Techno Tuesday: ANNA on growing up in Brazilian club culture
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Few DJs have as extensive of a background in dance music as ANNA, whose father owns a nightclub in Brazil. From a young age, she would join him in record hunting activities, seeking out gems by many of the house and techno greats at the time and finding her sound preference. She began playing extended sets as a teenager, allowing her enough experience over the years to read crowds with precision and adapt her sets to any environment.
While she’s been an accomplished DJ for quite some time, the past few years have seen ANNA’s career truly take off. With releases on Tronic, Turbo Recordings, and Terminal M, her biggest success thus far has been her debut single on Diynamic, “Odd Concept,” which arrived in February and expedited the process of her becoming a household name in the underground. As a result of her skyrocketing success, ANNA moved from her home in São Paulo, Brazil to Barcelona earlier in 2016, which has allowed her to book even more gigs across the globe, including the United States for her first time.
With an EP coming soon and a productive season ahead, we decided to ask ANNA about her time growing up immersed in club culture as well as her feelings on the recent milestones in her career.
Tell us about your life being raised by a club owner. What are some of your favorite early memories from your childhood?
One of my favourite memories is from when I was about 10 years old, I used to go record shopping with my dad, we used to spend the whole day listening to music, I remember he used to buy all kinds of music, stuff like Todd Terry, Bizzare Inc, Dave Angel, Inner City, New Order and also some more commercial stuff at the time. I was too young and could not go to the club yet, they only allowed me going on NYE until Midnight, and then I had to go back home. When I was 14 I started going to the club and that was when everything started.
At what point in playing at your father’s club as a teenager did you really feel your ability to feel/play to the crowd solidifying?
I never thought about becoming a DJ, my dad told me to try it after I complained to him about the resident DJ, who was playing the same stuff every weekend. But when I started, everything made sense. I feel so blessed to have found something that I really loved to do when I was just 14 years old. I had some classes with one of the DJ’s from the club, and after a while I took over one of the floors at the club, it was for about 1000 people, I used to play from 00:00 to 7:00 am, I don’t remember feeling anxious or nervous at all, it was all so natural for me. In the beginning I was playing just Brazilian music, but after a while I got into underground electronic music and never looked back.
Did your background as a drummer and roots in Brazilian music drive you into your love of percussive, tech-driven sounds?
I wouldn’t call myself a drummer, I just took some classes when I was 17 years old, and I don’t even remember how to play anymore. Brazilian music is not my main influence, but for sure my music has something that comes from it, especially when we talk about groove.
What were some of the first thoughts and feelings going through your head when you played your first gig at age 14?
I really don’t remember my first gig, but I do remember my first official gig playing electronic music when I was 16 years old, it was in Rio de Janeiro, and I was playing after one of the most famous DJs in Brazil, I was so nervous! I knew I could do it, and I used to practice at home – in those days everybody used to play with vinyl – but I was nervous because I was playing after Mau Mau, and also the club didn’t have booth monitors. In the end I made a lot of mistakes, it was horrible, but nowadays I’m good friends with that DJ and we laugh about it, but it was not a nice debut for me.
Do you feel growing up in club scene gave you an edge when it came to making dance music your career?
I feel very blessed to have the opportunity of having grown up in all of this, I had all the gear available to practice, and I was also able to play for an audience before I was really ready or good enough, that helped me develop a good dance floor feeling and build some confidence for what was coming.
It was also great to be able to meet other experienced DJs so early on, and take on a lot of knowledge from them, especially musically, which enabled me to appreciate underground music from the very beginning
Tell us about moving to Barcelona – aside from it being your favorite city in Europe and allowing you an easier base for European touring, what has living in the city done creatively for you? Do you have more access to hardware, studios, other artists, etc that make it easier to create? Do you feel more inspired now that you’re living in an area with such a long and adored history with electronic music?
It’s been great living in Barcelona, it is such a great city, for me the best city in the world to live in. I actually don’t feel more inspired now that I am living there, but for sure changes are good for creativity. I do have more access to equipment now, in Brazil these things are super expensive, three or four times more expensive than Europe. Now that I am living here I buy new stuff constantly, and this is definitely helping with creativity and enhancing my sound, it has also helped to be more in touch with the music and culture than I was able to when living in Brazil. My kind of music at least, so the move has been great for my music and me.
You’re going on tour in America for the first time, finally. How does that feel for you, and what do you expect it to be like when you reach the states/what are you looking forward to most?
I always wanted to play in US, I am so excited it is finally happening, we booked some club nights on the tour and also 2 big festivals so I will have the whole experience of a selection of venues and crowds. I am very curious to see how the people are gonna react to my music.
You recently wrote a heart-warming Facebook post about how after so much stress and work, signing “Odd Concept” to Diynamic and its subsequent success shows that determination and hope could manifest into a positive reality. What are some other signs that have happened recently in your booming years of success that have indicated to you that you’re following the right path in life artistically, and career-wise?
Artists go through this stuff everyday, trying to sign their music to labels that they love, to give them some exposure, it is our daily life dealing with rejection, so it always happens, but I wanted to tell people about Odd Concept, because it was my most successful story. It got signed to one of the most wanted labels at the moment, but I had almost given up on it and put it in a file after a lot of initial rejection. If I had given up on it all together I wouldn’t probably be in this position right now, so I felt I should pass the message on because I am sure it would help somebody having doubts about their work, or having a hard time after too many “No’s” in their career.
ANNA’s new EP ‘Artha’ will be released on September 16. Pre-order it here.