At the time, the Brazilian DJ and producer better known as ANNA was living in Barcelona, having moved there in 2015 to be nearer the European dance music circuit – a scene that had grown incredibly fond of her hypnotic and heavy-hitting strain of techno. She was some twenty years into a celebrated and highly revered career, one that had taken her from the dancefloors of Six – the nightclub her father owned in the rural outskirts of São Paolo, and where she first cut her teeth behind the decks – across the world. ANNA was – and remains – every bit the sought-after techno superstar leading dance music publications have described her as in cover stories (DJ Mag North America), Artist of the Month profiles (Beatportal) and in-depth features (Mixmag). It’s no wonder, then, that she’s traversed her way into some of the world’s most esteemed clubs and festivals – think Movement Detroit, Tomorrowland, DC10 and Coachella. But more importantly to her, into the hearts of thousands of fans.
“I’ve been a DJ since I was 14,” muses ANNA, who relocated to Lisbon this summer. “I experimented with all styles in the beginning. After some years, I found my identity and was mainly laying techno. I became focused on my career 100 percent of the time. I would practise for 10 hours a day, and I was always researching and planning.”
It’s this drive – an incessant desire to “make better music and be more creative” – that led her to a neurofeedback centre in Germany. It was there, in October 2017, that she took vital next steps in her self-realisation journey – opening her mind and forever altering her creative process and worldly outlook in the process. This would eventually lead to the creation of Intentions, which sees her trading in her tougher, club-driven production for sound healing and ambient sensibilities. “I left this place totally surrendered to spirit and to my soul,” ANNA remembers. “Like, ‘What is it that my soul wants to do through me? What is it that life wants to do through me?’”
She'd long been interested in spirituality and utilised meditation as a tool for recentring for some time, however it had never been her main focus. These days, following the course as well as other forms of spiritual and meditative practice – including transcendental meditation, Vipassana training (“You're in your process; you don't speak to anyone and you meditate for 10 hours a day”) and shamanic energy healing training. She says, “It was my turning point, this training that I did,” she explains. “I had more energy available to me; more light, and I was free of things that I had been holding onto since childhood. I was more free to create and to express real creativity. So it helped with my work, and this music started to come about.”
From then on, she started to experience things a little differently. Classical music, for instance, is something she discovered a passion for after opening herself up to a more contemplative and love-filled way of life. Ambient, too. In fact, her Intentions journey started with ANNA experimenting with sounds and frequencies to use as a tool in her meditations and contemplative moments. Using pianos and flutes; and sound healing techniques, she’d listen to these works – these soundscapes for self-realisation – while exploring the world. The outside world, of course (both touring and nature itself remain fruitful sources of inspiration) but also the inner.
Things came together quickly from there; ANNA was in a flow state. “It was screaming to get out and be expressed,” says ANNA. “Creation for the sake of creation.” She’d achieved a similar state in the past while writing music. Think EPs such as 2018’s Suzi in Transe or hit releases like Hidden Beauties. Not forgetting her celebratory techno and ambient remixes of Orbital’s Belfast, or even her more recent EP Journey to the Underworld for Afterlife – a three-track foray through melodic dance motifs imbued with a distinctively ambient essence that served as a primer for Intentions.
ANNA views Intentions a little like a transmission straight from her heart to yours. It’s a timely squeeze of the hand in seven-track form – if you wish to experience it this way, working through each of the intentions – from taking a pause with opener Invitation to releasing emotions that no longer serve on Washing Away – to unlock something already within you and your grasp. The record serves as a calming soundtrack – a salve, perhaps – for the hurried nature of day-to-day, one that can be consumed in more depth as and when desired.