Motherhood, Whyte Fang & Touring: Alison Wonderland Has It All

An ambulance waited backstage during Alison Wonderland’s set at EDC Las Vegas in May 2023. The Australian-born DJ and music producer was determined to put everything she had into her last performance for the time being. She jumped around on stage as her friends in the duo SLANDER hopped onto the decks to hype up the audience. As soon as she wrapped up, she slid onto the gurney, a team of paramedics checking on her baby and making sure her set didn’t trigger labor. Three weeks later, she gave birth at full term to a boy named Max.

When Alex Sholler, the 37-year-old musician behind the Alison Wonderland and Whyte Fang monikers, informed her team of her pregnancy, they sat down to plot out which of her previously scheduled dates would still be achievable.

“I think women can do anything,” Sholler tells Pollstar. “We’re incredibly strong — stronger than people think. It is really sad that we’ve been told we can’t have it all. Because we can. We just have to work hard.”

In the end, only two 2023 festival appearances were canceled: Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama, which she’s performing at in 2024, and Moonrise in Baltimore.

“We confirmed on EDC before she was even pregnant,” Alison Wonderland’s booking agent, Steve Goodgold with Wasserman Music, says. “There were only two festivals we had to cancel, which was fortunate, and one of them we’re doing this year. Everybody’s sympathetic to the situation. The promoters were wonderful. They love her. They were happy for her. It’s like, ‘Look. Go have a baby. We’ll bring you back.’”

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WIDE AWAKE: Alison Wonderland performs at EDC Art Car in Las Vegas.
Photo by Jared Tinetti

As Sholler speaks, her 8-month-old sits on her lap. He babbles and can say “Momma,” and Sholler describes him as her best friend. She says she always wanted a child and that motherhood has long been a dream of hers. And so, when she told her team she planned on still performing at all her commitments, even if it meant she would be in her third trimester on stage at EDC, they knew she meant it.

“My team was so understanding and so supportive,” Sholler says. “They knew how badly I wanted this. I used to be told that if I got pregnant my career would be over, and everything would be a waste. I would never be able to work again. It was the biggest challenge accepted. OK, you’re going to say that to me? Watch me.”

She performed at Lollapalooza in Argentina, Chile and Brazil at six months pregnant. The month before, she was at EDC Mexico in Mexico City. Sholler’s team explains they held off on booking further dates until she told them she felt ready. They knew she’d have her annual Temple of Wonderland show at Red Rocks on Oct 13, which sold 9,301 tickets and grossed $518,303, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, but they weren’t sure about what the rest of the year would look like. But Sholler, determined to prove the naysayers wrong, was ready to jump right back in at three months postpartum.

While a full-fledged tour wasn’t able to get booked immediately, they were able to book festival appearances pretty quickly.

“She’s not doing any big four-week bus tours or anything,” Sholler’s manager, Garth Crane with FRNDS Management, says. “It’s a certain style of tour now, which has definitely changed. But she’s been super stoked with how the shows have gone. She can still be a good mum and keep doing her job. So after that, she said, ‘Let’s tour. I can make this work. I can do both.’”

The team has started approaching their shows as weekend warriors, a trend that’s been growing among more established dance acts in the post-COVID world. They’ll fly out for a couple of dates on a weekend then return to spend their weekdays at home. Crane explains the costs on their end are actually double what they’d be if they were doing a full-fledged bus tour. But it allows artists to have more of a work-life balance, something that many didn’t realize they were missing out on until the pandemic shutdown; the drawback is that certain cities are sometimes skipped in order to make the touring work. The flights, the accommodations for hotels, and the fact that flying in and out usually means bigger cities with higher fees make the difference in rates substantial.

“We try to supplement it and find festivals in random places so you can get into different markets and those fans can still come see you,” Crane says. “But artists are just humans. And same goes for the touring staff. They’re getting in hours before the artist. They’re waking up on the bus, setting everything up, staying awake, running the show, then packing everything up and getting back on the bus, getting three hours of sleep and waking up at the next show. It’s brutal. Absolutely brutal. It’s exciting the first couple of times, but after a while it’s really tough.”

TEMPLE OF WONDERLAND: Sholler, a classically trained cellist, introduced her Temple of Wonderland concept at Coachella in 2018.
Photo by Alive Coverage

Before Alison Wonderland became one of the world’s most prominent DJs, Sholler was a classically trained cellist. She met Crane while they were both in bands playing bass. One day at a club in Sydney, Crane suggested she try DJing. “You’ll earn more money,” he told her. “I can give you shows.”

He says she learned in two days. She started out DJing in Australia under the name Alison Wonderland, but produced music under her alias Whyte Fang. When she started gaining traction, record labels urged her to release music as Alison Wonderland. Whyte Fang doesn’t show her face, and the labels wanted something marketable.

“I was approached as Alison and I remember trying to make music I thought once I was signed, would suit what the label wanted,” Sholler says. “And it wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I had a whole album written that no one ever heard, thank God. I remember one night I was really drunk with Flume and he had just started popping off. We’d met as I was producing under Whyte Fang, and he had just blown up. And I said, I don’t get why everyone’s coming to your shows and no one even knows who I am or gives a fuck. And he said, let me listen to the music you’re writing now. He’d known me long enough and he was the first honest person to me.”

