Coachella 2015: Alison Wonderland Talks Pre-Set Nerves, Wayne Coyne Collaboration & Women In EDM

Mike Wass | April 16, 2015 9:00 am
Coachella 2015: Peking Duk Hit The Sahara Tent
Peking Duk turned the Sahara tent into a dance party at Coachella 2015. See the pics.

You know you’re watching a memorable set when you see a group of bros hoist a wheelchair-bound friend into the air and pass him around the crowd. That happened early on in Alison Wonderland’s killer Coachella debut, and things just got crazier from there. It’s the latest milestone for the Sydney DJ, who is building serious buzz stateside with just-released debut LP Run.

We caught up with the singer/producer/cellist after her Sunday afternoon (April 12) set, and she opened up about Coachella nerves and her demented setlist. The Bondi local also talked about collaborating with Wayne Coyne on recent single “U Don’t Know” and discussed the underrepresentation of women in EDM. Find out more about the rising star below.

Your set was incredible. Were you expecting people to be so into it?
No. Right before I walked on stage — because of a changeover — there weren’t that many people in the tent. My mom was there. My dad was there. I was like, “Is anyone going to come to see my set?” and I was so worried that no one would be there. I looked up, and the next thing you know — it’s crazy. Apparently, it was the most packed it has been in a long time.

Do you ever wonder how all these people found your music?
I think the power of the internet is a very large factor in that. I think because I was doing it myself through SoundCloud and because I’m quite vocal on the internet. I try to voice my opinion as honestly as I can. I interact with a lot of people on there. I feel like some people don’t interact with the people that follow what they do on the internet. It’s a big thing for me. But you never know how one finds out.

I don’t know half the reasons why I find out about artists. I was really overwhelmed today. I can’t believe that people actually knew the words to my songs. What the fuck? I’ve had nightmares for the last month and where I turned up and no one is singing with me. It would be dead and empty. That was the opposite of what happened today.

How did you prepare for your set?
It’s the first time I’ve done a very Alison Wonderland track-heavy setlist. I’ve wanted to play my album tracks for a long time, but it was hard — especially when you’re playing a lot of unknown stuff to a festival crowd. You don’t know how that’s always going to work. Now that the album’s out there, I felt it would be rude not to play my own music. That was, for me, an interesting thing.

Actually, I guess, fifty or sixty percent of the set was my own songs. That was different. For me, I love all different types of genres, and even though I’m very beats-heavy, it’s important to still put in classics and stuff that I love. I put in Bill Withers, Massive Attack.

Yeah, Genuwine was in there.

How do you pick those songs?
There were a couple that I have been playing since the beginning of time because I love them that much. “Right Here, Right Now,” for me, by Fatboy Slim is one of my favorite dance tracks. It reminds me of when I was very, very, very young and way too young to like dance music. I bought that Fatboy Slim album, and that track was on repeat. I feel if you don’t get sick of a song after this long and you still genuinely get into it on stage, the guy’s done a good job with that track.

Let’s talk about the album. How did the Wayne Coyne collaboration come about?
Actually, all of the album was made with my friends. I set it up in a way where it was super casual and we just were messing around in the studio. It was really nice. The label sent out “U Don’t Know.” I was actually originally singing that part, and I don’t think it sounded that good with my voice. I don’t know. I just suggested artists, and Wayne came back and was like, “Yo, I like this song.” He actually texted me before my set.

What did he say?
[Opens her phone and reads] “Hey, it’s Wayne Flaming Lip. We’re coming to see you and love the song. Thank you so much for having me.”

That’s really sweet.
He’s the sweetest guy.

Have you hung out?
No, this will be the first time we hang out. That was all done over the internet, and that is the only really internet-y thing that I still felt the love, which is weird. It was really cool.

Have you picked out your next single?
Probably “Run.” I’m really excited.

Have you thought about the video?
I’m really excited about it. Basically, all my video clips have been my concepts. It’s just nice to be… I’m quite visual when I hear music, so it’s cool to be able to actually do that.

We’re living in the age of that DJ superstar. Why are women so underrepresented?
I can never answer that. I don’t actually have an answer for that. If I did, I’d be pretty smart. No, I have no answer for that. All I know is that I just never really compromised myself for anything, and I think that’s maybe a reason why I’m able to have the luxury of playing great shows and putting out music. Hopefully, I just hope that more women have the guts to put out stuff and put out good music.

I really don’t know any answers to that. It is quite an overwhelmingly male-heavy industry, and that can be intimidating. If you choose not to fuck the crew, you will be fine.

Who do you want to see perform at Coachella?
I really want to see Steely Dan. I really want to see AC/DC. I’m going to go see Duke Dumont tonight. I want to see Jamie xx, Action Bronson, Run The Jewels.

Listen to Alison Wonderland’s next single “Run”:

Where did you discover Alison? Let us know in the comments below.

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