about : Vespertine
acting vs music

The fact that the film [Dancer In The Dark] was so brutal and full of big emotional strokes made me want to do little pretty things even more, she says of the link between the movie and Verspertine. Kind of do an album that you can come home to after a really tough day at work, and put it on, and it’s gentle and sweet and nourishing and lullabies and prayers, and you go to bed and you wake up with a smile.

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An Echo, A Stain

I guess it’s about an effort to communicate, really.

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i wrote áróra on sibelius software i got in 1999
and fell in love with and have used ever since.
i am excited to have the original harp arrangement
played by both harp and 32 string players in pizzicato
exaggerates the magical frostscapes i was excited about .
i wrote the middle section in a cabin in borgarfjördur i stayed in , in winter
i remember the shadow of the mountain came over the whole valley
and i tried to worship the shape it made.
ever since , when i sing that section , i always remember borgarfjördur
and the humility i craved so at that moment

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being adult

Yeah, I guess I would agree with the fact that this album is probably most adult. So I’m certain that’s because I’m most adult that I’ve ever been. But I’ll get even more adult soon.

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Björk à propos du titre Hidden Place

J’imagine que "Hidden Place" est en quelque sorte la façon dont deux personnes peuvent créer un paradis juste en s’unissant. Vous avez un lien émotionnel en commun. Et il est incassable. Et évidemment, c’est une illusion. On pourrait donc penser qu’il n’existe pas parce qu’il est invisible, mais bien sûr qu’il existe.

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celebrating privacy

We all have different moods, sometimes you’re very social and talkative, sometimes you’re very silent and want to go home to your bed and read a book. It’s important to respect and live both these sides, both these moods in us. And that music can be both.

I think a lot of people look at the times they would rather be at home, read a book as not very... uhm.. They are ashamed of them, you know, like it’s problematic. I don’t agree with it, I think it’s one of the most wonderful moments we have. It’s privacy. And I think it’s about time that somebody celebrates it. And that it’s pop music like that that when you come home and put on when you’re in the same mood as if you would like to just be in bed and read a book.

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chamber music

I wanted to create a new audio world for this album that’s kind of more like chamber music. Modern chamber music. Not amplified, kinda steroid, Marshall stack, if I stand here I hope someone in China can hear me. It’s the opposite of that. Homogenic was as steroid as I will ever get.

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I had to go to Denmark for a year. There was nothing going on. I was literally lying on the beach, looking at the ocean, with a ghetto blaster listening to Thomas Knak/Opiate’s album. I realised he was from Copenhagen. I just called him up.

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The lyric to ’Cocoon’ was a whole diary, then I had to edit 90 per cent of it out. It’s very hard to explain, but when I read it and the other person it’s about reads it, we don’t feel abused or anything. I think there’s songs where I’ve been more... scruffy about what I’m expressing. I have a problem with music that’s too indulgent. It’s like ; "Keep your own dirty laundry, please."

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creating a bubble

I was very occupied with reality, and thinking that people didn’t like their lives. That they were cold. I was very much into everything that was real and stark, and cut the bullshit. I guess Homogenic was very much like that. The beats were distorted, I was singing confrontationally. Definitely, the film was like that too.

I guess, after getting that out of my system, the place where you find yourself at is a place where you whisper, sort of quietly ecstatic and euphoric. You can create a little bubble, and inside the bubble, everything is perfect. That’s proof of the human spirit conquering mundane, dull situations. Sort of killing boredom.

So I was very much up for that, and almost in taking the piss out of it, too.

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Drew Daniel à propos du titre Aurora

I made some of the rhythms for the song “Aurora” by sampling just the sound of the spit on Björk’s lips as they would separate, and I’d turn that into a snare or a kick so it felt incredibly intimate and close.

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finding comfort

I wanted to pull back away from the world, and find comfort in being alone, in just enjoying your own company. I guess I was thinking of albums like Bowie’s Low, where you’re stripping away all the celebrity nonsense, and finding yourself again. It’s a reaction people can have even after partying hard for a weekend or whatever. You just want to curl up in front of the fire, read a book, watch TV, get a few friends around ; you just want to recharge your batteries basically.

