If you don’t believe in fate before you hear Anna Of The North’s story, you will afterwards. Anna Lotterud was happy with her life in a town near Oslo. She had a boyfriend and a job as a manager in a clothes store, but one customer would turn that all upside down. The mysterious woman urged Anna to get out and see more of the world and experience life. Soon after and all alone, she moved to Melbourne where she eventually met Brady Daniell-Smith, who would go on to be her musical partner and help her create what is now their debut album, Lovers.
The mere mention of fate has Anna giggling down the phone from her seat in a sunny Norwegian park. “Sometimes it can feel like there’s something pushing you towards that direction, or there’s something leading you to where you are now, even though you’re not seeing it when you’re in the moment,” she says, her voice still sparkling from her earlier laughter.
The something that drew her to Melbourne, nearly 10,000 miles away from her family, friends and home was a desire to challenge herself and take herself out of her comfort zone. “I had a boyfriend at that point so I didn’t want to be able to just go home every weekend,” she says. “I was like, ‘If I’m gonna leave then I’m gonna leave.'” After being told by everyone around she wasn’t “the person to make it out there on your own”, she packed up and proved them wrong – although it definitely wasn’t easy.
“It was super hard in the beginning,” Anna says, detailing the process of roommate interviews that is arduous enough in your home country, let alone somewhere you’ve never been and don’t speak the language fluently. “I think everyone just thought I was this weird Norwegian girl,” she laughs. “I was quite alone and I had to handle every situation myself.”
That solitude and isolation sparked a burst of creativity in Anna and, despite Lovers being about relationships and their various states, you can sense something of that loneliness in its songs. On ‘Always’, a subdued but glistening piece of elegant synth-pop, she sighs “I’m tired of being in love” with the weariness of someone who feels a world away from their partner, even if they’re right there next to them.
While the whole album is packed full with Anna and Brady’s experiences, ‘Friends’ in particular is close to Anna’s heart. Written about a break-up, she says that it’s the “most personal” track on the record and a song she’ll always go back to; a pure crystallisation of a particular time, feeling and situation. “Music is the only way to stop time – you can keep it in a song and you’ll remember,” she explains.
“Music is the only way to stop time – you can keep it in a song and you’ll remember.”
Although Anna has always dreamed of being involved in music, it was difficult for her at the start of the project to feel comfortable, especially when it came to performing. “I remember there being a point when I actually said to Brady, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’,” she says. “That was the first show we had and I felt strangled by my clothes. I had to take off my shoes and all the jewellery I had on. My mum and dad were in the crowd and they said I looked liked I’d seen a ghost.”
She says there’s no way to get over that fear, but with each performance, each interview, each photoshoot, Anna is growing in confidence. It’s been three years since the release of her debut single ‘Sway’, but she says she’s glad not to have rushed into an album. “I feel good about this now,” she says happily. “It’s the right time.”