LA based Australian powerhouse Anna Lunoe has spent the last few years since relocating to LA playing taking stage at some of the biggest festivals in the world like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Tomorrowland, headlining her own US tour and supporting the likes of Diplo, The Weeknd, Disclosure and Zeds Dead on tour. Anna Lunoe returns to Australia this month for a national tour and we had a chat about her many roles as DJ, producer, songwriter and vocalist, her highly acclaimed All Out Ep and how she found the guts to make the crossover from tune selector to music maker.
Where abouts are you at the moment?
I’m in my studio in LA, I’m just packing for the weekend.
Are you leaving for Australia on the weekend?
I’m coming on Tuesday but before then I have to go to San Francisco then to El Paso in Texas then to Upstate New York for Mysteryland Festival. So that’s happening over the next three days then I’ll come home then come to Australia on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Wow that’s intense. Your tour schedule is incredibly busy and last year was a huge year playing some of the biggest festivals in the world and massive support slots as well as your own US tour – was there a standout gig of last year for you or is it all a bit of a blur?
It is a bit of a blur to be honest. It was a lot. It was a lot of travel and a lot of, oh man… I didn’t even really have time to take it all in, what I was doing, which was probably a good thing. Maybe if I realised what I was doing, maybe I would have gotten way more nervous about it. I just remember before Coachella, I toured for two months before it happened and then I came back to Australia the week before Coachella to do the launch of H&. I remember being in the airport lounge and it was a week from Coachella and I had literally not even thought about it. I was like, “Holy crap, I play Coachella in seven days and I have not thought about it and I have to come up with something good.” It was sort of better that way because I think if I’d had time to really think about it I would – well, I did completely spaz myself out about it – but if I’d had even more time I would have been even worse.
Coachella was really fun, there were a heap of festival highlights. In America there are so many big festivals that are as big as Coachella and happen every second weekend. All the festivals I’m doing this weekend will be big festivals. There are so many of those that are amazing – I’d go to them on no sleep and make up a set and it was incredible. There are heaps of special gigs like that, like Electric Forest Festival which was really special. It’s set in this beautiful forest in Michigan on a lake. It looks like those summer camps that you see in movies with log cabins and forests. It wasn’t a hippy crowd but a little bit more hippy than some other festivals and it was just amazing. I felt like I could play whatever I wanted and they would listen to anything. There’s been a lot of beautiful things like that. Also, there was a big shift last year, because I release so much music, kids were just coming to hear my music. It didn’t matter if I played the biggest songs that there were, the biggest reactions would be for my songs. It was super exciting to have that.
Your All Out EP was obviously massively successful – how did the EP come together? Was it a collection of songs you’d written over time or did you write with the intention of making an EP?
It was a collection of songs. I submitted ten songs to Ultra for that EP because it was my first on Ultra. These were the songs that they selected. I remember at the time, I was like, “Oh, but there’s so many other songs. There are these club tracks that are way more banging!” BDD was in the pile of songs that I sent them but they just wanted the kind of housey singing ones. So that was cool and it all made sense as a package but I remember being like, “Oh, what about these songs?” but in the end they came out anyway so it was great. So, it was collection of stuff. Everything is such a crazy time crunch and such a myriad of factors that go into anything. Now I see things so differently when I see a release. When I used to see a release I’d be like, “Gosh, it’s a shame they couldn’t get the video out when the song was big, or “I wish they’d done this for a video, why didn’t they do that?” but there are a million restrictions on you at all times and you literally just do the best you can. It’s such a big job. I have a bigger understanding of these sorts of things now.
Starting out at FBI and going on to DJing – did you have any indication back then that this is what you would like to be doing?
