Röyksopp (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈrœ̂ʏksɔp]) are a Norwegian electronic music duo from Tromsø in Troms og Finnmark, (northern Norway) formed in 1998. The duo consists of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland. Røyksopp is the Norwegian word for the class of mushrooms known as puffballs, but the band's name substitutes ö for the second letter (in place of ø).
|Origin||Tromsø, Troms, Norway|
Berge and Brundtland were introduced to each other through a mutual friend in Tromsø, Norway. They enjoyed the same films and music, and shared an interest in electronics. The two experimented with various forms of electronic music, and bought a drum machine together during the Tromsø techno scene before going their separate ways. Several years later, the two met up again and formed Röyksopp during the Bergen Wave. After experimenting with different genres of electronic music, the band solidified their place in the electronica scene with their 2001 debut album, Melody A.M., released on the Wall of Sound record label.
Röyksopp has consistently experimented with various genres pertaining to electronic music. Stylistically, the band makes use of various genres, including ambient, house music and synth-pop. The band is also known for its elaborate concert performances, which often feature eccentric outfits.
Since their 1998 debut, the duo has gained critical acclaim and popular success around the world. To date, Röyksopp has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, won seven Spellemannprisen awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums that have topped the charts in several countries, including four consecutive number-one albums in their native country.
Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland were introduced at a friend's house in Tromsø, Norway, and began experimenting with electronic instruments in the early 1990s as a part of the Tromsø techno scene. The two met when Berge was 12 years old and Brundtland was 13, and the two began playing music together due to a shared interest in electronica. Their childhood in Tromsø and the natural scenery of Northern Norway have often been mentioned as some of their most important inspirations. The pair separated before obtaining any popular success with their music, but reunited with each other in 1998 in Bergen, Norway.
Bergen, a city of 212,944 people in 1990, had overtaken Tromsø's position as the most vital scene for underground electronic music in Norway, and Röyksopp worked with other Norwegian musicians like Frost, Those Norwegians, Drum Island, and Kings of Convenience's guitarist and singer Erlend Øye in what was called the Bergen Wave. During this time, the duo befriended Geir Jenssen. Under the tutelage of Jenssen, the duo started a band called Aedena Cycle with Gaute Barlindhaug and Kolbjørn Lyslo. In 1994 Aedena Cycle recorded a vinyl EP called Traveler's Dreams. The EP was released under the R&S Records sublabel Apollo. Following the release of the EP, Jenssen almost convinced the band to sign a full record deal with Apollo Records.
1998–2000: Early yearsEdit
After recording as part of Aedena Cycle, Berge and Brundtland left the group to form their own band, Röyksopp. The word röyksopp is a stylized version of the Norwegian word for the puffball mushroom, "røyksopp". The band has stated that the word could also evoke the mushroom cloud resulting from an atomic blast.
Röyksopp's debut single was released by local Bergen Wave-era independent label Tellé. Röyksopp's first single "So Easy", which was later re-released on their first album, was the second record released by Tellé. After being used in a UK T-Mobile advertisement, "So Easy" became popular in the UK market and was later re-released, combined with their later single "Remind Me".
2001–2004: Melody A.M. and early successEdit
After leaving Tellé, the band signed with British label Wall of Sound and released Melody A.M., which became certified platinum in the band's native Norway and sold over a million copies worldwide. The album peaked at number one in Norway, and produced the UK Top 40 singles "Eple", "Poor Leno", and "Remind Me". A final single, "Sparks", was also released. Eple (IPA: [ˈɛ̀plə]) – meaning "apple" in Norwegian – was licensed by Apple Inc. for use as the welcome music to the company's Mac OS X Panther operating system, playing the first time a user booted a new Apple-brand computer.
The band's popularity was boosted by several graphically experimental music videos, many of which were put into heavy rotation by MTV. The music video for "Remind Me", featuring an infographic-style video by French company H5, won the 2002 MTV Europe Music Award for best music video. In this same event the duo was nominated in three more categories: "Best Nordic Act", "Best New Artist" and "Best Dance Act". The duo performed the song "Poor Leno" at the event. One year later they received a nomination for "Best Group" at the Brit Awards.
During this period Röyksopp slowly gained popularity in the United States. "Remind Me", one of the two Röyksopp and Erlend Øye collaborations found on Melody A.M., was featured in a Geico car insurance commercial. The commercial was the fourth of the "It's so easy a caveman could do it" ads, and featured said caveman riding a moving sidewalk in an airport terminal when he comes across a poster displaying the advertisement campaign.
2005–2008: The UnderstandingEdit
Röyksopp's second studio album, The Understanding, was released on 12 July 2005, preceded by the single "Only This Moment" on 27 June 2005. The single managed to peak at number 33 in the United Kingdom. The video for "Only This Moment" is closely based on the events of the Paris 1968 riots, and elements of propaganda are found throughout the video clip. The album's second single, "49 Percent", with the vocals of Chelonis R. Jones was released on 26 September 2005. A third single, "What Else Is There?", including vocals from Swedish singer Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife, became the album's biggest single, peaking at number 32 in the United Kingdom, and at number four in Norway. "Beautiful Day Without You" was the album's fourth single, and a non-album track, "Curves", was also released.
