Musician

Frontwoman : Björk

Riding high on her solo album Debut, the ex-Sugarcube meets PJ Harvey.

You recently performed “Satisfaction” on the BRIT Awards with Polly Jean Harvey. Will the two of you work together again ?
Yeah, I’d love to ! The BRIT Awards contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do a duet with Meat Loaf. Of course, I was very flattered, but I’ve worked with enough people in my life to realize that even though you’ve got ingredients that function quite well on their own like, say, ketchup and chocolate, sometimes it’s not very good to mix them together. So I said, "Listen, there’s this person that I just know I’ll meet and it will be completely relaxed, and we won’t have to explain anything or take nine months in bonding or whatever." I suggested Polly and they were right into it. We tried a lot of songs together-it was very important for us to do it with just the two of us onstage together and be able to play all of the instruments. I had a little organ noise and she had a guitar and we played it really, really slow and quietly. I’d love to work with her again, but we’re not going to make any statements about it. If it happens and it’s right, then yes we will.

How do you compose ?
At the moment I work mostly with just keyboards. I wouldn’t consider myself a good keyboard player or anything. But I know what I want chord-wise, note-wise and sound-wise. I love playing with different keyboard sounds.
I actually write most of it on a little Casio that cost like $40 or something. Most of it happens in my head - all the chords and, obviously, the melody and the lyrics. Then after I’ve finished the chords, the little licks, the brass lines, the bass lines and all that, I like to move away from my house and work with other people. I guess I could finish a record on my own, and it would be alright - not brilliant, but it would be alright. But there’s really two very different stages : One part of it is writing in my house after everyone has fallen asleep, which is very precious to me, like a bit of a relationship between me and myself. And the other bit - which is even more exciting - is working with other people. Because otherwise it’s just like masturbating. To meet people you’ve never worked with before - you get really excited, and it’s like a turn-on, and you inspire one another and you take off. That’s always been my favorite thing.

How long bad people been after you to do a solo album ?
I made my first album when I was 11 in Iceland and it became really big. I became a bit of a public property, and I was terrified with it, I hated it. They wanted me to do another, but I just wanted to work with people my own age and be more in the background. And I guess that’s what I’d been doing ever since until last year when this album came out. But even though it’s my album, it’s basically a collaboration with a lot of people, like Nellee [Hooper, producer], all the musicians, photographers, the album cover designer, the video directors, even business-wise.

What were you able to do on Debut that you weren’t able to do with the Sugarcubes ?
Well, the Sugarcubes was a completely different thing because it was just me and my friends having a laugh. We were never that musically ambitious.
We started off as a publishing company to put out books by young poets in Iceland. Then we started a little cafe with a bookshop, and then a radio program, and a magazine - we were just dying of utter boredom in Iceland, so we got together to change that. Then, as a joke, we formed the band, and ironically, out of all the things we did, that was taken the most seriously.
But the Sugarcubes were a party band. They were about us getting hilariously drunk and simply having this permission to travel around the world because some foreigner liked us and decided that we were brilliant.
It was a social band and the music reflected that. Whereas with my record, all the songs I wrote in my home after midnight when I’m on my own. And it’s very kinda private and intimate. So, you know, it’s just two sides.

What is the future of the Sugarcubes ?
We continue to operate as Bad Taste - that’s the company we run in Iceland.

But as a band ?
Um, I don’t know. I doubt it. But we’ve always just done one album at a time, so, I don’t know. You know, we’ll always be friends. We supported each other in Iceland under difficult conditions for 10 years, and that’s kinda something you can’t easily forget.

You’ve worked with 808 State, you had Ultramarine opening for you - are you a big techno fan ?
Yeah, I love techno ! But then again, I think like 95 percent of all music is crap, whether it’s jazz or techno or Brazilian funk music or Pakistani jazz.

Dev Sherlock

publié dans Musician - 01.05.1994

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