Anna Lunoe goes ‘All Out’ at Belly Up show Saturday
If You Go…
Who: Anna Lunoe
Where: Belly Up
When: Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 p.m.
Tickets and more info: http://www.bellyupaspen.com
In the few years since Anna Lunoe moved to Los Angeles from her native Australia, the DJ, producer and singer has broken into the dance music scene by breaking its rules.
She peppers her sets with an unpredictable mix of genres and new house mixes, along with her originals. Her releases over the past two years offer a creative spin on dance music and a refreshing break from monotonous DJs who seem incapable of experimenting beyond their sub-genres of choice.
Lunoe, who plays Belly Up on Saturday, is a pop-culture omnivore, apt to use the sounds of retro dance music in all its permutations in order to make something new.
Her new single, “All Out,” is an electro-pop track overlaid with her synth-soaked vocals. “I Met You,” a collaboration with fellow Aussie DJ Flume, is driven by a funky keyboard sample and has a disco touch. “Breathe” is a throwback house track, all thumping bass, and drum-machines and Lunoe’s looped vocals. “Bass Drum Dealer,” a collaboration with Skrillex, is built around an idiosyncratic tribal steel drum beat with Lunoe singing on the chorus, “I’m your midnight killer/I’m your bass drum dealer/And I always deliver.”
“Honesty and fresh ideas are paramount,” she said of the eclectic textures of her music, in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I can tell within two seconds of listening to a song whether I’m interested or not, just in the choices the producer’s made. I want to be surprised. I don’t want to hear people following a formula of what deep house is or house is — if it’s following a formula of played-out sounds and it’s predictable, why would I want to being that to people? They already know it. I want to hear songs by people who push the envelope and are trying something different.”
She points to UK-based DJs Shadow Child and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, with whom she collaborated on the single “Feels Like” this summer, as examples of house DJs who are elevating the form.
Her process for putting together songs, she said, usually starts with a simple chord sample, soon followed by her vocals, and builds from there. It takes a lot of experimentation, fits and starts, before she finds her mark.
“Making music is a happy accident, you just fumble around looking for a light switch in the dark,” she said. “You hopefully just catch a vibe and you find it.”
Lunoe got started as a beat maker after taking interest in music journalism and volunteering as a DJ at a radio station in Australia, where she focused on sharing underground dance music. Having grown up in a family of musicians, Lunoe had an encyclopedic musical knowledge that would later serve her well as DJ. She was listening to genre-bending acts like MIA and Diplo and digging into the rave DJs of the UK, and started tooling around with DJ software on a laptop.
“Suddenly it seemed like music became a lot more approachable,” she said. “Everybody had MacBook Pros that had Garage Band on them, and everything felt more accessible.”
The long-standing barrier to entry for a DJ — building a vinyl collection with which to spin — vanished with the new technology. For an inventive and industrious young artist like Lunoe, the new landscape was fertile creative ground.
“At that point I got more curious about how I could put my own stamp on things,” she said.
While she’s risen pretty quickly onto the international scene, she cautions the hordes of young people out there making music on their laptops and dreaming of headlining Ibiza and Vegas to take their time.
“There’s so much press about the super young producers that are 16 and making all these amazing things and blah, blah, blah — I think that scares a lot of people off from the creative process,” she said. “We live in a generation that is very immediate, but it takes a little gusto to stick with something. My advice is that it’s really hard and you’ve got to keep at it, even when you know it’s not sounding the way you want it to sound. It takes a while to sound the way you do in your head.”
Along with celebrating conspicuously young beat makers, dance music has a well-documented gender gap. The top ranks of DJs are mostly men, and female DJs are often marketed more for their sex appeal than their skills behind the decks. But Lunoe said she feels that’s symptomatic of the culture at large, and not a product of a sexist or misogynistic dance music industry.
“I think that honestly it’s not a DJ world thing, it’s a world thing,” she said. “I don’t think it’s anything specific to dance music, but there are patterns of behavior in society and they work their way in. Perhaps being a DJ challenges a few of those societal roles for women and it’s hard for people to accept, but I don’t think there is outright sexism in the industry, any more so than in pop music or any other industry.”
The Aspen show kicks off a North American fall tour that runs into November. Her first headlining stateside tour was just a year ago, but saw her landing gigs at high-profile festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Previous stops in town have included opening for Calvin Harris at his 2013 Winter X Games set at Belly Up.
“The crowd is always really nuts there,” she said of her previous Aspen gigs. “It’s crazy and everyone’s wilding out.”
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