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Back To Röyksopp's

Author: Patricia Escalon
Tuesday, May 8, 2007

If you haven't heard of Röyksopp yet, you've been detained in Kabul and sent to Guantanamo. The Norwegian duo burst onto the scene in 2001 with Poor Leno. Part of the Bergen wave of electronic music, Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge formed Röyksopp in 1998 in their hometown of Tromsø, Norway.

Their song Eple made them ubiquitous when Apple purchased it as the opening sound for the Panther operating system (MAC OS X). They've toured with Basement Jaxx and Moby. So Easy' made them uber-famous via the T-Mobile advertisement in the United Kingdom. Poor Leno even features in the video game, SSX3.

TranZfusion spoke with Torbjørn Brundtland about their newly released compilation, 'Back to Mine'. Their 'Seven Stages to Songwriting Enlightenement' are very much in evidence during the interview, as is Brundtland's sense of humour.

He cheekily attributes the choice of tracks to opium. He explains that they were at a loss on how to approach the music chosen, as it all came from the last analog era: the late '70s and early '80s. Since a lot of that music was not sequencer-based, their vocals would have to be synchronised without using a computer clock, unlike modern dance music. "So, in order to motivate ourselves for the task, we met up with a guy who was a representative for an ancient religion. He was using a bit of opium. We told him we wanted to do this mix. In the past, we had made things difficult for ourselves. He started singing to us. We could feel that it sounded very ancient, what he sang, but the chorus was in clear Norwegian. It was 'if you are to ride this vehicle, you must follow the dogs'. When he said that, he smiled at us. He had no teeth at all, but he had such a brilliant smile, that we felt strong at heart. When we left the opium smoker, we were able to go and pull off the mix."

The shaman's cryptic remark definitely influences the selection of tracks. The wide-eyed innocence of Seasons in The Sun bounces off the glam rock of Bowie's New Career in a New Town. Psychedelic rock fills the ears in When Will You Come Home. Country music makes an appearance with George Jones in Grand Tour. The listener feels as if he/she was sitting at home, looking through old records. Their nostalgic tone is underscored with the final song When You Wish Upon A Star. It is either late at night when everything in Bergen has closed, there's no booze left anywhere and their friends have all gone home (or heavy psychotropic drugs are involved).

If this approach to remixing tracks sounds eccentric and surreal, Brundtland asserts that Royksopp's universe is full of surreal moments. "Once when we played a concert, a fan gave us an envelope and disappeared, sooner than we had time to open it. In the envelope, there was a key. We showed the key to our local chauffeur. He said 'I know what it is, It's for a locker in a train station.' He drove us to the train station. We opened the storage locker and inside there was a VHS tape. Luckily our tour bus contained a VHS player, and we watched it. It looks like one of those things that is really old. You believe this has to be 1930s Boston, and a guy is standing by one of those old gramophone players. It looks like ragtime and in between is Röyksopp, just a fast glimpse. Needless to say, it freaked us out."

He attributes these serendipitous encounters to being Norwegian. "People think a lot about Norway. They are not interested in knowing whether what they think is correct or not. The typical things they think about are glaciers, fjords, icebergs and those things.", he surmises. "So I guess it puts you in a position when travelling overseas, that you are not necessarily put together with the other bands from the rest of the world. This why you get to experience these rather different things."

Currently, Röyksopp is mixing a new album which they are<