Childhood friends and self-described ‘fisherman from the north’, Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland formed Röyksopp in 1997 in Bergen, Norway.
With a meager collection of equipment and a mutual passion for the UK electronic scene, they began producing and marketing their music via a small independent label.
The early success came about at a time that predated music streaming platforms and social media. Rather than radio, it was in fact advertisements that served as the vehicle for getting their music out there.
Combined with coverage on MTV, which was still culturally relevant at the time the duo reached a commercial market by carefully selecting some of the endless requests they were getting from ad agencies.
Which instruments made up the Röyksopp sound?
Their famous debut album Melody A.M. was released in 2001 and charted in several countries worldwide including the UK. Since then, the duo has released nine studio albums, including the Profound Mysteries series this year.
Let’s take a look at some of Röyksopp’s gear choices over the years and find out what made up the core elements of their sound.
Introduced back in 1986, the Korg DDD-1 was the first drum machine that Svein and Torbjørn acquired when they started collecting gear. It has velocity-sensitive pads, multiple outs, and MIDI programmability.
In addition, you can load your own samples with the expansion cards and the overall interface is simple enough to get going right away.
It might not have individual outs, but the Volca Sample 2 is an intuitive sampling groovebox that can create a definitive sound with carefully curated samples loaded.
When they were starting out, Röyksopp worked with old equipment including an Atari computer and rack samplers like the S1000 and S3200.
You can hear the sonic characteristics in the distinctive crunch of the drums throughout Melody A.M. Each of the 16 voices on the S1000 has its own individual output and this made it central in music production setups.
If you don’t have the patience for old-school rack samplers, there are modern samplers like the Elektron Digitakt that still allow you to create lo-fi textures but with an intuitive beat-orientated workflow.
The renowned Mackie 8-Bus series mixers had a massive impact on the music industry, for various reasons. When you combine overdriving the preamps with the knock of digital samplers, you can achieve a similar overall tone to Melody A.M.
The design approach was definitive and later copied by various manufacturers, and the sound and extended headroom made it the preferred choice of many electronic music artists including Röyksopp and The Prodigy.
Although finding a decent analogue 8-Bus console is near impossible nowadays, you can still achieve some great results with the high-quality Dynacord CMS series mixers.
The MS-20 is the rather rude Japanese response to the miniMoog, first introduced in 1978. This monster semi-modular monosynth has been a regular favourite throughout the production of Röyksopp’s albums.
Throughout its history, the MS-20 was extremely popular with electronic musicians, particularly in Europe. Not only did it offer a unique sound and approach to synthesis, but you could pick these up at thrift shops at one stage.
If you don’t fancy paying vintage prices, you can get the reissue in the form of the MS-20 mini which still provides the same interface as the original.
Access Virus TI
It may not be as popular is it once was (perhaps a good thing), but the Virus TI is still a very powerful virtual analogue synth with great-sounding DA conversion and top-quality effects.
You can hear it used distinctively for the Vision One bassline, a popular song among Röyksopp fans, and the Virus TI has also been the preferred choice of synth for Depeche Mode tours for many years.
What makes the Virus so powerful, even today, is the way you can accurately mimic the sound of almost any classic analogue synthesizer.
What are some of your favourite Röyksopp gear picks over the years? Please let us know in the comments below!
More about Röyksopp:
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- AKAI S1000: Baku Pro Audio
- Korg MS-20: Wikipedia