Anna Lotterud, the Norwegian singer-songwriter better known as Anna of the North, is still figuring things out.
“With time, you learn to be better,” Lotterud says. “When you get some space from everything, I think that’s healthy.”
She leans on her music to help her process life, and fans have latched on to her vulnerability. Through her music, she’s discovered a way to blend dream-pop and subtle electronic production with impactful lyrics that are both honest and empowering.
“I want to make music that can suit every emotional feeling,” she says.
Lotterud has been making music for over a decade, but it was her 2017 debut album, Lovers, that caught the attention of the masses.
Since then, Anna of the North has released two more albums, Dream Girl and Crazy Life, both of which showcase her ability for crafting captivating soundscapes and honest lyrics.
We sat down with Lotterud to discuss her new album, how she uses music as her personal therapy and how she’s constantly reflecting on her past to make her future look better.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What was the inspiration behind Crazy Life?
Anna: I think for me like I’ve been doing music for a while now, and I have two albums out that I’m really proud of. But I think somewhere I just wanted to merge those two albums together, and take the best parts of both of them.
You know, it’s weird, my first album, Lovers, came out six years ago now. When I put it out, It was almost embarrassing, but now I’m like, “Wow, it’s really good. It’s aged really well.”
It’s fun looking back on things you were insecure about. It’s so easy to put out something and immediately overthink it, and you feel scared. But then eventually, when you get some time apart from it or from whatever you’re doing, you appreciate it more.
I guess that’s what I’m trying to embrace with Crazy Life. Instead of just embracing that I’m doing music, and instead of being scared of doing the right or wrong thing, I just want to live in it and do what feels good for me. And I think my previous albums taught me that, with time, you learn to be better. I guess what I’m trying to say is, when you get some space from everything, I think that’s healthy.
Yeah, I think a lot of people can relate to needing time to process.
Definitely, and learning to not be so hard on yourself. A lot of time, at the end of something, you’re so hard on yourself. And then it’s a shame because the journey is supposed to be fun.
So on this album, I decided I’m going to just enjoy doing what feels right and not think too much about it. And hopefully listen back to this album in five years time and think, “Wow, still good.”
This album is very honest and vulnerable.
Were you nervous letting fans see this side of you?
I’m a really open person. I talk a lot, and I’m not insecure about talking about my feelings. I’m really lucky in that way. That, or maybe my problem is I say too much. But I feel like writing this album really helped me process things. It’s just different, listening to yourself saying and singing it. And I kind of realized that a lot of songs, I just had this need to write them. Kind of like, I don’t really know why those words come, but when I listen to the song after I’m like, “Okay yeah, I get it.”
Music is really good for me to process stuff, so I guess that’s a big part of it. But I’ve always been like this, ever since the first album. For me, the writing process is more inwards than outwards.
Your songs are definitely vulnerable, but they’ve got a positive, upbeat feeling to them, too.
Yeah, I like a happy set. I like the songs that you can bring and listen to wherever you are or whatever you’re doing. Like if you’re happy, then you can listen to it and you’re still happy. If you’re sad, you can listen to it and find some happiness. That’s something that I’m striving to do in every song. I want to make music that can suit every emotional feeling.
How do you feel like you’ve grown and changed as an artist over the years?
Oh a lot, for sure. I think I’ve definitely become way more comfortable with being a musician and being a songwriter. I remember in the start questioning, “Am I even an artist?” And now, I feel way more comfortable in my role, even as a live artist.
But then again, I feel like some of the vulnerability has gone away, for better or worse. That was what made Anna of the North — that was the reason why it all started, because she had something really special to say. I’ve definitely come a long way from when I started, becoming better and better every day.
But there’s this little part of the “Lovers Anna,” the girl who was so scared of everything — scared of singing in front of people and scared of writing music — there’s something about her that I’m trying to find.
I want to find her again because there was some really emotional stuff in there that I still want to explore. Like, you struggle to move forward in life and then you tend to forget where you were. So these days, I’m kind of looking back at who I was, and trying to just process.
It seems like as you’re reflecting back on your music, you feel really fond and almost nostalgic for it.
Definitely. Of course, there were some difficult moments, but at the same time I’ve done so much I’m proud of. I think for me most of all, as a live artist I’ve grown so much. And to look back at the concerts I have done, and things I’ve done, it can be easy to remember how horrible I felt or how I felt really scared.
But then, I realize I wouldn’t have been here without going through those things. I like being more proud and happy about the entire journey than trying to forget something because it was scary. Everything happens for a reason, and because of everything I’m where I am today.