In an Instagram reel, we see Anna Lunoe react to a screen recording of a voice memo from her good friend, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. In the message, he’s teasing Anna for asking him which bass mix she should pick for her then-unreleased single, “Alright”. “You do know about bass, you dork… Hi, I’m Barry Bass Boofter and I know more about bass than Anna Lunoe,” he mocks playfully.
And he’s right. We’re not sure there are many that know electronic music better right now than Sydney-bred powerhouse Anna Lunoe.
As a DJ, she was a mainstay on Australian club and festival lineups, before taking her selections international. Since 2012, she’s been dominating in the US, playing Coachella, Lollapalooza, and even the main stage at EDC, becoming the first solo woman act to do so in 2016.
As a producer, she’s been releasing music constantly since her debut alongside Touch Sensitive. Combining her vocals with high-energy beats that are made for foot-stomping, she’s as in-her-element solo as she is linking up with artists like TEED, Wuki, and Genesis Owusu.
As a radio presenter, she led the launch of Apple Music 1 (fka. Beats 1) with her HYPERHOUSE program, platforming the best dance music has to offer to a worldwide audience weekly.
But halfway into 2020, Anna decided to pack up her life in L.A. and move back to Sydney, to be with her family through the pandemic.
After watching America return to COVID-normal while stuck in lockdown, Anna wrestled with the idea of leaving dance music behind for good. And we’re glad she decided she’s not done yet. This year, she’s dropped her latest EP, Saturday Love, and relaunched HYPERHOUSE after a 5-year hiatus.
In the latest episode of the Stoney Roads Podcast, we chatted about her journey in music, and how she’s seen the dance music space evolve from her front-row seat. Here are a few highlights from our chat – but for the full story, listen and subscribe to the Stoney Roads Podcast on Apple Podcasts.
On the “Pre-Flume Economy” and becoming a little fish in a big pond
Before her move to L.A, Anna had conquered the Australian dance scene. She’d played every major festival, thrown heat at every club, supported major internationals, and was ready to step it up.
“I just had to become such a more versatile DJ. I had to be so much more dedicated and I had to try so much harder to get myself out there, to stand out from the crowd,” says Anna.
She knew she’d have to work hard in the States, but what she didn’t expect was how clueless the industry was to what was brewing in Australian electronic music. Alison Wonderland, Nina Las Vegas, What So Not, and Flume were all on the come up. But that was before the latter blew up, and got everyone paying attention.
“And I always joke about it, that it was like a pre-Flume economy when I went. So before I left, I was writing to all the agents being like, “Hey, I’m a DJ from Australia. I’ve been doing all the big festivals here. I’m good at this. Take me on.” And no reply. And I now know all these people that I was writing to.”
“They just didn’t reply. They’re like, “Australia? Like what’s going on in Australia?”
On her (rightfully) picky mid-pregnancy DJ rider
Having children as a DJ isn’t unheard of – but with the majority being men, most of those DJs don’t have to wear their parenthood around on display for 9 months.
Anna told us about how she felt becoming one of the not-very-many DJs who are also mothers. With the overwhelming support of her community, she found out she didn’t need to worry at all. But before she knew that, she kept the good news on the down low – and it made for some pretty interesting rider requests.
“I think that was a really interesting time because there’s a period before anyone knows that you’re pregnant, where you are secretly pregnant. And you have to ask for things that you don’t normally ask for and people don’t really understand why,” says Anna.
“So for instance, touring in America for three months in the hotter months, while secretly pregnant, I need to have an air-conditioned room to go back to. I need ice packs to cool my body down. I need to have a medic around to get my blood checked and everything after, to get my levels checked after I perform to make sure my heart rate’s going back to a normal rate.”
“And once people knew I was pregnant, they were really happy for the most part to supply that. But there was just this, a few months before they knew where I had to be really demanding. And they’re like, “Why does Anna want a private room with air conditioning and heaps of protein bars, but no cut fruit and like no alcohol, like what’s going on, why does she need all these things?”
On the power of knowing when to start saying “no”
If you’ve been working at any career goal for a couple of years, it can be hard to get out of the starvation mindset. It’s the idea that you need to take on every and any opportunity that comes your way.
But once you’ve proven yourself and reached a certain level, Anna says that turning things down can influence how people see you, in a good way. For her, it was once she landed her acclaimed Apple Music 1 show, Hyperhouse.
“It was like, well, if I don’t take these gigs, maybe I won’t get any other gigs and I won’t have enough money to pay my rent. So it [Hyperhouse] just put me in a more powerful position to say no. And I think that is always powerful. Whenever you can start to say no to things, I don’t know, people respond,” says Anna.
“As I’ve gotten older, the more I add into my life, the more efficient I try to be about my choices. And that’s something you learn out of necessity because when you’re young, you’re just excited to be there you say yes to everything. You’re buzzed about every opportunity. And as you get older, you’re like, “Okay, well I’ve already done this three times. Do I want to do it again? Or do I want to say no and hope that there’s another better opportunity comes in?”
Listen and subscribe to the Stoney Roads Podcast on Apple Podcasts.
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