True pop music comes with it an inherent guilty feeling, one that washes over you as the headphones settle into your ear or as you lock the door while turning the stereo up. 26-year-old Norwegian singer Annie’s debut album Anniemal (Vice, 2005) manages to be both bubblegum while retaining a certain emotional accessibility. This skillful straddling of a thin line makes her album a pleasure devoid of guilt. Loose Record talked with her while she was in New York, at the Vice Records headquarters.
Loose Record: What caused you to start writing music?
Annie: I don’t know, music has always been such a big thing for me since I was very little. When I was little I was playing in bands and just basically listening to music all the time, but I started the Annie project five years ago.
LR: What were some of the earlier bands you were in, what type of music did you play?
Annie: I used to play in a band called Suitcase which was like an indie-pop band. We weren’t very good but it was fun. We had one gig ever, and that was it.
LR: As long as it’s fun…then what changed you over to doing dance music?
Annie: I don’t know. First of all I started to go to a lot of clubs; I’ve always been the kind of person who listens to all kinds of music. I don’t really remember why, I guess it just came naturally.
LR: What drives your commitment to being so involved in the production of your music?
Annie: I don’t know. It’s just when I think about making music usually I have an idea for the whole part, like I have an idea for a good melody and then an idea for the lyrics but I also have an idea as to how the production should go. It’s very important that I be involved and the music is going where I want it to go. So, I guess in a way I’m a bit of a control freak, but also I’ve been working with amazing producers, so I’m very lucky.
LR: Who are some of the producers you’ve been working with?
Annie: I’ve been working with two guys from Bergen called Röyksopp. They’re excellent, really really good, and I also worked with Richard X, he’s an English producer. He’s also a really nice guy, very fun to work with. I’ve also been working with Timo, who is I guess quite unknown, he’s never produced anyone before. We work really really close. Since he’s never produced anyone, I guess he didn’t really know what he was doing and neither did I – that’s why the record went the way it did.
LR: How do you feel that being a DJ has influenced your songwriting?
Annie: I don’t know if it’s influenced my songwriting, but definitely my production, how the basslines should go, how loud it should be, about the sound in general. It’s always so important that when you go to a club, the record sounds good. I learned a lot of that from being a DJ.
LR: You’re playing in Chicago soon?
Annie: Yes, that’s in two days.
LR: What’s the live show there going to be like?
Annie: Right now, it’s me and Timo. It’s quite a simple setup, we’re performing a couple of songs from the album. I also have a band which is five people.
LR: Are you going to be touring with the band anytime soon?
Annie: Yeah, hopefully in late September we’ll be going on a tour of the US for three weeks.
LR: “Chewing Gum” is one of my favorites on the album. The melody just gets wedged in my head; I like the video as well. Were you involved in the video process?
Annie: Yeah, I was…well, of course I had a meeting with my record company and they had a few ideas about who could actually do the video. Then I met this one producer and he was great. I really like it because it’s very simple, just black white and red…and how I’m talking to myself, at the beginning where I’m singing to myself. I like that. (laughs)
LR: Now that the album is released in America, what is the next set of plans you’ve got going?
Annie: Well, right now I’m just doing a lot of press, promoting my single “Heartbeat.” I’m going to do a couple of gigs here and do a lot of press hopefully, and then come back in September and do the tour. It’s exciting to see what happens. For me it’s just so great that the record came out over here, I’m so happy to see that other people are interested as well. It’s going to go far.
LR: That was pretty much my next question…It’s been getting a lot of positive press, whereas I think a lot of pop music isn’t as dominant as it used to be, but I think your album is sneaking in from behind almost. What do you think sets your album apart from other pop music?
Annie: I’d like to think that it is the songs themselves…I don’t know, I like to think that I’m more involved than, for example people like Kylie Minogue. It’s difficult to really say why.
LR: I think your involvement definitely has a hand in that, because that sort of thing can be felt and it’s less distant.
Annie: Yeah, I think so. At least, when I listen to music I really have a feeling whether it’s real or not.
LR: It’s hard to fake.
LR: Your music is definitely upbeat, but it has a dark fringe.
Annie: Yeah, it does. It makes you happy, but it still has a beautiful melancholy to it, which doesn’t make you sad – it just makes you a little blue.
LR: Are there any other artists in Norway that we should be listening to?
Annie: You should definitely check out this band called Datarock. Its three guys from Bergen, well actually live its three guys, it’s really just two of them. They’re really really really good. They’ve just been released in Norway on their own label. They’re amazing live.
LR: What sort of music do they play?
Annie: It’s sort of like Devo, it’s kind of rock…it’s really good.
LR: Well that exhausts my questions, thank you very much.
Annie: Thank you.
Previously published on Loose Record