Röyksopp & Robyn Death, Decay and the Dance Floor
Published Jul 08, 2014When Röyksopp's Svein Berge turns up, 15 minutes late, to the interview conference call with band mate Torbjørn Brundtland and pop singer Robyn, the singer ribs him a little: "I was going to talk shit about you to Torbjørn, but I won't now." Berge responds, "I was in my room talking shit about you two for 15 minutes; that's why I was late."
It's the kind of back and forth reserved for good friends, whose foundation of trust and friendship is sufficiently steady that this exchange could only be construed as tongue in cheek. It's also the kind of back and forth that spawned Norwegians Röyksopp and Swede Robyn's excellent new mini-album, Do It Again, a five-song, 35-minute EP that runs the gamut from dance floor stompers to slow-burning, Steve Reich-inspired ambient meditations. It's a boundary-stretcher for both sides, but the experiments have yielded some of the best music either has yet made.
Being friends, says Brundtland, "was definitely nice for losing inhibitions and showing vulnerability, not being afraid of taking things in new directions. For instance, the day we started making 'Monument,' it didn't come out of a plan, we just started talking about stuff: time, life and death. Just from that friendly talk, loose shoulders and hanging out, a creative process started."
Those weighty themes were the product of being burnt out on touring — Robyn from her Body Talk tour, Röyksopp from their Junior/Senior tour — but also of a kind of malaise.
"I can't speak for Torbjørn and Svein," admits Robyn, "but I think that maybe getting into this other part of your semi-grown up life between 35 and 40 might be something that makes you think about time and those kinds of things."
By starting and ending with ten-minute epics "Monument" and "Inside the Idle Hour Club," the EP reflects the cyclical nature of existence. "There's definitely an aesthetic vision to how the mini-album is put together," claims Berge. "If you look at it, it's actually got a structure to it. There's the long intro and the long outro, and sort of an energetic peak in the middle."
Even that energetic peak, embodied by the titular single "Do It Again," has a gothic sense of decaying happiness. Argues Brundtland: "On the surface, 'Do It Again' can be that moment when you just say, 'Fuck it! I know this might not be the smartest decision in my life, but let's go' — that feeling of elation and freedom and empowerment. But there's also a shadow underneath it all, a sadness or loneliness in the music that's there — this double-ness."
In advance of their summer tour, the trio have spoken about the possibility of releasing more music from their prolific sessions, but they're coy when it comes to specifics. Röyksopp have a new LP on the way, but Robyn claims she doesn't know if she'll appear on it, then laughs.
"We'll see… what happens."