Every now and then an artist comes along and completely takes you by surprise when they throw it down live. You think you have an idea of what it would be like before you go out to the show, and then she completely exceeds expectations with her amazing talent, full of creative flourishes and surprises along the way. Best of all though, you feel the positive energy and magnetism looking up at the DJ booth when she is up there; you can tell she’s loving every second of it herself.
She’s your bass drum dealer, your high heeled killer, she’s your bad mfer, she’s Anna Lunoe, and she always delivers. Fresh off of releases on OWSLA and Ultra Music, Anna Lunoe is having quite the twenty fourteen. Recently, I had the good fortune of not only seeing Anna at her first ever Coachella set back in April, but I also got to sit down and dive deep with Ms. Lunoe at her San Francisco Fools in the Night show with Treasure Fingers and Them Jeans.
First off, this is a producer who gets deep and thinks critically about her productions, about her audience, about her everything when it comes to making her music. In Anna’s words,
“I’m inspired by everyone’s everything. I consume a lot of media and I follow random people on instagram. I go on tumblr and just scroll images for hours and I’ll write a song about an image that I see.”
She is a producer that is fully aware of the world she lives in, and more than that she actively embraces it, translating her impression of it through her productions, and expressing it all back at us ever so beautifully.
“I get inspired by everything. Inspiration for Bass Drum Dealer actually was an LL Cool J song. I was driving around LA listening to K Day. He has a song where he says ‘Make ya dance so hard you break ya high heels.’ I was like Ha! That’s a really good line, break ya high heels. That’s what popped into my head when I went on to write on the BDD track. I’m the high heeled killer.”
Young producers and DJs alike, take note from Anna, a voracious appetite for all media is clearly a must have if you want to achieve an authentic sound, and I assure you, Anna is the real deal.
One of the major reasons I wanted to sit down and interview Ms. Lunoe, aside from my love of her music, was a May 29th Facebook post where she asked her followers “Why do you think more women DJ’s are not rising to the higher levels in dance music?” If you were to peruse Ms. Lunoe’s wall, you will see that quite the discussion ensued, and so I was curious if the exercise had garnered the results she wanted and or expectecd. She says:
“I asked that question because I honestly wanted to know how people see the situation, from the outside in. What I learned was firstly not all conversations on the internet turn out to be trollfests. I had so many really intelligent answers and the post on my facebook had hundreds and hundreds of answers that were really thought out and really honest. That was a victory in of itself, to have people talking about what they thought and why, and not for it to be ‘Because girls suck’ dot dot dot. It was cool to know people really do think about it and for days afterwards I had kids writing to me going, “I’ve been thinking about what you’ve wrote and I think it’s because of this and that. Anyway, thanks bye!” Obviously a lot of kids had never thought about it and they were sort of forced to think about it, which was nice. And it’s not about complaining or vilifying or pointing fingers or scaring anyone, it’s about empowering people and prodding the fire a little bit to get people to see that there are a few things in play, and we all have a role to play in them. So the insights are that people are really aware, and that people are open minded, and they have very real opinions as to why things are the way they are. It was really cool to see the response, and I got a lot out of it. I hope all of the other people who read all of the answers, pondered the questions themselves, and saw some new angles to it.”
