Anna of the North Tells Us How She Found Hope in the Blue on Moving Debut Album ‘Lovers’
While the Norwegian media may not be keen on their homegrown artists, we in America are eating up everything coming out of the region. And Anna of the North are yet another talented, unique and utterly enthralling group whose waves have reached the shores of the U.S. Made up of singer Anna Lotterud and producer Brady Daniell-Smith, this exciting duo have been pushing their emotive electro jams since their first single “Sway” was dropped in 2014 and made its way across the internet. Eventually being picked up by remix aficionados The Chainsmokers, this track helped launch Anna of the North into the arms of Tyler, the Creator, who featured the singer on two tracks from his exceptional new album “Flower Boy.” Finally ready for their own moment in the sun, the duo have just released “Lovers,” their debut LP featuring polished production and a vibrant personal look into Lotterud’s diary of emotions.
During a phone chat from Norway, Anna revealed to Entertainment Voice the intricacies of crafting “Lovers” post-breakup, who she draws inspiration from, plus her excitement about bringing the album on the road to the U.S.
What is “Lovers” about for you?
I’ve just been saying it’s about all types of relationships, friends and family and all types of relations you have.
You’ve said previously that you were going through a rough breakup when writing the album. With the connection between love and art, did you find the writing process therapeutic?
For me, I think it was really important, not only (with) the writing process, but actually having something else to do. Having something to put your energy towards. Definitely (when it comes to) expressing yourself, some people go for runs, some people use diaries, this was my way of expressing myself and dealing with all the shit I was going through, just putting everything to words. You just need to get it out.
The album’s first track, “Moving On,” is full of encouragement and positivity. Was there any specific reason behind putting this track ahead of the rest?
It’s always been when we’ve done (during) shows, it’s always been the intro song. I just feel like it has a drive to it. I think it’s also a really comforting song. It’s actually about helping a friend through a hard time. For me, the best songs are always the happy-sad songs. You can listen to them (however) you feel. You can listen to them when you’re sad, you can listen to them when you’re happy. “Moving On” is one of those songs. It’s quite sad, but it’s also comforting and motivating in a way. It’s helping a friend through something. Like, ‘Yea, it sucks right now, but it’s going to be okay.’ Me and Brady are always focused on… to not only be sad but…hopeful. (And) to have a positive vibe to it as well. It’s a heartbreak album, but it’s also meant to be a bit like ‘It sucks right now, but it’s going to be okay.’
The single “Someone” seems like such a deeply personal song, so open and vulnerable, yet it feels vibrant. What was the inspiration behind the song and how have you enjoyed performing it live in front of an audience?
I really enjoy performing it live. For me, it’s like the song (for) when, you know, you’re kind of stuck. Like in Norwegian we say, ‘When you’re stuck on a road.’ Like sometimes (with) your life, you don’t get anywhere. You’re just there and nothing happens. You don’t have motivation to do anything. You feel like everything is just repeating and you’re not getting anywhere. For me, this song is about how sometimes you just need someone or something to get you out. You just need something to happen. “Someone” is about that. How everyone is going through different heartache, everyone is going through something different in life, and sometimes you just really need someone. Even if it’s just like a friend, or getting a new job, or whatever. It’s something to get the drive again. It’s really fun performing because it’s also one of those happy-sad songs. It’s quite positive in one way and the production and everything is really fun. It has a lot of energy to it.
Who were some artists that you and Brady talked about or listened to when you were making “Lovers” and where do you draw inspiration from musically?
We listened to a lot of Honne. Cher has been one of the artists we’ve been listening to. I’ve been listening to Wet, they’re a really good New York band. I really like them. Also been inspired by 80s (music). Like Lionel Richie, Phil Collins, stuff like that. We’ve been listening to heaps of stuff. I think when we were making the album, we searched for inspiration from music we wouldn’t necessarily listen to in normal life. But just check out and listen to heaps of songs, to not get stuck, you know. That’s the cool thing about me and Brady. We’re really different in many ways, but when it comes to music, we’re really one with each other, so that’s cool.
Surely you’ve been asked many times about your collaborations with Tyler, the Creator, but what surprised you most about him?
Just how nice he is. Like (Odd Future is) really nice and open-minded (and) he’s just a really nice person, really involving. The last time I met them was in New York and they’re just really accepting. They were just like, ‘Yea, hang with us.’ They’re just cool.
You’ve said previously that you weren’t too fond of your own voice while working on your first-ever single “Sway” back in 2014. How has your impression of your own vocals changed now that you have an album under your belt?
It’s always weird hearing your own voice. I actually did a voice over on a commercial the other day. I don’t think you ever get used to your own voice, but I think that’s with everything you do when you’re obsessing with stuff. Whatever you do… you’re always so hard (on) yourself. The only things that I can say is, about a lot of stuff, is that I wish I could go (back and) listen to the music for the first time, listen to my words for the first time. Get that experience that other people get. We’re releasing the album today, some people will get a feeling, some people won’t. I wish I could listen to our music and my singing for the first time, that would be really cool. Not as me, but as another person.
Any plans to bring a “Lovers” tour to North America?
I’ve been in New York and Miami… but I’ve (only) been in the U.S. for like five days, and I really want to go (back) there. We’re planning some U.S. dates at the moment. They’re not locked in yet, but fingers crossed.
Hopefully you can make it out here soon. Everyone seems to really love you in the States.
Really?! That makes me really happy. It’s scary putting out an album that’s really personal. In Norway, they’re really judgmental. It’s such a small country, but it’s hard to break through here. But when you first do, they’re pretty hard. Do you know (the Norwegian DJ) Kygo? He released an album one year ago or something, and he got absolutely crushed in Norway. He’s like the most popular Norwegian artist in the world, you know. (Norwegian) people love him though, but the media was just so hard on him. It doesn’t matter though, because the people love him! It’s fun though. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes. I’m really excited. I’m really happy about it. Releasing an album, it’s really huge, to just do that.
“Lovers” is available Sept. 8 on Apple Music.