Annie's Diva Dreams

Annie's Diva Dreams
Dance pop has a quality that's consistently cheesy and regularly annoying, but in each of the last three decades at least one blonde has redefined the rules. Madonna in the '80s, Kylie's revival in the '90s and now we have Annie, possibly the best of the bunch.

Lighting up blogs and causing traffic jams on peer-to-peer networks last year with her sensational Europe-only debut album, Anniemal, the Norwegian electro-pop princess became a cult sensation without even having a record available across the Atlantic.

Born Anne Lilia Berge Strand, she admits the reaction over here far surpasses what she ever imagined. "When I started the Annie project I didn't really have any idea of what would happen," she confesses. "What I'm really surprised about is that the U.S. has been interested in me. To me, I thought it would be too European-sounding. I didn't think anyone over there would be interested."

Now that her album is getting a domestic release, thanks to über-hipsters Vice Records, Annie is ready to show off her talent, minus some of the usual trappings (the svengali) and with a few surprises (a live band). "For me it is very important to be involved and I guess I am a little bit of a control freak. I actually wrote most of the songs before I went into the studio and then I began working with three different producers: Timo, Richard X and Röyksopp. I was taking part in a lot of the production to make sure it got the right sound."

As for her live band, Annie's ecstatic about their potential. "I didn't really know if it would work at all, but we were practicing in a small cellar in Finland for three months and then we started to do a few gigs. Now it's starting to sound good and it's really, really fun."