The heroes over at FBi Radio are busy preparing for this weekend’s inaugural Sydney Music Art and Culture (SMACs) Festival, which builds on the awards of the same name. Already boasting a stupidly good line-up, including Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight, Palms, Polish Club, Black Vanilla, Montaigne and many more, the Sunday session has just received a late shot of adrenalin with the inclusion of hometown heartbreaker, Anna Lunoe.
By now a stranger to nobody, Anna Lunoe is a world-beating DJ, producer, songwriter and vocalist currently living in the US. She slays headline tours with the likes of Diplo and Skrillex, has her own Beats 1 radio show on Apple Music and releases bangers (Bass Drum Dealer, Stomper, Pusher, All Out) like they’re going out of fashion. She got her start on FBi, honing her skills at the community station for a number of years. We caught up with her to discuss Sydney’s music community, the unrelenting power of broadcast and how a DJ sells out of crop tops.
Broadsheet: I notice that you’re selling crop tops now.
Anna Lunoe: (laughs) Uh, I sold out, babe!
BS: When you started at FBi in 2004, how much dance music was being played on the station?
AL: They’ve always represented dance music. Sunsets (FBi’s weekday dance show) was part of the original programming, I believe. I came a year or two after it started, but by then it was already there.
BS: Were you on that?
AL: No, I started on reception. In 2005 I was doing all-nighters and I think Sunday lunch, then I moved to America in 2006 and came back to do Sunsets at the beginning of 2008.
BS: So you got to play a lot of music you liked, which pushed the envelope in terms of Australian electronic music from an early point.
AL: Definitely. I think we took that show from [DJ] Ajax and Bang Gang. There was so much stuff that felt really fresh around then. That ’06–’07 period was really interesting for electronic music, it was the beginning of the blog-house and bedroom-producer vibe.
I guess if we’re talking Sydney, the most exciting ones were people we knew, people like the Presets and Lost Valentinos. Even Spruce Lee was the first person I knew who could make dance music. The power of that was really new and rare. It was super exciting.
BS: It’s cool that a lot of the artists you’re talking about playing on FBi all those years ago are still out there, and in many cases, still making music on an international level.
AL: It is pretty unique. The whole nature of the industry is pretty fickle and people have short attention spans, but the people of that generation – it was a cluster of people who had a really strong vision and a lot of talent. It was a circle of influence and I think they’re all still friends.
BS: Now that you have a radio show on Beats 1, do you think radio is still important in 2016?
AL: I think there’s a big place for radio and curation. One of the greatest and saddest things about the age we live in, with the ease of production, communication and technology, is that we’re losing a common thread between all of us because everyone gets their music from different sources. No one is on the same page; it’s very difficult to cut through and make an impact.
Even someone like Justin Bieber, he released a video on the hour every hour the day he released Sorry. If he needs to do that, you know that the industry is saturated.
The good side is it’s free and easy for people to get their music out there, free from barriers at record labels and stuff. But it’s really hard to discover it and there’s so few of these songs that unite all of us anymore that we all know. It takes a very particular record to cut through, and that percentage is shrinking.
BS: Every time I go to an FBi party, it seems like everyone knows each other. Especially the artists.
AL: It’s what makes good music. Those connections, people use those to make music together. It’s no accident that there’s so much stuff coming out of Australia, it’s because of that. I met Flume and Flume met Chris [Emerson, What So Not] and Chris met George Maple and now they make music together on a global scale. They met at the right time in a fertile environment that could support their art. They had a radio station that would play it and a club they could play it at, for that matter. That’s pretty amazing.
FBI SMACs Festival is on Sunday, January 10. Tickets are still available here.