. “Yes, hopefully there’ll be collaborations with my productions underneath them. It’s really surreal.”
And, as for her upcoming shows and Splendour gig, there will be no face masks or costumes; she’ll just be ripping it up. “I’ll be baring all,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll create a dance party vibe. If they don’t, I force them to! Not really (laughs).”
BY ANNABEL MACLEAN
Alison Wonderland [AUS] plays alongside Bloc Party [UK], Metric [CAN], Ladyhawke [NZ] and more at Splendour In The Grass at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay from Friday July 27 – Sunday July 29. Welcome To Wonderland is out now through EMI.