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Generous Palmstroke

is about how you worship your beloved
how it contains falling down on your knees before him
and also in a humorous way
point out that it becomes a religion
so i wanted the song to be like
a folk-psalm or medieval troubadour song
someone would play on a lute or something
soi wrote and arrangement like that,
with simple chords. and then zeena took it to the next
... as she does...

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Harm Of Will

MI : Before we play some of the cds - a very interesting stack of cds - you’ve brought in, we thought we’d play a track from your latest album, ’Vespertine’, and we’ve selected - or I think you’ve selected -it - ’Harm of Will’. What is it about this track that makes it a particular favourite ?

B : I guess it caught the mood I was after really well ; it was a challenge for me, I wanted to go really lyrical, so it wasn’t beat-orientated. And it was like freetime, and it was sort of poetry-based, as opposed to verse-chorus-verse-chorus.

MI : There’s a very nice effect : it sound’s as though you’ve cut up your own breath ; it sounds like you’ve sampled your own breathing and cut it up, is that right ?

B : Yeah, I took the vocal and... I’d just gotten into my laptop at the time ; I’d just learnt the features you learn first when you’re really, really stupid : basically cut and add it - cut and paste. I just went for it...

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Harm Of Will

after writing "harm of will’ through improvisation
i spent months writing the string arrangement ..….it was an
important moment for me personally as a string arranger
where i wasn’t going for maximum grandness,
like the string melodies of the choruses "jóga" or
"isobel" and
went for a less melodic abstract approach
i wanted it to be clouds of exaltation, erotic energy
coming and going but then not committing
or settling into anything solid

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her audience

I have learned that they care. That they are techno. That they have laptops and use the internet. That they are very patient with me. This is an unusual tour for me. The first and last tour I can allow myself the luxuries of orchestras and small chocolate sounding (acoustically, that is) venues.

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A word that helped me a lot making this record was "hibernation." Being internal is a form of hibernation, and I related it to winter, the sound of crystals in wintertime. That’s what I wanted this album to sound like.

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Hidden Place

I guess ’Hidden Place’ is sort of about how two people can create a paradise just by uniting. You’ve got an emotional location that’s mutual. And it’s unbreakable. And obviously it’s make-believe.

So, you could argue that it doesn’t exist because it’s invisible, but of course it does. And it’s sort of a one-nil situation. Or, if you believe in something high enough - I mean, maybe at first when you mention it, and you talk about it and it doesn’t exist. It might be artificial, but you just keep on believing in it and it grows strong. It’ll become real, you know. And I guess that’s something, sort of the human spirit conquering the dullness and boredom.

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Hidden Place

I guess the microbeats were from me getting heavily into my laptop and just trying to enjoy the music from its speakers. The songs on Vespertine are introvert. I tried to make it frozen, winterlike. It’s an inside album, a domestic album, I had loads and loads of beats for ’Hidden Place’ but it still wasn’t up enough. Matthew Herbert came for a visit in the studio and offered to do it. He ran away to his studio and came back after a few hours later with a DAT.

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Hidden Place

hidden place was written falling secretly in love with
someone and not being able to express is. so i wanted to
make the arrangement a thick current, that is suppressed
like taboo taboo taboo. .….. unexpressed love .
a hidden muscular fossorial snake...

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Homogenic vs Vespertine

Homogenic, for me, was very emotionally confrontational and was very dramatic, both in the melodic sense of the strings and the distorted beats. Everything on 11... a lot of steroids in the air. Vespertine is sort of the opposite. Very introverted, very quiet and calm and peaceful, and at peace with one’s self.

After being obsessed with reality and darkness and always thinking everything else is bullshit, you know, suddenly thinking to invent a paradise isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I used to always think that was escapism. This record is very much about inventing your own paradise, but underneath your kitchen table, so it’s very secretive. It’s sort of about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes. It’s all about reaching those euphoric highs and those ecstasy moments, but with no outside stimulates. All it takes is inside you. I’m quite aware it’s an artificial paradise, so it almost went Disney at times — you know, when you see pink Bambi jumping about ? Those types of things. I don’t think there are very many pink Bambis on Homogenic.

Vespertine is sort of a winter album for me. I think Homogenic was very summer, very hot, burning desert. Maybe ’cause I did it in Spain ; it might be something as simple as that. But this one’s like ... those days when it’s snowing outside, and you’re inside with a cup of cocoa and everything’s very magical. You’re euphoric, but you don’t speak for days ’cause you don’t want to.

