Annie is a pretty happy person at the moment. Her new album Don’t Stop is finally out after a lot of record company wrangling that delayed the release, keeping her fans waiting.
Diplomatic as ever, Annie admits “it was a little bit frustrating, they kept on delaying. Now I’m on my own record label and running it myself, it’s really exciting to be in control yourself.”
Being in control gave Annie the chance to do what she wanted, and not be influenced by record label bigwigs and profit margins. “The album works against itself,” Annie says. “I like there to be two things happening at once; pop and cool, happy and sad.”
“It’s definitely quite important to be very focused and know what you want and where you’re going,” she tells me, “cos so many people will try to tell you what’s right and what you shouldn’t do and what you should do, like tell you to go in all sorts of directions and it can be really difficult. I feel that, especially now when I’m running my own label and stuff, its much more work but at the same time I have more control and I feel more focused, I know more where I’m going and what I want.”
Don’t Stop reflects this focus, and it’s eclectic mix of pop and indie is sure to entice many new fans to the fold, as will the fantastic collaborations on the album, including Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Datarock. Working with others is something Annie values. “It’s always great to get others opinions,” she says. “I usually mix my demos there and then meet up with different producers and artists and sort of go from there.”
Despite the rosy looking future and famous fans, things didn’t always go so smoothly for the Norwegian pop star. She had problems with her record label, and even after releasing a track list there was no definite date for the album’s release.
“It was confusing for me," Annie says, “because nobody had said what I'd been doing was crap. If I'd had everyone going 'look, you're not really very good at this, have you thought about working in a shop' it would have been one thing, but… Well, it was a strange situation.”
Strange comes up a lot for Annie, as she calls her music ‘pop with strange edges’. Her unique blend of indie, pop and dance makes her music more than your average chart fodder. This might be due to the mix of music in her home country of Norway.
“It’s such a small country, people who listen to a lot of techno will then go and watch an indie band because there’s not enough bands, you’re gonna get really bored with the one thing.” Unlike the virtual segregation of music that goes on in the UK and US markets, Norwegian music fans have learnt to cultivate taste that has a wide range.
Her weird aesthetic was reflected when she joined the recent Wonky Pop tour as a DJ. The wonky label seems to fit well with her, and a sense of oddness is something that comes naturally to Annie. “The songwriting part of it’s very important to me and I guess you could categorise that as the more traditional side. When it comes to the production I’m inspired so many different things so I always try to keep it a bit more interesting I guess.”
As well as her stint as DJ on that tour, Annie also DJs at clubs and parties all over Europe. Is it something she likes better than playing her own stuff live? “I like both, but I think to play records for me has always been fun, I buy a lot of records, I still buy vinyl, I’m such a music fan, to go out and play for people instead of just drinking and dancing, I find that much more fun. Playing live is great but its definitely much more challenging. DJing is more fun while playing live feels more like work.”
It’s her love of music that makes Annie such an original popstar. She writes all her own lyrics and melodies, giving her the credibility that many others can’t manage. “I can listen to artists and hear if the lyrics are written by someone else. It can sometimes be a really big difference.”
“It's weird when people tell me that they like me but would never listen to Kylie Minogue or Britney. I'm not quite sure why, but I'm seen as, you know, somehow cool. My music is the pop that they're allowed to like,” she says. “At least for the moment.”
Don’t Stop is out now on Totally. W myspace.com/anniemusic