Every time Robyn and production duo Röyksopp get together, they stumble into something new, weird and great. Five days after traversing the outskirts of Mexico City while filming a music video for the collaborative single “Do It Again,” Robyn is still excited to see the resulting cell-phone shots.
“Are you going to mail me the photos that I took with your phone?” the 34-year-old, calling in from back at home in Stockholm, asks Röyksopp’s Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland.
Meanwhile, the two producers, on the phone from their Norwegian hometown Tromso, sound like they need a nap. “We were drinking — quite severely — until 6 or 7 in the morning,” Berge, 38, explains, promising to send the pictures.
Partying, traveling, creating — it’s a familiar interplay for the Scandinavian trio. Another long night out last year birthed “Do It Again,” the carbonated title track from Robyn and Röyksopp’s five-song “mini-album,” due out May 26 on Cherrytree Records/Interscope. The trio refers to the single as an “accidental pop song,” written after an epic evening in the Norwegian city of Bergen, with Robyn present this time. “Don’t care what they say, it hurts so good / I don’t wanna stop, I know I should / But let’s do it again,” Robyn sings.
Her ornate pop stylings first collided with Röyksopp’s shimmering electronica on the latter’s 2009 single “The Girl and the Robot,” the remix of which was nominated for a Grammy. The three linked up again on “None of Dem,” from Robyn’s breakout 2010 project “Body Talk,” which landed Robyn a spot opening for Katy Perry on her 2011 arena tour and spawned the critically beloved club single “Dancing on My Own,” the backdrop for a memorable party scene from HBO’s “Girls.”
When Robyn finished touring behind “Body Talk,” she found herself floating over to Norway to work with her new friends Berge and Brundtland, looking to avoid the pressure that comes with following up a hit album.
“I started going over there in the summer of 2013, and we started working with no real agenda,” says Robyn. “It was an outlet for not having to live up to anything but my own expectations.”
The songs on “Do It Again” — the moody sprawl of “Monument,” the soupy electro-punk of “Sayit,” the cozy textures of the 10-minute instrumental “Inside the Idle Hour Club” — were written and produced collaboratively, with all three musicians “taking part in every aspect of music-making,” says Berge. The five songs don’t sound like they would fit on either a Robyn album or Röyksopp album; once the trio figured that out, says Robyn, the mini-album began to take shape.
For their part, Röyksopp’s two members were more than obliged to shake up their creative process a dozen years into their careers and four years after their 2010 LP “Senior.” “Sometimes I think that we are getting older, and maybe we are not that interesting,” says Brundtland, 39, without a hint of insincerity. “Adding something new to what we’re doing is just refreshing. It’s different, in the way that it should be.”
“Do It Again’s” tittle track peaked at No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, and “Monument” is being featured in a new television ad for Volvo that stars Robyn — the singer’s first time letting her music soundtrack a commercial. “It’s not a commercial about a car — it’s a commercial about a way of thinking,” says Robyn, noting that she was attracted to the Swedish company’s environmental record and new, low-emission Drive E engines. Per Carleö, marketing manager of Volvo Cars Sweden, adds, “[Robyn] takes that unique Swedish-ness and brings it out into the world, and we think we’re doing the same thing at Volvo.”
Meanwhile, the ‘Do It Again’ tour kicks off on June 13 at Spain’s Sonar Festival; the set list will play out like a Scandinavian “Watch The Throne.” Robyn says, “We’re going to do a set each — Röyksopp will play their songs, and I’ll play my songs — then we’ll do a part of the set together, with all the songs that we’ve ever done together.”
Both Röyksopp and Robyn are currently finishing individual projects — Berge says that “Röyksopp will be delivering an album later this year,” while Robyn notes that she’s “working on new stuff as well.” While “Do It Again” will likely be viewed as a stopgap in the long view of both artists’ careers, Cherrytree Records head Martin Kierszenbaum — who says Robyn is “like a fairy from Narnia” and “America’s Swede-heart” — believes that the project is an important detour to make for an artist primed to break big. Despite commanding lavish praise from pop critics and maintaining a devoted live following in the United States, Robyn has not had a single chart on the Hot 100 in 17 years, since “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know (What It Takes)” introduced her as a teenager in 1997. That drought could easily end, Kierszenbaum argues, with “Do It Again,” or her next full-length project.
“Robyn doesn’t necessarily make records for the radio, she makes records for her heart… but I think radio is going to catch up,” says Kierszenbaum, who signed Robyn to a U.S. deal in 2007 and also works with Röyksopp at Cherrytree. “She’s always a little bit ahead of the curve, and we just have to stick with it.”
For Robyn and Röyksopp, forming a trio from a solo artist and musical duo has been a rewarding experiment, and all three could envision another extended collaboration in the near future. “We didn’t have a master plan to how we would approach the music,” says Berge, “but we agreed that every voice should be heard.”