I had dreams but I was cautious to over commit to them because I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I really just proved everything one step on the way, I took it one step at a time. When I got the guts up to take the next step, I took the next step. Things were different when I started out. It was a pre-Flume era, you know? It was the start of blogs and house music online and that accessibility and the idea that DJs can just be kids that download a bunch of songs off the internet. That idea had just started when I started DJing in 2007. It was a different game and we just had to start one step at a time and learn and change and adapt. First it was Myspace and then it was Facebook then it’s Twitter – it was just adapting and changing and learning to produce music, coming to terms with the fact that I could write music and I could sing and I could have the confidence to do that. That was a really big step for me and I was absolutely not ready to take that step for the first few years. It was a real learning curve and something that I’m kind of proud of, really. Because it took guts and I really did it the long way and made sure I really learnt everything I could possibly learn and everything I’m trying to do each step of the way. In the end, it kind of came together really well because I had all of these skills that have come in handy time and time again. Sometimes I see kids blow up super fast and I think, “Wow, that’s awesome, I wish that happened to me.” but then, I got to enjoy every step of the way and learn so that when I got the opportunities I got, I was so ready for them. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you weren’t ready for the opportunity and you wasted it.
Your work sees you take on so many roles now – as you mentioned, all the skills you’ve built up – before working at FBI, growing up, was there a particular aspect of the music industry that you were drawn to?
Yeah, totally. I used to stay up all night watching rage and I’d write out plans and write out song ideas and it was all just complete dreaming. I never thought I would actually do it, it was just a passion. I was playing acoustic guitar when I was a teenager, just teaching myself chords and writing songs and I guess I would have always would have loved to be in a band – I was in a band in my later teens very briefly – I would have loved that. I didn’t have any friends that were musical like that, I didn’t have friends who were in bands and I just didn’t even know how to make that happen. It felt really out of my grasp, it felt so far away. So, I just kept it all inside and just had this huge passion for music and a real thirst for it. I’d go to the CD store after school and listen to every CD I could find and buy a couple but really just listen to it and decide if I liked it or not. As a kid, I used to make these mixtapes as well. I used to buy CDs that were cheap in the bargain bin and then make mix CDs that I’d felt I’d discovered that were cool and no one else really knew. I’d host them as well, I’d give them to my friends and I’d press double record on the tape recorder and I’d record myself saying, “I found this song here, it’s really cool, this is the guy from this band.” I’d kind of do my own little radio show and it’s funny because I’d never thought in my wildest dreams that I could do a radio show but I’d actually been doing it since I was kid.
All the signs were there. What stuff were you listening to that stood out to you?
That’s a good question. It’s all kind of a blur really. There’s so much that I loved but it’s hard to really pin point. I was really taken by the imagery I’d see on rage. I know that’s silly but I’d not seen rave culture. I hadn’t seen those old videos of rave culture and sub-cultures and goth culture, I just did not grow up around a lot of that. So, the visuals of all of that stuff was almost more powerful than the music. Because I saw there there was a whole other world out there. There were kids who were living a certain way and I wanted to know about it.
You have some huge shows lined up for this year like the Jack U Full Flex Express train tour, what are you most excited about that’s coming up this year?
Oh man, I’m just really really happy this year because I took such a big risk coming over here and leaving everything behind in Australia and it was really hard. I’m really happy beacuse I feel pressure to prove myself at every step. Honestly, all the festivals this year and everything, I’m just stoked. I’m so happy to be playing my music, I’m so happy to keep pushing it and keep finding new stuff that I feel like needs to be played that no one else is playing and I feel like if I just do that the best that I can possibly do it, I can’t go wrong. I’m so excited for the Jack U train tour, that’s going to be nuts. I watched the video from last year and I totally got goosebumps, it looks like the best experience. Then I’m going to do a big headline tour in America and all the summer festivals are just such a blast and I think maybe last year it was all a bit of a scramble but this year I just want to have fun with all that. Also, there are a few really big things in the books for the end of this year and it’s exciting and I can’t really talk too much about it but there’s so much good stuff on the cards. I’m in in for the ride.
Anna Lunoe’s Australian tour dates below.
ANNA LUNOE NATIONAL TOUR DATES:
Fri, 29 May: PERTH, MONDO- Tickets available on the door
Sat, 30 May: BRISBANE, OH HELLO- Tickets available on the door
Thurs, 4 June: WOLLONGONG, WAVES – http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/totally/77622
Fri, 5 Jun: ADELAIDE, ELECTRIC CIRCUS- Tickets available on the door
Sat, 6 Jun: SYDNEY, CHINESE LAUNDRY- http://chineselaundryclub.com.au/whats-on/event/lndry-ft-anna-lunoe-sharam-jey-ger
Sun, 7 Jun: MELBOURNE, ANYWAY- Tickets available on the door