Quotes

about : Homogenic
a reaction

Homogenic is a reaction to Debut and Post. That were actually two theme records. They marked de periods before and after my moving from Iceland to London. Both records deal with how I looked at my life at that moment. That was kinda Die Hard. I wanted to be Bruce Willis. I didn’t want an easy life and I didn’t get it. I was looking for speed, action, thrills, excitement and as many challenges as possible. The opposite of my calm, lazy life in Iceland. So I’ve travelled, made music, performed, partied and met inspiring people for four years non-stop. My life was a rollercoaster and I thought it was fantastic ; I lost myself in it completely.

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Aeroplane

i had been writing brass arrangments for couple of years
in iceland. anchor song, aeroplane
and rehearsed first with my simple arrangements
with icelandic musicians in 1989 or so
i then ended up asking oliver lake from the saxophone quartet
to take my arrangments and elaborate on them
and he is playing them on the album
so you could say that these brass arrangments
were my first babysteps into
the world of arrangements... ?

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All Is Full Of Love

That song’s from a moment when I’d had a pretty rough winter and then it was a spring morning and I walked outside and the birds were singing : spring is here !

I wrote the song in one day. It just clicked - you know, you’re being too stubborn, don’t be so silly, there’s love everywhere. The feeling, the emotion of the song was like completely melting and loving everything and feeling like everuthing loved you, after a long time of not having that.

The song, in essence, is actually about believing in love. Love isn’t just about two persons, it’s everywhere around you. Even if you’re not getting love from Person A, it doesn’t mean there’s not love there. Obviously, it’s taking the piss too - it’s the most sugary song ever.

’All Is Full Of Love’ was written after the rest of Homogenic wich I’d wanted to be an agressive, macho album. In Icelandic mythology, you have this saga where the gods get agressive and the world explodes and everything dies and then the sun comes up and everything starts all over again. It’s the last track on Homogenic after ’Pluto’ wich stands for death. ’All Is Full Of Love’ is like the birds coming out after the thunderstorm.

In a way, in my head, ’All Is Full Of Love’ is the first song on Vespertine.

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Bachelorette

bachelorette for me is part three , of 3 songs
1 : "human behaviour" is the childhood
2 : "isobel" a story of a girl that leaves nature for the big city
she is run by impulse so she gets misunderstood amongst urban logic
it is instinct versus logic. she gets burned so
she retreats to rural to heal and isolates herself
but trains moths to go back to the city and fly
infront of the faces of people who are stuck in
making too much sense and say "na na na na"
until they snap out of it
3 : "bachelorette" is then about following the moths,
returning again to the city but with strength
wounded and wiser confronting coldness with love
therefore i wanted the arrangements to be romantic
as epic as possible, the grandiousestest drama ever
but still with love

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Bachelorette

There’s a lot of story-telling going on, a lot of brutal, in-your-face stories. One of them is this kind of Wuthering Heights epic.

She puts one hand melodramatically over her heart.

The first song in this epic was "Human Behaviour". The second one is "Isobel". I guess this one is the sequel.

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being happy with Homogenic

Yeah, happy’s probably not the right word. I’m still fixing it. I’ve got maybe 18 songs that are very different from each other, so the album could be ten tracks, maybe... It seems the more Mark and I work together, the more ideas we get.

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being truthful

I wanted to be able to say it was mine, to be more truthful about what I’m about, who I am.

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Björk à propos du titre Alarm Call

I do believe in the power of music to change things. I do sometimes feel like I’m the only one left who believes that.

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Björk à propos du titre All Is Full Of Love

I guess waking up after having been in Spain for six months in the
mountains...with few people. It was kind of solitary. And it was
April, and I had to walk in the morning...around the mountains.

And spring just kicked in. It was definitely nature-inspired. On a
more personal level. It’s about when you have been too stubborn
about giving love to one particular direction...you expect it back
...likes it’s a bank or something.

And kind of realizing that it’s up to you what you give, but it’s not
up to you what you are given and where from.

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Björk à propos du titre All Is Full Of Love

The original version was the one used for the video. Then I decided to ask Howie to make a version of it that captured the atmosphere when the sun comes out after a thunderstorm.

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Björk à propos du titre Bachelorette

bachelorette for me is part three, of 3 songs
1 : "human behaviour" is the childhood
2 : "isobel" a story of a girl that leaves nature for the big city
she is run by impulse so she gets misunderstood amongst urban logic
it is instinct versus logic. she gets burned so
she retreats to rural to heal and isolates herself
but trains moths to go back to the city and fly
infront of the faces of people who are stuck in
making too much sense and say "na na na na"
until they snap out of it.
3 : "bachelorette" is then about following the moths
returning again to the city but with strength
wounded and wiser confronting coldness with love
therefore i wanted the arrangements to be romantic,
as epic as possible, the grandiousestest drama ever
but still with love

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Björk à propos du titre Bachelorette

Because I wanted the lyrics to be so epic, I got my friend Sjón - who’s a poet in Iceland - to write them. We sat together at the kitchen table and drank a lot of red wine and I told him the whole story for hours and days and he wrote the words from that story.

