Music / Interview

Anna Lunoe on Festival X, the future, and Australia’s dance music scene

Ahead of her Australian return for the inaugural Festival X run, we sat down with a chat for Aussie dance music superstar Anna Lunoe.

Anna Lunoe is an absolute force.

Born and bred in Sydney where she honed her craft across dancefloors and festivals around the country, it was a chance move to Los Angeles in 2012 that saw Lunoe take the leap from one of Australia’s most in-demand DJs to one of the most looked to tastemakers in the global dance music scene.

As a DJ, producer, vocalist, songwriter, radio host, and more Lunoe covers every facet of the music industry and if she isn’t on stage whipping crowds into a frenzy with her own tunes, she is behind the mic chatting about the best new music of the moment.

In 2015, after nearly a decade’s’ worth of touring, production work, and remix EP curation, Lunoe was picked by radio powerhouse Zane Lowe to present her own dance show on Apple Music’s Beats 1. From there she launched Hyperhouse (which has since extended into an event series, a record label, and a lifestyle brand) before moving to presenting the Dance Chart. Now she has launched her new show called DanceXL, giving her more freedom to showcase artists at all stages of their careers.

She’s played at some of the biggest festivals in the world including Coachella, TomorrowWorld, Electric Forest and Lollapalooza, and this year we are excited to have her back in Australia as part of the inaugural Festival X lineup. Before she lands on our shores, we sat down with Anna Lunoe to chat all things touring, dance music, and what she hopes for Australia’s newest electronic festival.

On swapping Australia for the States

Anna Lunoe: “I look back on my decision as a funny and ballsy move and a very naive one. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I think when you’re young and you have energy and you want to do something, you don’t let those little details get in the way and you just give it a go. It’s really funny now looking back, I was so under prepared, but I didn’t even know because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be prepared for.

“There are million things I wish I’d known, but we can’t change it and it’s all changed since then. The problems that I encountered, someone won’t encounter now because the times have changed and the industry’s different now. I needed to do that because there was no other way to know, and now I’ve made it easier for the next generations. That’s good.”

On Australia’s electronic scene

AL: “There’s a lot going on in Australia on a local level that is becoming really successful here [in America]. But without being there as much as I used to be, I really couldn’t tell you. I see things when they start poking out but I know that so much isn’t poking out in a way that’s getting to me. But I know that Australia has always made world level dance music in its own way and I’m seeing a lot of cool underground house producers that are getting played over here or that should be or will be getting played in the next year.

“Something I’ve noticed in the last couple of months is that there’s a new breed of producers – new names popping up that are really starting to make world class records and getting attention of producers here. So it’s only a matter of time until they start making the big move and getting booked over here more if they’re not already.

“There’s so much going on. The thing I love about Australia and that I always champion is that it’s such a strong breeding ground to try something different and to come at it with a different angle. We really do have our own cultural spin on it. I get most excited when I see Australians coming at global dance music from a slightly different angle and I think that we have the benefit of not taking ourselves too seriously and that’s something that is lacking in the global dance music scene. Just really inspired and unpretentious and free performance – that’s definitely something that we have culturally up our sleeve.”

From the decks to the radio desk

AL: “I started in radio at the same time as my DJ career. I was working at FBi, which is a radio station in Sydney. So radio has always been a part of my story. That’s where I met a lot of my collaborators and friends and its where I started to get into the culture and really nurture this idea of exploration. That’s why I started getting on promo lists and where  labels started sending me stuff because I had a radio show back in 2007. In 2008, I started doing ‘Sunset’ on FBi, which is a dance show. It’s been a long time, but if anything, radio was the grounding. My time at FBi was the grounding of what ended up being Beats 1.

“My new show ‘DanceXL’ really has the potential to be the host of dance music on Apple Music. That’s what we are hoping for. We’re hoping to represent all the major dance playlists and also really talk to the artists who are making the songs that are changing the landscape when it comes to dance music. It’s a really exciting format because we can bend it to keep it fresh, to keep it interesting, and to make sure that we’re representing as much as we possibly can. This is something that the current incarnation of my show ‘The Dance Chart’ finds more challenging. We have the format of having the top 20 most streamed dance tracks. So that’s always the backbone. And the most streamed songs can stay similar for months at a time so it makes it hard to always find a way to talk to new artists. So this is really exciting.”

On the future of dance music

AL: “It’s changed enormously in the 15 odd years that I’ve been involved in dance music. The changes are innumerable and so difficult to even begin to process. We’ve had the internet becoming such a strong force, as social media and also streaming. With streaming the thing that’s changed the narrative for a lot of dance music is that songs can break through streaming and not the club. So there’s a lot of artists who are not really club acts. They’re making songs that aren’t built for the club. They’re club songs that are not built for the club, they’re built for streaming. It’s a really interesting time and there’s pros and cons to that.

“Sometimes there’s artists that have really never been a part of club culture becoming prominent in club culture. They’re coming in and eventually touring as DJs when they’ve never really had to do that before because they’ve never been a part of that culture. On one hand, that can be a good thing because they’re coming at it from their own angle.

On performing at festivals

AL: “Playing festivals has become so integral to my skill set at this point that I prefer it because I’ve been playing clubs for such a long time that it’s almost more fun for me to play a big festival because I mix a certain way. I’m able to work a whole stage and add in more physicality to my performance. It feels like an elevated version of a club performance. Club performing is still fun, but for me now it is more fun for me to play big festivals. It also gets me in front of a whole lot of eyes that might never have seen me before. Where as a club show is usually people that know you and they come out to the clubs for you. I really love the element of surprise and I really love winning people over who might not know what to expect from me. That gives me a real buzz.

“I’ve learned a million lessons doing what I’m doing. To strip it back, now I’m pretty fearless on the stage. I don’t even think twice about it, it’s like my second home to be on a big festival stage in front of lots of people. It’s hard to work out what the lessons were and take a few steps back but I guess it’s just the preparation. Knowing how to prep for something like that. Understanding audiences around the world and feeling really confident with what you’ve prepared. I guess that only happens after you’ve done it a million times. Now I trust my preparation. I feel like if I’ve prepped with a clear head and I’ve had that time to prep, I trust what I’ve created to be the right thing for me at that time and what I want to say. Then I go out and I perform the shit out of it. And that’s pretty much my motto.”

On Festival X

AL: “I hope this is the start of something big and something new and I’m super excited to be a part of it. I am also going to be pretty pregnant. I’m pregnant with my second child, so I’m hoping that it’s not going to be too hot.

“I don’t think that I played in Australia that much very visibly pregnant last time, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the Australian crowds react to me being so pregnant on the stage. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And there’s a lot of friends playing that festival. It’s all about good times and enjoying the platform that’s been created and really doing our best to support it.”

Festival X 2019 Lineup:

Calvin Harris | Armin Van Buuren | Lil Pump | Alison Wonderland | Anna Lunoe | Badrapper | Camelphat | Cosmic Gate* | Futurecode* | Generik | Giuseppe Ottaviani* | Godlands | Marlo* | MK (Marc Kinchen) | Murda Beatz | Nic Fanciullo | Paul Kalkbrenner | Ruben De Ronde* | Steve Aoki | Sunset Brothers* | Thandi Phoenix | Tchami | Vini Vici* | More to be announced
*Appearing in Sydney & Melbourne only

Festival X 2019 Tour Dates:

  • Friday 29 November – Brisbane Showgrounds
  • Saturday 30 November – Sydney Showgrounds
  • Sunday 1 December – Melbourne Showgrounds

Festival X will kick-off summer festival season with their inaugural event coming to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne this November. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.au.

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