Rise and shine, Alison Wonderland is back with her brand new album, Awake.
A mix of digital-pop and incendiary beats, her second album sees the Sydney-born, L.A.-based singer, producer and DJ blaze new territory – sonically, vocally, emotionally. Honed by years of playing headline shows and festival slots (Coachella, EDC, Lollapalooza), it comes as both a natural evolution from her 2015 debut Run and an exhilarating step forward.
“I just wanted to go bigger and really push myself,” she explains. “Vocally, I can hear a massive difference. I’m a lot more comfortable with my voice now and I’m not afraid to get on the mic and just go for it.”
As for the title? Ironically, Awake came to her in a dream. “I think it was my subconscious telling me things,” she reasons. “The more I wrote, the more it seemed the perfect name.”
To make that dream a reality, Alison recruited a red-hot roster of collaborators including Joel Little (Lorde), Illangelo (The Weeknd), Party Favor (Mad Decent) and long-time BFF Lido (who also worked on Run).
“Joel Little’s so awesome and chill,” she says about her sessions with the Grammy Award winner. “He’s innovative, empathetic and doesn’t judge you.”
Also joining the party are some of Alison’s favourite next gen rappers on vocal duties. Ohio rapper Trippie Redd reigns on the ambient ‘High’ while L.A. young gun Buddy channels his chill vibes on the tropical pop of ‘Cry’
In a major coup, Chief Keef – who’s previously worked with Kanye West, Lil B and Travi$ Scott – guests on ‘Dreamy Dragon’, throwing down rhymes over euphoric breakbeat house.
“It’s the perfect mash-up of his world and mine,” Alison says about the Chief Keef collab. “He was so much fun in the studio. I was playing the track super loud and he just put his ear right against the speaker. During takes, he was dancing in the booth.”
And yet, this isn’t just another party record. Far from it. Underneath its vibrant pop pulse, Awake is the sound of Alison emerging from her own darkness. On songs like ‘Easy’ and ‘Church’, she reveals her most honest lyrics to date, sharing her personal struggles with difficult relationships, anxiety and self-doubt.
“I believe writing an album’s a lot like a time capsule – if you’re doing it right and being honest with yourself,” she says. “Many of these songs are about my self-struggle, my depression and being with someone who has their own problems you have to deal with as well.”
Over chiming synth and bubbling beats, ‘No’ delivers hard truths in the face of a broken relationship surrounded by yes men. ‘Easy’ is about “being too embarrassed to reach out to anyone”, while the soaring synth-pop of ‘Church’ relates to “realising your self-worth, when the person you’re with doesn’t.”
Amid the chaos, Awake became her outlet, her therapy, her resolution. Seeking solace in the studio, she spun her struggles into songs and ultimately, hope. You can hear it ringing out in the title track, which closes the album on a triumphant high.
“This whole album is about waking up, making peace and moving forward,” she explains. “I feel like I’ve grown up too. I still get anxiety but I also have a lot more clarity around life. I’ve learnt I can get through this and stand up for myself.”
Making music saved her, and she hopes it’ll help others face their own trials. “If you’ve got a voice and a platform, you can use it for real communication,” she adds. “I want to make a track that someone will hear and be like ‘shit, I totally get what she’s feeling and if she can get out, maybe I can too.’ I don’t want them to be afraid to talk about it.”
With the album bedded down, Alison is ready to take Awake to the world. After all, playing live on stage is truly her happy place.
“Every time I get off the stage I feel cleansed and high off the rush,” she says, glowing. “That’s when I think I couldn’t never do anything else. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Alison Wonderland is Awake. Step into the light.