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Björk à propos du titre Bachelorette

So Isobel decides to return to the city and to take a train, like in the 30’s, in South America somewhere. She decides to confront love with love and confronts the cowards that don’t have the guts to fall in love with love. So you see - it’s like Isobel has returned.

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Björk à propos du titre Hunter

I guess that song’s about when you have a lot of people that work for you and you sort-of have to write songs or people get unemployed, you know ? In most cases, it’s inspiring but in that particular song I was pissed off with it. I was ready for a break but it didn’t seem fair on the people I worked with at the time.

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Björk à propos du titre Jóga

I think that songs is several things. At the time, I was going to move to London for a couple of months to record an album. I ended up doing two records and touring the world. I’d never been so long away from Iceland, so when I started preparing for Homogenic, it was very obviously supposed to be a love album to Iceland nature. I’d learned enough about studios and beats to make modern Icelandic pop music. It’s isn’t Icelandic music trying to be English or American. I was doing a lot of experimenting with beats trying to make them sound volcanic. With this song, I really had a sort of National Anthem in mind. Not the National Anthem but certain classic Icelandic songs -very romantic, very proud. All the puffin stories are rubbish, though.

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fighting

I think the album is more about fighting your way out than saying ’poor old me’. It’s so natural not to want to be there, so you lose your patience, you go, ’fking hell, I’m not going to take this’. When people say it’s really dark I don’t mind that. It’s more about not giving up than going, ’mmmmmm, I’m miserable’. I’m writing really different stuff now, thank God.

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going minimal

This is just one flavor. It’s easy to hold people’s attention if you keep changing the instruments. Like, if you’ve got 73 trombones, then a harp. It’s easy if you’ve got all these tricks. But to do it with nothing- it’s hard. If you listen to Tracey Thorn’s first solo album, it’s just her and a guitar, yet you still get all the emotions. That’s very challenging. Its also just me trying to be truthful. I could play these songs on a ghetto blaster this summer when I go camping in Iceland. I could put them on a mountain and play them out without being ashamed. It will go with the countryside.

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grabbing people

It’s very much grabbing the collar of people’s jumpers - then telling them ; Look in my eye, this is what I’ve got to say, thank you very much, now see you later.

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her beats

And my beats ? It’s just my character, really. I wanted raw hardcore beats. And for the strings, I didn’t want any basslines. No insides, no guitars, chords, nothing When you’ve got a bassline, everything else falls asleep, like creativity.

When a bassline can get a song going, for the rest of it you don’t push yourself. If you have to work a song like that, it’s harder Bllllllbbbhhhh (makes blabbering sound, exasperation).

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her work on Homogenic

With The Sugarcubes I was one of six, so 16.6 per cent of the music was mine. Debut was 50 per cent me - I wrote the songs and the arrangements and Nellee did the beats - and Homogenic is... " Maybe 80 per cent ? "Probably more like 70.

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Homogenic

It’s like me with no makeup.

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Homogenic being extroverted

"For me, ’Homogenic’ was very extroverted - it’s me after drinking four
cappuccinos, and it’s Friday night, and I go out and meet a lot of
people. It’s that sort of outgoing mood ; you’re ready to take on the
world and communicate. It’s about being vulnerable and strong."

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Homogenic being a homecoming

Something like that, yeah. Although I haven’t really, physically, gone back to Iceland. It’s inside. The music of Homogenic is very close to the music I heard as a child. It’s a very Icelandic record, especially as far as rhythm is concerned. But it’s not a record that wasn’t there yesterday ; it’s always been there, but just had to materialize. The sounds, the rhythms, the emotions, they’ve always been inside my head. I put them down on Homogenic. I look at it as a document. And the title of the record actually indicates that the music comes more or less from one direction : straight from the heart, because home is where the heart is. This time I didn’t want too much intervention from others.

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Homogenic being better than Debut

Homogenic is five times better than Debut. It’s just that it was a very serious album, but it was recorded at a very serious time. I’m getting really serious now as well, she adds, and bursts into fits of giggles.

