Norwegian indie pop icon Annie is back. Finally. With Don't Stop out today, five years after the release of her acclaimed debut, Anniemal, the singer/DJ continues her vision of shimmery dance pop with a subversive, underground electronic edge.
Tonight, Annie will be DJing at Cinespace and so we gave her a call yesterday to talk about vinyl and club nights.
Do you remember your first DJ gig?
Yeah, that was in Bergen, I don't remember which year it was, but it was many years ago.
One of my favorite DJs was playing the same evening I was, so I was going to play together with him. I was really, really nervous because I had never played out to people before, but I had been collecting records for years. I had lots and lots of records with me. It was massive records all around. I was so nervous. I started playing and there was lots of people dancing and it was so fun.
One month after that, I started my own evening at this other venue in Norway. We called the club evening Pop Till You Drop. I did that for about one-and-a-half years and booked lots of other artists, like Peaches.
How long have you been collecting records?
I feel like I've been doing it all my life. I started, oh, I don't know when I got my first record. I just love to go and buy records. I still buy quite a bit of vinyl, actually. I love the sound of the vinyl. It's great. It's such a great, great format.
What's the coolest record you've ever found?
I think it's one record called "Lady Bug," [by Bumblebee Unlimited]. That's really great. I found it in New York many, many years ago and I still play it quite a lot. I think I'm going to play it tomorrow as well.
I had never heard it. I just picked it up and started listening to it.
I'm really bad with names and I'm not the sort of person who knows a lot about the labels or anything. I usually go to a store or I go online and listen to loads of stuff, basically, without knowing the name of the artists.
Sometimes, especially if it's in the 99 cent bin, I'll pick up something just because the record sleeve is really cool. Do you ever do that?
Yeah, I do that quite a lot. It's great.
What's your favorite album cover?
Oh, there's so many good ones from the '80s and late-'70s. I like some of the Nina Hagen ones. She has some great covers. I think it's one of her first albums, just with a picture of her. I really like that one. Duran Duran also has some really good ones. I can't think of one particular one.
I think my favorite song on Don't Stop is "The Breakfast Song." What's the story behind that song?
It's quite a funny one. I used to work quite a lot in Helsinki, in Finland [with collaborator Timo Kaukolampi]. I was making some breakfast and I started singing, "What do you want? What do you want for break-fast!" He said, "What? I'm not really hungry, but that sounds really good." So, we went to the studio and started recording.
Sometimes, when I make a song, I just make it. If I have a really specific idea, I can just do it in two minutes, have the whole melody. That song was one of those, where we just recorded it.
I wrote a lot of songs-- probably altogether 300-400 songs. Last time around, I wrote maybe fourteen songs and picked out eleven of them. I sort of like that because I had much more possibilities. It felt easier in a way, even though it was much more work.
When you're writing that many songs, were there times when the songs ended up combining, maybe two or three became a new song?
Sometimes. Right now, actually, I'm making a song while I'm in LA. I mixed two different songs. They went together very well. Sometimes, that happens, you think of two different things but then you understand that you actually have the same sort of thought about one thing, but you thought of it differently in a way. When it really gets down to it, it really fits together.
I guess as a DJ, because I do a lot of mix tapes, it helps also if you understand music in that way, things can be combined.
You're recording out here too?
I have my laptop with me, so I'm doing some stuff in the room. I get really inspired here because there's such nice weather.
How do you feel about playing your own stuff when you DJ?
I didn't do it so much before. I've done it a bit lately because, when I was doing the album, I didn't do that much DJing. It's really exciting now that I'm done with the record, I have the possibility of doing more gigs. I have more time. I like to try the mixes I have of the songs. I think it's fun and people seem to like.
Did your music change once you started DJing?
I started thinking differently because I was listening to how songs work when you play them in a club compared to when you play them at home. I definitely got to thinking much more about bass and drums and how you produce them.
What's your personal favorite on Don't Stop?
I think it's "I Don't Like Your Band."
I think I was watching MTV. There was so much boring music there. I went to the studio and I think I was a little bit annoyed and I said to the producer, "Let's make a song about I don't like your band." I just started writing about different sorts of music and what I like and what I don't like.
Are you going forward with recording a third album?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Yeah, I've already started, so it won't take such a long time.
What attracts you to certain producers?
You have to work with someone who understands the world you're making the song in, who understands where you want it to go, what sort of thing you want to create. Of course, if you choose a producer, you have to trust what they want to do, but at the same time, you have to have some understanding working with them.
When I started working with Paul Epworth, for example, on "I Don't Like Your Band" and "Hey, Annie," I wanted to have more club-oriented songs that were more punchy, because I was lacking that in the album. He was really up for that and had some great ideas. He's a brilliant drummer as well.