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Norwegian singer Annie (born Anne Lilia Berge Strand) is as pop as early Madonna or late Kylie Minogue, yet her hipster credibility puts her just as close to Saint Etienne or Miss Kittin. She first made an impression in 1999 with a juicy Madonna-sampling single called "The Greatest Hit," produced by Tore Andreas Kroknes (aka Erot); its impact wasn't immediate, but through several releases, a few keen club DJs, and word of mouth, it became something of an underground smash. The duo, who became romantically involved as well, recorded another single ("I Will Get On"), but Kroknes' life was taken (at the age of 23) by a heart defect in 2001. Annie eventually picked herself up and became more involved in Bergen, Norway's club scene than ever. She made some connections and wound up recording a number of tracks with Timo Kaukolampi of Op:L Bastards. The two continued to record some tracks for Annie's own album. The results, along with a handful of productions from fellow Norwegians Röyksopp and England's Richard X, formed the basis of Anniemal. Originally released in 2004, the album was picked up for release in the U.S. in June of the following year. She contributed to !K7's DJ-Kicks series in late October of the same year. A subsequent deal with Island fell through, though the alliance went as far as a first single and video, "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me." Annie obtained the masters and landed on the Smalltown Supersound label, which issued the singer's second studio album, Don't Stop, in November 2009. Its track list was significantly different from that of the original version that had leaked on the Internet. She spent the next decade playing DJ gigs around the world, appearing as a judge on Idol Norway, and releasing a handful of singles. The rave-inspired "Tubestops and Lonely Hearts" came out in 2013, the Richard X-produced, '90s house-inspired The A&R EP was issued that year, and "Russian Kiss" appeared in 2014. The following year, she began a collaboration with Sound of Arrows member Stefan Storm, who helped produce her 2015 EP Endless Vacation, a typically bouncy and dancefloor-oriented record. When they began work again, it was in Annie's hometown of Bergen, where she had returned to care for her sick mother and raise a family. The duo crafted a much more introspective, melancholy sound that was inspired in equal parts by the Twin Peaks soundtrack and the sad songs on Saint Etienne albums. Dark Hearts was issued by Annie's own label, Annie Melody, in late 2020.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo


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