Röyksopp controversy

Norway’s most successful duo creates a stir in the national press when they accuse media of over-hyping Norwegian music.

Röyksopp Mute cover

A statement in Norway’s most influential printed music magazine, Mute, started the whole controversy. Svein Berge, one half of this year’s MTV Music Awards winning duo Röyksopp attacked Norwegian music media for being narrow-minded in its coverage of Norwegian bands international successes: Norwegian media measures your success abroad based on how much press you can achieve in the UK. In the Norwegian music media’s eyes, good coverage in NME and The Wire equals success.

Berge accused Norwegian journalists of creating an imaginary wave of Norwegian acts ready to take upon the world: The Norwegian music press will hit rock bottom when their Bible, NME, slams some Norwegian act.

Joining in on Röyksopp’s diatribe was the man who discovered Röyksopp in the first place, president of Bergen’s widely respected Tellè Records Mikal Tellè: Norway is up its own arse these days. All of a sudden, the media is frantically striving to discover, embrace and hype all things Norwegian. Everybody’s afraid of giving bad reviews to Norwegian acts, says the record label head to Mute. Says Röysopp of the Bergen label: There’s only one record label in Norway that deserves to be called credible, and that’s Tellè!

The Röyksopp/Tellè quotes created quite a stir in the media, with national radio and dailies picking up the story. Several artists, record label executives and journalists joined in on the debate defending the Norwegian music scene and the media coverage of it. The MTV Music Awards winning duo had to endure quite stark criticism as the offended parties took to the defence.

The whole story took a different turn later in the week. Röyksopp’s Svein Berge decided to breach his self-imposed media silence and issued a statement through Norwegian press agency NTB: The interview in Mute was exaggerated and extremely generalising. We want to emphasise that we’re very grateful for all the support offered to us, including support from music journalists and media. We would not have been where we are today without them. We realise that - we’re not that arrogant.

The successful duo felt misquoted in the Mute interview: We’re aware that occasionally we have said that we feel Norwegian journalists use NME as a bible and a reference for what’s going on. However, our interview was exaggerated and generalising, and while some of our statements are correct, others have been conveyed far more extremely than they actually were phrased.

They also denounce their alleged statement of Tellè being Norway’s only credible record label: That’s shite! There will always be lots of Norwegian record labels capable of doing lots of stuff. People taking initiative deserve credits, and Tellè means a lot to us since this was the label where it all started. We feel we’re intelligent enough to reflect on what we say, and we understand the consequences of our statements. We’re incredibly privileged; we’re given award upon award, we sell loads of records and we’re in a position to do what we love. Why would we then go out and slam the ones who have helped us all the way? We give credit to those who deserve it, and that’s very important to us.

Röyksopp have had a very busy year. Their Melody A.M. album has exceeded most expectations, garnering ecstatic reviews in all territories and still climbing the charts more than a year after its initial release in Norway. The album’s three singles Eple, Poor Leno and Remind Me plus their accompanying videos have been equally as successful, the latter winning the prestigious Best Video category at this year’s MTV Music Awards in Barcelona. In between hectic touring across Europe, the Tromsø/Bergen duo has managed to squeeze in time for some remix work for some of the industry’s biggest names. After having completed a long tour supporting Moby, Röyksopp is now heading for the UK where a four-date tour is scheduled. For a complete listing of Röyksopp’s UK dates, go to MIC’s calendar.

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