Building upon the success of Melody A.M., The Understanding was very successful in Europe. The album peaked at number one in Norway, and at number 13 in the UK. During this time, Röyksopp's popularity continued to increase in the United States. The album charted on many Billboard charts, and peaked at number two on the Top Electronic Albums chart, number 22 on the Top Heatseekers chart, and number 32 on the Top Independent Albums.
After the release of The Understanding, some of Röyksopp's singles were licensed for movie appearances. "What Else Is There?" was featured during a scene in the 2007 American film Meet Bill and during the end credits of the 2006 British film Cashback, and "Circuit Breaker" was used in the 2007 snowboard film Picture This.
On 19 June 2006, Röyksopp released a nine-track live album called Röyksopp's Night Out. Notably, the album contains a reinterpretation of the song "Go with the Flow", originally by Queens of the Stone Age.
On 5 March 2007, Röyksopp compiled their favourite tracks by other artists for the Back to Mine series. Called Back to Mine: Röyksopp, the album was released in the US on 5 March 2007, and in the UK on 27 April 2007. The album also includes their own track "Meatball", released under the pseudonym "Emmanuel Splice". Svein Berge also contributed as a board member for the celebration of the Grieg year, as Norway celebrated their famous composer Edvard Grieg.
On the tenth anniversary of Röyksopp's formation—15 December 2008—the band released a new track, "Happy Birthday", for free to celebrate the event. The song was released for free streaming on the band's website.
2009–2011: Junior and SeniorEdit
Röyksopp's third studio album, Junior, was released on 23 March 2009, featuring the single "Happy Up Here". The song debuted on BBC Radio 1's Pete Tong show on 9 January 2009. It was officially released digitally on 16 March 2009. The music video for "Happy Up Here", made by Reuben Sutherland, features elements from the arcade game Space Invaders. Both the single and the video were met with positive reactions from the press and fans.
"The Girl and the Robot", the second single from the album Junior, featuring vocals from Swedish singer Robyn, was released on 15 June 2009. The vinyl and digital versions of the single included remixes of the song by Kris Menace, Chateau Marmont and Spencer & Hill. At the 52nd Grammy Awards, the Jean Elan remix of "The Girl and the Robot" was nominated for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. "This Must Be It" is the third single from the album, including vocals from Swedish singer Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife and Fever Ray. The single also featuring remixes by Thin White Duke, LehtMoJoe, Rex the Dog and Apparat, among others. The band later released the stems for the song "Tricky Tricky" as part of a remix competition and the winning entries were released on 27 October 2009.
Junior was a success around the world. The album peaked at number one in Norway, the band's third consecutive release to do so. Junior also peaked at number 21 on the UK Albums Chart and charted on many Billboard charts, including the Billboard 200–the first Röyksopp release to do so–where it peaked at number 126. The album also peaked at number four on the Top Electronic Albums chart and number two on the Top Heatseekers chart.
Junior was followed by Senior, which is more quiet, "withdrawn and introspective" and "create[s] an atmosphere and an ambiance". Senior is the duo's first album to consist solely of instrumental tracks. The first single from the album, "The Drug", was released on 9 August 2010. The album itself was released on 13 September 2010, and was successful in the band's native Norway, peaking at number one, the band's fourth consecutive release to do so.
2013–2016: Do It Again, The Inevitable End and Star Wars HeadspaceEdit
In January 2013, Röyksopp released a song called "Running to the Sea", a collaboration with Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør. According to the band, the song was written and recorded in two days for a televised performance. The single was released on 16 December 2013,[needs update] with a B-side containing a song called "Something in My Heart", featuring Jamie McDermott from The Irrepressibles. Röyksopp and Sundfør also collaborated in creating a cover version of Depeche Mode's "Ice Machine" for their Late Night Tales compilation album, Late Night Tales: Röyksopp.
On 14 April 2014, Röyksopp announced a collaborative EP with Robyn titled Do It Again to coincide with their joint tour. A snippet of one of the five tracks set to be released on the album, "Monument", was released the same day. The album was released on 26 May through Dog Triumph, Wall of Sound, and Cooking Vinyl. The duo stated that a re-worked version of "Monument" would form a part of their next album. On 29 September 2014, Röyksopp announced that their next album, titled The Inevitable End, would explore "darker subject matter with emphasis on the lyrical content", and would be their last LP, though they will not stop making music. The album was released on 7 November 2014 by Dog Triumph. The special edition of the album includes new versions of the previously released tracks "Running to the Sea", "Do It Again" and "Monument" as well as the original version of "Something in My Heart". Some singles did precede the release of the album: "Skulls", "Sordid Affair" and the new version of "Monument". "Skulls" and "Monument" were accompanied by two new video clips. The video for "I Had This Thing" was shared on 11 May 2015.
