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Annie Interview

Author: Amanda Storey
Wednesday, 11 January 2006
Annie (Annie Lilia Bege Strand) saturates her life with musical inspirations - after all, her much-loved cat Joey is named after her teen idols, Joey Ramone from the Ramones and Joey McIntyre from New Kids On The Block. It is her dedication to music and unabashed mission to keep having fun which has led to the 25-year-old pop starlet wooing fans, artists and critics worldwide.

Annie's playful approach to her music can be traced back to a club night called Pop Till You Drop that she and a friend started back in 2000 in her hometown, Bergen. A 'play anything' night that went on to book acts like Peaches, Pop Till You Drop was renowned for its eclecticism. 'We would play a bit of everything, from pop, electro, indie-rock. It was really fun,' muses Annie. However, the night did have its initial hurdles. 'In Bergen, not many people go out because the alcohol is so expensive so my friends and I would hand out free candy and popcorn as a way to get the crowds in.'

Although the club night has since stopped due to the success of Annie's solo career, Pop Till You Drop's recipe of sugar and spice and all things nice is evident throughout Annie's work, especially in her 2005 mix for the acclaimed DJ-Kicks series. 'I had only done about 20 mixes before this, which isn't a lot really,' says Annie, 'I love the DJ-Kicks label, and they've had some amazing DJs work on their albums.' 'DJ-Kicks: Annie' is a hotchpotch collection of odd and exuberant songs ranging from Toy's delightfully childish Rabbit Pushing Mover, to Bow Wow Wow's I Want Candy, to Mu's hysterical Paris Hilton, as well as two Annie tracks, Wedding and Gimme Your Money. In spite of the giddy excitement generated by the mix, reviewers have criticised the album for its technical weakness. Yet Annie argues, 'I don't have anything against technique, it is just the way it happened. I have some friends who are very good DJs technically and I think it is amazing to watch. But it is very hard to have strong technique when you use such a broad variety of songs, you know-' She then adds while laughing, 'I get very bored easily. I always have to mix things up - have different sounds to keep myself interested.'

In addition to her growing profile as a DJ, Annie has an esteemed career as a pop artist through her 2004 debut album 'Anniemal'. The track perhaps most familiar to Australian audiences is The Greatest Hit which was released in 1999 and written with producer and boyfriend Tore Andreas Krokness (DJ Erot). The Greatest Hit went on to become an underground club hit in Norway; however Krokness, who was born with a heart defect, soon became sick and later died aged 23. After taking a break from music, Annie persevered in creating 'Anniemal' - a conquest which is illustrative of her positive nature and strength in character. In fact, as Annie notes, the title of the album was originally conceived by Krokness, 'The title was something my old boyfriend made up. It was just so funny he was like "you have to use it". I then went on to write the song Anniemal a couple of years later. I guess it is like a zoo with so many different animals wanting to get out. Or something like that [giggles].' Indeed 'Anniemal' is not a classic pop album for (at the risk of stretching the zoo analogy too far) it harbours a "Noah's arc" of musical sounds and influences: The Tom Tom Club, Bananarama, and an overall celebration of old-Madonna in her Lucky Star heyday, with The Greatest Hit looping a sample from Madonna's Everybody. Annie agrees that 'Anniemal' is not classic pop, 'I am inspired by so much and I let that come out in my music. Some people think that it's bad that I am not one genre, that it is a bad thing to have so many different influences, but I like it. People shouldn't try to pigeonhole you so much.'

Due to both the album's solid production by friends Röyksopp, Richard X, and Opl:Bastards (Timo Kauk
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