Annie gears up for Death Disco DJ date - Annie interview
David Pollock talks to leftfield pop star Annie as she prepares to stun Death Disco with her DJ skills
You may not have heard of Annie, but she’s one of the finest female pop stars of the last decade. As good as Kylie, Cheryl Cole, Beyonce and Rihanna. As good as all six Sugababes put together. She should be playing arenas, if that wasn’t a clear signal for boredom and artificiality to follow. Maybe best that her career remains at this level, so she can still pitch up and play DJ sets of filthy electro at clubs like this.
Not that Anne Strand, the blonde-haired 32-year-old from Bergen in Norway, doesn’t make perfectly synthesised Euro-pop herself; an unfashionable commodity in comparison to huge-selling R&B singles from across the Atlantic. Yet her music has so much ambition (the second album Don’t Stop, released at the end of last year, features production from Richard X, Paul Epworth and Xenomania, and contributions from Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Datarock’s Fredrik Saroea) and no little sass itself. Her biggest hit in the UK remains 2004’s ‘Chewing Gum’, owner of the great couplet, ‘I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna get done/I’m just a girl that’s only chewing for fun.’
Meaning she easily feels at home at this Death Disco date, alongside the hard electro chaos of Bloody Beetroots’ live Scottish debut with their Death Crew 77; the leftfield indie funk of Egyptian Hip Hop; electronica production duo Hey Today! and the electro breaks of Don Rimini.
‘It’s been going brilliantly,’ says Annie of the album, ‘especially because it started off so difficult. I split with Island Records and then decided to release it on my own label. But it’s been really well-received, and the most exciting thing is that it’s taken me to America a lot. Hopefully I’ll go back there more in future’.
Which all sounds pretty standard for your average pop singer, but Annie’s respectability on most open-minded dancefloors gives her career a sense of split personality. Around the release of her first album Anniemal five years ago, she compiled a DJ-Kicks CD which included the very unpop likes of ESG, Liquid Liquid, Le Tigre and Suicide’s Alan Vega. ‘More than a DJ or a producer,’ she says, ‘I see myself as a musician. I like to write songs, to be in the studio, that’s where I feel most happy. But I love to DJ, and the thing about it is that I can see what works and what doesn’t, what gets people moving or not, and then take that back to the studio.’
What’s most refreshing is that Annie seems to be hard-working rather than emptily ambitious, and it’s a manner which leaves you rooting for her and her music. She’s lived in Berlin for the past two years, in arty Prenzlauer Berg, because ‘I was kicked out of my apartment in Bergen. They were going to build it into a hotel, and I realised it was going to be too expensive to find a new place there, so I decided it was time to try something different.’
And are there any burning ambitions she wants to fulfil in future? ‘Ohhh,’ she ponders, ‘I don’t know, that’s such a big question. I don’t know, I guess I just want to be better, to write better songs. And I don’t want to be one of these people who copies their own songs every time, I never want to end up like that. Oh, and I’ll make my third album – it won’t take five years this time, I promise.’
Annie DJs at Death Disco at the Arches, Glasgow, Sat 20 Mar.