Anna Lunoe on making a transition from radio and how being on-air has influenced her style
Australian DJ and producer Anna Lunoe has the eclectic taste you'd expect from a former radio disc jockey; she plays house, indie dance, techno and disco clubs with equal aplomb, packing dance floors with her genre-bending sets. In advance of her show this Friday, August 2, at NORAD with the Bag Raiders and option4, we caught up with her to talk about how working in radio has influenced her style and more.
Westword: You were a radio DJ in Australia for several years -- can you talk about how that led into your spinning sets at events?
Anna Lunoe: It really was one of the most important factors. When I started, deejaying wasn't such a prominent thing in my community -- we didn't have such a DJ culture, and I didn't consider deejaying a real path. I thought it was, legit, dudes who spend all day looking through record boxes; I didn't relate it to me or my experiences with music or my perspective with music.
I was a music-focused kid and got this radio show. I started playing music on the air and got to focus and hone my music skills, and I got all the promos from the record label, going through and figuring out what I liked and didn't like, and that helped form my opinion. And, of course, you get exposure from a radio show, and people wanted to know what kind of music I wanted to play, so I'd get offered to program music for an art gallery where I could make a playlist and do something like that. It was really a gateway.
One noteworthy thing about your sound is that you don't seem to fall into any particular genre -- you use elements of house, techno, glitch and more in your sets. Do you think that's a result of working overseas where mainstream electronic music has been around for longer than in the U.S.?
Actually, I think in Europe it's more of a thing to categorize. People are very discerning and want you to represent one part of music. I think here, there is a little more leeway on that, and it's a little more of an open-format market. Whereas in Europe, it's a little more straight.
I guess the reason that I have that sound in particular is because I'm from a small country where I've been deejaying professionally for five years, and in that time, to survive in a small market, you've got to be able to do everything. I've had experience playing all kinds of music because there are only so many opportunities, so you have to be able to adapt and appeal to different markets.
But I also think it's just me. I'm naturally attracted to a lot of different music, and I'm more in love with the ideas behind different musical movements than one particular genre. I love to learn about genres and read about the pioneers. I found it really natural.
What led to your move stateside?
I've been coming to America and paying here a couple of years -- I actually started DJing in America -- and I always thought in my mind that I'd come back here. And Australians travel a lot where it's really accepted to go overseas for a couple of years to live there. I really enjoyed traveling and playing shows here, and at the same time, I was getting a little tired of playing music down there. The American government is really encouraging, and I feel welcome here, feel good here.
A lot of producers work with vocalists, but are really uncomfortable singing on their own tracks. But you're known for using your own voice on your work and guesting with other artists. Can you talk about that?
I used to write a lot of songs on guitar and sing with my little acoustic guitar, and I've always enjoyed singing. I'd do choirs and stuff like that, and I'd done lessons in the past, but I'm certainly not an operatic, classically trained singer. I sung on a couple of my songs, and other people asked me to sing on their songs, and I enjoy it.
I should just be able to do that and to incorporate it as a production element. And that's how I think of my voice -- I don't think of myself as being a featured vocalist -- I think my voice adds a different element to my production, and I often use it as a different texture, an element that's all mine.
How would you describe your style when you're putting a set together at an event?
I think, first and foremost, I'm a real DJ's DJ. I focus on doing a really clean set, and I love to push the boundaries as much as I can, stylistically, for the audience. As far as live vocals go, I have done it and have been incorporating them, but I've actually decided to wait a little bit longer to focus on that because I'm still formulating how I want that to go, and it's something I have to really know what I want to do. It will be something that I start doing more as I figure it out.
What's coming up next for you?
I'm about to release my first single of the year, followed by an EP shortly after -- I've been working on a lot of production throughout the year and setting things up. So it'll hopefully be a really serious step in the right direction here in the States. And I'm really, really excited to get that out into the world because I've been sitting on it for a minute.