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Royskopp on Norway & Suicidal Tendencies (Interview) ::

Reported by Olly @ Trackitdown on March 26, 2007

“Unfortunately we still haven't made that quantum leap - suicidal tendencies have yet to be detected; we're still probably pretty much where we were a year ago.”

Chatting down the line from his Norway studio, Royksopp producer Svein Berge laughs as admits they’re continuing to follow their ‘Seven Stages of Song-writing Enlightenment’ philosophy of life. The uber-successful downtempo chillout stars first outlined their theory when promoting their last album in 2005, explaining they were then at step three.

"In order to go a step up, you've first got to go out of yourself," they told the Guardian, “You need to go out of yourself, remove the mirror and see yourself from the outside. When that happens, we will be at stage four and will receive further instructions."

Today, Svein’s in distinctly reflective mood, musing on obsolescence as much as suicide, instructions and lifechanging quantum leaps.

“We'll let a life of slow but constant excess drive us; years of depravity, decadence and denial shall boost our egos, thus sending us to the next level,” he predicts.

“We'll turn out 50 plus, self-centered and greedy with no talent left, whatsoever.”

Suicidal tendencies aside, the 30 year old star is chatting to Skrufff today to promote their upcoming mix compilation for Back to Mine, a decidedly unsuicidal selection, that skips the obvious Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, Cure selections in favour of uplifting gems such as Talking Head’s Born Under Punches and Pino D’Angino’s italo staple Ma Quale Idea. Uptempo, soulful and decidedly old skool New York pre-house disco in vibe, the CD is more of an after-hours party record than contemplative mood enhancer fans might expect, reflecting their intentions to match the series’ title rather than their own relatively recent incarnations as DJs.

“I honestly don't know whether people have any expectations of us as DJs - I, for some reason, believe they are slim to none, but then again it might just be me feeling inadequate,” Svein chuckles.

“But knowing that we have some sort of ‘following’, I hope that some people might find this compilation/set interesting - we consider this to be a ‘proof of life’ from us, whilst we're making our new album.”

And proving his humble intentions, he’s remarkably cheerful (and helpful) when told that a fault on the line has meant the whole interview’s been wiped.

“Hi again Jonty, I'm sorry to hear that,” he writes, in an almost immediately written email, But there's no chance in hell I'll help you out,. . . or at least not now.”

Ten spaces down, however he delivers his punch-line, writing ’ ‘but now I can!  I'll simply put down a few lines on each of the points you've made - OK?!? It better be!”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Was Back To Mine an easy compilation to put together?

Royksopp: “I'd like to be cocky and say yes, it was easy - simply for the sake of being cocky. At the same time, in retrospect, I actually do feel it was kinda’ easy, as soon as we were able to overcome our biggest inhibition, namely selecting a small number of tracks out of the thousands of great songs out there. When we set our collective minds in a mode saying ‘nah, it's only a compilation’, most of the job was done. We just picked a few tracks that felt natural to play on that specific day in September 2006 - baring in mind that we should select tracks that could somehow sort of hint in the musical direction of Röyksopp (either as an influence or ‘hats off for’-tribute-thing).

Skrufff: How much did the two of you agree on every single track?

Royksopp: “When it comes to music, we are extremely similar in terms of preferences. Since we knew that we couldn't fit R. Kelly in the mix, we stayed clear of any potential conflict (Robert K. is probably the one issue where we have our differences).”

Skrufff: How important is DJing to the two of you these days?

Royksopp: “We have been DJing on a few occasions, but this compilation might suggest a change in the wind (is that an expression?) where we go from’small’ to ‘medium’. In fact, the moment we get tired of making our own music we might go ‘XL’ Having said that, I have already been making mixtapes for friends and myself (that sounds a bit sad actually) for many years.And when the CD-R hit the market in about 1997, I remember making mix CDs for different moods- ie mindsets): And people- ie physical appearance. For example I did one once called ‘Music for those with long foreheads and high self esteem’).”

Skrufff: Two years ago you were enthusiastic about beards and facial hair in general, do you still have it?

Royksopp: “I cut my beard last summer then I had great comeback with a moustache around Christmas last year. I was a sorry sight; I believe I was the only one liking it because it was so poor. I'm somewhere in between now - in that period now, where were spending so much time in the studio, that the beard automatically returns. Damn, I wish one could enhance your beard- or any hairgrowth with the power of the will - you could really f**k people up by letting your eyebrows grow two inches during a one minute conversation.”

Skrufff: What do you think about cosmetic surgery for men?

Royksopp: “I'm all for it. As of now I wouldn't do it myself, but there might come a time when I think different. The way I see it now, being 30, I find a withered old face credible and a proof of a life well spent. Come to think of it; perhaps I should go under the knife and let 'em turn me into 30-year-old Keith Richards - that would definitely boost my rock-cred. "Oi, Keef!!" But seriously, if people wanna’ fix or mess up their appearance, then please feel free, is my attitude.”

Skrufff: Speaking to the Guardian last year you said ‘the money is a disturbing factor, when things get big, people just don’t do favours anymore.  You can’t just pick up the phone and get someone to appear on your record. With that comes paperwork and solicitors’,  how much has your commercial success brought happiness?

Royksopp: “Neither Torbjørn nor me has ever really been anything but happy - not in a ‘shiny-happy-people’ kinda’ way, but saying we've been unhappy would be trying to rob the unfortunate ones of their grief. A far as levels of happiness goes, comparing pre- and post ‘success’, I feel it's be quite stabile. But success has brought other things, like being appreciated by other people for our work (our music) and it has given us financial security to continue making music, without having to think about "what will I eat tomorrow?" Which is good.”

Skrufff: Have you ever had to struggle with depression?

Royksopp: “Nope, not yet. At least not in a big fashion, no. Errr... no.”

Skrufff: Erlend Oye. Biosphere (who helped you) and Annie: all got established a few years ago: what’s the story behind all your success?

Royksopp: “I don't really know what to say here, but I'll give it a shot (in the famous words of Jon Bon Jovi). Biosphere was some sort of mentor to us when we grew up, in that he showed us it was possible to make music completely cut off from the rest of the world and to get it released on great labels in Europe. He encouraged us to continue making music when we were thirteen and fourteen, which is a key incident which ultimately has put us where we are today. Erlend blessed us with his singing and writing talent on the first album, and I think it's fair to say that, that must have contributed in putting him on a path of electronic music. Annie is a friend whom we worked with on her debut album. She's got a great sense for pop-culture and a nose for catchy pop. She cute and friendly as well. That sounded sexist, but I'm just trying to be nice... She's great.”

Skrufff: The Guardian also described you as an ‘eccentric duo’: do you feel particularly different from other producers/ song writers out there?“

Royksopp: “I do believe that we're somewhat different, but I'm not really sure how. At the same time I'm a bit frightened of being labeled as eccentric, because I do not know how it'll be interpreted by others. People who claim to be ‘insane, crazy, fucked-up’ etc. have a tendency to come across as phonies. I wouldn't really go around and called myself messed-up or eccentric, other people must pass that judgement. ‘Strange’ must come naturally - but I've read and heard so many times that we are perceived as a bit strange, so I'm starting to believe it.”

Back To Mine- Royksopp, is out on DMC World productions shortly.