Anna Lann is as comfortable behind the decks playing scuzzy techno-forward sets as she is exploring dense ideas and lofty themes through the medium of dance, film, or performance. Her resourceful creativity extends to the world of visual art, where she has made a name for herself with the cross-media art hub ‘Penthouss’, which she co-runs with Jonathan Trichter, while her electronic productions span glitchy IDM, sparkling electro, and high-concept pop.
Lann cut her teeth playing bass with electro-sleaze upstarts Terry Poison in the late 2000s, before branching out as a solo artist in 2015. She introduced her artful sound design that year via the 'Forming a Moon' EP and on the follow-up, 2016’s 'Moist'. She later collaborated with French/DJ and vocalist Emmanuel Caurel for the ‘Zephyr’ EP in 2018.
This was followed by the ‘Embodiment’ EP for Ransom Note, also released in 2018, and in 2021, she crossed over into club music with her ‘Saint Laser’ EP for Boyz Noize Records, featuring a searing electro cut inspired by the sometimes murky world of deepfakes. She describes the 'Saint Laser' EP as “a pseudo-renaissance perspective towards unifying the identity collision of all entities into a dangerous flow of subduction,” which includes objects, figures, and sub-realities “expressed through a combination of hard and soft elements, filtered and reshaped to align with our current meta-human era”.
Taking a DIY approach to music, the Latvian-born multidisciplinary artist often makes her own gear from scratch, modifying traditional string instruments and "unconventional objects" with electrical circuits, pick-ups and FX chains, which allows her to "push beyond the obvious physical limitations of conventional instrumentation.” This commitment to experimentalism fuels her work.
Propelled by “the incorporation of future-thinking ideas into our daily lives”, Lann is driven by the relationship between humans, tech, and machines, and in 2021 contributed to the “world’s first audio-visual NFT compilation” — Beatport’s ‘Music For Future Dance Floors' release — rubbing shoulders with house and techno heavyweights like Sasha, Charlotte de Witte and Sama' Abdulhadi.
We spoke to Lann about her love of machines and the smart ideas powering her work…
What was the inspiration behind ‘Deepfake’ and in what ways have you explored technology in your work?
“I explore technology through sound and visuals. As a visual artist, my work at Penthouss (a collaborative art-hub) often focuses on technology, using modern objects like selfie-sticks and VR glasses in art. In sound, my music often features machine-based sounds, such as motors and engines. The track 'Deepfake' was inspired by synthetic media of the same name. This involves using advanced machine learning and AI techniques to replace a person in an existing image or video with another's likeness, creating visually and audibly convincing content that can deceive easily.”
What is the idea behind ‘Music for Future Dance Floors’ and how does it feel to be part of the world’s first audio-visual NFT compilation?
“I hold the belief that progress and innovation are propelled by the incorporation of future-thinking ideas into our daily lives. As the world evolves towards a cloud-based existence, both financial and artistic practices are taking on virtual forms. The integration of unique NFTs and blockchain technology into the ownership of musical works represents a major step towards normalising virtual ownership, not just in terms of cryptocurrency, but also in terms of lifestyle. This sets a precedent for the countless possibilities of how these technologies can be utilised in the future.”
Would you ever perform in the metaverse?
“The concept of a "metaverse" being the answer to my desire for a multi-sensory experience is a complex one for me. I strive for a comprehensive experience in my creative works, beyond just music. The metaverse provides a new perspective on reality, but I don't consider it a replacement for live performance. In my view, limiting oneself to a single medium is a passive approach. The metaverse operates on a separate level and should not be mistaken as a substitute for the energy and connection of live performance. For example, attending a live concert provides the opportunity to connect with other fans and the energy of the musicians, while the metaverse may offer a more immersive and interactive experience but may lack the human connection. Both have their own unique advantages and limitations and should be appreciated as separate entities.”
Do you have a music motto?
“My motto "everything is a synthesiser, if you are brave enough" drives me to experiment and has led to the creation of innovative hybrid instruments and distinctive sounds. As a producer, my preferred DAW is Ableton Live. My approach to production is centred around setting a deadline, but beyond that, I embrace an open-minded, unrestricted creative process with no limitations or set methodologies.”
How has your approach to music evolved over the years?
“Music has been an integral part of my existence since my earliest memories took shape, it serves as an unwavering source of inspiration for me. It is a natural extension of the many creative avenues I traverse, its fueling my artistic pursuits. To me, music represents a profound way of self-expression, it transcends all boundaries, and unites us all in a universal language. It is not simply entertainment, but a means of exploring the human experience in its entirety, a catalyst for emotional transformations.
“It is, and has always been, a fundamental aspect of my identity. Diversity in my artistic expression is a defining part of who I am. I showcase this through a range of works that blend genres and techniques, from techno and electronica to classical and orchestral music, contemporary dance, music for fashion shows, film, and contemporary art.”
You can see Anna Lann’s full body of work at penthouss.com/anna-lann/.