Anna Lotterud was raised in the small town of Gjøvik, which sits on the banks of the Mjøsa, Norway’s largest lake. It’s a place where, as she told the Fader magazine, “everything is so safe”. She has been making music since she was 20 years old; legend has it that she was working in a clothes shop when a stranger urged her to leave her homeland (and her relationship) behind. Lotterud booked a flight to Melbourne, where she met her future collaborator Brady Daniell-Smith, and started making music as Anna in the North..
Since then, she has carved out her own place in the current wave of young women creating synth-heavy pop with a whiff of the Eighties (see also: Carly Rae Jepsen, Shura, Christine and the Queens). Her 2014 song “Sway” led to a collaboration with Tyler, the Creator on this summer’s “911/Mr Lonely” alongside Frank Ocean. Her debut album, Lovers, was released on 8 September.
Lotterud’s brand and sound feels deeply Norwegian: from her cool, airy electronics to her crisp style (the artwork for this album and its singles sees her in bright white athleisure cradling different snowy animals: a bull terrier, a fluffy cat, a cockatoo). Lotterud acknowledges that she loves “space, clean colors, air, and white”. Her time in Australia encouraged her to embrace her identity of Anna of the North (a name that started as a joke, “because I was living in Australia so it was like Anna from Norway”), and Lovers was recorded in Oslo.
Listening to Lovers feels a bit like being submerged in cold, clear water. There’s a buoyant, gliding quality to the record’s slow jams, and while ballads abound, there’s something in their catchy hooks and Phil Collins-esque drumbeats that makes them flirt with danceable pop. “Someone”, with its hints of “Bette Davis Eyes”, sounds like it should be in a movie starring Molly Ringwald, while “Always” carries the sentiments of Robyn’s hit “Dancing on My Own” (“I’m tired of being in love / Always in the background”). Even when Anna of the North sounds heartbroken, she is irresistible.