For the love of machines – The Trulz & Robin story so far

Trulz Kvam and Robin Crafoord share an intuitive bond when it comes to music, one that was initially informed through similar tastes, and eventually nurtured through the existence of Trulz & Robin. They have formed a single entity as this musical alias that transcends the individual in favour of the multifaceted project that’s as esoteric as it is diverse, calling on a wide range of influences, channelled into the singular voice of Trulz & Robin. They “are like one person with four arms in the studio; pushing buttons and tweaking knobs like a troll”, says Robin, “but we have different personalities so the output is very varied, it’s amazing to share this passion with another person.” 

They have an instinctive understanding of their machines, from which they coax infectious dance music through raw feeling. The Scandinavian producers and DJs found a common ground in taste when in 1996 Robin met Trulz in a record store called Music Masetro. Robin would buy records from the latter and he soon realised they had something in common. “We had the same taste in music, and we immediately started throwing parties and DJing together.” An immediate bond formed over a shared love of House and Techno, which eventually led to the formation of a DJ duo and a series of parties at places like Månefisken. Robin remembers the scene not being “as mainstream as it is today”, but “very alive, and the few clubs that were there were super cool, underground places.” It’s here amongst others like g-Ha & Olanskii and Prins Thomas that Trulz & Robin would be established amongst the underground elite in Oslo. With Robin making the move from Sweden to Norway at the time, the two found a shared studio space where they integrated their equipment with other musicians’, and it didn’t take long before the duo carved out a unique production alias with a yet unheard sound echoing from their basement studio.

In a city dominated by House at the time, Trulz and Robin forged a distinct path as alternative tastemakers through a hybrid of Techno, House and Acid, anything that piqued their interest, and it soon became obvious they were destined for great things in the world of electronic dance music. Robin believes those earliest productions sounded like “fast forward Techno / Breakbeat something”, but at the same time it planted the seed for something that always grew and modulated between trends, a machine or just inspiration. In 1998 their fate was sealed with their first release, “Hypnojam” taken from the album, Mechanized World, which would see Trulz & Robin combine their experience as DJs and producers in the form of a mixed album. “I don’t know if it’s unique but it still have a fresh vibe listening to it”, says Robin of the mixed CD. Songs from the album saw airtime on BBC radio and cemented Trulz & Robin’s sound in which mechanised world is an appropriate signifier for their sonic aesthetic and their unique understanding of their machines, which is the most fundamental element to the group other than their personalities. Trulz & Robin love “how machines can make new styles of music and determine how you express yourself. We never learned how to play any instruments so for us the machines were the only way for us to compose songs. We still get goosebumps when we hear how much soul a drum machine can bring to a simple vocal track with some reverb.”

In this way, Trulz & Robin make music that stems from organic improvisation, refined in the circuits of the machine and what follows, are visceral executions of sophisticated tempers from the world of Techno, House and Acid. The duo’s productions feature a razor sharp polished edge that are the product of ingenuity as much as it is experience. They give their machines a glossy shine on the surface of the raw materials they work with and it can already be heard through early releases on the likes of Electronic Be and Planet Noise with tracks like “Acid Cake” and “She’s Dancing” cementing the sound we’ve come to know as Trulz & Robin early in their career. They continued work as DJs after establishing themselves as artists, but at the same time they became well known for their technically magnificent live shows. It saw them opening up for the likes of Peaches and playing for packed audiences at home and abroad, including a mainstream festival like Roskilde. Their live show became an integral part of the appeal of Trulz & Robin, especially considering that much of their music is born this way in the studio, and I had to ask how much one part influences the other. “We almost always make a new show for each appearance. Sometimes we reuse parts from earlier live sets, and usually we meet up in the studio and jam for hours to get in to it. We also realise that we always have at least one new album with any new live set so it’s a great way for us to make new tracks, as well as playing the songs that have just been released.”

In 2007 Trulz had to take some time off to have a family and Robin moved to Spain for a moment, and a temporary hiatus followed. Their presence was sorely missed in Oslo, but the duo were always destined to return and when they did in 2013, it came with a new determination and a whole bunch of unreleased material absolutely bursting to make its way out into the world. During their break they continued to produce music independently and Robin says it was “super inspiring to be releasing music” again after the hiatus, and since they have been “getting more and more studio time together”. Releases followed on Full-Pupp and Eskimo almost immediately after their break, while they also set up their own label, Cymasonic with long time friend and occasional production partner Arildo Lopez. Their EP Agent Acid marked one of the many highlights of this new label and cemented Trulz and Robin’s dominance in their field for this generation just as it did for the previous one. An album, Dance Music Therapy, followed again in the mixed format just as it did before with Mechanized World, and it seems Trulz &Robin have hit something of a creative stride today, a stride that can’t seem to be contained in just one project. A Techno-leaning project called KSMISK and electro-purist alias called Robomatic has also become part of the duo’s repertoire and has been presented in releases for Full Pupp, Ploink and their own Cymasonic label. Today Trulz & Robin are an unstoppable force, one that seems to no limits for either individual. While Robin is busy with various other projects like SYNC and Redrum, Trulz can often be found in the studio working on the origins of the next Trulz & Robin track. The duo is never that far away from a stage either, and synthesisers often crowd Robin’s hallway or dining room table, always prepped for that next performance. That also means they are constantly working on new music and we can look forward to some new Trulz & Robin material too. “Some Acid releases on Full Pupp and a KSMISK Vinyl on Cymawax“ is due with us this spring according to Robin, and “a new Robomatic mini album is also on its way.”

It’s been an exciting new era for Trulz & Robin, one that seems to have no end in sight and as they continue to go from strength to strength, their timeless music will undoubtedly find new ears and new audiences. It’s a remarkable feat for these seasoned artists, a new productive era, where their sheer capacity never suffers a lack of quality and each following release appears to trump the previous one. At the moment the Trulz & Robin story reads like the opening paragraph of the sequel, a story that looks set to better it’s predecessor while holding a firm grasp of the charm of its authors. This is the Trulz & Robin story so far, and what lies ahead is any one’s guess, but rest assured it will be eventful…