A room in Frankfurt's in-location Mousonturm builds the stage for our Röyksopp interview. Right behind Svein and Torbjörn, a picture of a moose fighting with another one hangs on the wall. How ironic it is that Torbjörn got verbally slammed by a press release of PETA this summer after he jokingly told another interviewer that whenever he was angry as a child, he went out and killed some polar bears.
Now, Torbjörn is angry as an adult - angry at PETA. "Polar bears have never existed in Norway. And the joke was merely about the fact that people know so little about Norway. Obviously it's embarrassing for a huge organization like PETA to go out like that when it's an animal that's not existed in Norway for the last ten thousand years."
Just like the polar bear situation hasn't changed over the last few years, neither have Röyksopp. "The biggest change is probably people's perception of us and our music. The things that people tend to remember is our performance at MTV's European Music Awards in 2002 and the album sales of Melody A.M., which were kind of significant for a duo that's from Norway." Kind of significant? 1 million copies is much more than that! But that's the attitude of these two Norwegian guys - sometime ironic, but usually very humble. "We might be able to afford huger quantities of snacks and chocolate than we could three years ago, but apart from that, not too much has changed." Svein says.
"Around us though, much has changed. The world is not the way it was when we released Melody A.M. So on a professional basis, we want to make something that's relevant and not too typical, or tried out, or expected. We want to stay clear of following the most obvious trends. But we have always paid attention to what's going on in music. It's a great inspiration for us. But we don't jump on a bandwagon." Torbjörn says.
So what are their new plans for after the tour? "The only thing we can say is that we've already started to compile a lot of new music and the goal now is to work more on that. It's been a big inspiration for us to release this album. It's not like we drained ourselves through the release of The Understanding, quite the opposite, actually. We have the Muses on our side right now, and we're taking advantage of that." Torbjörn thinks.
While they're on tour, they are looking forward to seeing lots of different places, always dressed in red shirts and black ties, just like Kraftwerk looked when they performed in the 80s. "It must be a coincidence that they dress like us. But it seems like they have always had a certain fascination with technology and Vorsprung, which we like." But the switch to the Kraftwerk style that the reason for Svein to cut his hair from really long to somewhat short? "Well, I do cut my hair every now and then." "But why?" asks Torbjörn. Svein replies, "I like to change with my environment, sometimes with really long and sometimes with really short hair."
What Svein and Torbjörn also like is to bring different guest to their stage. In Frankfurt, a very pregnant Anneli Drecker and Kristian Stockhaus performed with them, in Munich, Berlin and other cities the original singer of "Only This Moment" and "Circuit Breaker", will join them on stage. That means that their former bass player Ole isn't with them at the moment. So is he doing his own thing now, Torbjörn? "Yeah, I was actually just on the phone with him when I walked in here, and he said he was doing his own thing. He said, 'I'm definitely doing my thing, son."
And what about the song Nok E Nok, which hasn't been released but has been part of the track order at their gigs recently, a sign of what's to come? "Actually, it´s a song that we've written - well, rather made or thrown together, not made, and we like to play some music on tour that hasn't been released. We don't feel an urge to release it either. It feels good to have something that's only good when it's played live." Torbjörn says. Röyksopp feels the same way about the rocking live version of Sparks. "We feel that some songs work in a live environment, because you have to re-create them to bring them to stage. And it's a nice experience to go to a concert and hear a version that you don't know yet. So, we don't have any plans to release this version in the future."
So what else do they have ready for their next album already? "We actually have a huge amount of material. But we never think about an album. It's not until we have a lot of songs until we think about how to make it a good album." Torbjörn says. But there is no second part of the Poor Leno story on The Understanding. Why not? "We like open endings, and the audience to live the myth."
What else is there? is the new single of Röyksopp. A fan favourite, we asked the guys what their hopes for the single were. "Our one hope is, that people, radio and TV stations dare to play it. Technically, it fulfils the criteria for being a radio-friendly piece of music, because it has vocals, it has a chorus, and it has drums. I just think that the song will scare people, who are too conservative, away. And we hope it won't." is Torbjörn's opinion. Svein reiterates their traditional stand on making 'radio-friendly' music though: "We're not going to compromise the song. It is what it is. Germany of course is a strange country when it comes to choosing singles, because people don't buy singles here anymore, they buy tones for cellphones. Perhaps we should get into the ringtone business if we want commercial success over here."
If anyone's still going to buy the single though, one reason will be the remixes by Jacques Lu Cont, Trentemöller and others as well as the live version of Alpha Male. Röyksopp are more than pleased with the remixes. "I think it's a very good remix package that shows the whole spectrum of music.", Torbjörn says. "I especially like the Thin White Duke (Jacques Lu Cont) mix of the song", adds Svein. In terms of picking their remixers, the two have an easy concept: "Telepathy! If that doesn't work, we use our passion for music, listen to music of others and sometimes approach these people."
Another good reason for buying the single is the fascinating video, which fits the song perfectly. Did Röyksopp use the same video production company as for their previous video clips? "No, we like to try out new companies and producers. We've never used the same company again for videos. What else is there was actually produced by a Danish guy, but he has another to do with the other videos like Sparks, even though What else is there is sort of the Sparks of this album."
In terms of own remixes, fans shouldn't expect too much from Röyksopp in the near future, as they've been busy touring and have received many more requests than they can fulfil. We actually had requests from Britney Spears again, I think she's doing a remix album, but we had already committed to this tour and we didn't really feel like doing it. We enjoy doing remixes, and we'll see what pops up. Maybe some of the things that we're working on that won't make their way onto an album will be the basis of a remix for someone if the key is right and some other things fit. Sometimes, when you merge music, is the perfect marriage."
Speaking of marriage - how much were Röyksopp involved in the production of Norwegian singer Annie's new single Wedding? "We actually wrote it. We definitely had a laugh doing this. It's more the kind of music that Annie would play as a DJ rather than having on an album. It's something we did really fast and messy, and most of the sounds are from the Korg MS-20, almost every sound apart from some live bass and percussion. Just to have someone sing 'Will you marry me?' on top of this kind of dark, thriving beat, it's just outrageous."
So will this song be part of a remix compilation or a DVD of some sort one day? "It's likely..." says Torbjörn, flashing a smile, but with a somewhat serious tone in his voice.
Röyksopp are currently on tour through Germany coming to München, Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg in Mid-November. You can find the exact tour details at www.Royksopp.de.