Australian DJ Anna Lunoe on Moving to L.A., S.F.'s Dirtybird Label, and Laying Down Vocals
With a musical career beginning in Australian radio in 2006, DJ/vocalist/producer Anna Lunoe's encyclopedic musical knowledge has helped her become an important figure in the resurgence of disco in the EDM scene, and allowed her to open for artists from Soulwax to Santigold. In 2009, she was the first female asked to curate a mix for Ministry of Sound Australia, and soon became the go-to DJ for the catwalks of designers Chanel, Fendi, and Prada. Having recently moved to Los Angeles, she's kept busy by putting out an exclusive Australian artists-only mix for Fool's Gold, and by working on her EP, which comes out next month. All Shook Down recently spoke with her about the festival life, integrating her vocals into tracks, and what she loves about San Francisco. Lunoe plays at 1015 Folsom this Friday with Switch, Sinden, Them Jeans, and more.
How are you doing after the whirlwind of spring festivals like SXSW, Miami, Coachella, etc.?
I'm doing okay! I now fully understand the phrase "March madness!" I moved to L.A. the week of SXSW and then after Coachella it still wasn't over -- I had to jump a plane back to Australia to be an ambassador for the 13K Women's run! So I nipped back, ran a cute little mini-marathon, and now I'm back in L.A. feeling pretty... sore! I'm excited, though, because now, the focus is on production and writing mostly for me for a while. I'm only taking the shows I really want to do -- like this one!
What do you listen to when you're running?
Podcasts. They keep my interests much more than music does. They make the time go way faster.
What prompted the move from Australia to Los Angeles?
There were many reasons, but the largest [was] that after five years touring constantly around Australia I was just ready for a change! I wanted different challenges and experiences.
What will you miss the most about Australia?
My friends and family, of course. Also Goodgod Small Club which is an amazing little restaurant-danceteria that my friends run and we all throw parties there. I'll really miss my radio show. Coming here is a little bit like starting all over again! It's a new chapter alright, but I will still go home a fair bit, too.
Will there be a chance for you to start a radio show now that you're up here?
I would love to, down the track, but I'm also enjoying the break from it at the moment.
On your recent mix for Fool's Gold, you featured a lot of Australian artists. Who do you think are some Australian artists to watch out for?
Well, that mix was an Australian special! So basically if they are in that mix, you should be watching out for them. I love Fools Gold; I was stoked to get to mix for them.
Recently, you've been working on a lot more vocals like your cover of "Tom's Diner." Is it refreshing to get into singing again?
Yes, totally. It's nice to still have so much to work towards! I have always known that I would start singing and producing, but I didn't want to do it until it felt right and I really felt like I had something to contribute. So now I'm just doing what feels right, collaborating if it feels right, making whatever genre comes out of me. If they weren't confused before, they are definitely going to be confused now.
How is it different singing on an EDM track versus a live band track?
Every song is different, but obviously dance track vocals are usually either hooky and rhythm-based, or big, epic diva hooks. There is less verse/chorus/bridge in EDM.
Last time you played San Francisco, you were one of the highlights of the Digitalism show. How did you like your time here?
(Laughs). Thanks! Oh man, I love San Francisco. It was just before Christmas then, so I was doing a lot of Christmas shopping as it was my last stop before heading back to Sydney. That Digitalism show was such a treat. I played another show later that night at EPR and that was crazy, too. So far San Fran has made me feel very welcome!
It was awesome that you dropped local DJ Justin Martin's track in your set. What draws you to the Dirtybird label?
I love that they have fun with dance music! A lot of scenes get so serious they forget that it's dance music to play at parties where people want to actually have a good time! Dirtybird tracks always make me happy. It's that simple.
Can we hope for any collaboration in the future?
I actually already made this vocal bootleg of a very old Justin Martin track six months or so ago! I sent it to him and he said liked it ... so maybe! He was probably just being polite though [laughs].
You'll be playing here again for the Switch and Sinden show. What are you looking most forward to, and what can we expect to hear?
Sinden and Switch have been such massive inspirations for me. I have played shows with each of them individually back home in Australia, but it's been a few years since then. I'm mostly excited to watch them perform. They are always a few steps ahead -- you can safely expect a delicate balance of bass that will make your toes curl and beats that makes your brain do backflips. It could be any genre, though.
Any hope of an EP coming out soon?
Yep! Future Classic is releasing a couple of new tracks of mine next month, hopefully followed by a track out on one of my favorite US labels shortly after... fingers crossed!
A typical day off for you looks like...
I don't take days off often, but in L.A. it's usually hanging with friends, seeing music, going to the market to find stuff for the new house and clothes, and making a point of eating good food! Nothing too exciting.