Day Job: Australian dance music producer and DJ. One of the top headlining women in the EDM scene.
Current Happenings: Trended No. 1 on Twitter on April 5 for her Digital Mirage DJ set (the event raised over $300,000 for charity), working on new music in isolation (see: her Tiger King-themed collaboration “WWCBD”), and Twitch streaming.
Animal Crossing Island: Wonderland (Visited April 9)
As an EDM jetsetter, Alison Wonderland’s busy schedule kept her from being a Switch gamer until her jet was literally grounded.
“I got a Switch last year on Christmas Day, actually,” says Wonderland. “I was in Australia, and I was flying to see my best friend who just had a baby. And my flight got delayed four hours. So I was at the airport and there was no one there; it was completely dead. I was alone and a little bit sad because it was Christmas … so I went walking around the airport — as you do — and found a place that sells Nintendo Switches. And I’m like, ‘If I’m stuck at the airport this long, I’m just gonna buy a Switch.’”
While she started off playing the console’s go-tos (Zelda and Mario), the internet buzz for Animal Crossing — and the impending lockdown — quickly hooked her after New Horizons dropped.
“When Animal Crossing was going to come out, I saw it all over Twitter. And I actually saw — this is kind of embarrassing — I saw a Tik Tok of Isabell singing that went viral where [the person] is just like hyping her up. I was like, ‘What is this? This is amazing!’ I was obsessed with that video, and I found out it was Animal Crossing.”
She purchased the game shortly before the world locked down for self-isolation and several of her shows were canceled.
"I kind of scrambled and made sure I had all my decks and studio equipment together in my house. And I was like, ‘Well, what else am I going to do? Watch movies and … maybe I’ll try playing the game,’” she says. “Apart from making music, DJing and learning to cook, the only other thing I’ve done [in quarantine] is play Animal Crossing. I’m absolutely in love with this game.”
When Alison greets me outside of the perfectly-named Wonderland airport, she’s wearing a self-designed rave-ready black face mask for health reasons and suggests she might take it off later after she takes my temperature. Better safe than sorry.
Unsurprisingly, blissful music vibes abound on Wonderland. Alison has designed her own merch in the game boasting her nsfw musical motto, FMUOASL, and Wonderland’s flag boasts an abbreviated version. (You can consult Google for the acronym’s meaning.) In addition to her own wares, she also rocks other band attire, such as a classic Black Flag t-shirt. A portion of the melody from her song “Run” serves as the town tune.
Music also permeates from the signature room in her house, an EDM sanctuary. “This is where I thrive,” she says.
The room, located immediately to the right upon entry, boasts a dual turntable and mixer — replete with stacks of LPs — as its centerpiece. Dark neon mood lighting fills the space and versions of Alison’s album covers for Run and Awake line the walls, in addition to one of Radiohead’s OK Computer. “Actually in my own room at my house, the lighting is really similar,” Alison says with a laugh.
The vibe continues with a Mac Book Pro in the corner to help in the digital creation process. And one can’t overlook the chemistry set because … well … as Alison puts it, “If you’re gonna rave …”
Vibe rooms are key to Alison’s housing situation. The entryway is meant as a “chill-out room” setting a tone with paint splatters, plenty of greenery, a water feature in the center, and no TVs, just some vinyl and coffee. (She’s saving her bells for “a really sick couch.”) The spa room immediately to the left has the sunniest vibes in Alison’s home, featuring a cherry blossom Bonsai tree, a vanilla candle and an ultra-relaxing purple-hued circular bath.
Her bedroom in the back features an even darker vibe, with a lava lamp and candle (which accompanies her tarot card set) carrying most of the illumination load. The room is lined with feel-good items: a Switch, a pet hermit crab, a self-affirmation poster. She also takes a surprisingly analog approach to songwriting, slamming the keys on her old-fashioned typewriter and saying, “This is how I write my songs.”
Since she’s having to deal with festival withdrawal this year, she’s also set up an outdoor concert area outside of her abode. The natural venue features seating for her fans, a mic, marimba and guitar set-up. “I am really good at guitar actually,” says Alison as her digital avatar plucks the red Stratocaster.
But that’s not the only outdoor highlight to be had on Wonderland. Alison’s romantic side is on full display in Wonderland’s Northwest corner. There’s a lovely pond-side spot for surprise picnics (with a portable turntable and candle to set the mood), and along the shoreline there’s a swing and stone seating area for lovebirds to gaze into each other’s eyes under the stars. Wonderland’s Eastern shoreline features a self-made tag that’s a callback to her youthful days of IRL graffiti. The island’s cliffs mostly serve as a multi-level orchard of non-native fruits.
Near the Northeast corner of the isle, Alison has set up a cliffside café featuring a menu for the day, barbecue and even more coffee. But it’s not the food that’s the main draw, bringing travelers to this hot spot, it’s the view.
“My favorite thing about this spot is when you walk out to the corner, you can see the lighthouse and when it’s dark the light will shine.”
It’s a breathtaking visual that brings customers back for repeat visits, she says. As an Animal Crossing newbie, Alison also is committed to making her museum world-class. It’s impressively stocked considering the newness of the game. She runs through its walls with glee showing off some of her favorite bugs (“Here’s my tarantula, my pride and joy. Thanks for killing me 20 times!”), fish and fossils. She says the only downside to her museum is her propensity for getting lost in it, information she relayed shortly before literally getting lost trying to exit during my visit.
As my wonderland visit nears an end Alison asks, “How am I doing so far for a noob?” Considering how much Wonderland already feels like a reflection of her personality (from the music to the way she’s figured out how to goofily spin in place), it’s easy to say she’s full embracing the Animal Crossing spirit. She’s even making it a family affair: “My mom actually ordered a Switch to play Animal Crossing. She has FOMO for sure.”
She goes on to add, “I’m a creative person and I feel like this is a creative game. I prefer this to Mario. This is more what I like to do: it’s telling a story; it’s building; there are relationships; you can interact with people.
“And, honestly, I wish that house was my real house.”
Coming next week: Actress/comedian Lauren Lapkus
Seth Sommerfeld is a Seattle-based culture writer and the Resident Representative of Ahch-To. Follow him on Twitter @sethsommerfeld.