Aussie music ledge Alison Wonderland has taken a break from her non-stop global tour to write a searingly honest letter about what it’s actually like to be a touring DJ.
And what is it actually like? Lonely. Very, very lonely, by the sounds of it.
The Sydney artist has been overseas for bloody months, hitting up some of the biggest festivals in the world and playing to crowds of thousands. Yet while her Instagram is an extremely jell-inducing feed, there is (cliche alert) obviously more here than meets the eye.
“Hey friends I know my life seems crazy and cool (which it fucking is!) but being a touring artist also has its dark side,” she wrote in an open letter, posted to her Facebook page. “With many extreme highs comes many extreme lows happening very closely to one another. One minute you’re playing in front of thousands of people giving every part of your soul next minute you’re alone in a room in a strange place with no real friends around you.
“Flying to different cities but never really feeling settled. No real hugs or conversations.. Just a lot of thinking. Constantly missing your loved ones & and feeling slightly out of Touch, Then coming “home” where everything suddenly feels still again and trying to feel settled… Being a solo artist you are alone a lot. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. A lot. Especially with our thoughts (side note: the internet never really stops.. Constant judgement.. It feels very loud whenever I log on).”
Alison Wonderland – real name: Alex Sholler – explained the motivations behind her post as ones of education and understanding, NOT in an attempt to wrangle public sympathy.
“We don’t go to an office every day and see people.. we are alone,” she continues. “Whether it be at airports or backstage or in a studio or coming down from a tour sitting in your house. This isn’t healthy for the mind. There are ways to adjust but it is an issue I wish was spoken about more. I did see an amazing article in the guardian recently. As much as it doesn’t seem that way on the outside its easy to feel a little.. Umm.. Off. It’s hard to relate sometimes. The best thing I’ve ever done is to work with people I love and consider friends. If there is anything I can offer from this.. surround yourself with real people. Stay grounded and most importantly, be open when shit starts to feel a little weird and you’ll be back in no time.”
The article she’s referring (we think) is one published in The Guardian at the end of July titled to is ‘Drugs, sleeplessness, isolation: the downside of being a dance musician‘.
Journo Ashley Zlatopolsky spoke to a bunch of huge names in the EDM industry – including Steve Aoki, Borgore and Moby – and found that a lot of them were saying similar things: that life as a touring DJ is lonely, high pressure, and flat-out exhausting.
“DJs finish shows at 3am or later,” explained Flosstradamus‘ Curt Cameruci, as to why he gets next-to-no sleep on the road. “Then we have to go back to the hotel and try to get a little sleep before an 8am flight, but we’re so amped up from the show that it’s hard to come down.”
Above & Beyond‘s Tony McGuinness says he’d take a good night’s sleep over hotel after parties any day, while Moby even goes so far as to call planes and hotel rooms – where a touring artist spends most of their time – “unhealthy, toxic spaces”.
“I slowly admitted to myself that I hated touring,” he told The Guardian. “You can only tell yourself so many times that you’re happy and grateful before the brain interrupts and says: ‘Oh by the way, we’re miserable. We’re lonely and isolated and anxious and depressed’.”
Not *quite* the glamorous life of someone who’s ‘made it’, hey.
You can read Alison Wonderland’s post in full below:
Photo: Instagram / Alison Wonderland.
Hey mates – if you’d like to speak to someone about mental health, or for 24/7 counselling, call BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636. If you are in crisis or distress, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If it is an emergency, call 000.