When dancing in the crowd at the Sahara tent at Coachella this weekend, close your eyes and fully immerse yourself in the heart-thumping beats. With your eyes shut, it may be impossible to distinguish the gender of the DJ on stage. This is the sentiment that electronic music starlet Alison Wonderland expresses in response to the news that she is the highest billed female DJ in the history of Coachella. “I don’t even care. I shouldn’t be looked at as a female DJ, I’m just a DJ,” she says, with clear frustration. Although in Wonderland’s case, not only is she distinguished in her male-dominated industry by the fact that she is female, but also that she—unlike most male DJs—provides the vocals for much of her music—putting girl power at the forefront of her sound.
While Wonderland, born Alexandra Sholler, may be an outlier in the electronic music sphere, she really wants to be recognized solely for her beats. “I’m going to let my art speak for me. I think a lot of other women are going to that and it speaks the loudest. I’m an artist, just like everyone else,” she says. Though she admits it is “cool” to be recognized as Coachella’s highest billed female DJ, that’s “only because it shows that myself and other women are growing in the festival circuit. I just hope it gives other women confidence,” she adds.
With Coachella, plus a slew of additional summer festivals, on the horizon, this Aussie DJ is most excited to play the Main Stage at Tomorrowland and headline her own American tour starting in August, to promote her recently released sophomore album Awake—one she says reflects a new-found confidence. “People change and grow as humans and therefore our art will reflect that,” she says. On Awake, I wasn’t afraid to push the songs and put my singing in the forefront. I think I just grew and got a little more confident with my voice,” she says. And while her voice may now be one of her defining factors, Wonderland says it emerged thanks to the harsh realities of her industry. “No one was agreeing to be featured on my stuff so I just had to do it,” she says. “I never consider myself a singer though, I consider myself an artist.”
She may not consider herself a singer but Wonderland’s vocals, coupled with her emotional songwriting, make Awake her most personal work yet. “My diary is about to be heard by everyone. These songs are all memories that I’ve captured and I am ready to let them go but shit, then I have to play them,” she explains. With emotionally raw lyrics laced throughout tracks like “Good Enough” and “Easy,” Wonderland demonstrates her ability to tap into her feelings while remaining an energetic and fun-loving DJ. And though her vocals may be super prominent on Awake, Wonderland says she’s not quite ready to go totally live with her performances. “Naturally, I love DJ’ing. I want to push myself but not right now. I want to see what happens with this album,” she says. Catch Wonderland DJ’ing at Coachella, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and Tomorrowland this summer.