Sholler scrapped her album, convincing the label to give her another shot. The result was her Calm Down EP, which featured the single “I Want U.” The track blew up. Alison Wonderland was soon offered a Diplo and Friends Mix, and she performed a fully improvised set for Mixmag, both of which also brought her acclaim across the dance music world.

Crane says she finally put all the pieces together: though she was selling out 4,000-capacity warehouses in Australia, she was better known as a good DJ than for her own music. She made more indie-sounding tracks, but she found her groove when she started combining the two. What took the project to the next level was when she started singing on her own songs, a rarity in electronic dance music. Goodgold heard about her and reached out to her team in Australia.

“It was good timing because she was the hottest Australian DJ,” he says. “Probably the biggest-selling Australian DJ. I caught wind of her and heard some music. So, I reached out to her manager and got to know him. Luckily, he put me on a call with her and we just really, really hit it off.”

Goodgold’s next goal was to bring Alison Wonderland to the United States, and he wanted to make her U.S. debut a splash. He reached out to Coachella, telling them he was excited about her and that they should keep their eye out.

“And they were like, should we debut her? From there, it really snowballed,” Goodgold says. Shortly after Coachella, she played Firefly Music Festival, Electric Forest and Lollapalooza. By 2016, she was selling out 1,000-cap rooms in Los Angeles (The Fonda Theatre) and San Francisco (Mezzanine). In 2017, she started a residency at Wynn Las Vegas, and her tour moved up to rooms with capacities between 1,500 and 2,000. Last year, she was headlining Echostage in Washington, D.C. (grossing $134,556) and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco (grossing $231,072).

“It’s really inspiring to see someone who, on their own merits, out of their own talent, work ethic and drive, go from being a local DJ at clubs in Australia to selling out Red Rocks for six years, playing every major festival on the main stage,” Chad Kenney, creative director at electronic music promoter Brownies & Lemonade, says. “You see that evolution, and you think it’s almost predetermined. But you have to step back and realize that there’s so much work and failure and growth that goes into becoming a household name.”

In 2018, Alison Wonderland launched her Temple of Wonderland concept at Coachella. The show featured an elevated stage design that included Sholler sitting down to play her cello during her set. While she has played nightclubs, frequently hitting the Las Vegas market with shows at Encore at the Wynn and Zouk at Resorts World, Goodgold says she isn’t one to simply DJ at a club.

“She doesn’t just want to get behind a set of decks and DJ even though she’s amazing at it,” Goodgold says. “That’s because she wants to deliver a show. Every time she does a show, she’s got unbelievable production. The visual content that she has is just gorgeous. She has drummers, she’ll play cello. She really likes to think about every performance as a performance.”

Sholler already has Alison Wonderland sets announced at Brownies & Lemonade’s Miami Music Week showcase at Mana Wynwood on March 22 (co-promoted by BLNK CNVS), Electric Daisy Carnival and more.

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Whyte Fang debuted its live performance at a 2021 Brownies & Lemonade event in Los Angeles, the concept focusing more on the production than on Sholler.
Photo by Ana Wigmore

This year she’ll also work to get her alias Whyte Fang out on the road and in front of more fans to promote the project’s 2023 album, GENESIS. Despite having spent the better part of the last decade primarily focusing on Alison Wonderland, she never stopped thinking about that project. Instead, she put it on pause until she felt the timing was right, playing shows here and there. When she got pregnant, she says the music she was creating didn’t feel as though it fit into Alison Wonderland, so she knew it was time to push Whyte Fang forward.

Sholler debuted the project’s live show with Brownies & Lemonade in November 2021. She says she felt there was no better place to bring that vision to, emphasizing how the team sees talent and is always willing to give someone a chance.

“I think they’re at the forefront of music and they understand what kids want to see,” Sholler says. She then took the experience to Coachella in 2023, the concept of having her in black-out clothing and hiding her face. She primarily performs behind the screens, allowing her to see the crowd, but they can’t see her.

“It feels almost like an art installation rather than me performing,” she says. “It’s not really about me, it’s about the experience. I’m not at the very forefront of the show. The only time you see me is when I’m in black light and I have special black light clothing. The rest of the time, I’m inside this cube, which is very interactive with the visuals. I’m going to be playing more Whyte Fang shows this year because I’m not pregnant.”

A headline tour for Whyte Fang is currently in the works, with the team still nailing down the details but expected by early ’25. Sholler is ready to prove herself again. She says that even though she’s a mother now, she won’t be slowing down. In fact, she plans on being out there and hitting her shows harder than ever. Sholler will fly out for a few days for shows, returning during the week to spend time with her son. She says she’ll be going to Europe for a bit, but that the team is prepared. As Max sits in her lap, she tells him he’s not quite ready to come along to shows just yet. But, when he’s older, he’s welcome to join her.

“If you have a supportive network and people understand you and you have a plan, you can do it,” Sholler says. “You just have to learn how to manage your time better, but it’s possible. I was told I wasn’t going to feel creative, and I feel so much more creative now.”

At the end of her set at EDC, she grabbed the mic and said to the crowd, “People ask me why I’m doing this nine months pregnant. It’s because it makes me so fucking happy.”