Friday, June 10, 2005

good writing / royksopp

Perhaps surprisingly, given my fondness for distraction, I'm really not very interested at all in the Michael Jackson case. But the latest dispatch from Santa Maria, by the Guardian's Dan Glaister, makes for interesting reading, simply because it is a wonderful example of good writing.
"The media stand around like confused cattle, unable to comprehend a change to their routine. Every day we sit in this car park until 2.30pm. How can we leave at 11am? Where do we go? What do normal people - the people who don't stand around in car parks interviewing each other - do at 11 in the morning?"

Talking of good copy, I never got round to linking to the interview with Royksopp in the Guardian a week ago. I'm even less interested in their music than I am in Michael Jackson (although you should download their remix of The Streets's 'Weak Become Heroes' sometime), but they're articulate, funny interviewees.

Forgive the lengthy quotation but I can't be bothered working out which the best bit is! "Royksopp", the article begins,

"have developed their own theories regarding songcraft: the Seven Stages of Songwriting Enlightenment. It has an impressive name, and comes with an impressive caveat. "It's probably going to take up a lot of space to explain," cautions Brundtland. "You may need to call your editor and ask if he can clear a few pages."

"And we are only ourselves on level three, out of seven," Berge frowns.

"We're mere rookies. We haven't had complete enlightenment yet."

"In order to go a step up, you've first got to go out of yourself," says Brundtland. "We are in a situation at the moment where we are still in ourselves, and see ourselves mirrored. You need to go out of yourself, remove the mirror and see yourself from the outside. When that happens, we will be at stage four and will receive further instructions."

I'm sorry, but I'm not really following this. Berge sighs. "It's all about transcending to an astral plane," he says, before attempting a different tack. "Stage one is very easy. You are at a party, trying to impress a girl, and you get out a pen or pencil. You write something and you look very poetic. Perhaps you can boost this a little bit by smoking a cigarette, a Gitane perhaps if you want to go the French way, like Serge Gainsbourg.

"And," he adds, "you need to have a very loose wrist when you strum the guitar."

His partner vigorously agrees. "Yes, you are not just plucking" - he pronounces the word "plooking" - "on the strings. So that's stage one. Stage two is when you learn to steal properly. You must take three totally useless books, let's say, a cookbook, a book about human anatomy and . . . " He thinks for a moment. "And a porno magazine. If you can use at least three words combined from each, and paste them together into your own thing, you are invited to level two."

"Then there is stage three. First of all, obviously, there is the hair and the beard." Berge gestures towards his head, which is indeed considerably more hirsute now than when the duo first emerged three years ago.

"Also, it is important to be able to name-drop the big singer-songwriters and say you're into Costello and Dylan, and obviously Leonard Cohen, and also to be in touch with themes such as religion and politics, in a subtle way."

He sits back, satisfied with his explanation. A considerable proportion of the hour I spend in Röyksopp's company passes like this. The conversation keeps lurching off at perplexing tangents: questions about Melody AM's vast success or their roots in the isolated town of Tromso are greeted with lengthy answers that end up touching on everything from pre-industrial revolution architecture to the duo's favourite American presidents ("Abraham Lincoln," says Berge, "because of his hat")."

1 comment:

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