If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing Brazilian Techno DJ ANNA spin live, you know what a thrill it is to watch her in her element. In a scene currently dominated by countless talented females like Charlotte de Witte and Amelie Lens, ANNA’s unique, rich Techno sound has helped her stand out in the crowd.
From playing small clubs in Brazil as a teenager to headlining every major Techno festival in 2019, ANNA has more than earned her place as Queen of the Techno scene. But her international success has not been without its ups and downs, and major health issues almost prevented her from getting where she is today.
For ANNA, whose father owns a six-level, multi-genre club in her hometown of Amparo, DJing has always been a part of her life. In fact, it was her father who nurtured her love of music as a small child. ANNA fondly recalls tagging along with her father on his weekly trips to the record store. This early exposure to vinyl might explain why she’s one of only a handful of DJs who still spins vinyl during her live sets.
At just 14 years old, she began spinning in her father’s club, but her fascination with dance music, and especially Techno, began long before then. In an interview, ANNA recalls her father’s willingness to let her hang out in his club, so long as she promised to stay away from the Techno portion of the venue. “I think it was because of the dancers, they used to dance inside of a jail,” ANNA says. But that didn’t stop the young ANNA from sneaking into the Techno room, where she first fell head over heels for the genre.
As a young girl free to roam throughout most of her father’s club, ANNA remembers her primary focus being on the crowd. While everyone was paying attention to the DJ, she was fixated on the dancers. ANNA often found herself frustrated with some of the resident DJ’s and their inability to read the mood of the clubgoers.
For her, DJing has always been about the people and creating the best possible experience, something she excels at today. As a child, she says she would frequently complain to her father if she noticed a DJ playing the same song more than once in their set out of fear that the dancers’ needs were being neglected.
Her residency at her father’s club eventually helped her land her first real gig at age 17. But it was her commitment to her craft and her refusal to play or create music that she didn’t absolutely love that helped transform her into the Techno superstar she is today.
While it might be hard to believe now, only a handful of years ago, in 2014, ANNA feared she might not be able to turn her art into a lucrative career. Flash forward to 2018 and she’d gone from worrying that she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills to being hand-selected by the legendary Jon Hopkins to remix his track, “Singularity”. She told DJMag, “I could never have imagined I’d get the chance to remix Jon Hopkins, he is such an important and accomplished artist.”
From that point on, ANNA was unstoppable. With an upcoming festival schedule that includes Movement and even the more mainstream Coachella, ANNA is showing no signs of slowing down in 2020. ANNA does not fit the stereotype of a “party DJ.” On the contrary, she’s not much of a drinker and has admitted that when she has the opportunity to go to a club or attend a festival, she’s there to observe as an introvert.
Watching her perform live, you can see just how seriously she takes her craft. Focused and absolutely magnetic, watching ANNA spin is like watching Monet paint. She comes alive and puts on an unforgettable show for her fans. Preferring to use vinyl, ANNA brings an elegance and technicality to djing that is not often seen these days.
But her career did not come without its fair share of obstacles. In 2016, extreme fatigue led ANNA to discover that she had contracted a thyroid virus. Her illness forced her to slow down and start prioritizing her health. Six years earlier, around 2010, mental health had also become a pressing issue for ANNA after her husband, Brazilian DJ and producer Wehbba, experienced an intense panic attack that led them both on an unexpected journey.
Searching for ways to help her partner, ANNA signed up for a course on Transcendental Meditation. She also began studying the works of philosopher Alan Watts and legendary American scholar and spiritual guru, Ram Dass. Initially, ANNA began meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. But after seeing the positive impact it had on both her own life and her husband’s, she extended her meditation sessions to two hours, twice a day.
Her spiritual journey not only improved her mental health, but she also attributes it to being the catalyst that has made her a better artist. In her earlier days, ANNA experimented with her sound, mixing genres and making music that would help get her booked. But meditation has changed the way she creates. She doesn’t force inspiration anymore. Instead, she lets her art flow through her in a way that is almost like a form of meditation itself. And the results speak for themselves.
Hearing her 2018 track “The Dansant” is an electrifying experience unlike any other, and it maintains its excellence whether you’re in a dark underground club or an outdoor venue like the Brooklyn Mirage, where ANNA played a set this summer as part of the Cityfox Arise series.
Now in her early 30s, ANNA has been in the scene longer than a lot of the DJs who have recently made it big. Her spiritual journey and her career stand as testaments to the power of perseverance and the importance of staying true to yourself and your sound. In an interview, she said, “if you are really true to yourself and do things from the heart, things fall into place.”
I think it’s safe to say that for ANNA, things have most certainly fallen into place.
*Featured Image of DJ ANNA Via Bandcamp*