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Homogenic vs Vespertine

From the beginning, I knew I wanted this album to be the exact opposite of ’Homogenic’. That album was so extreme and confrontational. I needed this album to explore what we sound like on the inside. You know, that ecstasy, that euphoric state that happens while whispering.

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Homogenic vs Vespertine

The beats were distorted, and kinda...unforgiving. And I guess this one is very forgiving... it’s very internal, whereas Homogenic was extrovert. On Homogenic, everything was on eleven. This is more quiet, and white. It’s like it’s snowing outside and you’re drinking hot cocoa on the inside. So it’s very cozy.

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if shell do another tour like this

If it feels right the next time we will, otherwise we won’t. Horray to spontaneity !

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TheMusicEditor : This was a very independent album.

Björk : I did maybe about 80 percent of the album on my own with an engineer.

TheMusicEditor : Did you miss working with the team you’re accustomed to ?

Björk : We would program together. I would describe a vision and describe a lot of sounds, and the engineer would help me with the rest. Three years ago, I knew what sort of album I wanted to do. I usually start out with a pretty clear vision, and then I sort of color in a picture after that. Because I’m not such a good craftsman, I would do all the basic beats and harp and string arrangements. I then get specialists in each category to take it that one step further. I’d get a string orchestra or a harp arranger who would take my arrangements and add some of their own. They add about 10 to 20 percent of their own sounds.

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Vespertine is little insects rising from the ashes.

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Its In Our Hands

It was nice to do a full-blooded song after doing a whole album that didn’t have any blood in it, though that was the point with Vespertine, that it was see-through like a crystal. When we played it live, we were all looking forward to rocking out.

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making a private album

It’s like when your four or five, you wanna walk up to a stranger in the street and sing them a song and they’ll be happy. That’s pretty naive, right ? Pretty silly, right ? But I think it’s the main drive, even behind people that are very private. They would like to play you a song, or sneak up behind you and put headphones on you. I think there’s something in me that wants to give. But it’s finding that what you’re giving is really precious, it’s not some tabloid gossip, some trash that nobody wants to know anyway.

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making money from the tour

I’m not going to make money.
I never consider that.
Music comes first.
Life’s too short.

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It is a bit more mature than what I did before. It’s about the voice I have today, which is different to when I was 15 or when I was 20. I wanted to celebrate the home and the privacy and the sanctity of the home. For me, that is very important. It is very much about your own space.

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Pagan Poetry

I’d always wanted to work with music boxes but it was waiting for the right occasion. I’de been collecting them and stuff. The main thing was that I wanted to write my own songs in music boxes.

In the beginning, the music box company weren’t very excited. They’d made wooden boxes for eons and I wanted see-through plexiglass. They couldn’t get their head round it - they were like ’Why ?’

They wanted to make the plonky sound softer with wood but I wanted it as hard as possible, like it was frozen. In the end, they said it was the best thing they’d ever done.

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Pagan Poetry

That’s probably the only song that’s full-bodied, with blood and muscle.

There’s something rather uncomfortable about the experience of that song. It feels like an invasion of your privacy.

Yeah. Hmmmm. I don’t know. When I hear that sort of stuff in other people’s work, I usually find it quite rewarding, so I wouldn’t look at it as uncomfortable. I would say that’s generous. But it’s about wanting to communicate, for sure. It’s less cocoon-ish than the rest of the songs. It’s definitely wanting to tell someone something.

An obvious question, then. Who are you referring to ?

[Coquettishly] It’s so obvious, innit ?

Matthew Barney, right ?

[Smiling] I didn’t say a word.

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Pagan poetry

pagan poetry is about meeting someone for the first time
and falling in love and picking up his subconcious energy
the rhythm, the pace, the grace, the gentle and the dark
and finding that one’s subconscious can easily match it
and i wanted the harp arrangement to be
about this embroidery of love
when 2 people start weaving their core together
i spent aeons on it
might be my first sibelius soft ware
wet dream

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performing Vespertine live

Vespertine is a strange one, because it’s so much about that mood you create in your house with your friends and loved ones. It’s about hibernation, making hot chocolate, and reading your favorite book. It’s not easy to capture this in a big room, which is why I’m looking to play smaller, more intimate venues.

