Music In Scandinavia
Scandinavian musicians have always had a knack for being unique. Regardless of the genre that they adhere to, they tend to be present it in a way that has never been done before. Their approach to music and their style of music has an entirely different aura to it. The moment you hear music from a Scandinavian artist, you’ll be able to pin-point its origins. Their music is similar to their climate. It’s serene, cold and breathtaking. Some of their tracks seem to leave you in a trance, far away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Some of the tracks are based on self reflection and self motivation. Indeed, the Scandinavian art of music is exquisite and refined, especially, when it comes to the field of electronic music.
Norway is not renowned for its music industry. However, a certain duo from Tromso in Norway has introduced the world to the beauty of modern Norwegian music. This group, formed in the year 1998 is known as Royksopp. From the moment it was born, all the way to current time, the band has consisted of two members. They are Svein Berge and Torbjorn Bruntland.
The Birth of Royksopp
Berge and Bruntland first met up at a friend’s house in Tromso. Ever since their introduction to each other, they conceptualized the idea of forming a duo that will take music in Norway to an international level. This was around the early years of the 1990s. They began their work by experimenting with electronic instruments. Back in those days, people were starting to display a genuine interest in electronic music in the town of Tromso. There was a proper full-fledged techno scene in the city. To the surprise of many, Berge and Bruntland were extremely young when they started working together with Electronic music. As a matter of fact, Berge was 12 and Bruntland was 13 at that time. This just goes to show how passionate the two were in expanding their horizons in the field of Electronic music. They collaborated with two other artists and formed a band named Aedena Cycle under the guidance of their mentor Geir Jenssen. Aeden Cycle released their maiden EP in the year 1994. This was called “Traveler’s Dreams”. Once the release became a hit, the band was persuaded into signing a full time deal with Apollo Records.
It was in the year 1998, that Berge and Bruntland parted ways with their band to form their own musical group called “Royksopp”. For those who are curious, the word royksopp is Norwegian for puffball mushroom. Their debut single came out under the Telle label in Norway. This single was called “So Easy”. Surprisingly, “So Easy” became a huge hit in the UK and thus Royksopp stepped on the ramp to international success. The next step in the evolution of Royksopp was to tie a knot with the British label Wall of Sound. Under the banner of this label, they released “Melody A.M.”. To say that this album was incredibly popular would be an understatement. The album has been certified platinum in Norway and since its release, sales have exceeded one million. To add further shine to the image, the album claimed the top position in the Norway charts. Tracks from the album such as “Eple” , “Poor Leno” and “Remind Me” secured spots in the UK Top 40 singles charts. The song “Eple” was in fact purchased by Apple to be used as a welcome music for their MAC OS X Panther operating system. It wasn’t just the melody of their sound that appealed to the people. Their graphically experimental music videos were a sight to behold, and were heavily promoted by MTV. In fact, the “Remind Me” music video was given the distinction of the best music video by the 2002 Europe Music Award. With so much attention chasing Royksopp, the band was deservedly nominated for the “Best Group” at the Brit Awards. Their popularity was not only confined to Europe. The U.S. was also jumping on the Royksopp bandwagon. “Reminde Me” was well received by the Americans. In fact their music was used in a handful of American TV commercials. The band from Tromso was definitely stepping up to the plate at that point in time.
In the year 2005, Royskopp came out with their second album called “The Understanding”. Soon after this album was released, they brought out another hit single by the name “Only This Moment”. The single reached the number 33 spot in the UK rankings. They released a second single from the album called “49 Percent”. A third single followed by the name of “What Else is There”. This was the album’s biggest drawing single, and it reached position number 32 in the United Kingdom charts. If you are wondering why the UK charts are being mentioned so often as opposed to the Norwegian chart, it’s because a lot of Royksopp’s songs are in English, and the overall style of music is suited to the taste of the British listeners. Hence, it was easier for Royksopp to grab the British listeners and make their presence felt in the United Kingdom. “Beautiful Day Without You” was the fourth single from the album. In addition to these popular singles, the band released a non-track album by the name of “Curves”.
The album itself was good enough to be numero uno in Norway. In the UK, it reached the 13th position in the rankings. Over in the United States, the people became more inclined towards Royksopp as the album climbed up the Billboard charts. As a matter of fact, the album was listed at number 2 in the Electronic Albums chart and number 32 on the Top Independent Album charts.
In the year 2006, a nine-track live album was released by the duo. This unique album was called “Royksopp’s Night Out”. The next year, Royksopp created a compilation of their favourite tracks from other artists. This one of a kind compilation album came to be known as “Back to Mine: Royksopp”. It contained one original track from Royksopp called “Meatball”. The track was released using a pseudonym Emmanuel Splice. In 2008, the band celebrated their 10th anniversary, and in celebration of this auspicious occasion, they released a track called “Happy Birthday” which was made available for free.
Third and Fourth Album
The third studio album by Royksopp came out in 2009. They named the album “Junior”. It contained the hit single “Happy Up Here” which was handpicked by BBC Radio to be played on a special show of theirs. The next single in line was “The Girl and the Robot”. The single received a Grammy nomination for the Best Remixed Recording-Non Classical. This was followed by the third single that was named “This Must Be it”. The album “Junior” sent shockwaves around the world. Not surprisingly, with this album, Royksopp reclaimed the number one spot in Norway. This marked a hat trick of number one spots for the band. In UK, it reached an impressive number 21. As for the U.S, the album made several appearances in a number of Billboard Charts including the Billboard 200. This was the first time that Royksopp broke into the 200s charts, and hence it made it clear that the momentum of the duo was yet to fizzle out.
This album was succeeded by an appropriately named album called “Senior”. As opposed to “Junior”, “Senior” could be described as a more held back, calm and composed album. It was basically an instrumental album and the single “The Drug” was the first one from the album. For the 4th consecutive time, Royksopp reached the number one spot with their album in Norway.
5th Album and Continued Success
Their journey on the fast lane to success continued in the year 2013 when the released a song called “Running to the Sea”. The single for the song was released later in the same year. In 2014, the duo decided to launch a mini album with Robyn named “Do It Again”. The album was released to promote their joint tour. Their 5th studio album “The Inevitable End” came out late in 2014. The theme of the album revolved around dark subject matter, and unlike their previous album (which was entirely instrumental), the band shifted their focus on meaningful and touch lyrics with great depth of thought. Some singles were released before the album was. These are “Skulls”, “Sordid Affair”, and a brand new version of “Monument”.
Royksopp’s road to success has been quite long. They have been dominating the Electronic music industry in Norway and in Europe for over a decade as we speak. The creativity, the brilliance and the harmony of their music keeps growing with each new release. They have not only redefined music in Norway, but they have also added a new flavour to Electronic Music as a whole. Keeping all of this in mind, it would be reasonable to tag Royksopp as the Kings of Norwegian Music.