Anna of the North Is Flying Solo—And Loving It
Anna of the North is experiencing a newfound freedom that comes with being alone. Not to be confused with loneliness, this solo trip is entirely the opposite–characterized by continued musical success, a roster of collaborators—like G-Eazy, The Chainsmokers, and Tyler, the Creator—that just keeps growing, and a renewed self-confidence that Anna can hardly put into words: “It just feels different in a way that I can’t explain because it’s just me.” After splitting with her partner, Brady, post-Lovers (her 2017 acclaimed debut album), Anna almost bailed on music altogether, out of fear and frustration. Now, she’s back, more colorful than ever and unapologetically independent. “Leaning on Myself”, the forward-thinking first single off of her upcoming album, speaks to this determination, as does “Used To Be”, a more nostalgic look at simpler times past. We sat down with the singer at The Standard, High Line to talk more about the album, new tour dates, and why the first song she wrote solo is her “favorite song ever.”
So before “Used to Be” came out you released “Leaning on Myself”, the first single off of the new album. Tell us about that.
The album doesn’t have a release date yet, but Anna of the North used to be a duo—the previous album is written by me and him. So, “Leaning on Myself” is the first single that I created as a solo artist. So I guess that’s the big part of it.
How do you feel about going on your own after being a duo?
Well our work and personal relationship didn’t work out in the end, so we decided that we better go on our own without each other. But for me my whole music career had been with him. It was a bit scary, I didn’t know if I was good enough or if I would be able to do anything by myself. I remember my first writing session and putting ideas in front people I don’t know, it was quite scary but it worked out pretty well. Now I feel way more free because I can do whatever the fuck I want. Before it was 50-50, it was give and take with him. I love working with other people and collaborating, but since I’m the one who is performing, it needs to be me. Even if I’m doing the coolest song in the world, if it doesn’t feel like me, then there’s no point.
Even if I’m doing the coolest song in the world, if it doesn’t feel like me, then there’s no point.
What did you learn about yourself as you started your career as a solo artist? Did anything surprise you?
I’ve grown so much as an artist. As a writer and performer, everything. I learned so much even though I was so scared in the beginning, but it’s quite wonderful. If you have something in your job that you really wanna do but someone’s just like, “‘No,” it’s frustrating, especially if it’s something you believe in. It’s quite hard when people are shitting on something that you are attached to. But since I became a solo artist, meeting new people and having a team, a lot of things have changed. In terms of writing, how I see the entire project and the way I envision it is very different.
How long ago did you guys split up?
It’s been a long time, like two years I think? It’s a no-one-knows kind of situation. I think for him too… but we were not on the same level. We just don’t have a reason to talk about it. A lot of people have always thought that it was just me anyways. But now the new music is coming up, it’s important for people know that the music is me because it gives a way better story.
So this new album—is it a new reflection of you as solo artist?
I definitely feel like my new music is way happier and more colorful. And I definitely think I’m a colorful person too, and this music reflects that more than before. I’m a big fan of slow jam and stuff but I personally think that some of the songs that are coming up have good energy, it’s like a more organic sound, and even on stage I think it’s gonna work really well. When I played “Leaning on Myself” and other tracks at MoMA I could feel the energy—it’s funny to see it when you know that people have never heard it before. I could see people moving with it.
When do you think the album is gonna come out?
October, I think.
Cool. When does touring start?
I am going on a tour in April.
It’s super exciting. It just feels different in a way that I can’t explain because it’s just me. Before when it didn’t go well we could just laugh about it, but now all the responsibility is on me, you know? That’s why I value good feedback more because I know that what I’m doing is right. When people asked me, “What if your new music without Brady doesn’t work out?” I’m like, I didn’t even think about that! But yes, luckily it all worked out.
It just feels different in a way that I can’t explain because it’s just me.
I’m sure it’s cool to hear good reactions to your new work. What do you think people expect from you?
I don’t know, but what I’m worried about though is that they expect what happened in 2017 happening again. But this is going to be quite different and live show is going to be way better. I am hoping to make it fun and a good experience.
It definitely comes across on your Instagram and photos, it’s like this vibe of, “Don’t be so serious.”
Yeah! That’s why I’m having those couple of songs on my album with depth, musically it needs to be on point, but for some of the lyrics they can be more fun.
What are you most excited about for the rest of this year?
The album of course, but I’m excited for one of my favorite songs I’ve written, which was the first song I’ve ever written without Brady. I didn’t know if I was good enough or if I could do it. There was also a point where I wanted to quit music. I actually said that I didn’t want to do it anymore, but the managers convinced me to move on with music. So when I realized that the first song that I wrote without Brady was my favorite song ever, it made me feel like I could do it. It’s called “Thank Me Later” and I could see the crowd enjoying it when I first played in front of the audience too. I can’t wait for it to come out.
Is there any message for him, or is this just for you?
No, just for me. It’s just good times. I had been in relationships and that aspect inspired some of the songs in my previous album, like “I miss you I love you” type of lyrics and feels, but this album is more about self-confidence—maybe I’m alone and it’s tough, but I’m gonna march on and have fun. A line of “Leaning on Myself” that I really love is, “Lately I’ve been fine, I’ve been filling up my free time, just wasting all my money and playing in the sunshine.” And that’s what I think people should do, maybe not waste too much money, but just look around and try to enjoy what we have.
Special thanks to The Standard, High Line
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