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I did maybe about 80 percent of the album on my own with an engineer.

Did you miss working with the team you’re accustomed to ?

We would program together. I would describe a vision and describe a lot of sounds, and the engineer would help me with the rest. Three years ago, I knew what sort of album I wanted to do. I usually start out with a pretty clear vision, and then I sort of color in a picture after that. Because I’m not such a good craftsman, I would do all the basic beats and harp and string arrangements. I then get specialists in each category to take it that one step further. I’d get a string orchestra or a harp arranger who would take my arrangements and add some of their own. They add about 10 to 20 percent of their own sounds.

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promoting the tour online

After working a lot on the web during the making of the album, the nature of it being quite laptoppy, the whole team around me on laptops. It seemed natural.

Also, because of the nature of the show : 74 musicians on stage, playing to a thousand people. It was obvious from the start that only a very few of the ones who wanted to come were going to be able to see it. It seemed natural to start with the most hardcore fans. It also helped us to avoid ticket touts and scalpers. And because we were only doing a few shows... often choosing the acoustics of the buildings [rather than for] their location, selling tickets online meant that the ticket sales were not only to local people. It was more international.

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Sun in my mouth

"sun in my mouth" was written on a day of improvisations with
guy sigsworth. i had lined up poetry books and poems from
friends. "harm of will’ and "mother heroic" came from the same
day. when i hear this song i hear the connection between me
and guy at this moment,
the sublimity of e.e.cummings words
but also me storming out of a certain film studio regaining the
rights to my music. it was the moment i got empowered to
stand by myself,
the metoo clock in me got wound up, to be rung eighteen
years later

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the album being introvert

So is Vespertine the private Björk — Björk unmasked ?
She rubs her face nervously and considers.

It is one side of me. A side of me that can’t be captured by going out and being sociable. Something quite quiet and unexpected. Hidden things, just to do with the things that we dream about at night, the more Nijinksy sides of us. Sometimes they are subdued, but they are always there.

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the album being positive

’Vespertine’ is a positive album. In emotional terms. Wouldn’t you agree ?

Yes, very positive. ’Vespertine’ is about being happy with what you’ve got. On the other hand, the feeling in ’Homogenic’ is about complaining at the top of your voice. I was fairly aware of the emotions I put into the music when I made those albums.

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the beat of Cocoon

the beat of "Cocoon" sounds almost like a needle scratching on a vinyl record. How did you get that effect ?
Yeah, in that particular song the beat was done by Thomas Knak. He’s Danish, and he actually did click noises from the synth. What is actually quite interesting is that I have one sample on this record — and it’s on "Unison" — and it’s from this band called Oval, who have been one of my favorite bands for a few years, and they actually DJ. [Leader] Markus Popp would actually take CDs and scratch them, and put them on the turntable machine ; then he would play off of that.
And the good thing about that is, it’s sort of conquering the fact that most people think that technology is cold because it has no mystery, and it’s very calculated, and blah, blah, blah. So when you take technology and use the areas where it breaks, where it’s faulty, you’re entering a mystery zone where you can’t control it. It’s reacting more like an animal or a person to you, and you have to react with it. It’s not like you tell it what to do and then it does it, like a controlled, cold thing. But you take a knife, scratch a CD, put it on, and it will skip. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

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the character of Vespertine

I’ve always been this punk who wants everything very real and very stark. This album is partly about creating a cocoon, almost like a paradise that you can escape to. It’s down to earth. It’s dealing with the porridge and cup of tea.

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the Family Tree

What amazed me most was all the hard work and memories. It was a new experience for me to listen to much of this music. The tracks are from my entire career, not just my colo career.

In one sense, it was very weird to rediscover this music. At the same time, it was something I needed to do. It shows how I got from there to here, it shows my learning curves, it shows how I’ve developed as a musician.

I spent six months digging through my archives. While it didn’t feel like hard work at the time, it was hard work listening to my old recordings, kind of like doing homework.

For me, working on ’Family Tree’ was like spring cleaning, complete with nostalgic, boring and mushy moments. But ultimately, it was liberating to have an absolutely clean attic. Now, I have a brand-new chalkboard on which to work.