Personally, this is why I love Anna Lunoe. It struck me as very distinct and impressive that a producer would go out and directly put a question to her audience’s intellect. There was a lot of opportunity that it would end up being a “trollfest” as she put it, but what resulted was a healthy intellectual discussion that revealed many people are thinking about this issue, or at least they are now since she brought it to light. Truly, if there is going to be any change, discussions of this nature need to be had by bold producers and thank god Anna Lunoe is one of them. Critical thought is an important quality to have, and I feel if you spend some time with Anna and her diverse sound, you’ll certainly see that there is a versatile musician who is growing and evolving, but with a critical mind to how exactly she is doing it. Here is her best description of an ever dynamic sound:
“I’ve been moving in a more club direction. The next single (All Out) is very different, in a different direction completely because I’ve worked out that I have two layers. I have the club stuff and I have the more song based songs that are more radio friendly, more verse chorus verse chorus. I want to separate those two ideas a little bit more. Maybe turn all of those songs into a live set because I see people holding up their phones saying ‘Play I Met You! Play I Met you! And I’m not just going to play I met you in the middle of my 132 BPM set. I’m going to play what’s most appropriate. I think the cool thing is that the people that follow me, follow me because they are flexible and I don’t stick with one sound. I’ve never felt the pressure to be anything because everyone is so accepting of my spasms, my musical spasms. But you never know. Maybe one song gets bigger, people expect more of that, so I think that is something that happens to you when your music really pops off. At this point, my music has got a little audience, but it hasn’t blown up. I want to keep it really flexible. What often happens is people get really into one song, and then they’ll look into the other songs, and they’ll say she’s kind of all over place, but it’s cool, not what I normally like. People often write to me and say ‘I don’t normally like something like this’ to me that’s a huge compliment. It’s just music, it’s just songs, and it’s chords and it’s good or it’s not. If people can look past that, then I’m stoked.”
If you are a true Anna Lunoe fan, you clearly hear this answer play through her music. Honestly, this is another quality that hit me when I was interviewing Anna, the person who made the music is fully imprinted in it. She puts all of herself into it, be it her voice or technical abilities, but always with a mind to what is most appropriate and effective for the set or song.
Now, as she has had many releases that end up with different sounds, her sets are great in their ability to be cohesive but exploratory across many different genres. I was curious, is genre something that she considers in the production process, or if she lets a song evolve naturally, without classification. Lunoe says:
“I think about the club, and I think about what’s going to work with my DJ sets and structure. I think you can get away with a lot if the structure is really tight and the song is directional, always leading somewhere and there’s a resolution. There’s a build up and a drop, and people know what’s happening when. It can be weird as long as they get what it is they are supposed to be doing. Soundwise, I’m really inspired by stuff that bridges gaps, and bridges between two sounds. So I really try to bridge between a few genres and try and make something that feels unique, and can exist in a few different spaces.”
Maybe the most crucial way to define Anna Lunoe is that she thinks. She puts thought into everything it would seem, and to the unknowing viewer it might not easily be perceptible, but with the caliber of production, when you scrutinize her music, it’s evident that a tremendous amount of thought went into all of it. Her mind is active, and she’s doing everything she can to get better, to innovate, and continue playing the hits.
“DJing is super subjective and you’re only as good as your last show, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done twenty amazing shows and had four shitty ones in a row and honestly wanted to quit. When you have a few bad shows in a row, you forget that there was ever a good show. I read this really interesting article actually with Conan O’Brien. They were asking him why he doesn’t go into acting after his show. The thing is about what he does, that I think is similar to DJing, with every show, you are two minutes away from having your worst show ever, and that’s what keeps you going. All you can think about is the next song you are going to play and all you can think about is creating that bond with the audience that night, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter if you did great last night, it’s completely irrelevant, do great tonight, that’s all there is. Once you’ve done it, it’s gone, that moment is over. That’s why I get so happy when people come up and say I loved when you play so and so, and that’s right, it’s real, it’s validating. I thought it was cool, and they thought it was cool and they came out to see it again, and when you’re a DJ, that’s all you’ve got. So that’s the commodity of it.”
Wow… Just wow… This is the artist to watch and to admire. If her words don’t strike you deeply, and make you feel appreciated as an audience member and a fan, as well as creatively inspired, well then you should really evaluate what’s going on with you. All of these values and insights, they definitely come from a humble person, but a creative person who is evolving into a great artist, with many achievements to date, but many more to come. Her music is amazing, and so is her mind, Anna Lunoe is going huge places, so you better get with it before she’s gone. But the good news, something tells me Anna is never going to stop engaging with her fans. She does not seem like one to forget where she has come from.
This year has already been a big year for her, and we’ve got some news for you, she’s got a collaboration in the works set for release sometime towards the end of the summer 2014 with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. I almost completely lost in the interview when she gave me this scoop… I can’t wait to hear what those two have in store for us...
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