In 2006, everything was happening at the same time. In two years, I'd gone from being a journalist with a guitar my father bought at an auction for 50 quid, to having a Japanese record deal, an English manager and interest from several big labels. All of this happened with my debut album, Introducing: Hello Saferide. Hello Saferide is a shit name but I just picked something in 2004 when I was putting a song up on the Internet and now the name lingers with me, dear to me as a mole on the neck.
That spring, everyone wanted more songs five minutes ago. We were touring Asia, Brazil, and most of Europe.They were talking about how huge this could become. I was terrified by the sudden attention, so I took a time out and decided to make a weird little record in Swedish, Säkert! That album sold gold and won me two Grammy awards in 2007 (Best Female Artist, Best Lyrics). I always knew I wanted to do another album in English though.
During the years that passed, I once again changed my taste in music. What once was a passion for indie pop and twee turned into passion for...well, still indie pop I guess, but the edgier kind, and I had started to accept that the electric guitar is better than the acoustic one.
Finding the right producer for the next HS album was hard. I asked everyone I met who they thought I should work with. I got suggestions on hip producers from all over the world, but no one felt more right to work with than Andreas Mattsson, who not only is the genius behind Sweden's best 90's indie pop band Popsicle, but who also plays guitar more beautiful than anyone I ever met and who is a genuinely nice guy. Andreas found all the right sounds, and he also came up with the most amazing instrumental parts for these songs whose lyrics always have too many words at the same time.
As usual, it's all about me making up stories and singing them to simple chords. This time around, the songs are about losing your virginity (X telling me about the loss of a dear friend, at age 16), about two parents arguing about whose fault it is their son grew up to be a Nazi (Overall), and about how every person is like a song, and you should stick with the God only knows-people (I wonder who is like this one). (And yes, speaking of God only knows, my love for the Beach Boys also came up when I answered to another song of theirs and wrote I was definitely made for these times! which is not on the album, but you might have heard it in a Volvo ad for their new environmentally friendly cars.)
The first single from More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide is called Anna. It's about a future daughter.
"Now, at first blush, a Swedish indie-pop singer/songwriter might not appear to have much in common with Taylor Swift or Toby Keith, let alone George Jones or Patsy Cline, but Stockholm's Annika Norlin does share their genre's focus on good stories, strong melodies, and clear, unpretentious arrangements", wrote Pitchfork about Anna, and I think that's as good an explanation as any.
While writing and recording, we listened to records by: Randy Newman, Carole King, Heavenly, Wilco, Jonathan Richman, Kirsty Maccoll, Lyle Lovett, The Siddeleys. the National. Maybe you can hear traces of them in the songs, maybe you can't.
Besides from Andreas (guitars, piano, voice, etc) and me (voice, guitars), this record also features Jens Lagergren (Thunder Express, I Are Droid), Fredrik Hultgren (Dreamboy), Maia Hirasawa, Andrea Kellerman (Firefox AK), Tomas Hallonsten (Tape), Ceciilia Linné, and strings conducted by Johan Berthling (The Tiny). The album was mixed by Pelle Gunnerfeldt.
Annika Norlin, September 2008
"A few people might find Hello Saferide, like the best of Norlin's current Swedish contemporaries, too cute for comfort. If such cynics would rather hang out with assholes and imbeciles, well, let them. In the mold of Jonathan Richman circa The Modern Lovers or Rockin' and Romance, Norlin is a gifted anti-punk."
MARC HOGAN, PITCHFORK MEDIA
"Her songs acknowledge a fact of life rarely acknowledged in music: that kissing, laughing, and crying can happen in the same three minutes. "
PAUL SCOTT, STYLUS
"The woman destined to be bigger than ABBA in 2007."
TOM MORTON, SUNDAY HERALD
"You write my life."
ANONYMOUS HS GUESTBOOK WRITER, 2007
"No live performance has moved me more this year. I wish she would stop dancing though, it just looks... weird."