RöYKSOPP at Lee's Palace (529 Boor West), Friday (March 14). $16 advance, more at door.
Admit it -- when you try to think of music from Norway, not much comes to mind.
This has probably been an advantage for Röyksopp. Their down-tempo eclectic electronic pop sound came as a complete surprise when their debut album, Melody AM, blew up across Europe a little more then a year ago. When people have no idea what to compare you to, it's seen as a sign of genius.
"I can see the advantage of coming from Norway, because all the music that's come from Norway, apart from A-ha, has been shit," Svein Berge agrees from the courtyard of the BBC, having just completed their first appearance on Top Of The Pops.
"We grew up in a small town, so there wasn't any way for us to get new music. Luckily there was a guy who had a student radio show with probably only seven listeners, including us. He would travel to the UK each weekend to DJ, come back and tell us what was going on.
"In the late 80s and early 90s we discovered ambient music, the rave scene and the late acid house scene. This was all quite appealing to us, because we were going through all these hormonal changes and just wanted energetic, not-too-clever music. Since then, we've discovered a lot more music."
Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland have been slaving away in their home studio for more than 10 years, trying to integrate a wide spectrum of influences into something that doesn't sound like the fusion band from hell.
Elements of triphop, 60s kitsch, house music and electro pop are all referenced, but are integrated so smoothly that a sound particular to Röyksopp shines through.
However, like any bedroom studio project, the leap from obscurity to constant touring and live shows has forced them to reinvent themselves in order to avoid the live-laptop-performance doldrums.
"We don't really perceive ourselves as live musicians -- we mainly sit and program a lot. When we play live, we try to keep the music fairly close to the album, at least in terms of the sounds we use. With this kind of music, the sounds are what the tracks are about, rather than the harmonies and melodies. So we just tend to trigger a lot of samples while playing some of the basic elements on keyboards.
"We sing a little bit, play some electronic percussion and have a bass player, but we have the songs' backbones running off a sequencer. Overall, the live show is messier, more uptempo and less subtle -- basically it's just the two of us having a laugh on stage."
They broke through to a wide audience without being tied to a scene when some of their songs were used in commercials.
"Electronic instrumental music doesn't really follow the rules needed to get on the radio, so we felt that there wasn't really anything wrong having it on a commercial where the product is inoffensive and the visuals are nice. Maybe we're a bit stupid, but to us it doesn't cheapen it any more than the hell you have to go through to get radio play for your music."