Aussie beatmaker Anna Lunoe is an incredible success story of a young producer who has made a name for herself living and working in the USA off the back of a long, hard slog on the Sydney club scene. Earlier this year she became the first woman (alongside fellow Sydneysider Alison Wonderland) to headline the main stage at Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival, and as well as putting out tune after tune, she recently was given her very own show on Beats 1 radio called Hyperhouse.
Unearthing young electronic musicians is more than just a job for Lunoe. It’s a passion that began when she used to volunteer as a radio host living in Sydney. “I’ve always shared music and I had a radio show back in Australia that was actually pretty similar to Hyperhouse,” she explains. “It was just broadcasting to Sydney, not the entire world – but it was something I always took seriously and I spent a lot of time digging for it and sharing new music.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to share ideas because I put a lot of energy into the art of electronic music; it’s something that I’m really passionate about,” Lunoe continues. “I’m not the kind of person who stashes my ideas, I like to share them – ultimately I want the good things to become big things so that we have a good electronic community. So it’s something that I’ve always had a lot as a part of my character and something I’ve put a lot of work into so doing this was just an extension of that. We have a very swamped community right now – there’s so many producers, there’s so much going on now that we’re all on the internet. So to have the opportunity to elevate people who I think are doing amazing work is a total blessing, and a pleasure.”
Having moved to the USA in 2012, Lunoe found herself witnessing a slew of Australian producers – led by Flume and his debut album that same year – who began to really make waves in the North American market. Lunoe puts this rise of Aussie producers overseas down to more than just one person, but she also believes that Flume’s influence can’t be understated. “I think it’s a combination of things; obviously the world is a lot smaller now, flights are cheaper, the internet has made it so that we are all a part of this global community, it’s not so separated. I also think that ‘the Flume effect’ is real.”
There was a cluster of people; him and What So Not and a few others – the impact they had was massive,” she says. “I came to America about six months before Flume’s debut album was released, and no one really cared that I had stuff going on in Australia. It wasn’t on their radar, they didn’t know the Australian agents, and there wasn’t that communication link between the American scene and the Australian scene. So within a year I saw that change. It was a cluster of artists who came in that period that led to it, but honestly, I really think that after this people suddenly didn’t want to sleep on signing a kid from Australia because they could be the next Flume.”
It’s not that what Flume was doing was necessarily unique, but he left the door slightly ajar for others and exposed the USA to a sound that is now attributed as being uniquely Australian. Lunoe says that artists like Flosstradamus call this the ‘Australian Festival Trap Sound.’ “You could honestly analyse it a whole bunch of ways,” she says. “I think that Flume and What So Not really did have a big hand in defining that sound; a kind of more joyful trap, a less aggressive trap music, a more sexy and fun ‘girls-like-it’ trap.”
It’s a certain sound that Lunoe says has become so popular that it’s beginning to penetrate mainstream music both in Australia, the US and other Western countries. “We’ve really seen that sound be echoed here in the states with Louis The Child and The Chainsmokers – in a much more commercial way, making its way into the top 40 charts here in America,” she says. “So I do think a lot of that is an Australian thing, and an Australian interpretation of it.”
Although she’s been spending a lot of time on her radio show, Anna still finds the time to release incredible music that’s popular both overseas and back home in Australia. Her latest single Radioactive certainly throws back to her roots and the house sound that she is known for, but Lunoe says she had a specific purpose in mind when writing it. “Radioactive is a catchy song that I wrote, with production that I really worked on in order to be able to play it in a festival environment.”
“I’ve played with a house-adjacent sound for a long time – I’ve played house to more jersey club, duke, a little bit of rap and trap, I’ve played everything. My sound, as the years have gone by, it’s evolved to work in sets and to incorporate influences from techno and rave stuff, but then also whatever I play in my set. So it always evolves and it always changes – the last year I’ve started to play the big festivals in America and I’ve wanted to create songs that work well in those environments.”
There’s no doubt that Lunoe has become increasingly well known for throwing together banging festival sets, a skillset that saw her become the first female to headline the EDC main stage in 2016, an event that Lunoe modestly attributes to the opportunities afforded to her from starting out as a DJ in a pre-lockout laws Sydney. “I think it’s a really awesome thing, me and Alex (Alison Wonderland) have been friends for ages. We both come from Sydney so we grew up playing the same parties, so I think it’s quite astounding that we both ended up doing that in the same year.”
— lüney [HYPERHOUSE] (@annalunoe) June 19, 2016
“It’s just a really huge testament to what’s going on in Sydney,” she continues. “Alex and I playing EDC was huge and people really talked about it and made a bit deal about it, because it was a big deal. I don’t think that the Australian politicians realise how special what we were creating in Sydney was, way back then. There’s a handful of girls able to do what we’re doing at the moment, and a lot of them are from Sydney and it’s crazy. Around 50% of the girls killing it in the States at the moment are Australian.”
Unsurprisingly then, Lunoe is an advocate for the Keep Sydney Open campaign, lending her name to a plaque erected outside the now-closed Phoenix Bar on Oxford Street. She is firmly of the belief that without the support of Sydney’s nightlife back before the lockouts, that she’d never have made it as a musician. “I owe so much of my skillset to those formative years,” she says. “I did Sydney for three years, playing three gigs every night – I ran from Oxford Street down to Kings Cross and back again so I could earn enough money to pay my rent and earn enough money to dedicate my life to this, and I was able to.
“I was able to make a good enough living playing clubs, and it not only gave me the skills to make it overseas but also gave me time to create music, and time to spend time volunteering at a radio station for nine months where ultimately I formed the skills that I’ve now transformed into a global radio show. That was a blessing, I was able to create a platform to learn all that in Sydney – and it actually makes me really sad because I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t be here today otherwise. When I was 19 and I started DJ’ing I was never going to end up in America doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for the nightlife at the time. There was no path that was going to lead me here – I wasn’t like Lorde who wakes up and starts writing music and taking music lessons from the day she was born.”
“There are so many talented kids who are going to lose that opportunity which is a real shame, to think that the next generation of kids like me won’t be able to do what I did and it’ll be so much harder for them. It’ll be sad for Sydney and the punters as well, because if less people are going to the shows then less people are going to fall in love with electronic music and less people are going to buy it. The whole thing feeds off clubs, so it’s like they’re upsetting the ecosystem of Australian culture in general, and it’ll have a hugely negative effect in general.”
‘Radioactive’ is out now. Grab a copy here.