New year; new vision.
As 2023 draws closer, Alex Sholler — known to many as the mega-successful producer/singer/songwriter/instrumentalist/party-starter Alison Wonderland — is revving up the engines of her latest venture: FMU Records.
With the label, Sholler intends to spotlight left of center electronic music made by up-and-coming artists along with her own Dark Electronic genre currently coming into greater focus via her Whyte Fang project.
This Thursday (December 8), FMU Records will drop its debut release, “I Surrender.” A collaboration between Argentinean producer Dabow and South African artist Jon Casey, the track is a play-it-loud tapestry of percussion punctuated with trap bass and wavy synths that serves as a mood setter for FMU.
With the label, Sholler hopes to use her global platform to give shine to rising stars and provide a place where artists can release music without bowing to the kinds of craven, algorithm-based marketing strategies many begrudgingly endure.
“For FMU, we are just going to push good music,” she tells Billboard. “Artists won’t have to do TikToks to ensure their tracks do well. I just want to get cool, good music out there.”
Distribution for FMU is being handled via Ingrooves, while Alison Wonderland music will continue to be handled by EMI/AUS — which released Alison Wonderland’s three studio albums, including 2022’s Loner, which hit No. 3 on Dance/Electronics albums this past May.
But early 2023 sees Sholler putting her focus outside of Alison Wonderland, with FMU Records set to drop the debut album from her Whyte Fang project this spring. After spending six years on the backburner while Sholler took over the scene as Alison Wonderland, the project soft-launched earlier this year with a trio of singles — “Girl,” “333” and “TIDES” — that showcased a hypnotic, hard-edged sound well-suited for late nights in dark clubs.
Dropping March 31, 2023, the Whyte Fang album will include that trio of previously released singles and come in tandem with a warehouse launch party happening in New York earlier that month. The event will feature a Whyte Fang performance, which Sholler calls “not just a musical, but a whole artistic experience where the lighting, visuals, set, and live listening experience is all very cohesive.
“I’m just excited for people to see what’s going on in my mind,” she adds, “and [I’m excited] that I have complete creative control over it.”
The launch of this label was described in a press release as “one of the most important steps” in your career thus far. Does that feel true for you and if so, why?
Yes, this does feel true to me. I have always felt like I should take advantage of my reach as an established artist and give up-and-coming artists a chance to use my platform and keep control of their music — it’s something I feel very passionate about now.
I think that currently, artists feel a lot of pressure to be content creators, marketing managers, and promoters. I don’t want artists to feel like a statistic, I want them to feel like humans. I’m finding it hard to navigate myself in this world, with the pressure of only looking at numbers rather than the music. I just want to throw cool parties and hope things grow organically. I want to use my platform to give these young artists exposure.
My understanding is also that the label is intended to give you yourself more freedom. What does that mean to you? What will it look like in practice?
My Alison project is not able to be signed to FMU Records, but Whyte Fang is, so I’m able to really do what I want, without the opinion of teams of people. I guess I also have the freedom to sign whatever track I want, which is really exciting.
Do you feel like you haven’t had as much freedom as you would have liked in prior label relationships?
I 100% didn’t have as much freedom in past relationships, but I don’t think anyone does with big record labels. Don’t get me wrong, I have always had the freedom to release the music I wanted, but in terms of getting marketing budgets or singles supported you have to play ball with what the label wants to spend money on. Things like being told to do TikToks for my songs to get more budget makes me sad; it feels sterile and not the type of creative I am, and I’m sick of it. It’s archaic.
What’s the tone for FMU? Is there one song that sort of sums up your ethos?
I’m all about people being open-minded. Dark Electronic music is really what comes to mind; it’s what I gravitate towards and with this label, I’m really going to be able to showcase that. I used to run warehouse parties, and I really find the dark, minimalistic vibe very appealing.
Will FMU release future Alison Wonderland projects and if so, where does that put your relationship with EMI/AUS?
For the record, EMI/AUS have always been incredibly supportive and always has let me do what I want. I love that team, they support this [new project], and they are aware of this. I love the people that work there, and they have done an incredible job. They have always given me freedom and fought for me — they are the rare exception of people in this industry who are decent and care about the artist, and I mean that with all my heart. There should never be any negativity toward that team. I love them. My previous comments are about the larger record label machine, not about any particular individuals.
Tell me about the Whyte Fang album and why 2023 is the right time to release it?
Because I’m f–king ready! I’ve been bursting at the seams, and I’m going to go so hard. I’m putting my heart and soul into this album. I feel like so much of the experimental music I make is overshadowed by what my record label has picked to put into the forefront, and I need a home for that, because I really gravitate towards those beats.