An interview with Annelie

Annelie makes music that is engaging and compelling. The Swedish based artist views the world around her with a thoughtful and keen eye of her surroundings, but she’s also aware enough to understand when inner reflection is required as well.

Her debut EP Teenager, which is out now, makes this is very evident. It’s meticulous in its focus, structurally organic in its movement. As we talked with Annelie, it became apparent that she sees music as something much bigger and experiences it on a deeper, more personal level. This clearly influences her work, and the first results have been outstanding.

Let’s start at the beginning of your artistic journey – what led you to creating music? Were there any specific influences that got you on this creative path?

I think it began when I was a kid, like four or five years old – watching and imitating artists I saw at the good old MTV shows from the 90’s. After that, my older sister got a piano, started taking piano lessons. When she was finished with her practice, I sat down and tried to remember what I’ve just heard and played some of the songs (by ear).

A few years after that, I built up a drum kit in my kitchen and started playing on plastic buckets before getting a real Tama set to play (still using that since I was 12). I’ve never ever learned how to be good at music theory; to find the music by constructing patterns out of rules that is set by someone else. I (am not only a bit lazy) like to see the music as a piece of magic added to life itself.

A part of the secrets in the mystery of universe (smiles).

Your music has a very atmospheric quality to it. I feel like you can hear the long summers and winters in various forms of your music. Are you inspired by nature or the natural world?

Technically speaking, I am inspired by picking up samples from the nature because the sounds often tend to include a certain deep and solid vibe that I like to add to a mix or sound image. As a sound designer I like to think of those sounds as a perfect add to something that is mainly built up by sounds we associate with as music and for example a beat (snare, bass drum etc.), or an instrument.

This is where the whole thing gets interesting – when your head and your mind associate to musical elements, by listening to something that is not even near the definition of a music instrument. Instead it’s taken from nature and the fields.

For example using samples of solid steps in the woods as the ground beat to a song. It’s not even worth mentioning what it is made of, since your intellect surely will try to tell you what it “wants it to be.”

And how about being in Gothenburg? There’s an incredible scene there, so how did that help shape you as an artist? What’s the interaction and camaraderie like there for new artists?

I guess the music scene meant a lot for me as a teenager, going to concerts all the time. I was totally into the rock and hard rock scene back then – trying to dress up like Gene Simmons, hanging out at the ”rock bar” and catching glimpses of Dio, Motörhead, or Vader (smiles). Finally I had to get away from my old rock star ideals.

I moved from town, and when I came back, I had a whole new palette of music inspiration to pick out colors from to my solo project. I had started to dive deeper into Björk, Efterklang, and Mogwai. The soundscapes totally blew my mind. Combined with the old rock songs I grew up with, I think I started to get something nice going on.

The music scene in Gothenburg is still very active and flourishing, in different genres – but I would love to see more options of scenes where artists in all kinds of stages in their career are welcome. The whole family of musicians here is very beautiful though, and I am stunned by the amount of creative people in one and the same area.

Your music often reaches a precipice that looks out on an expense but never reaches too far. The balance and restraint are really admirable. How do you find that balance and know when it’s time to step back from taking a track too far?

Thank you! First of all, I make mistakes all the time. Maybe it is in those “unguarded” moments the magic is able to happen. I like to think of those side steps or mishappenings as pretty important in the end, for some reason.

On the other hand, I am also extremely careful and precise and like to sit down for hours and hours with details to find the right groove in everything. Sometimes I am ridiculously happy no one’s looking at my DAW projects (laughs). Could it be this somewhat contradictory behavior that manages to create some of the balance you feel in the music?

We feel like at times your music has a lot of grey areas where fluorescent and neon shine through. It’s almost metaphorical of the world we live in now. Is this intentional, or is it just our interpretation? If it is intentional, how do you observe the world and use it to influence your sound?

In my head your comparison looks like the cover of my single “Stuck.” I like to use opposing forces when making music. A tiny and quite harmless melody from a synth, or an arrangement of strings can both be treated with rawness and amplification – to make them a bit “uncomfortable” in some sense. Leave them to mess around in the mix with a super long tape delay or echo effect.

Or putting fragile lyrics together with oppressive beats. Sometimes people act the same way. We are tiny and nice and not so harmful at all, until we dress up in uniforms, getting armed, or just simply arrogant, which somehow tend to give us legitimate reasons to act out and fly into rages.

