saying goodbye to rock

With ’Debut’ you left the rock world, I think. Is that your feeling ? Does ’Debut’ say goodbye to rock ?

If I take rock on its own, I never listened to rock much, with a few special exceptions, such as when I got the Swans craze. My stepfather listened to so much guitar music that maybe I OD’ed on it. I never listened to those hard punk bands or Iggy Pop or David Bowie, with all due respect for them. It wasn’t quite my scene. I preferred DAF and Brian Eno. If there was a guitarist, it was Robert Fripp. That was more my department. This is when I was 14-15. With the Sugarcubes, it was more a question of being in a band with your friends. They played the instruments they played. So when I made ’Debut’ and it wasn’t rock, it maybe wasn’t as much a hardcore statement for me personally, which surprised people who’d always heard my voice with rock. The music I did with Gulli and Sigtryggur went in completely different directions from rock. The only rock I enjoy is when it’s really extreme, it turns into a wall like Swans or the speed metal craze I had for a couple of months. That’s just the way my taste has always been, either totally sentimental or totally hardcore. Nothing in between stuff, like some of the stuff from Aphex Twin. If it’s completely brutal, noise,abstract, then more, then I’m game. But Beatle rock, that three-chord business, I’ve never had a taste for that. Maybe it’s because I was brought up with it, exactly what I don’t feel I need any more of.

The reason I mentioned that is the reaction to ’Debut’ in the States when it was released there. Reviews in the American press shared disappointments about this first solo album by the singer with the Sugarcubes, no guitars, and compared the music with euro-pop.

That’s all changed today. After I made ’Debut’ came a period of five years when there was a gap between European and American music. I remember explaining that to someone else. You see the opposites in "Grease", Olivia and John, the good and the bad. When I was 12 it was punk and disco that said if you were on the good side or the bad side. In Europe, rock was normal, it was the good side, U2 and so on. But rebellion was in the electronic world. In America, it was the complete opposite. Drum machine music was disco. It was mindless yuppie music. Rock, on the other hand, was if you wanted to be a part of the rebellion. You got a guitar when you were thirteen if you wanted to fuck the system. There was an exciting clash between European and American there. Whatever meaning it had was totally opposite on different sides of the pond. I talked to people who were very frank and maybe didn’t have quite the same taste in music I had, but lived in Chicago and for them drum machine was just yuppie music.

Even though it was used a lot in hip-hop and breakbeat music ?

I’m not talking about black music. This goes more for the circle of friends I was in. As far as my music was concerned I felt the criticism was couloured by this. Hip-hop is quite a different matter of course.

Hip-hop wasn’t middle class american teenage music ?

This was the time of ’Public Enemy’ that everyone fell for.

Livebox interview, 2002