Röyksopp conducted by Hugo Lunny  


March 2003

These are the transcripts of an interview with Röyksopp. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on March 9th, 2003.

Röyksopp have rapidly become one of the most popular electronic-ambient groups in Europe earning much praise and acclaim from not only the public, but their peers including the likes of Radiohead. Consisting of Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland, the duo have been touring North America on the coat-tails of their album "Melody A.M."

MVRemix: I first heard of you about five months ago when I went back to the UK for the first time. A friend of mine brought out your CD and put on "Remind Me" before doing so he said "I love this track, it always makes me feel happy when I listen to it." When you make a track, do you have in mind to inspire a certain emotion or do you just create a track and whatever people get from it, they get from it...?

Torbjorn: We don't have names for the things that we create. If we did it would be in a very secretive language between us which is basically made up by gestures and grunting noises. The feedback that we've had from people is so diverse that it's impossible for us to actually go out and say what the song's about. Basically because it's so very down to interpretation. We've heard so many things said about our music. Some people say that it's very Arctic, some say it's very clinical, others say it's very organic. Some say it's nice to go to sleep to...it's what you get out of it.

MVRemix: I've often wanted to create similar sorts of music myself, but I've never really had proper access to the equipment. How did you gain access to this machinery to create these beats...how did that come about?

Torbjorn: On a physical status?


Svein: Steal, rob and lie! When we started out in the late eighties, very early - that sounded very back in the day... But, we've had a keen interest in electronic keyboards since we were small kids. In the late eighties/early nineties, we were 14, 15 at that point we didn't really have the money. This was back in Norway, in Tromso - the city that we grew up in.

It was me, Torbjorn and two other friends. In order to obtain the keyboards and so on that we wanted, we thought of this good trick. There were only three music shops in Tromso at that point. We would go into these different music stores and pretend that we were wanting to buy gear. One of our friends, a really tall guy (also 15 at this point) - he had a proper beard growth and was about two meters tall. He was quite shy as well. Whereas me, Torbjorn and this third guy were quite outgoing and eager. Most kids are at that age, lots of hormones running wild in your body. He was a bit shy and he would be waiting at the door.

The guy behind the counter when we approached him and said "We're interested in this keyboard" would look at us and then look at our friend, who appeared to be an elderly guy or a grown up. He appeared not to be too interested in what we were doing, but definitely seemed to be with us. The guy behind the counter would think "He's probably an elder brother or something" and that we'd definitely have money. We'd express that we were interested in buying the keyboard and that we wanted to see whether we truly were - "Could we borrow it over the weekend? Just to try it out." The shopkeeper, looking at our tall friend said "Yeah, that'd be fine. But you'll have to deliver it back on Monday." Which was fine.

We made some tracks and did samples from the songs that we wanted, then we returned it back to the store on Monday saying "Well, it was good, but it was not really what we wanted." "Can we try this" we'd then say, pointing to the next model up. So we did that a couple of times, but obviously with there only being three music shops in Tromso they in the end came onto us, so we couldn't do that anymore.

Obviously as time went on, we managed to obtain some money by doing work here and there. We did newspaper route's and so on and managed to get money to buy gear. At the same point, software became more easily obtainable.

MVRemix: Did you have any formal teaching about chord progression and things along those lines or did you learn it all by experimentation?

Svein: In my case, we learned a bit in school (that wasn't much). Apart from that, whatever I know is through trying it out.

MVRemix: Have you experimented with drugs? If so do they help in your creativity?

Svein: I always find that a very hard question to answer because answering that very often can exclude people. If you say "Yes, I've done a lot!" Some people might say [shadily looks around the room, disapprovingly] "Oh..." And if you say "No, I've never done anything" other people may [disappointedly looks around the room] may go "Oh..." I just find it very hard to answer that question in a good political way other than what I just did now.

MVRemix: Do you still feel there is a drug culture associated with the types of music that you do. Or do you feel that has dwindled down...

Svein: I think that the drug relation has moved more onto the dance related stuff. Some of the more synthetic, harder drugs...they're more related to trance music and that kind of stuff. Also, club culture comes off more hard hitting. I don't know what to say to that, there's definitely a link to the more chill stuff and the likes of weed and so on. I don't know whether it's going up or down.

Torbjorn: This is something that I personally don't reflect much upon...

Svein: From a Norwegian point of view I see that it is more now, than it was five years ago. There's definitely a bigger acceptance, that's the only thing I see.

MVRemix: If I'm coming to a Röyksopp show. What is it that I'm going to experience that I won't experience simply from listening to your material on CD?

Torbjorn: First and foremost you'll actually see us. You'll watch us perform. We'll play some keyboards, analog synthesizers as well as samples that we'll trigger. We'll play electronic percussion. We have another guy who's the one who plays bass on "A Higher Place" on the album. He's with us playing bass on quite a few tracks. As an overall, we get the impression that people find what we're doing live much more energetic. That's the natural way for us to actually connect with the audience. To be energetic about what you do and have fun on stage. If we manage to do that, that's almost always a good kick. But if we feel like everything is wrong, we'll probably just stand there and be more shy about what we do. Then we don't get the response.

Svein: I think I might be as daring as to say that as a live thing, we're a bit more blunt. Less subtle, more in your face on an energetic level.

MVRemix: Are you currently working on a follow up to "Melody A.M." and are there any remixes or guest appearances that you've been involved in that have yet to surface or have yet to be released?

Svein: We are making music almost constantly or whenever we have time. But not necessarily for the sake of a second album, just more for the sake of making music. It's just one of those things that we do. At some point when we feel that the time is right and we feel comfortable enough, we'll make the second album. As for now, we're making music for the sake of making music and not for the second album thing.

Remixes and so on...we have done remixes for other people. There are still offers popping up every now and then so there may become something in the future - some production for other people, but we haven't really decided which ones to do yet.

MVRemix: How likely is it that the Coldplay ('Politik') remix is going to surface?

Svein: I do not know actually because I think perhaps we went a bit too far with that one. I guess it just remains to see what happens - we may have gone a bit too far...

Torbjorn: Many DJ's feel they have an educating aspect as well as an entertaining aspect and I think that we may have gone a little too far on that educating aspect of that remix and a bit too low on the entertaining aspect. That's what happens sometimes when you become what we call "Up your own..."

MVRemix: Because we're kind of pushed for time, I'm wondering are there any last words/comments for your fans or potential fans?

Torbjorn: Yes...[puts on serious, yet smirking expression] let the past, be what it is and let the present move forward into the future. [laughs and picks up a water bottle] No, I didn't mean that, that's not anything we want you to print.

Svein: I don't know what to say - stay focused...

[interrupting] Torbjorn: Be unexpectedly kind to someone at least once a day.

Svein: And yourself included.

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