In Conversation with Anna Of The North

Anna Of The North make lovelorn, ice-cold pop intent on punching you directly in the feels.

The musical brainchild of Oslo native Anna Lotterud and Kiwi producer Brady Daniell-Smith, the duo met whilst Anna was working in Australia before a realisation that the music they were making together was actually pretty good. Debut track Sway was recorded over Skype, followed by the colossal The Dreamer and pastel-pink-haven Baby both working their way to the top of the Hype Machine chart. Over 60 million streams later and ‘hyped up’ would be a total understatement for your new favourite band.

With their (really, really good) debut record Lovers set with a September release date, we talk recognition, the importance of Pride and the significance of Odd Future with the duo’s stunning figurehead Anna Lotterud at BST in Hyde Park.

You finally have an album coming out! How did find creating a full body of work, given Baby is the only previous single to make it onto the record?

Yaaay! When we started out, we were doing everything in a totally different way to how we work now. No band name, no idea of where we would be right now, no other reasoning besides it being fun to do. Then the music started to get picked up by listeners and it was really a question on, “what the fuck do we do now?!” It took as about a year to put out a song after [debut track] Sway so it’s been a process of figuring out who we are and what we want to do with the band. It’s been quite hard figuring out who we are as Anna Of The North and if we’d even work as a band but it’s been a really interesting process for me.

I’d only met Brady once or twice in Melbourne when I was living in Australia before we hooked up to make music together so we really had to make sure we’d even work well together [laughs] but I guess it does! I’ve just loved seeing how we’ve evolved and how much Brady and I have learned and grown from it all.

Both The Dreamer and Baby hit #1 on Hype Machine pretty quickly. Did you find the quick succession of interest for the band easy to adjust to?

I think it was different for us compared to a lot of other artists. Some people put out a track, get picked up and then suddenly have a huge plan being made for them. Singles, videos, sending them to dancing lessons etc. which we never did.

I remember the first show we played and I was nearly crying from nerves, telling myself I had to quit music as it was too much for me. I’ve never been attention shy but I’m never “look at me all the time please!” so it has taken me quite a while to get used to playing live. I think that’s where we got the ‘mysterious’ label from, purely as I was just shy on stage. I’m really proud of where we are at right now and I just hope that we can continue to grow and make more interesting music together.

Someone is definitely a sound we hadn’t heard from Anna Of The North until now. How does the track fit in with the rest of the record?

I really like that one. My favourite songs tend to be upbeat so I felt that’s what we needed to do with this one. Someone has a more positive vibe and the record seems to cover everything on my own emotional spectrum so I do really like it. I think my favourite on the record may be Lovers though. Before we started the band, I always used to record and make music for my own personal interest but never showed it to anyone as I never thought my vocal was strong enough. That’s why Sway is just layers and layers of vocals to try and hide that, which is totally different to a lot of the vocals on the record but still very much our signature sound.

And then on the same day as Someone’s release, a collaboration with yourself, Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean appeared out of nowhere. How did 911 come about?

That all started with Sway, actually. When we put that out, Taco from Odd Future reached out to me saying how sick he thought the track was which he then started spinning on Odd Future Radio and social media. They were playing a festival in Oslo which I was attending so they snuck me backstage which was where I met Tyler and found out how much he loved Sway too. I think he really liked the vocal on the track, which I feel is pretty raw given I actually recorded in on GarageBand [laughs].

After that, Tyler reached out again asking if I wanted to contribute some vocals to a project he was doing and that’s how the track came about. At that point, I didn’t know Frank Ocean was going to be on it too so when I found that out, it was pretty much a “dude I’m quitting music” scenario [laughs]. Odd Future have been so nice and supporting and I get so much great feedback from Tyler so I’m forever grateful. It’s a super low-key feature but I think that shows how much Odd Future love music and how organic their process of making music is.

We’re in the run-up to Pride here in London and I know that an early demo of your solo work, a cover of Madness’s Our House, ended up as part of the soundtrack for Netflix’s LGBT-centric series Riverdale. What’s the story behind that?

I know! I’ve never actually seen the show as it’s not a big thing where I’m from but I’ve been meaning to check it out. I saw people talking about the song and the show online so that’s really how I found out about that one. I didn’t realise how huge the show was until I googled the shit out of it [laughs].

The thing with me is I have a lot of gay friends and I absolutely love all of them. Whoever you love shouldn’t matter and I think it’s amazing that people get to be who they are and love whoever they want. I think the world is heading in a better direction now than it has been towards equality, especially with the internet which has had such a big part to play in that. I hope love can be everywhere!

Anna Of The North’s debut record Lovers is out 8 September. The duo play London’s Omeara on 26 September with tickets available from right here.

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