I really like Alison Wonderland. She kind of reminds me of me at 15 (if I had blue eyes and natural blonde hair, of course) in a gangly, I-want-to-do-what-I-want kind of way. Granted, both of us are much older than 15, but the youthful energy and experimentation of 15 is there. In a disappointing series of events, I missed 30-year-old Alex Scholler (aka Alison Wonderland) at EDC Las Vegas last year. I planned to see her set, but got stuck waiting in line to get into the Speedway instead. Later I watched the official YouTube video of her set revealing her take on trap. It was laden with hip-hop and saturated in passion – her slight frame in a signature, oversize t-shirt bouncing around – feelin’ it. I’ve been following her ever since.
But why is she so good? Well, I have a simple theory: a solid music education lends to a real pro with a good ear. Did you know Scholler was classically trained as a cellist in Australia’s Sydney Youth Orchestra? And did you know she started out playing bass in underground punk bands before she got into producing electronic music? In a recent Insomniac article she talks about the moment it all came to a head and took her background to another level. Scholler was familiar with bloghouse (you know the tacky, 4Loko-induced days of 2006), but then “all of a sudden there was The Knife and Justice and MSTRKRFT,” she said.
I don’t blame her. Who doesn’t love The Knife’s “Heartbeats” (even better: Jose Gonzalez’ cover!) or “Silent Shout?” Scholler specifically remembers hearing “Silent Shout” and subsequently falling in love with EDM that very night. It all came full circle and she knew she needed to produce dance music. I’m glad she did.
Alison Wonderland’s appeal to me is a vulnerable nakedness that you can only get through music. I sometimes think there could be a soundtrack to my life, and if there is, I know music is the element that makes me who I am. Emotion saturating a sound is how I get connected – and I will argue forever – that same emotion is in EDM. “Because electronic music should still have emotion, even though it’s a computer,” said Scholler in a Magnetic Magazine interview. So take it from the seasoned musician. (And screw you, music snobs!)
I get the feeling Scholler hasn’t even begun to show us what she’s capable of. And I hope I get to see a little spark of that under the Electric Sky in June. If I can make one request, though – give me all of the subby kicks you’ve got!
[Photo via Alison Wonderland]