After spending the past few years ascending the ranks to become one of Australia’s most prominent party-starting DJs, Alison Wonderland switched it up in July with her first original track released under the moniker. ‘Get Ready’, featuring Blue Mountains rap/electronica duo Fishing, showcases the production chops Wonderland has been developing concurrent to her DJ career. As she packs for the next leg of her hefty touring schedule to launch the single, Wonderland ruminates on what looks set to be a defining crossroads in her musical career.

“It’s awesome,” Wonderland says of her busy calendar. “When I looked at all those dates I thought it would be quite daunting and tiring, but I don’t feel tired at all. I’m just excited to tour.”

Though ‘Get Ready’ is the sole original release by Wonderland to this point, her current setlist includes more new material. “I guess I’m playing a few more of my own tracks, ones I haven’t released yet, and putting them into the set. I’m still playing everything that I like; it’s just that a set is always changing. But at the same time, I’m trying to incorporate stuff that people will associate with tracks I haven’t put out yet. I’m trying to do a little bit of everything, I guess.”

Though both acts had been well established in their respective Sydney circles, Wonderland’s collaboration with Fishing was the result of a happenstance festival meet-up. “I’d already made the track and I wanted it to be an instrumental, but people had suggested I should get a rapper to rap on it. I sent it to friends in New York to have a go at it, but to me it wasn’t right. I didn’t want to put anything out that I thought was good but not amazing. I bumped into the Fishing guys at Groovin’ The Moo and I showed them the track and asked if they were interested in rapping, because I heard they ruled at that. Two days later they sent me an amazing vocal back, reminding me a little bit of Beastie Boys, a little bit of Das Racist. I couldn’t stop listening to it – then I knew that was the right fit.”

Wonderland’s shift from working solely as a DJ to her production output was a natural move. “Funnily enough, I’ve been producing as long as I’ve been DJing, just never under the name Alison Wonderland. I would put stuff out and no-one knew who it was, and if they liked the music, they liked the music. There was nothing there to influence their opinion on it.”

Though her established DJ career and rising production facet are two disparate entities, both branch off from a resounding passion for music. “[DJing and production] are very different. When you’re writing music, it’s a very selfish thing. I go crazy, everyone goes crazy, but in a good way. You need to be that way to bring out the stuff inside you that wouldn’t normally come out. Then you have to hyper-focus on things like snares and kicks – that does drive you a little mental. But in terms of what I select to DJ, that’s the stuff I love and makes me want to dance. I’ve always kind of thought that if I’m excited about a track, then maybe other people will be. But in terms of songwriting, that’s not how I write. I do it to keep me a little bit sane, to be honest.”

It’s Wonderland’s refined palate, encompassing a broad and passionate musical intake from across the globe, which informs her creative output. “I’ve always been a big fan of hip hop, so I’ve been playing that for a long time. There’s a lot of bad trap music out there, but there’s also some good stuff that doesn’t have those bad fuzzy synths,” she says, pausing to let out a sigh of disgust. “I’m very open-minded in what I choose. I can’t give you a straight answer, but if I really like the track I’ll play it and find a way to work it into my set. I’m really liking Ryan Hemsworth a lot. Then again, at South By Southwest I was exposed to more music than I usually would [be] if I was just sitting at home checking blogs and Soundclouds. I really got into Ratking. They’re amazing. I went and saw them at Glass Lounge in New York a few weeks later because I loved them so much. They’re a hip hop group from Brooklyn signed to XL, everyone should definitely check them out.”

While fans may see her as a conduit to music they might not be quite familiar with, Wonderland doesn’t consciously see herself as a tastemaker. “I dunno, I’ve never really thought about it. I just want to be honest with what I play and that I actually like the songs. I’m not going to go out there and try to force people to like certain things. If you like something, you like it. I just want to stick to my guns.”

With a US sojourn earlier in the year earning her a positive reception at SXSW, you can imagine Wonderland finding success on a global stage. At this point, though, she is more than happy to stick to her Australian base. “When I was overseas, everybody’s really open-minded there as well. There are people in every place that will look down on people trying to be successful … But I love playing in Australia and there is some really amazing music happening here at the moment. It’s a good thing; the local crowd is warming to Australian acts more than ever before. Just to see how well Harley [Streten, AKA Flume] has done, Willow Beats are doing amazing stuff, then you have bands like DZ Deathrays. When you go to these shows and see people supporting local talent these days, it’s so different to when I first started working in this industry. It’s really awesome, there’s really something in the water at the moment.”

With ‘Get Ready’gaining plenty of traction, Wonderland has a renewed focus when it comes to the next evolutionary step. “There’s an album in the future, so that’s a big goal of mine. Then there’s the plan to do a live show at some point after the album, so hopefully people like it. They’re my short-term goals. But my goals are to learn as much as I can about my craft and what I do, just keep working every day. Finding out new things, to me, is a big achievement because there are so many things you can learn along the way when you’re producing and DJing as well.”

“I just want to put my music out there,” Wonderland adds. “It’s like waiting for an egg to hatch, and now it feels like I’ve been waiting too long for this egg to hatch.”

BY LACHLAN KANONIUK

Alison Wonderland plays with Willow Beats, L D R U, Sosueme DJs and Devola at Oxford Art Factory on Saturday September 7.

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