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the Family Tree

After I finished ’Vespertine’, I felt as if I had completed something. I felt I almost caught up with myself and had done something I really wanted to do since I was a child. Now I feel I have got a clean slate, a new beginning to start all over again. I feel like I am at a crossroads, so it felt like the right time to put out a selection, or more of a retrospect, of the story so far.

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The Family Tree

After I finished Vespertine, I felt as if I had completed something. I felt I almost caught up with myself and had got something off my chest I really wanted to do since I was a child and now I feel like I have got a clean slate - a new beginning to start all over again. I sort of feel like I am at a crossroads, so it felt like the right time to put out a selection or more of a retrospect of the story so far. I was ready to put out a collection of the singles, but I also wanted to put out a story of how I got there, and not a bunch of words that have been documented so much already in tons of interviews. More important was the emotional and worldly things, in a musical way – in my musical words and to say in this way how I have developed as a musician.

I am cut into four branches. What’s closest to me, are my harmonies, which is probably the part of me that is the most ancient and patriotic, where I am probably the most conservative. To show that I am releasing what we are nick-naming now, ’The Family Tree’, which might get another name later. So, one of the branches are the harmonies, on which I will have a song that I wrote when I was fifteen and is played only on the flute. Other songs are being picked up, some of which have been released and some have not, but these are all showing where I thought I took the biggest leaps as a songwriter and this takes us all the way to the "Greatest Hits" album.

Another branch is the lyrics. When I felt I did the first lyrics that I thought was maybe more my world, and again where I think I took the biggest leaps in writing the lyrics, they are going to end up on the "Greatest Hits".

Another branch is probably an Icelandic phenomenon. Because we were a colony for 600 years, and very stubbornly kept our identity and language, without getting eaten up by foreign influences, anything modern and foreign was evil. So me in 1990, when I wanted to spread my wings and work not only with foreigners but also to do what was considered very modern at the time. Electronic music, for me it was so different, it was like sleeping with an alien - you couldn’t get into more scary or taboo territory. So that for me was a big part of my work. I am very, very Icelandic, but I am breaking a certain Icelandic taboo, which helped us survive for 600 years but now it is time to communicate with foreigners. You can show that you can be international and Icelandic. You don’t have to sell your soul, even though you are communicating in English.

This branch, the third branch is the first demos I did with Mark Bell and Graham Massey, and is me experimenting, not only putting together these two very different elements together but also for that time (even though I say so myself) to put melodies together with that that kind of music in 1990 hadn’t really been done that much. So it was really like the first baby steps in that direction, that later became a big part of my work.

The fourth branch is like the academic side of me, which is the side I confronted the latest because I got sent to classical music school in Iceland for ten years. I learnt a lot about Bach and Beethoven and all that, and nothing about Icelandic music, so as a result I felt quite rebellious and I rebelled against it in a big way. So it wasn’t until I turned thirty or something that I felt here is something that has truly influenced my life and I had better confront it, accept it and take my own look at it. So the fourth branch of the tree will include the songs that I did with the Brodsky quartet, which probably a good example of good academic roots, but that is not to be taken too literally. As obviously, they are my songs.

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The Family Tree

Whilst this is a "Greatest Hits", it is really more of a retrospective for me. It is not only about the singles, but how I felt I learned and how I got there. The visual side of it was to get a close friend of mine, an Icelandic artist, a girl called Gabriela to help. She also had to struggle with the four branches, being an Icelandic artist, having Icelandic roots, which are mostly caught up these sagas and mythology, having to face the fact that there is no such thing as Icelandic modern art, so you can invent it. Just like I did with Icelandic pop music, which was a great freedom for me, so I didn’t have to struggle with people like The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix or something, I could just start from scratch, almost. Gabriela has the academic branch as me too, she went to an art school where she was told a lot about German artists, and how if you are a woman born in Iceland, thirty years ago, what on earth would you have in common with European Art History - almost nothing. So to try first of all to reject it and then to later on find that you have some of that in you as it was shown to you in school for ten years. I think any Icelander is a poet, as I have said before, everybody in Iceland at least sometimes read the poetry books and the language pretty fierce - this has become our identity through the ages. So Gabriela, my friend, has some pieces where she has dealt with that too. The fourth branch where we have dealt with foreign influences, that we are Icelandic and are up for the volcanoes and the hot springs and all that, we get really pissed off as being categorised as some sort of Eskimos or Elves. We think of ourselves as being really quite modern, we do modern things. So there is that side too, and she has done the artwork for the tree as a result.

