Alison Wonderland seems completely at home inside of her artist trailer at BUKU Music + Art festival in New Orleans. Warmly encouraging me to make a drink from the assorted liquors on her rider, one wouldn’t think the 31-year-old Australian producer just rocked a massive festival set for thousands of people. But it’s just another day on the job for AW – born Alexandra Sholler – whose genre-bending production and impressive DJ talent have garnered her thousands of die-hard fans across the world.
We were lucky enough to sit down with the woman herself to touch on a variety of subjects, from rap collaborations on her new album Awake to how she deals with anxiety. Step inside the world of Alison Wonderland below and show her some love on social media if you haven’t already. -Max Chung
Run the Trap: First off, congratulations on the album!
Alison Wonderland: YES! Thank you so much. I just wanna give you the biggest hug ever, because you guys are seriously so supportive. You guys were one of the first blogs outside of Australia to write about me.
One of the more surprising things people didn’t expect on Awake were the rap collaborations with Trippie Redd and Chief Keef. Can we chat on how those came about?
It was crazy, and I’m pretty picky with collabs. I really had to spend time with these artists and really vibe with them on a personal level.
Was it all in the studio?
Yes, I have to be in the studio with artists to work with them. No doubt. With Trippie I showed him a bunch of trap beats I made, but he was really digging this instrumental I created literally on the plane ride over to see him. It wasn’t meant to be for anyone, but he loved it. He ran into the booth and killed it. His voice is such an instrument and he carried the track so much. It was supposed to be an interlude but it turned into this!
With Chief Keef, it was almost the same thing. I gave him a bunch of beats I thought he would vibe with and, once again, he loved something I made that wasn’t going to be on the album. He was planning on giving me eight bars, but I ended up with two verses and a full chorus.
Sounds like he was feeling it hard.
He stayed there for like five hours. And it’s this amazing pop-punk melody, it’s so good. He says ‘Bang Bang’ on it, so you know it has to be really cool.
Really dope to hear that both tracks came out of ideas that weren’t originally on the album.
Yes so much. I loved working with both of them. They’re on another level.. super talented creatives.
I know you tweeted earlier this month about feeling ‘vulnerable’ while making Awake and experiencing anxiety multiple times. I think your fan base appreciates you so much when you do that. It’s relatable on so many levels.
Yeah, when I’m writing new music I have to put myself in a certain zone in my mind. That leads to feeling exposed and being introverted for some time. You have to be okay with hyper-analyzing yourself. It’s really difficult to play shows while in this creative process. I feel like as an artist you owe it to yourself, your art, and your fans to be the most honest you can with the words, sonnets, and melodies. You just have to be cool with admitting your faults. It can really be therapeutic at times. When I wrote this album I took steps to change some things in my life for the better. This album really helped change my life.
As an artist myself I can definitely relate. With that being said, what are some things you do to relieve stress and feel more grounded in your life?
First off, it took me a while to even realize I needed to have some release. To realize I was in these dark places at times. Fans reach out to me to ask about this and I try my hardest to respond to them with my personal advice. I try my hardest to go outside, be with other people, and get out of my head and be present. I recently bought a camera and that helps a lot because taking pictures forces me to be outside of my own mind. I didn’t always want to be in a club, so outside is my freedom a lot of the time.
Now that Awake is out, what’s the biggest change you have seen in yourself as an artist since your previous album Run?
As an artist, you are always growing, always changing, and always experiencing an evolution if you allow there to be. For me, the biggest risk I took on this album was to work with others to get help. Fixing top-lines, elevating some vocals, just the little things that really make a track pop.
So learning from another person’s workflow and how they do things really helped?
Oh yes. I worked with Joel Little, who is an amazing producer. He’s worked with Lorde, Khalid and so many other great artists. He really took a backseat in the process but at the same time made me realize so much. I learned so much new stuff about songwriting and song structure. Growing as an artist is like growing as a person. As you grow, you mature and realize you have to look at things differently. You learn so much about yourself. When I finished this record I was like “Fuck I feel like a different person!”
It seems like a process most fans can appreciate. You can see the growth on a personal and artistic level. I’m sure it was a long and hard process.
Man, I almost gave up about ten times during this album. I had such a problem with ‘Church.’ I was really trying to fight the pop element of the track and it just wasn’t working. I actually wrote the track on Instagram when I started doing live feeds for my fans, it was wild. The A&R from my label mixed it for me. Just another wild story from this whole album process.
From curating your own festivals to dropping two studio albums, you’ve accomplished so much over the past few years. What’s something you haven’t done that you want to do? What’s the next goal for Alison Wonderland?
I don’t want to tell you that. But if I get it, I’ll tell you. I have something big planned.
I’m holding you to that!
When you’re touring, what can’t you leave home without?
Oh man. Can I tell you like everything?
Absolutely, we want to hear it all.
Okay, this is literally everything. My laptop, USB’s, headphones, passport, five pairs of high socks, three oversized t-shirts, platforms, overalls, a tracksuit, and dry shampoo. Basically that. I have a thing for cool long t-shirts. It’s how I feel comfortable on stage. For me, I just wanna be as present as the crowd and give it my all.
Any last words for your fans?
YES. I wanna say thank you to you, Run The Trap, and all of my fans. This is a real thing, when times are tough in my own head, hearing what you guys have to say support drives me. If it wasn’t for all of you I wouldn’t be doing this. I just have all the time for you guys. I love you!