The Aussie polymath on winning over America, her new EP, and NOT talking about gender.
Two years ago, Anna Lunoe abandoned the safety of an already established career in Australia and set up shop in Los Angeles. "It was interesting coming here as an overqualified beginner," she tells THUMP. "In a way, it was freeing because I didn't expect anything anymore…Every win was so exciting again – Like when you start getting phone calls from people you haven't been getting them from and they want to get involved. It definitely was a big bite of humble pie with cheap gigs, money, free stuff to get my foot in the door, but I really had confidence, though, because I knew if I was given the opportunities, I could take them."
That phone has been ringing off the hook since last year's undeniable "Breathe." It arrived on one of the earlier waves of tracks that sit in the space between deep and bassline house, except that it carries Lunoe's hallmark – Her own voice. She's been on a tear since then, collaborating with AC Slater, Flume, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, releasing on OWSLA's nest, and finally putting out her All Out EP on Ultra Records yesterday.
Suffice to say, Lunoe is by no means a newcomer any longer. Sets at Coachella, Diplo and Friends on BBC radio, and the quality and sheer variation of her releases have seen to that. It's almost like she's working against any attempt to define her. For example, "Bass Drum Dealer" is a boisterous clanger of a track that sits against the smoother house feels of her catalogue, whereas her TEED co-lab is a melting pot within itself – a total shuffler with techno atmospherics and pop tones.
She admits to consciously wriggling her way out of definition, sort of: "I guess it kind of is a thing. In Australia, The market is super educated and super small. There's only a few clubs that play alternative dance music, so if you play it, you have to be able to play all alternative dance music. If you listen to my sets, like the Diplo and Friends mix or my Coachella set, it's really evident that I've always played all over the place. It makes sense that I would want to do that in my productions as well."
Anna's unique in that most of her tracks feature her own vocals atop the beats. It's a challenging process that most producers and DJs shirk, but she's turned it into a defining trait. There's an added level of personal exposure and creative challenge that comes along with putting that part of yourself into the music. "Lyrics are what resonates with the mainstream. Going on tour with The Wknd and Banks just reminds me how people will hang onto every word," she explains. "That's why I've been kind of proud of the lyrics I've been writing lately – I've been pushing myself. I've wanted to write stuff that's super raw and honest and that comes from a real place, but also…I just wanna dance."
She goes on, "It's confusing for me, as an artist, I'm always trying to figure out what my voice is. It's a bizarre talent to create something that's meaningful and dance-floor worthy, like "Latch" by Disclosure for example…It's so tricky. It's one in a million. "
Transforming her performances into a vocally-driven live entity is something that's on her mind. "I have done it before," she says. "I don't think it's quite the right vibe though. It's something I'm definitely thinking about, but mixing it with the DJ stuff is not quite how I want it to happen…You just have to put time and energy into discovering what it might look like, what it might feel like, how you might technically do it, and it's something I'd have to actually start practicing – singing into my hairbrush"
Tricky battles with lyrics aside, she's already well on her way to winning over the crowd. "I've been really fortunate from these past few releases that the crowd really wants to hear my stuff," she says. "I feel like I can really trust them now and It's the best feeling ever, to be able to walk in a room and feel super supported in just playing whatever you want and to feel it resonate." Judging by early reactions to All Out, it's something she might just have to get used to.
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Associate Editor in Los Angeles - @JemayelK