From the start, Robyn and Röyksopp have maintained that their new Do It Again EP was different from their previous collaborations, that this time out, they weren’t three individuals making music, but rather “a band.”
Well, today, the band is having some difficulties.
With Robyn in Stockholm and Röyksopp’s Svein Berge more than 400 miles away in Norway (Röyksopp’s Torbjørn Brundtland was “drunk in a ditch somewhere”), they were forced to do an interview with Rolling Stone via conference call, and the technology was giving Berge fits. Eventually, after attempting to answer several questions through feedback and delay, he gives up entirely.
“Fuck me sideways,” he laughs. “I can’t even remember what we were talking about.”
“He has a crazy delay, just so you’re aware,” Robyn explains. “If he’s quiet, it’s not because he doesn’t like your question, it’s because he hasn’t heard it yet.”
If it seems like she’s quickly adapting to life in a band (lesson one: get each other’s back), that’s probably because Robyn’s relationship with Berge and Brundtland is both genuine and genuinely deep. They’ve appeared on each other’s albums, partied and played together in the past. But after Robyn wrapped a lengthy run of shows in support of 2010’s breakout Body Talk, their friendship became something more.
“I came off tour and I was pretty hung over, and I didn’t know what to do with myself, really. I had no instinct or inspiration to make a new album. I had lots of ideas… but I felt like I wanted to look deeper into things,” Robyn says. “So I went to Bergen [in Norway] hoping it could be this thing where we’d all carry the same weight, but unsure if that was what they wanted to do. And without asking for it, I was let into their very long-term relationship that’s been going on since they were teenagers.”
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“The three of us were in a particular place and space in our lives, where things were perhaps a bit bleak,” Berge adds. “So, in a way, we were all starting from square one, with no real intention other than to take our time and make what we wanted. And value every opinion, and I think that that translated well into the music.”
The songs on Do It Again reflect the scope of those collaborative efforts. The opening track, “Monument,” expands gradually over the course of 10 maudlin minutes, and as does the closer, “Inside the Idle Hour Club.” In between are three songs that wallop and gallop, with the title track serving as an effervescent anchor. Yet, it’s an EP with LP ambitions, one that puts instant gratification on the back burner in favor of mood and atmosphere. It’s an effort that marks a definite departure for both acts (Robyn in particular). In short, it’s more than mere dance music; it’s an actual conceptual piece.
You know, the kind of thing “a band” would make.
“At some point, it may have been in a highly intoxicated state, we realized you could actually play the mini-album in a reverse order, and it works really well,” Berge says. “To some extent, it feels like No Country for Old Men, where, if you get it, you get it. If you are hoping for Die Hard 3, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re waiting for the chorus to come within the first 30 seconds, with a bang and fireworks, you’ll be disappointed.”
Even the EP’s most immediate moment – the title track – is tempered by bittersweet sentiments. Sure, you’ll hear it in the club, but you’ll probably want to download it later, preferrably for your Sunday morning crying sessions.
“The way we wrote it talks about dance music in a way, the idea of the peak and the fall, and then coming back into it, but it’s something you can apply to a lot of things,” Robyn explains. “Life goes in cycles, you have periods where you produce, and then periods where you soak up other things. You’ll be in love and you’ll be out of love, you’ll be drunk and then you’ll be sober.
“If you know any kids, and you tickle them or spin them around, they get really frustrated, they pee their pants or they throw up, and then they’re like ‘Again!'” she continues. “It’s about going all the way to this euphoric state, but not stopping, and maybe you end up someplace really ugly.”
Despite that, Robyn and Röyksop promise that the Do It Again tour will be anything but a bummer. It comes to the U.S. next month, and will feature sets by both acts, then a collaborative third act. And by all accounts, it will be a celebration, of friendship, of overcoming dark times and, above all else, being in a band. Complete with matching costumes, of course.
“Torbjørn and I are currently re-dressing all out synthesizers in denim for the occasion, complete with shoulder pads,” Berge says.
“Oh yeah, there will definitely be shoulder pads,” Robyn laughs. “Many shoulderpads. At least two or three pairs for each person.”