By alexander laurence
Annie is a 25-year-old blonde babe from Norway. She is from Bergen, Norway.
Her real name is Anna Lilia Berge Strand. She is already a classic pop star, in
the tradition of Madonna and Blondie. “Anniemal” is one of the most
anticipated records of the year. This record has already got a lot of notice in the
underground. People like Stereogum and Fluxblog have been raving about it for a
year. It’s been very popular in England and Sweden. Finally it has hit America
shores with a proper release in June 2005. It is amazing. Imagine a record
that sounds like early Madonna jamming with Saint Etienne. The first single
“Chewing Gun” draws inspiration from Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.” Annie’s
knowledge of good music comes from the fact that she is also a DJ. It’s a
totally modern sounding record made to be a soundtrack for the summer.
This record has already caught the attention of bands like LCD Soundsystem
and Scissor Sisters. Maybe it was because of songs like “Always Too Late” which
is more like Detroit techno. The songs “Me Plus One” and “My Heartbeat” are
truly great. They are the sound of good times. They are like the summer of
1984 relived. There are no weak tracks on this whole album. “Helpless Fool For
Love” and “Anniemal” are more disco oriented. “No Easy Love” is the most like
Saint Etienne and their fascination for Northern Soul. Annie actually is
supporting Saint Etienne in England in June 2005.
On this record Annie has also collaborated with Richards X and Royksopp. She
also works with Timothy Kaukolampi, who she also tours with. The music started
five years ago with DJ Erot. They created “Greatest Hit,” Annie’s oldest
song here. It uses a sample from Madonna’s “C’mon Everybody” and funks it up.
The dancefloor disco of “Come Together” which is very much like Giorgio
Moroder follows this. It all ends with the slow jam of “My Best Friend.” This is a
very happy and up record. It’s about having good times and being chemical
induced by something. Very good indeed. I was excited to speak to her. She had ju
st arrived in Italy at a hotel. After a few calls to the concierge, I was able
to get through. At the same time, the results of the Michael Jackson trial
where coming down. Annie’s voice is really striking too.
Annie will be playing some shows in America, and in San Francisco and Los
Angeles, the first week of July 2005.
AL: How did you get involved in music then?
Annie: Um. I started to do music as Annie about five years ago. I was living
with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn’t working on music with him. Suddenly I
just decided to sing on one of his songs. I had a good idea and he had an idea
for this song.
AL: What did you do before that?
Annie: I used to play in a band. That was totally a different thing. We
weren’t very good. It was an indie rock band. Very bad indie rock. We only did one
show ever: the first and last. The band was called Suitcase.
AL: How was the reception to that show?
Annie: I don’t know. I was just 16 or 17 at the time. It was a contest. We
played in front of a jury. We didn’t make the finals. It was fun but it didn’t
go so well. The guitar broke during the song. It was really bad.
AL: The song “Greatest Hit” came out five years ago and now we have the
album. What were you doing during that time?
Annie: I was working on my own music. I was singing on other people’s
records. I was a DJ too. I was doing a lot of DJ gigs in England. I was DJing and
writing songs. I released another seven-inch single a year and a half after
AL: What was that called?
Annie: It’s called “I Will Get On.” It’s not on the album. It was only
released in an edition of 500. It’s hard to get hold of.
AL: What sort of music do you play as a DJ?
Annie: It is pretty eclectic set. These days I play a lot of new things. I
like this artist called MU. It’s this weird electronic record. Maybe you heard
AL: Yeah, it’s great. How does that go down in a club?
Annie: Sometimes it really works. You can see people really getting into it.
But sometimes people are going: “Shit, what is this madness?” I like that. I
like playing something that you don’t know how people are going to react to.
It’s fun not knowing how people will respond.
AL: Do you like Madonna?
Annie: Yeah, I was a big Madonna fan. I really, really liked her. I like her
AL: Your album really reminds me of that time, 1983 and 1984, when Madonna
came out with her first album. It was still sort of an underground dance record.
MTV and people didn’t really pick up on her until her second album.
Annie: Yeah, that’s cool.
AL: Many dance records that come out now have a certain style and that is
extended over eight or ten tracks. Your record seems like three or four different
Annie: Yeah, it is. People always ask me about my biggest inspiration. I
don’t really have one inspiration. I am inspired by so much different music. You
can hear that on the record. There is some Madonna and Tom Tom Club, but it is
so much more than that.
AL: On your song “Chewing Gum” there was a slight reference to “Genius of
Love” by Tom Tom Club. Was that deliberate?
Annie: I guess so. I am a big fan of Tom Tom Club. I was working with Richard
X and he likes them as well. We had that group on our minds when we were
doing that record. They are an amazing group.
AL: “Chewing Gum” has a real summery feel to it.
Annie: Yeah. It’s true. Tom Tom Club and Prince are some of my favorite
AL: Then you have a lot of guitars on this album. You don’t expect that on
dance records. Was that inspired more by indie rock bands than dance music?
