Liina ‘LNA’ Turtonen on confidence, being taken seriously and music production

A fan of honest tunes with awkward dance moves, melancholic house with a Nordic influence, or a confidence-boosting music production YouTube channel helmed by a female producer? Then Liina ‘LNA’ Turtonen’s channel might just be for you. Here, the Finnish musician, music producer and YouTuber opens up about finding her calling in music production despite being told she’d never have a successful career…

Calling herself “your favourite dyslexic producer,” LNA (now based in York in the UK) is known for her bi-lingual lyrics and for combining electronic music with orchestral, organic and cinematic sounds. The aforementioned audio/production channel on YouTube called LNA Does Audio Stuff is a hub of regularly updated content where she works to banish feelings of imposter syndrome to her wider producer community, helping artists grow in confidence to guide them on their own production journeys.

​As a neurodiverse person, she believes in finding power in authenticity. Her Patreon community is also dedicated to helping people feel confident in their artistry. She's so driven to help break down barriers towards getting people into music production, she’s even writing a book on creative confidence for Routledge. And all this almost didn’t happen:

“I grew up doing theatre and drama all my life,” she begins, speaking to Headliner from her studio in York. “I was never, ever going to be a musician. I was like, ‘That's not for me’, because I was never the best student. I was a mediocre student. Well, not even mediocre,” she corrects herself. “I was not a great student, let's just put it that way! I never really practised; it was not my passion at that point. I never fitted in because I'm neurodiverse as well,” she clarifies.

I was never, ever going to be a musician. It never crossed my mind.

“I never felt like I was taught the right way; it never clicked. I applied to study acting, and I didn't get in, but I found electronic music in Glasgow. I never ever even thought that I would be a music producer before that. It never crossed my mind and it was not ever encouraged. I think my gender is part of the reason why I've never been encouraged to do audio tech,” she considers. “I worked in a lot of nightclubs that had a lot of electronic music – it's a world that takes you in. I ended up studying commercial music and then did my masters in music production.”

LNA's music style can be described as cinematic and melancholic deep house, rooted in both Nordic and classical influences, combining organic, acoustic and electronic sounds into beautiful and melodic compositions. LNA is known for weaving in violin, saxophone, synths, mellow vocals and house beats as the main elements, whilst exploring modern dance music sounds with some ‘80's and ‘90's vibes thrown in for good measure – and she produces, mixes, and masters her own music.

Although finding her musical home in house music, she reveals she came to the genre late, and didn’t listen to a lot of music growing up because she was so focussed on making it instead.

“I think that's why I never got to identify myself with one particular genre,” she says. “It took me a very long time to figure out what my musical identity is as a creator. I've only fallen in love with electronic music and house music in the past couple years; I've really figured out that I love this. I love everything to do with house, techno or electronic music, especially the ones that combine organic instruments,” she enthuses. “I think music production has given me that space because I did this whole singer-songwriter thing before that – music production gave me so much inspiration.”

There's one song I made with a Poundland karaoke microphone!

Her first album, Kasvutarina, was written between the ages of 17 to 25, after which she produced the album despite not having any production know-how at the time. LNA says she can hear how far she’s come when listening back to her debut:

“For years, I hated that album,” she laughs good naturedly. “Many people have that feeling when they listen to past work, because you feel like that's not you anymore, and you're hoping that other people's perception of you is not that anymore. It's taken me many, many years to appreciate who I was then, and that's why I keep it on my Spotify, because it's my journey. It's who I was and it's where all this started from. 

"I wrote those when I was so young, and I produced all that by myself knowing literally nothing about production, using GarageBand. There's one song I made with a Poundland karaoke microphone! I had nothing else, but it actually has an amazing crackle in it, so I wanted to keep it on the album. I'm very proud of myself about the album now, because that is where everything started for me.”

Confidence is a word that keep cropping up in LNA’s ethos, which you’ll notice on her YouTube and LNA Does Audio Stuff Patreon, which is made up of a community full of like-minded audio/music enthusiasts. LNA wants to break down barriers, inspire people to get into production and ask questions; she’s there to help you achieve your goals and gain confidence in production. LNA's Patreon is also a safe space – there are no stupid questions, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. Given that she never even considered being a producer herself, is this recurring theme to do with a niggling imposter syndrome?

“That's definitely part of it,” she nods. “Absolutely. For me it’s the passion to talk about insecurities, whether it's authenticity, overcoming confidence issues or overcoming insecurities in creativity, and working towards the best potential possible. As I mentioned, I'm neurodiverse. So I'm dyslexic and have dyscalculia, and I probably have a touch of some autistic, qualities – it's a spectrum. 