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the mood of Vespertine

It sounds like a winter record. If you wake up in the middle of the night, and you go out in the garden, everything’s going on out there that you wouldn’t know about. That’s the mood I’m trying to get. Snow owls represent that very well.

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the music videos for Vespertine

After I’d done me album, I wrote my manifesto where I describe the character who did vespertine and it’s a fictional character. I sent the same manifesto to all three video directors.

Also what was common with all three was that for all three it was their first music video, even though they had a lot of experience in another field. And I think probably I was very collaborative with all three.

Vespertine is an album made by a character who’s very introvert. And it’s about the universe inside every person. This time around, I wanted to make sure that the scenery of the songs is not like a mountain or a city or outside, it’s inside, so it’s very internal.

So I guess all three videos are very internal. They’re about sewing things in your skin, or things that were yours first, like the bodily fluids, going in and outside you. Sort of how you communicate with the world in a very intimate, personal way. Or where something outside affects you so hard that you fall in love and things grow out of you. So, yeah, I think there was a certain theme in the three videos.

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the production of vespertine

i guess the first stage is i decided what the instrumentation was going to be ,

then i did about 80% of the beats with the help of programmers ( which means you bring noises or describe what kind of noises you want and then place them maticulously , sound by sound , in the places you want them to be in .) song structure decisions .

then i did the harp arrangements that zeena played adding her own arrangements in the songs where it is credited

then i did scetches of string arrangements that vince mendoza completed some and then orchestrated .

then i asked people like marius de vries and matthew herbert and matmos to add stuff after i had descibed to them what i was after .

the last stage is mixing , then you have perhaps up to 80 channels of stuff and the work of a producer is to pick what ends up in the song and what not .
on vespertine a lot off stuff was thown out . roughly i would guess about 60% .

i tried to be as brief as possible

i hope that answers your question



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the sounds on Vespertine

I was collecting together all the noises that I know that are like hibernating and that sound like the inside of your head. I guess ’Vespertine’ for me was going really, really, really internal and trying to make music with huffs and whispering and music boxes.

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the tour

The tour is going ridiculously well ! It’s a big risk when you take so many musicians on a tour. The group is centered on me, Zeena and Matmos. We make a very strong essence and the other seventy (musicians) hang finely around us.

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the tour

I’m going to do five months more of these acoustic shows with choirs. Each place will be hand-picked. I’m then going to wait until next summer, where I’ll do some festivals.

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the tour

I didn’t really think about the locations of this tour until after I wrote ’Vespertine’. So maybe a year ago we started planning.

I never had the ambition to sing in an opera house but when we looked into playing in churches, because I prefer to sing without microphones, we found it easier to go to places which are already designed for singing acoustically. So opera houses were the logical choice.

Apart from that, they stand in every town. I’m a little bit afraid that it is a statement, but I hope that people will forgive me. I am still doing pop music and don’t have the feeling that it became suddenly too serious. Those opera houses are purely picked because of accoustic reasons.

Yeah, I mean we all know the difference of singing in the bathroom, for example, or in a corridor or underneath your blanket in bed. It’s very different sounds. And the sound in an opera house is like... You can whisper in an opera house and it sounds like chocolate.

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the tour

It’s all about the acoustics. I want to use the choir, the orchestra, and I don’t want to have to use microphones. I’m trying to recreate the sound we made on the album, and performing in the normal ’rock’ venues wouldn’t give us that freedom. It’ll be a challenge, but one I’m really looking forward to. The fact that we’re in a very different setting is something that I think will add to the music.

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the tour

Wasn’t the atmosphere of the ’Vespertine’ tour - the band atmosphere, you, Mamots and Zeena - like a kind of essence, with the girls from Greenland and Simon added in ?
Zeena had been in from the start of course. We’d been working together for more than a year when the tour started. Working with Matmos on ’Vespertine’ was maybe a bit different, because they didn’t join the recording session until the end. But their role was still important, as far as thinking out how the beat was produced. Non-instruments - instruments. The story behind that goes back a couple of years. They came to New York in January 2001 and the tour started in August. We worked together for several months. At first, we only performed at small venus. It was those loft performances and Riverside Church where the core for the big tour was formed : me, Zeena and Matmos. Valuable experience, an essence that all the rest was built around.

