Ylvis Q&A: What 'The Fox' (Viral Stars) Say About Their Surprise Hit
"Jacha-chacha-chacha-chow!" is the sound of all the offers pouring in for the Norwegian comedy duo behind the absurd smash.
On Friday morning, the Internet went off the rails over the video for a new song called "The Fox" by an unknown (in the U.S. anyway) Norwegian duo called Ylvis. Billed as "The Next Gangnam Style" and earning almost 2 million views overnight, now closing in on 6 million, the absurd EDM parody investigates one of Earth's greatest mysteries: What sound does a fox make?
Ylvis is actually brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker a comedy duo with a popular late-night talk show on Norwegian television and a reputation for integrating hilarious music videos with their guest interviews and sketches. "The Fox" was made to promote the show's premiere on Tuesday, but the international attention was wholly unexpected. According to Ylvis's manager Jørgen Thue, "some of our earlier songs had a couple of million hits — but that was over a period of a year. This has gone … extremely fast."
It will be interesting to see what happens when "The Fox" is made available for sale on iTunes in the U.S. on Monday. In the mean time, Billboard talked to a still-dazed Bård Ylvisåker about the origin of the song and video, the group's TV show, and what they're going to do with the offers pouring in.
So I guess this has been an insane 24 hours? Did you expect this to happen or did you think it would just go around Norway?
Very much so. No we didn't even think of it. It was for our talk show, starting this Tuesday. It was released to get some attention in Norway. Beyond that we hadn't even thought about it, it’s really crazy.
Do you have any idea how it happened?
None. What surprised me the most is that even the very earliest comments on YouTube were, "This one is going to go viral," "This is the new 'Gangam Style.' " Everything was about it going viral. Normally, you know, we get some hits and we get some comments, but they're all about the actual contents of the songs. But this was mostly about the phenomenon, which was really strange, even when it was only at 100,000 views.
Where did the idea for the song come from?
I’m trying to remember. The way we work is we just sit and talk about everything and get ideas and take some notes. I guess we must have been talking about what kind of sound the fox makes. And then we had a chance to work with Stargate, a production company in New York City, they've produced for Beyonce and Rihanna -- they’re Norweigans, but based in the U.S. We actually did a favor for them and we asked them if they could produce a song for us for the next season in exchange. And we assumed that they would turn down the offer because it wasn't a very good offer for them. But somehow they said yes.
What was the favor?
We made a video for one of the guys for his birthday party. So when they agreed, we started to discuss what to do with that kind of production value. Because we're comedians and what we do is comedy, we didn't want to use such a production team to try to make a hit single. We thought it would be more fun to kind of abuse them somehow. We thought, 'Hey, we have this old idea about the sound that the fox made, because no one really knows.' So we decided to do that instead of something intelligent, a hit -- which kind of backfired.
Talk about your TV show, since we don't get it here.
It's a late-night talk show, two hours a week. It's called Tonight With Ylvis, but in Norwegian. This is our third season. It's like a regular talk show, but in addition to having guests and comedy bits, we make three or four videos each season. They've done well, the biggest one has had 2.2 million [views on YouTube] I think. But nothing like this.
Are you getting offers to do anything you didn't expect?
Oh we're getting extreme offers. Fully booked tours, record deals from all the biggest companies. It's really strange. If we were a band — I mean, we're kind of a band — but if we were musicians, I mean, I have friends who dream of this happening. And of course somewhere deep inside I could also dream of this to happen, but it's just so crazy, to suddenly wake up and get these offers.
Do you have any idea if you're going to actually pursue anything?
It's kind of mixed, because in one way we have to grab this advantage and this opportunity and we have to do something about it, because this is what we do: We make music videos -- and it would be great to do something international. At the same time, we have this Norwegian show that we have to make and love to make, and the next few months are really crazy. We have the premiere on Tuesday, and normally we go into a crazy state of working 24 hours a day for three months. So adding this to that, we're not quite sure what to do. But you know, this business is what it is, when the elevator goes up, it has to come down at some point.
Was it the plan to release the song as a single?
Yeah, that was always the plan. I mean, it wasn't an important plan. But the audience always asks if they can get the song to download, so we do that with our songs.
Is there going to be an album?
Not yet. Now it's just a bunch of singles out there.
I'm sure you'll get a lot more requests to be on your show now.
It's been really fun, because we've had some difficulties booking guests over the last week. The tables are suddenly turned.