(out Friday 8 September 2017 through Different Recordings)

  1. Moving On
  2. Someone
  3. Lovers
  4. Money
  5. Always
  6. Feels
  7. Baby
  8. Friends
  9. Fire
  10. All I Want

Heartbreak is in Anna Of The North’s DNA. It courses through the veins of their songs – the initial turmoil of it, the tentative joy of finally letting yourself move on – and it’s the reason they became a band in the first place.

Anna Lotterud was working in a shop in a small town near Oslo, settled with her first boyfriend and anticipating a life of routine and normalcy, when a customer came in and changed her life. Polite and well-dressed, the woman, a stranger to Anna, began making daily visits, browsing for hours but never buying a thing. One afternoon, for reasons Anna will never know the woman approached her and implored her to abandon the traditional life she had planned, and go and expand her horizons. The plea jolted something in Anna, and in an act of uncharacteristic spontaneity, she booked a flight to Australia, leaving behind the life and the person she had assumed would be hers.

Her time in Australia was fulfilling but turbulent. She fell in love again, only to have her heart broken as suddenly and inexplicably as her decision to leave Norway in the first place. That’s when she met Brady Daniell-Smith. Brady, who’d been struggling with his own complicated relationships, was performing an acoustic show in Melbourne; Anna was in the audience, drinking with friends. That might have been where their story ended had she not been persuaded to get up and sing, giving Brady the first glimpse of a voice that landed somewhere between Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. Becoming friends, he encouraged her to find solace in songwriting. It wasn’t long until they started to make music together as a way of exorcising the demons of their love lives and the project was born. Brady jokingly started calling her ‘Anna Of The North’ and the name stuck.

Their collaboration worked better than either of them had imagined and it’s the two of them combined that make Anna Of The North’s sparse, brooding electro-pop so potent. Brady, who’s from New Zealand and grew up partly in Australia, injects elements of the countries’ bright, vibrant electronic scene into their music; Anna brings the glacial minimalism of her Scandinavian roots. Together they create something that is at once lush and icy, organic and synthetic, vulnerable and defiant.

Now, after a handful of singles and remixes (one of which, a beat-heavy take on ‘Sway’ by The Chainsmokers, has had over 15 million Spotify plays), over 60 million streams, a No.1 spot on the Hype Machine charts and rotation on Radio 1, Triple J and Beats 1, they’re braced to released their debut album, Lovers. It’s an emphatically assured LP, its clean, springy beats and shimmering synths underpinned by the rich, emotive clarity of Anna’s voice. Recorded in Oslo and mixed in Copenhagen and London, the album is a coherent but endlessly varied beast – just as you’ve settled into the pulsing rhythms of ‘Someone’, there’s a key change that, for a moment, feels like the song’s been submerged in water; ‘Lovers’ has a vast, folk-inflected chorus, and ‘Money’ takes the gold-digger trope and imbues it with a gentle empathy.

Still, heartbreak is never far away. “It feels like you don’t need my heart / Don’t you know you make me feel like I’m falling apart?” sings Anna on ‘Feels’. On ‘Always’, she laments, “I’m always in the background / I’m tired of being in love.” “I think I’m more creative when I’m heartbroken,” she muses. “Some people write diaries, some people write books, I do music.” Brady agrees. “Those songs don’t need to have any actual answers. When I’ve been at my most heartbroken, just listening to someone singing what you’re going through, it meant you weren’t crazy, and that everyone’s been there. Once you write a song about it, that chapter of your life is done, and that story is complete, and it helps you move on.” There’s hope in the songs too – ‘Moving On’ serves as a beacon of hope, showing someone the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. “Darling I know sometimes it’s hard to take,” sings Anna over trickling synths and brass, “Believe me, I know you’re gonna make it through the day.” It’s the song Brady needed to hear when he was going through a difficult time: “It’s a friend talking to a friend, getting them through something.”

As it turns out, Anna Of The North’s music helps their fans through difficult times too. “The music actually does something for other people,” says Anna with a tone of surprise. “I didn’t realise that when we first started – that you can connect with people in so many ways, just through music.” It’s why she’s stuck with it, despite the crippling stage fright she endured during a stadium tour with Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo, and the constant, nagging self-doubt. “She got thrown into this head first,” says Brady, “and she didn’t really ever have a chance to come up for air. We released this song, and all of a sudden she’s with this strange New Zealand guy in Norway making music.”

In the end though, Anna Of The North was worth the stage fright, and it was worth the heartbreak too. “I’m more confident in every way,” she says. “Becoming a musician, and starting to do it seriously, has totally changed who I am as a person, in a really good way. It’s helped me become who I was always supposed to be, but didn’t dare to.”

AUG 23 – Hudson Ballroom – Sydney, NSW
AUG 24 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
AUG 26, Maroochydore Music and Visual Arts Festival, QLD

Twitter: @anna_ofthenorth Instagram: @annaofthenorth