One to Watch: DJ Lorna Dune on the Classical Roots of Her Techno Sound
Classically trained techno DJ Lorna Dune give us some great insight into her musical world and explains how were classical roots inform her current sound. If you’re in BK this weekend she’ll be DJing at Trans Pecos for OPEN EARTH: OUTDOOR DAY JAM
What’s your musical background?
I was trained to be a classical pianist, tails and all, but then became a musical misfit in when I got into experimental new music. I really wanted to work with living composers that were my age and bring back this communal idea of making music instead of playing pieces by dead white european men all the time. I also was desperate for other people who realized that there was more music that was equally important and influential than just the music we were learning about in academia, for me electronic synth pop and techno. That’s when I moved to NYC and got to meet some pretty fantastic musicians and artists who were in the same vein and we started playing and writing music together.
Tell us about some of the musical projects you’ve done:
I am currently focused on Lorna Dune, my solo project which has morphed from psychedelic synth pop to minimal techno with a slight-and-i-hate-to-say-it trance element. But good early 90’s trance. The other projects I’m heavily invested in are Victoire, a five piece all-female, all-star ensemble with composer Missy Mazzoli and have been working side by side with JD Samson (of Le Tigre) for her live shows with MEN and other projects for the last few years. We actually just got back from playing a few pride shows.
In the past I’m proud to say that I was able to work with some of my heroes, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk. Just last week I performed for the Bang on a Can Marathon at the World Financial Center with the All-Stars, who have been a huge influence on me.
How would you describe the music you produce?
I’d say my music is overall pretty minimal, but not small. It’s the sound of an inflating world that is almost symphonic at times. I use acid-influenced sequences with polyrhythmic driven grooves, murky yet ethereal synth washes which frame melodies that you can hold dearly in the palm of your hand while getting lost in the expansiveness of space. I want to take the listener on a journey.
What artists have inspired you?
Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Teri Riley, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Stephan Bodzin, Richie Hawtin, Andy Stott, and a side note: all things riot grrl, which as a feminist I’m feeling guilty that my list doesn’t include a female electronic producer! Stellar Om Source is killing it right now. Love her. Big fan of Magda too.
What do you love most about DJing
Let me answer this in a round about way- what I love about being an electronic dance music producer (but not edm 😉 is that people expect you not only to “produce” but to absorb and listen as well, which manifests in the form of DJing. It’s a very yin yang thing where in order to be respected as a producer you also need to listen to others’ music and be able to select great tracks from others to DJ as well. That’s what I love about djing… is listening and digging through files and files to find new tracks which lead to new ideas. It’s a constant renewal that gives to others and the self.
What’s been a highlight?
One highlight was playing on the west coast and DJing with my partner Keith Milgaten aka Keith Sweaty. He’s such an amazing DJ and we’ve been having fun swapping songs and techniques and ideas. It really depends on where you are, but sometimes crowds aren’t too into dark minimal techno sets, but whatever. To each their own! I like DJing to crowds that are ready to meditate on the music and get lost in its visions…. not so much parties to get everyone laid. When you get the right energy in the room, it’s almost like a spiritual seance. Nothing like it.
What’s coming up next?
SO. MUCH. My debut full-length “Transmutation” is coming out this Winter, Victoire’s album “Vespers for a New Dark Age” is coming out next Spring, which features a piece commissioned by Carnegie Hall and a remix which I did, and more fun shows with JD Samson! I love my music life right now, just trying to make a living from it full-time which is difficult (learning to love beans and rice) but super rewarding.