Another topic (that I can’t seem to understand why I get such a musical flow and inspirational fuel from), is just the fact that I enjoy observing the somewhat “standardized” crowds of people – when trends and certain behaviors dominate, and you know like, the “mass psychotic” ways of treating the everyday life is taking over. Of course I can see myself in these behaviors too, and therefore it is of interest to find ways of breaking patterns.

All this, due to the metaphorical world you painted up in your question, can be seen almost as the grey world with the elements of neon in it. If we only follow the same way all the time, no colors will occur. We will be stuck in the grey area.

Looking at the EP Teenager now – First, “Kid” seems like it looks in one’s self as much as it observes the outside world. What’s the story behind that track?

I guess that’s right. The original theme is from when I tried to stare through the windows at the house across the yard from where I stayed while being away on a trip. I fantasized about all the stories that would hide behind every window, and that secrets can very easily be kept in the dark behind these “eyes” of a building. Like it was staring back at me, saying “You’ll never find out anything.”

At the same time, the story takes place inside of the younger version of me – a glimpse and hint to the little one who wanted to be like the artists on MTV. I like to think of it as I am trying to keep the promises by looking after this little person’s longings and aims. It’s like I never want to let them down.

How about “Arms Grow”? It seems to be telling a story where someone is attempting to seek attention from another. What’s the greater narrative to the track? How about the production – how did you decide on the neon glow feel of it?

It is probably one of only a few love songs I’ve ever written (smiles). It is a dedication to the strong, yet uncomplicated, feelings of wanting to follow somebody else’s steps with pure fascination. I like to think of the fact that you can never know a person enough, that there will always be new things to discover along with time.

The track has taken a few turns before it got completed. In the mid and final mix stage I engaged a great producer and friend, Anders Lagerfors (Pale Honey). He added this great glow to the mix, by highlighting my old CASIO synth tunes and just simplifying the beat. I love the result!

We really think “Stuck” is one of the great tracks of 2017. When you take a step back and look at it in the context of the EP, we have to ask – is this a concept EP? It seems like there’s a clear narrative that’s being followed.

Thank you so much. To be honest, I was about to release only three songs (not only some of these tracks) for a shorter version of an EP. Then I decided to delay the release a bit. That feels just right, due to the new songs being produced and the production in total. I like that the songs are a bit different, yet with the same framing. I will also follow these tracks up with one more EP, as Pt. 2 in a serial story.

The movements and production on the title track are so mesmerizing. Can you walk us through the creation of that track?

I wrote this track very quickly; it happened when I began to use a new voice pedal. I added layers in a loop, and then I just had it. The whole EP and its title is dedicated to my brother, who is no longer among us <3.

Back to the production, I’ve used a great tape echo effect to get this “moving” feeling in the background. A lot of choir channels are added as well, to fill the song intimacy and personality. I would like to say that the choir represents the whole foundation of the song. It is a sad and fragile song, yet very strong in its honor to a person that is very important to me.

How did you decide on “Phantom Limb” as a song to cover? This made us curious – are there other covers you’re drawn to or any you might be working on?

Yeah, maybe this choice is a bit unexpected if you compare it to the rest of my tracks. I decided to interpret this beautiful song when I heard it in an old playlist, in the tour bus last spring. I came home from the tour with only one note in my note book, “Record a cover version of ‘Phantom Limb’ by The Shins”.

Something happens to my mind when I am out on the road. I get ideas, and I feel that I get closer to my senses and creativity. So, first thing when I landed back in the studio was to make a new version of this great original song. The song is “a hypothetical, fictional account of a young, lesbian couple in high school dealing with the shitty small town they live in.” (quote: songwriter and singer James Mercer).

…and yes, I have plans for a new cover to be released in the near future (smiles).

With the EP complete and released, what’s next – touring, more writing and back to the study, collaborations?

We will throw a release party in Gothenburg, November 18th. I will perform with special guests and friends to celebrate, and it’s gonna be so much fun! The physical vinyl EP (and CD) will be released for sale in January 2018, and throughout the whole month of February we will go for an extended European tour. Can’t wait! After that I will work on the release of the next EP.

Finally – what advice would you recommend or suggest for anyone looking to start making their own music or getting their sound out into the world?

It’s great to feel that physical vibe in the stomach when you feed your inner musical creativity, and I guess my recommendation is to try to hold on to that feeling as often as possible. Many of the keystones in the music industry do not let you focus on that, so it is important that you take care of it yourself. When doing that, I believe other people can feel that too and get inspiration from you.

03.11.2017 / By Joey Smith