Image via Billy Zammit //
There are few in the Aussie music scene who have had a career as eclectic and trailblazing as Sydney producer/DJ Anna Lunoe, the international export occupying all roles from FBI radio host to podcaster to globetrotting DJ and everything in between. It’s led to her making leaps and bounds not only for female dance artists, but Aussie music as a whole, with the ‘303’ producer representing the nation on the world stage like few others ever have. She boasts an absolutely stacked resumè, and now, she’s added to it in the form of her latest EP Saturday Love, which was released just last week.
Comprised of five fiery tracks built and engineered for the club, the Sydney maestro once again reaffirms her affinity for the art of groove. From the pounding synths and attitude dripping off the title track to the four to the four madness of ‘Alright’ and the spacey hypnotism of ‘Peach Fuzz’ with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, the EDC alum serves up a love letter to dance like none other with the new record, and judging by the vast acclaim it’s already received since its release just last week, it seems the nation agrees.
We caught up with the veteran dance phenom to get the drop on the new EP, balancing her many hustles and motherhood. Check it below.
I’m wrecked [laughs]. The tweet that I just tweeted is the answer to your question, which is something like, “It’s fun fitting my little DJ things on the side of my real career, which is taking care of two toddlers who are working me 24/7.” It’s really full on at the moment, but it’s good. I’m pacing things out, but it does feel like a lot of worlds are colliding right now. I’m trying to just go with it and take it one week at a time, and just be really organised. But there aren’t enough planners in the world to juggle it all [laughs]. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to do it.
trying to fit my little dj things around my real career as mum of 2 toddlers holy fucking shit am i getting worked 24/7
— Anna Lunoe (@annalunoe) July 14, 2022
It feels really good to have the work together and I haven’t found it easy to make bodies of work fit in while touring. So, the pauses in between all the tours were very needed. Two of the tracks that are on the EP, ‘Saturday Love’ and ‘Peach Fuzz’, are over six years old. So, they’ve been sitting there just waiting to be finished and I didn’t have the time to work out how to finish those songs until everything stopped. So yeah, this body of work, in particular, would not have happened any other way other than having the pauses that we had with the pandemic.
So in that sense, it feels really good to have finished off those songs and to have found some good production habits, as well as to have ironed out a few kinks and holes in my skill set. And even for things that I didn’t know how to do, I had time to stop and work out. I wish I had a formula that I could easily follow, but more often than not, it’s like, “Okay, how am I going to work with this song idea and make it work in this context?” Sometimes it requires a bit more nutting out.
Honestly, it was such a relief. I had these little beans of songs that I really believed in, but I didn’t know how to finish. I just knew I had to try. And I really believe that they’re two of the stronger songs on the EP. There’s a lot more depth to them. They were harder to finish because they’re more complex and they required more emotional content than kick drums and a big lead and some high hats. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just about trying to make all those complexities and subtleties work in the way that I needed them to so they’d make sense in my sets and project. It feels really good. And I did learn a hell of a lot from doing them as well. Those songs are where I really learned something.
On the EP there are five tracks. ‘Saturday Love’ is me and Lulu B, who’s an incredible vocalist from Chicago. The second song is ‘Double Dip’, which I do the vocal for. I wrote that with Madison Rose in LA. Track three is ‘All Right’, which has me and my kids on vocals. Track four is ‘Like Me’ with me on vocals, with some additional older vocal samples. And the last track is me on vocals as well.
The male vocal also has a great place in dance music as well! There are some amazing tracks, like you think of Green Velvet or Channel Tres who have incredible male vocals, and each of them fits in a different place on the spectrum. So, you often see female vocals sitting on top of everything because their frequency is usually a little higher than a deeper male vocal. There are exceptions to that, of course, but yeah, they both have their own specific energy in what they bring.
When people think of female dance music vocals… Well, when I think of female dance music vocals, I think of two main ideas, with a lot of variation. You think of your big soaring diva vocalist that carries the tune, but then I also think of the quirky girl talking vocal, which is what I’m doing on a lot of my tracks.
So those two, to me, are the main things that you hear, and then you also hear a lot of diversity coming from a lot of different sounds. But I think that anything that can give your song a signature makes it unique because obviously your voice is your own sonic. It’s your own pre-built plugin that you can pull out and nothing else is going to sound like your voice. So it is really cool to play with that in the tracks to set them apart.
I have a really deep and inbuilt need to constantly contradict myself and feel inspired by exactly what I wasn’t inspired by before. Which is great but it also drives me insane [laughs], because I really wish I could be as simple as wanting to do the same thing over and over again, which I feel is a really great formula for dance music. But unfortunately, it’s not something that I can really stick to. So yeah. I find it quite easy to throw different ideas at myself and want to be many different things. And that keeps it challenging for me all the time.
Oh man, it’s so cool to see the creativity, honesty, spirit, legitimacy and just all of the beautiful things that going on in the dance music scene that are popping up now. I just admire it. I’m so happy for them to be doing that and for them to be finding such a great, safe and creative outlet. I know that it’s also inspiring a lot of people from around the world and creating a really beautiful space for dance music fans in Australia… it’s going to be great for the ecosystem as a whole to have all these exciting people with such talent to dig into.
