Alison Wonderland is an undeniable electronic music star. Both of her albums — 2015’s Run and 2018’s Awake — topped the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart, while the latter gave Wonderland her debut appearance on the Billboard 200 while peaking at No. 88. All the greats had to start somewhere, though, and for Wonderland, it was with the cello.
She fell in love with the instrument as a kid, saying in the newest Backstage video, “My upbringing was solitary. I was not a kid that was fitting in at school. I picked up the cello and I took to it like a fish to water. I was spending hours a day playing cello and practicing, and that was my friend.”
However, when she relocated to Europe for school, that’s when she “fell out of love” with classical music, due to the lack of audience interaction inherent in the genre. While she made the choice to move on, she said the process was still tough: “I broke up with the cello and it really felt like I was going through a break-up, because it was the only comfort I really had.”
Once she gave electronic music a try, though, she was instantly hooked: “After that first show, I didn’t sleep. My adrenaline was so high from just feeling this energy between even 30 people and myself. Something very primal, it was a huge outlet for me.”
Wonderland proceeded to put in work for years, and now she stands today as one of the most talented and recognizable names in electronic music. She’s the highest-billed female DJ in Coachella history. She’s remixed songs for Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa, and worked with greats like Chief Keef, Trippie Redd, and Wayne Coyne. She’s made it, and she’s only just begun.
Watch the video above to see Wonderland talk about her journey to stardom in a male-dominated genre, her ragtag early days of touring, and how the cello found a home in her new, non-classical world.