Electro-pop duo Anna of the North quietly uploaded their song “Sway” to SoundCloud just over three years ago, and the infectious track quickly became a viral hit, getting the remix treatment from EDM heavyweights The Chainsmokers. Since then, a career in music became a viable option for singer-songwriter Anna Lotterud and producer Brady Daniell-Smith.
The two first met in Melbourne, Australia, where Lotterud decided to relocate from her native Norway. They connected over a shared love for music at a gig, continuing to stay in touch and work on music after Lotterud left Australia.
Hip-hop collective Odd Future discovered “Sway” and loved it – they frequently played it on their radio show. Odd Future’s Taco ended up recruiting Lotterud to record vocals for a Tyler, The Creator song, leading to her appearances on “Boredom” and “911 / Mr. Lonely” from the artist’s latest album Flower Boy.
After hearing Lotterud’s chill and self-assured vocals on Tyler’s latest full-length, we dug deeper into Anna of the North’s music, discovering contagious, uplifting pop sounds, strewn with lyrics riddled with both heartbreak and hope.
In celebration of the release of Anna of the North’s debut album, Lovers, we caught up with the duo to discuss figuring out the music industry, collaborating with Tyler, The Creator and Anna’s love for turtlenecks.
How did your collaboration with Tyler, The Creator come about? What was it like making Flower Boy in the studio?
It happened really organically.. Taco from Odd Future hit me up on Twitter a couple of years ago. They were playing our song “Sway” on the Odd Future Radio station. Later that year, I met them at a festival called Øya. They’re really cool guys. We kept in touch. I don’t really know why or what happened. Tyler mailed me and said he had some vocal ideas he wanted me to sing. I never met him in the process of making the album – I went in the studio here in Norway, and he liked my vocals and asked me if I could help him out with another song. I never really knew if what I’d recorded was gonna make the album. So when “911” and “Boredom” dropped I almost fainted!
Is Tyler really as zany as he seems all the time?
Hah, I’ve only met him a couple of times. His a really cool guy, with a lot of energy and humor. He’s so on point with everything he does.
What other artists would you like to collaborate with?
CELINE DION! LIONEL RICHIE!
How do you typically collaborate when working on a track?
I haven’t really done many collabs yet. We’ve been focusing so hard on the album.. I’m really looking forward to go out there and explore the opportunities.
Anna – aside from meeting Brady and starting to make music, how did living in Melbourne affect you?
I went to Melbourne by myself. I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have a place to stay or any friends over there. It was quite challenging. I had to start over. I was really homesick and I had a lot of time by myself – thinking, writing music. It probably sounds like a cliché but I think it is one of the times in life [when] I learnt the most.
If your album was a film, who would direct it?
Michael Patrick King… Hehe.
What was the hardest part of making Lovers?
I think all the deadlines. A song is never finished. You just have to stop at a point.
Anna – you’re known for wearing turtleneck shirts quite a lot, do you have a favorite turtleneck at the moment?
Yes, or I have two. One from adidas, with the adidas logo on the neck. And one from A.P.C. It’s getting so cold here now and it’s 80% cotton and 20% wool. Perfect!
What have you both learned about the music industry and creative work since you uploaded “Sway” on SoundCloud three years ago?
When we started we didn’t really know what we were doing. We had to figure out who we were, how it all worked. Now I think we both feel like we’re more in control of what’s happening. Personally for me it’s been a journey of both good and bad experiences. I’ve learnt so much and I’m so much more self-confident now than when we started.
For more of our interviews, check out our recent chat with the brightest star of synth-pop Nite Jewel right here.
- Photography: Jonathan Vivaas Kise