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Annie - Chewing over the heartbreak along the way to success


Feature: Jack Foley

YOU may already know Annie from her 1999 single, The Greatest Hit, a dance pop song based on a loop from Madonna's Everybody.

Well, it's being followed up by the cheeky single, Chewing Gum, which features super-producer, Richard X, and the the album, Anniemal.

Before The Greatest Hit, became an underground cult classic, however, Annie Lilia Berge Strand was growing up in various parts of Norway, settling at 13 in Bergen, home of Kings Of Convenience, Royksopp, Ralph Myers and Sondre Lerche.

Her first band was called Suitcase, an indie rock band that fell apart when, says Annie, 'the other members wanted to make trip hop'.

While Annie's tastes encompassed everything from classic disco producer, Larry Levan, to punk like The Ramones, she didn't like trip hop.

Annie started writing her own songs.

In 1999, she met a young producer called Tore Andreas Kroknes who was making excellent electronic dance records under the name Erot.

They got together, musically and as a couple, and ended up making The Greatest Hit.

It was released four times in all, and, as Annie candidly states: "I know people who've been in LA and heard it, and in Australia and all over Europe. But it never became a hit and I've no idea how much it sold."

Annie and Tore made a second single, called I Will Go On, but very soon afterwards however, Tore, who was born with a heart defect, became seriously ill and was hospitalised.

He died in April 2001, aged 23.

"After that," says Annie, "I was so depressed I just wasn't able to do anything. I stayed at home, away from everyone, completely in my own world.

"I wanted to make the album with Tore - that was the plan. After he died I just didn't think I had the heart. But then I thought, 'Right, you're really depressed now but you have to make this album.

"Tore would be quite pissed off if you just stopped doing anything.”

Annie rallied herself enough to start working on some new songs.

She and a friend started her own club, in Bergen, called Pop Til You Drop.

It was there that she met Timo from Finnish electroheads, Opl:Bastards and The Left Handed, who she'd booked as a DJ.

She returned the compliment by DJ-ing at his club, in Helsinki, then went in the studio to add lend her vocals to some Opl: Bastards tracks at his invitation.

"Then I asked if maybe he was interested in doing some production on my record. It just started off for fun and turned out to be good."

Richard X completed the final piece of the jigsaw.

Having originally approached Annie to sing on his debut album, the pair recorded Chewing Gum, in London, this February.

As Annie says: "Richard X is great. He must be one of the nicest people I've ever met. This track sounds a bit like the Tom Tom Club."

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