are a Norwegian band playing warm
and fuzzy ambient dance that combines lounge music and
electronic funk with cinematic soundtracks and club-friendly beats. A formula
that won them the fame of the most interesting band of the new Scandinavian scene.
The duo consists of Torbj÷rn Brundtland and Svein Berge, and originally come from
Troms°, where Geir - the man behind the local electronic phenomenons Biosphere
and Bel Canto - helped them to
get their first record contract back in 1995, when their name was Aadena Cycle.
Among the sources of inspiration for the band are Erik Satie, the porn music composer
Francis Lai and the warm, analogue sound of the 1970s. Royksopp's debut album,
Melody A.M. was released from the Wall of Sound label, and the first single, "Eple",
was remixed by Bj°rn Torske. As it
was reported, this is "electronic music with northern lights in the eyes, and
a very elegant Norwegian contribution to the new hot genre: lounge/chill". "Royksopp
music is a spectral combination of bleepy 80s synths, lightly crunching backbeats
and dreamy vocals; the mood is pure post-clubbing afterglow, in bed with your
loved one, in some snowbound Ikea log cabin - Alex Needham wrote on NME - "
Sounds nice? It is. 'In Space' sprinkles rippling harps over sighing, sampled
strings, 'Royksopp's Night Out' suggests a few hours spent under the Northern
Lights rather than a mirrorball, the swaying sample in 'So Easy' irresistibly
evokes images of the cuddly monsters from 'Where The Wild Things Are' and 'Poor
Leno' is eerie, strangely homoerotic, disco". We
interviewed Svein Berge about the sudden (and partly unexpected) success of his
did you and Torbjorn start playing music together?
We met when I was 12 and he was 13. But I guess we already had an
interest on electronic music. I thinke we actually both our first synthesizers
two years later. It was just a hobby to try how our keyboards and keyboards work.
The first thing we did a demo in early Nineties on an ambient thing. As Royksopp
we released our first work a couple of years ago.
does Royksopp mean?
It's a bit hard to translate it, because it's a Norwegian word and
it's a worldplay, with so many meanings. If you want to translate it in English,
the one word would be "puff ball", which is a small fungus which grows on pavements,
a quite ugly little thing. If you step on it it explodes in a small cloud and
all the spores will spread around and they will grow other new mushhroom. The
way they have sex is if people step on them. Another one is that smoke cloud after
an atomic bomb.
your hometown, is a very small town but with a lot of music bands; first Bel
Canto and Biosphere, then Royksopp. What's the reason for such a cool music
scene in Tromso?
It's a really small place situated far above the Artic Circle, the
city itself is located on an island with two bridges connections. It's also about
60.000 people. There are many small wooden houses on the island. I think this
environment partly has the responsibility for such a music scene. We are isolated,
you have to drive five hours to come to the nearest city. There's nothing but
pure williness and I guess that people try to be innovative because you don't
have a place to look for fun and inspiration. Living on this isolated island,
you can't follow trends, you follow your own trends.
is considered as a cold country, but I see that both you and Bel Canto like "warmer
sounds", Bel Canto use esothic rhythms, you use especially funk. In your music,
what's the balance between the warm, funky sounds and the "cold" electronics atmospheres?
With the dangerto appear pretentious, I would say that we have our
music ineritage in the ambient music scene. We grow up listening to Bel Canto
and Biosphere, but after we turn a bit more into house music, more drums and more
bass basically. And also beeing in Tromso that is very cold we really tried to
get a heat, with afro-american sounds. We just wanted to balance everything up.
say that Norway is a quite isolated country, but I see your music is the synthesys
of the new millennium sounds, do you listen to a lot of music? What are your favorite
We basically just like music, there are many inspirations. You have
the obvious ones, like Kraftwerk
and Brian Eno that represent the electronic
side of us. We also like Giorgio Moroder for disco rhythms and melodies, Art of
Noise, for their use of sampler as an instrument, many hip hop producers and even
Vangelis: some of his early
works show how easy harmonies can be very effective and dramatic at the same time.
Our music also combines the harmonies of film music and of classical composers
such as Erik Satie and melodies of Francis Lai (arty porn film producer) with
the analogue warmth of Seventies and the fatness of the Eighties over a thorough
about that "big machine" with which you incorporated your instruments?
We were supposed to play live, but electronic music live can be a
bit boring sometimes, we tom ake it more fun to watch. So we built this huge machine
out of metal, over 100 kilos, 5 metres long, 1,8 metres tall. We incorporated
all our keyboards, all our electronic equipment into it, giving us an opportunity
to play on the outside and go in by a door and play from the inside. It looks
like a caravan and it has two holes in it so we can play electronic drums from
the inside of it with our arms steaking out of the machine and our heads in a
glass ball. It also has a chimney where smoke came out.
kind of keyboards do you like more? Is it true that you prefer the old ones.
We prefer the old ones instead of the new ones because we find it
more easy to manipulate the sounds and make your own sounds than on the new ones.
I guess it's more warm, because the electricty in the new ones is more digital
and it sounds a bit more steryl.
the main goal of your music?
Just to provoke a feeling in people, to provoke an emotional reaction.
true you studied in University to learn making music is much more fun?
We both attended University studing English course, but the music
was just a hobby and it turn out to become a bit bigger than we expected so we
kind of samples do you use in your music?
The melody line on the track called "So easy" has elements of a Swedish
Sixties easy listening band and it's covering also a Burt Bacharach song. Other
than that we basically sample sounds, we don't sample all song, it has to be justified
in some way.
you tour in Italy soon?
So far we haven't played in Italy, but we'd love to play there. Out
of Norway, we have played in the UK, in Germany and Belgium.