It just had to be. It’s the 3:00am journey record for sure. That track was made with one of my really good friends, his name’s Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. We also made another track called ‘Feels Like’ together a while back, which is exactly what I want to play right now, too. Although I’d probably speed it up about eight BPM now if I played it. It’s such a banger. We always wanted to make music together, but we actually play quite differently as DJs, but we’re just great friends and we love a lot of the same dance music. So, we weren’t in any hurry to make songs all the time together because we are playing such different shows, but then we’d cross over again and start playing similar shows again.
So, we made that song in 2013-2014 and I don’t think either of us knew what to do with it because it was just us jamming and having fun as friends. Not thinking about what we play, what kind of clubs we play or the scenes we’re playing to. So yeah, I just sat on that song. It had all the elements, the crazy solos and the weird vocal. And then I added the vocal hook just when I finished it just in the last two months. But yeah, I just had it for so long and I always wanted to finish it. Orlando didn’t really know how to finish it. He was at a dead end with it and was like, “If you want to try and finish it, you finish it, but I don’t know how.”
So, I kept plugging away with it and the baseline was a lot longer and circular. I experimented with cutting it up four different ways and using it in all these different ways. And then, eventually, we locked in a groove, and Orlando helped me find the song’s journey in terms of structure.
That one is going to be a real wild card in the set. I’ll have to work out how to play it and figure out who’ll like it. I don’t know what DJ, if any, are going to play it or if heaps of people are going to play it. But that doesn’t matter. I just wanted to finish it. I love it. I think it’s sick. It reminds me of Voodoo Ray or something.
I probably do because I definitely want to be able to play the songs, but anyone who’s seen me play knows that I can be really eclectic in what I drop. So, for me, that’s a really wide spectrum. So, I do gravitate towards and feel inspired by that. So yeah, it is definitely something that I’m prone to.
I really want to dispel the myth that I fire on a hundred all the time. Today, I had a really intense morning with the kids. I got them to school by like 10am, and then I literally had to take a bath because I was so wrecked. I’d been up since 6am till 10am with the kids and I felt like I had already done a day’s work. So, I had to take like two hours and just lay in the bath and do work.
I have to take downtime. I have to take it during the week because I’ve got the kids on the weekends mostly. But I will say that I have heaps of planners. I’m like the planner queen of the world [laughs]. I’ve got my year planner, which is broken down into months, which is then broken down into weeks, which I then break down on a board by day. And then I break it down even further every day into a list which I then work through. So, planning is definitely key. I definitely am not writing any books on planning anytime soon [laughs]. But, for me, I do plan super hard.
I definitely have one tip though, and that is to always write down the most important thing that you need to get done every day and do it first. So the first thing I do when I sit down is the three things that I have to do today. And then that gives you the momentum to knock out a few other things. And if you get other things done then great, and if you run out of time, then that’s cool, too. But at least you know you’ve ticked off the main things.
That’s a really good question, and I’ve got an answer for it. What it’s done, which is something that I always tell people in dance music whenever they ask about having kids and a career, the one thing I would say is that the less time you have, the less time you use. So, before I had kids, I actually was way less efficient. I used my time really poorly and I didn’t have the clarity of mind to know what to get done first. This situation has squeezed me into a much more boiled-down version of myself. I only have time for what’s absolutely essential.
So, I’m actually much more streamlined about my work. I don’t overthink my songs as much anymore and use lists way more. If you see me on a production day, I’ll be like, “All right, try four different types of baselines”. I’ll literally give myself four 20-minute slots to try writing a new baseline. And then, I’ll pick one of those baselines, and then I’ll move to the next thing because there’s no time to overthink it. And that’s just how I work. Done is better than perfect for me. That’s where I’m at, and that’s been effective for me because before I would spend way more time going back and being like, “is this done?”. I would allow myself much more questioning which ultimately, and especially for dance music, I don’t think that you even need.
I think keeping the core energy and the fastest, quickest impulse when it comes to writing seems to be something that a lot of great producers that I look up to say works for them, too. So I try to trust that method and just be like, “Nope, I’m going to trust that this is going to work for me. And that’s actually all the time I have. And if this doesn’t get done today, it’s not getting done.”
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That’s a really good question. I’ve got an idea for a simple two-track club EP to do after this, where I want to try out a few ideas that I had while I was writing this EP. Then there’s a reissue remix of an old track of mine coming out soon… It’s a collaboration that people loved years ago and this year is the ten-year anniversary, so we’re doing an anniversary remix. So that will come out in August.
And in addition to that, I’m really passionate about environmental stuff. So, I’m working on a few things to try and drive more attention to the green initiatives in the festival space and also try to communicate to more artists about ways we can do better. And yeah, I’m really passionate about that, so I’m hoping to come up with some good ways to do that this year and not just always focus on my own things. Just to try and like do something bigger than me, so we can look out for that future of ours and for our kids. So that’s definitely on my list!
Anna Lunoe’s new EP Saturday Love is out now. You can buy/stream it here.