"In the ‘90s being neurodiverse at school was difficult because you were made to feel stupid and incompetent, lazy and like you don't fit. My defence mechanism was to try to be as different as I could. Basically, the message that I got from school was that I will never be academic, I will never have a real career, I'm never going to be good enough to get into university. That was the message I was receiving throughout my life.

being neurodiverse at school was difficult because you were made to feel stupid, incompetent and lazy.

“With music production, I figured out I was good at something; suddenly something actually came to me quite easily,” she beams. “It was so freaking empowering. It was also realising that everything everybody has ever said about me was wrong. I can be academic in my own way, and I graduated with distinctions,” she notes. “I suddenly realised people had made me believe this about myself my whole life, so what else must other people have experienced?

“There's so many things from the outside that make us feel the way that we feel; why we feel like we have impostor syndrome, why we feel as women that music studios are accessible for us,” she continues. “So many people – regardless of gender – feel anxiety, or they feel like they can't get music completed. There's this whole whole industry – whether that is the tech industry, music industry, or art industry – that affects our creative confidence. And basically, in my upcoming book, I break that down.”

LNA has had many deep conversations with Music Production for Women founder, Xylo Aria on this very topic. They worked together to produce the mini documentary In Ctrl, which takes the viewer into the journey of a woman’s first steps into music production and provides a window into the fears and insecurities she holds during the process.

“It’s about the constant feeling that you will never be taken seriously,” she explains on the reason behind making the documentary. “It's exhausting to live in a space where you're constantly thinking that you will never be taken seriously. And as a white woman, I'm obviously even in a different position than women of colour. That's the kind of thing that also needs to be addressed more. 

"70% of the time it can feel like a survival instinct in a studio, wondering, ‘Should I speak up? Should I act more dominant?’ It's constantly being aware of your existence in that space. That gets exhausting and it takes away so much creativity from your actual work.

“Personally, I would like to take this discussion more into femininity and masculinity, because there's a lot of women who might present themselves as masculine, or they might be men who present themselves as more feminine,” she suggests. 

“It’s a feeling of in those masculine spaces, anything feminine almost feels like it's banned. Whether that is the way you speak, the way you act, anything that is considered feminine – and whoever carries those feminine qualities – whatever gender you are, you still feel like you're fighting for space or that you're not welcomed. That is my personal experience,” she points out. “That is something that I still experience every single time that I go to these spaces”

in those masculine [studio] spaces, anything feminine almost feels like it's banned.

LNA’s YouTube channel, ‘LNA Does Audio Stuff is known for its fun and approachable style and features tutorials, music production techniques, studio/music production gear as well as fun production challenges, including a recent challenge which saw her create an album in seven days. What did she learn from that process?

“Well, I learned that it wasn't enough to finish it,” she laughs. “I thought it was something that everybody should try out. It was a brilliant week – it was exhausting, but also, I made nine tracks that are actually going to be in an album. I'm still working on it. 

"I think there was some kind of unity between those tracks because I made them that way. I thought that was fascinating from an artistic perspective, too. Now I can take those nine tracks and really work on them as an individual level. I absolutely recommend doing something like that. It's an incredible experience, because you don't have time to be critical of yourself. You just need to do it!”

Genelecs are an investment that pay back, because you save time, and time is money.

No matter the topic she’s covering in her videos, a constant presence are the Genelec 8331A three-way point source monitors perched behind her in her studio.

“They are very beautiful and sound amazing,” she enthuses. “I'm so lucky to have them here – they're so clear. The GLM software is incredible and means that I can make them sound so good in the space, because I am in a home studio,” she clarifies, “so I have limited resources to treat it. I can take them to almost any space and make them sound good. One of my favourite things is the fact that it's almost like you're wearing headphones, because you're in a perfect listening position, and it's just so detailed.

“Also with the GLM app – it's such a simple little thing – but you turn the GLM app on and it turns the monitors on, and when you close the app, it turns them off. That's a beautiful detail that I enjoy so much, because I don't need to go behind them and turn them off. They’re an investment that pays back, because the way I see it is that you save time, and time is money.

“They are so accurate and you can trust them, which means that you can use them to produce and master whatever you do, so you can work so much faster, and they limit your fatigue. That's already been proven to me this year – I’ve already got four singles out, which is something I have never done before. That speaks for itself,” she smiles.