Annie: Yeah. I don’t think the record was inspired so much by indie rock.
That was more in my past. I like old dance records where they have guitar solos
and it sounds mad. I like that weird rock sound in dance music. Sometimes it
can be awful but sometimes it can be really good.
AL: Some of the bass guitar sounds on your record are like New Order or
AL: How do you write songs?
Annie: Some of the songs were written when I was seventeen years old. Some of
the songs were written along the way. For example, the song “Greatest Hit”
was written five years ago. I had an idea for the song “Come Together” when I
was seventeen. I wrote some of it but I never finished it. I finished it three
or four years after that. The songs have been taking shape over the years.
AL: How do you work with Royksopp or Richard X?
Annie: It is very different. I met Richard X a few years ago. He asked me to
do some songs on his album. I did one song with him. I was just talking on the
phone. I was reading a few lines on the track “Just Friends.” I met him a
few months after that and he played me the instrumental version of “Chewing
Gum.” He wrote the lyrics to “Chewing Gum” and “Me Plus One.” The rest of the
songs I wrote myself. It was a different way of working. I am used to doing
everything myself. For the other songs I had the lyrics and the melody and an idea
for the production before we started.
AL: Do you use computers?
Annie: I use Pro Tools and Logic.
AL: Are you into gadgets?
Annie: Not so much yet. But I hope I will be one day. I would love to produce
a whole album on my own. I would like to produce other artists.
AL: What songs did you produce on this album?
Annie: I didn’t produce the whole album by myself. But the songs “Helpless
Fool For Love” and “Happy Without You” I was very involved with the
production. The song “Anniemal” was another that I worked on.
AL: You are from Bergen, Norway. What is that city known for?
Annie: Um. It’s known to be the city with the most rain in all of Europe. It
rains about 300 days a year. I am not sure. It’s known for that. It’s a
fishing city. There is a lot of mountains and nature there. It’s madness.
AL: When you play live now do you play with a band or are you just being a DJ?
Annie: Actually I do both. I have been going on tour with a band. We have now
been doing a DJ live set. We have had five shows so far. We are in Italy now.
We DJ a little bit. Timo has with him a sampler and an echo machine. We
combine things: a DJ set and a live set. We are just beginning to do this. We are
still experimenting with it. It’s interesting and fun. But I love playing with
a band as well. It’s good to have the possibility of playing smaller clubs
with just the two of us and then doing bigger stuff with a live band.
AL: You are coming to America and touring for the first time in July 2005.
What are the sets going to be like?
Annie: It will be Timo and me. We are going to DJ a few records. We are going
to do a few songs live. It will be a combination.
AL: Do you have some new songs?
Annie: I do have some new songs. There will be a combination of the new songs
and the stuff on the album.
AL: Have you played with other bands before?
Annie: We haven’t yet. But we are going to England in a few days to play some
shows with Saint Etienne.
AL: Have you met them before?
Annie: When I was sixteen I met Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne. He was doing
a record label back then. We wanted to sign my band, Suitcase, back then. It
never happened. It will be funny to be playing with them and remind him that he
wanted to sign me so many years ago.
AL: What other bands do you like?
Annie: I like LCD Soundsystem. I think they are brilliant.
AL: What do you think of Mylo?
Annie: He is good. He did a remix of “Chewing Gum.” I like his album.
AL: The record is released in Europe yet?
Annie: It’s out only in Scandinavia and England. Now it’s out in the United
States. It will come out in the rest of Europe later in the summer.
AL: Are you going to play some festivals this summer?
Annie: Yeah, I am playing several festivals this summer. I think that I am
playing the V Festival. There are some of Germany and Norway.
AL: While I was waiting to get you on the phone I was watching the Michael
Jackson trail and he was found out to be “Not Guilty.” There is a lot of
excitement. Did you hear about that over there?
Annie: I just saw it on CNN. It’s quite strange.
AL: He looks sick.
Annie: He should get some help. He should go to a shrink.
AL: You don’t have any issues like that, do you?
Annie: Yeah, I like to have sex with small girls. I like girls under the age
of two months. No, I don’t. Not yet.
AL: You don’t have any eating disorders?
Annie: I don’t think so.
AL: Do you have any advice for people who want to do music?
Annie: The most important thing is to keep on doing music. You shouldn’t have
any plans. You should just do music and have a good time. You should try
different things and don’t be afraid to experiment. If a record label signs you,
don’t rush into it. Be careful. Maybe do your own label. Do everything
yourself. That is a good thing to do.
AL: Okay. Thanks.
Annie on tour July 2005:
Here are her selected tour dates for the In the Mix Annie tour featuring Timo
Kaukolampi, both on turntables and electronics, Annie on vocals.
June 28 NYC @ Hiro Ballroom
June 29 NYC @ Scenic
June 30 Chicago @ Sonotheque
July 1 San Francisco @ Mighty
July 2 L A @ TBC
July 3 LA @ Standard Downtown Rooftop - Sunday Funday
July 5 LA @ Cinespace