In early 2015, it was announced that the band had composed a musical accompaniment to a comedic work based upon the novels of Franz Kafka. The project debuted at the Bergen International Festival in the same year. Also in 2015, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK introduced a series of new jingles by Röyksopp for the TV output of the NRK Nyheter news division, as part of a comprehensive redesign of the sub-brand. On 8 February 2016, Röyksopp announced that a new track titled "Bounty Hunters" would be included on the Star Wars Headspace compilation. The album was released on 19 February 2016. On 9 September 2016, Röyksopp released a new song, in collaboration with Susanne Sundfør, called "Never Ever". Additional remixes of the song have been released between February and April 2017, including Röyksopp's own club mix.
2019: Lost TapesEdit
In February 2019, the band announced that they would be releasing B-sides, exclusives and previously unreleased tracks through the Lost Tapes playlist, starting with "I Wanna Know" and "Rising Urge". The tracks have been released for free on music streaming services, including Spotify and YouTube, but are also sold in digital stores like Amazon and the iTunes Store. As of June 2020, 14 tracks have been released, with more promised.
A notable component of Röyksopp's song repertoire relies on the use of multiple lead vocalists. For instance, Melody A.M. features the vocal talents of Anneli Drecker and Erlend Øye, The Understanding features Kate Havnevik, Chelonis R. Jones, and Karin Dreijer Andersson, and Junior features Robyn, Anneli Drecker, Karin Dreijer Andersson, and Lykke Li.
Röyksopp enjoy using classic synthesizers, including the monophonic Korg MS-20, the polyphonic Roland Juno-106, and multiple members of the Akai Sampler Series. The band has stated that they prefer using analogue synthesizers over digital ones. Svein Berge said, "It's fairly limited the fun you can have with the use of a mouse. We like to mix."
In addition to writing their own music, the duo enjoy remixing songs. Berge said, "It's obviously fun remixing people like Coldplay, artists of such a big calibre. Whenever people approach us for a remix it's very nice; being approached by Roots Manuva, The Streets, and even Peter Gabriel is quite fun." The band was also asked by Britney Spears for a remix, but had to turn down the offer due to scheduling conflicts.
As they grew up in northern Norway, Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland listened to local artists like Bel Canto and former Bel Canto member Biosphere (whom, coincidentally, Berge and Brundtland would remix in 1997 while they were part of Alanïa). The band has also expressed their interest in the music of Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Giorgio Moroder, Art of Noise, Vangelis, Erik Satie, and Francis Lai. Svein Berge has also stated that he is very fond of the production and programming skills of Datassette, who produced a remix of the Röyksopp single "Happy Up Here".
Röyksopp often include references and homages to their musical influences. For instance, "Röyksopp Forever" pays homage to famous electronica musicians from the 1970s, including, "the likes of Vangelis and these people, and Krautrock, like Tangerine Dream and even Pink Floyd and King Crimson."
Röyksopp is known for its elaborate concert performances. Marc Hogan of Pitchfork Media said that "Those who have heard Röyksopp's two albums ... won't be surprised to learn the Norwegian duo's live set is much better and more raucuous than hunching next to the speakers at yer [sic] local Crate & Barrel". When performing live, the duo often appear in eccentric outfits. Ari Stein, of Electronic Beats, said, that during one particular live set, "Röyksopp returned with two separate encores, one which included Berge playing "Eple" with a space suit capsule on his head".
Reception and awardsEdit
In addition to sales success, Röyksopp has garnered generally positive reception from many music critics. The band has also been nominated for many prestigious awards, including multiple Spellemannprisens and a Grammy.
The tracks "What Else Is There?" and "Eple" were chosen among the top 500 tracks of the decade by Pitchfork Media and placed in 375th and 336th place respectively. Another track written by Röyksopp, Annie's "Heartbeat", was placed 17th on the same list. On 24 November 2009, Melody A.M. was named the best Norwegian album of the decade by Norway's largest newspaper, Verdens Gang. The Understanding came 5th on the same list. In a ranking of the top 10 Norwegian tracks of the decade by VG, "Eple" and "What Else Is There?" were placed 3rd and 6th respectively.
However, some criticism has been aimed at the repetitive nature of the band and the trip hop genre in general. Robert Christgau said that, "chill-out tends toward waiting-room music for plastic surgeons who really want you to order that butt implant. Where once [Röyksopp] were extolled for their subtle melodicism, here their schlock candidly attacks the jugular. If they're Air, Goldie was Tricky." Pitchfork Media, in their review of Senior, said that "the kind of downtempo stuff that makes up the majority of Röyksopp's vocal-less compositions just doesn't hold up to concentrated, repeated listens like many other forms of instrumental electronic music."
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