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the working name "Domestika"

The name refers to an island which I use in my work. It’s a mental island. It’s very flexible and portable *laughs*. It’s a laptop. Thanks to my laptop, I can write everything by myself and I don’t need help from peole I don’t know. Isn’t it amazing ? It’s very alternating and I feel like it’s a great challenge for my individuality.

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That’s the only song I thought was a bit too self-indulgent. I’m moaning a bit in that song...I guess it’s about when I was doing the film music ( Dancer In The Dark ) . You write a song for them and they hear it and say, ’Can you cut out 41 bars ? Er, no. I was excited, I felt ready to be very collaborative, but I wrote that in the middle of the film when i was tired of changing my tracks because some Danish person ( Von Trier ) thought something. But I’m taking a piss out of myself too. That line , "I’ve thrive best hermit style, like a beard and a pipe". It’s like ; "C’mon, communicate, collaborate, get a life." I speak out if I don’t like something. I’ll say it y’know ? But that’s OK when people collaborate.

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with unison i was very keen to try to capture this magical walking
as if you are walking through a forest exalted
and it is one of the few times when forces of harmony
and equilibrium are actually going your way
the bassline was an attempt for this kinda slow trance walk
at the time, it was a counter emotion to
a massive struggle i had just been through
the melting after a long term conflict
or attemot for one .....
for sometimes when you want something really bad
you just have to make a musical mockup
and then move into it

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using small beats

I was bored with big beats. I’d listened a lot to it, to drill’n’bass, a lot of Rephlex stuff, the most mental cut-up shit that you could find. This is more electronic folk music, music for the home. It’s corny to make a soundtrack for making a sandwich, but I quite like it. For so long I wanted to whisper. It was a watercolour as opposed to an oil. But ‘Pagan Poetry’ was the best song I did, and I was hungry for something physical again.

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It’s always difficult to gather together songs that make a complete whole when you’re doing an album. I think in the end you don’t always pick the best songs, but you pick songs that complete the jigsaw puzzle. It seemed to me that ’Verandi’ was from another sound world than ’Vespertine.’

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Vespertine as a hobby

The film soundtrack was the day job and this was the hobby.

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Vespertine as therapy

You once said that you didn’t believe in music as therapy. But I think "Vespertine" has been therapeutic for many people as they process the events of Sept. 11.

I don’t think anybody who does my job would like to consider themselves a Band-Aid maker. But in tough times, the best thing to do is to go out there and see that there are people doing incredible things, and to see that there is more to life than these events. You could watch a Buster Keaton film and laugh your head off and still be completely respectful -— that could be the most beautiful ritual you could do. What I’m trying to say, it’s not exactly what you do, but how you do it. In difficult moments, I definitely want to get more art and hear more music.

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what Vespertine is

An album that sounded like it was made while someone was cooking pasta.

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what Vespertine is about

’Vespertine’ is about worshipping the home and finding that paradise underneath the kitchen table.

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why she changed title from Domestika

So let’s focus on the new album. First of all, you originally called it Domestika, then you changed it to Vespertine. Why did you do that ?

(...) Domestika was all about trying to create a paradise in your own home, a very introverted euphoria, a quiet ecstatic state, in that you’re self-sufficient with your heaven. You don’t need stimuli from the outside world. All you need is imagination and human spirit, and faith to want to get there.

So I started recording just little noises around the house, like with pencils and toasters and pots and pans, trying to limit myself that I could only use stuff around the house. Half a year ago when the album was ready, everything about it was domestic. So I thought, OK, we’ve acquired that in an audio sense ; we don’t have to be so literate about the title.

I thought I’d maybe go for more of the poetic, prayer-like aspect on the album with the title.

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working with her laptop

On my last album, ’Vespertine’, I became obsessed with my laptop and my laptop speakers : I was trying to make a bubble you could exist in, a paradise. For the string and music-box arrangements, I used a classical program called Sibelius, where you have all the instruments of a big orchestra in a laptop. You get a picture of sheet music and a mouse that operates as a pencil, so you write it out and press Play, then print it and hand the music to the orchestra.

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workshipping the home

It is dedicated to worshipping the home, hibernation, finding paradise in your kitchen, magical moments on your own, that kind of thing.

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