In Norway, Anneli Drecker is known as the Queen of Arctic Electronica. Her ethereal voice became known through the music of her band, Bel Canto. At age 17, Anneli left her Arctic home town of Tromsø with band members Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) and Nils Johansen, for the pulsating indie scene in Bruxelles. Signed to the legendary Belgian label Crammed discs along with Zap Mama and Tuxedomoon, Bel Canto captured the Zeitgeist of European electronic music in the late eighties. Their two first albums, White Out Conditions and Birds Of Passage were released internationally through Nettwerk and IRS/MCA, and later, in the 90´s, they were signed to Sony France and Lava/Atlantic Records. Bel Canto toured France, the Benelux and Germany many times from 88-94 and also became the winner of Rock En France in 1991. They have won the Norwegian Grammy award “Spellemannsprisen” three times, and are regarded as the great pioneers in the Norwegian electronic pop music scene.
With her characteristic experimental singing style, often compared to such wonderful singers as Lisa Gerrard and Liz Fraser, Anneli has had the possibility to collaborate with many great artists. She participated in projects with Hector Zazou, Jah Wobble, Gavin Friday, DJ Krush, Tim Simenon, Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins, and Guy Sigsworth. Anneli has also cooperated with ECM artist Ketil Bjørnstad and recorded three albums based on poems by John Donne and Hart Crane. Few can claim that they have been singing duets with Morten Harket, but Anneli joined a-ha on two world tours as their guest singer.
In 1999, Röyksopp – consisting of Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge, also from Tromsø – released their debut album Melody AM. As Torbjørn had been a co-producer and live member of Bel Canto for a couple of years and also a co-producer of Anneli´s first solo album Tundra, it was natural for them to have Anneli as their singer when they went out on what would be the start of one of Norway´s biggest pop adventures. The song Sparks, which Anneli wrote with Svein and Torbjørn was the third single from Melody AM and featured on several movies and tv-series. She continued working with Röyksopp for more than ten years, touring the world and co-writing several songs with Svein and Torbjørn including True To Life, Vision One and You Don’t Have A Clue.
In 2012, Anneli left Röyksopp to return to her own music, and her new solo record, Rocks and Straws, is a homecoming song, an ode to her native town and region. Tromsø sits deep in the Arctic but still has a very vivid cultural life and is home to many of the great artists from Norway. The long, arctic winters have no sun, but there is still light – the glassy blue of the dusk-like midday glow in the south, and the flickering green and red aurora that can be seen across the horizon on many days.
Rocks and Straws is based on lyrics by the North Norwegian cult poet Arvid Hanssen, translated into English by artist and writer Roy-Frode Løvland. Hanssens poems are strongly influenced by the mysterious and powerful nature of this arctic region, like the writings of Knut Hamsun, born only a few miles from Hanssens birthplace. Man and nature, and man in nature – Hanssen captures the interaction of Northern Norwegians with their merciless but beautiful surroundings, and the sometimes-deadpan observations that follow.
It is a great personal pleasure for Anneli to make Hanssens work known to a wider audience, especially outside of Norway, as he has had a great influence on her. In 1982, as a child, she starred in a major motion picture based on Hanssens book Søsken på Guds jord (Siblings on God’s Earth). She met Hanssen during the shoot, and he and his works made a great impression on her.
Rocks and Straws is influenced by the arctic soundscapes that Anneli has always carried with her, but is above all an acoustic record. In a world of ever-simpler electronic recordings she has moved in the other direction, and made a record based on recording techniques from the seventies. The music is played live, acoustically, with the best musicians Norway (and the world?) can offer: Eivind Aarset, guitar God and well known for his collaborations with Nils Petter Molvær, and Rune Arnesen, infamous drummer who has played with everyone, are the musical backbone of the album. Ole Vegard Skauge, acclaimed bass player of Röyksopp, and Tromsø’s orchestra, The Arctic Philharmonic, also contribute to the album. Apart from singing Anneli plays the piano and organ, and has produced the recording with the musicians. As a Ph. D. candidate at the Arctic University of Tromsø, she is doing a research project on the voice techniques of indigenous people, and this is apparent especially in the song Ocean´s Organ, with a Maori group singing kapa haka songs that Anneli recorded while in Auckland, New Zealand. The title refers to the voices of sailors that have drowned in the ocean, a subject that the Maori singers could easily relate to. A global reference. Something that we all are connected to: Water. And rocks. And straws.