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Homogenic being calm

It’s not as if was relaxed all the time during the recording of Homogenic ; on the contrary. But every now and then, a couple of times a month, I could do it. Then I was very calm for a very short moment. And I decided to make use of that. So if you listen to the CD, you think : wow, Björk has finally calmed down. But that’s only how it appears. The songs on the record merely represent the isolated moments of calmness, amidst all the fuss.

So you’ve hardly changed.

Not really, no. I couldn’t have. But fortunately I am able to make a consistent record now.

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Homogenic being the most "her" yet

I know it sounds crap, but this album is the most me yet. But my friends tell me not to fool myself. The only thing that will surprise people from me is if there are no surprises. I don’t really care. I’m on this mission to get all this shit out of me that I was born with and just learn to express it I feel like I’m only ten percent there. Ninety percent is the songs I hear in my head. I don’t even know how to express them, let alone record them and play them for other people. I’m trying to learn so badly before I die. I’ve got like 50 years.

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Homogenic having no producer

I used to need someone to help me get the song out of my system, but I’m my own midwife now.

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Homogenics emotion

Sur le plan émotionnel, cet album parle de toucher le fond et d’en sortir gagnant. C’est l’album le plus sombre que j’ai fait, mais il est plein d’espoir. / Emotionally, this album is about hitting rock bottom and earning your way up. So it’s the darkest album I’ve done emotionally, but it’s got a lot of hope.

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how Homogenic is different

I think it’s just better. "Debut" and "Post" were a lot of stuff I’ve written over many, many years. So when I started doing this album I caught up with myself, All these songs are from a one-year period, and more of what I am today. "Human Behaviour" is so obviously written when I was a teenager.

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Hunter

hunter was written when i escaped the paparazzi of london
and moved to a studio in southern spain
i was marching up and down the empty winter beeches
and claiming territory i guess...
it is about the energy most musicians that tour recognize
after performing for a long time
you return to writing...
and you have to go hunting for melodies
so you can provide for your team
i came back to the studio with the melody to this marching song. ... played
mark bell bolero after ravel
and he took out his 909 and wrote the rhythm in one take
909 fanatics still rave about it to me

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I dare you

When I was finishing Post, I started singing this. Well, I didn’t know how I was going to feel. But it’s like Bjork leaves Iceland-it’s like a Tin Tin book-and goes to these other countries. Bjork in America, Bjork in Congo. I knew I was going to go on a mission, which was very hard for me ’cause I’m a very family-oriented person and though people may think I’m raving mad - and I probably am - I’ve always had basic, little village upbringing. It was scary to leave all that. I was on a four-year mission, I became an action junkie. If something didn’t happen for two hours I’d make a call, cut a deal, it was really sick. I wanted action, to have this feeling like I’m risking everything or I’m bored.

Then last September everything exploded. My unconscious had asked for that. A lot of things ended in my life. I went to Spain in the same week and crashed. I’d been holding mV breath in London for four years.

Emotionally, this album is about hitting rock bottom and earning your way up. So it’s the darkest album I’ve done emotionally, but it’s got a lot of hope. ’Okay, I’m on the bottom but I’m fucking going there.’ It’s the darkest, but the bravest.

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Icelandic techno

I wanted Homogenic to reflect where I’m from, what I’m about. I wanted the beats to be almost distorted ; imagine if there was Icelandic techno. Iceland is one of the youngest countries geograph cally, it’s still in the making. So the sounds would be still in the making.

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Icelandic techno

I wanted to make it an honest record. Me, here, myself, at home. I asked myself if there is such a thing as Icelandic techno, and how it could sound. Well, in Iceland, everything revolves around nature, 24 hours a day. Earthquakes, snowstorms, rain, ice, volcanic eruptions, geysers... Very elementary and uncontrolable. But at the other hand, Iceland is incredibly modern ; everything is hi-tech. The number of people owning a computer is as high as nowhere else in the world. That contradiction is also on Homogenic. The electronic beats are the rhythm, the heartbeat. The violins create the old-fashioned atmosphere, the colouring. Homogenic is Iceland, my native country, my home.

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Immature

In ’Immature,’ you sing, ’How could I be so immature to think that he could replace the missing elements in me.’

Then, ’How extremely lazy of me.’ (giggles)

Isn’t the perfect relationship about filling in those holes in each other, so that two people become one ?

Yeah, that’s what I thought (sadly). But I don’t know, really. I used to have all these opinions about love because I’m fierce, a helpless romantic. What happened is my expectations about romance were there (motions to one side of the table, then the other), but what was really happening was here. The elastic stretched so much, it cracked. And now I’m more realistic about things.

I love so many people. Your mate doesn’t have to replace everything. I don’t know and I’m not going to pretend I do. It’s back to basics, being self-sufficient. Now I’m back to how I was as a kid when I used to spend most of my time alone. So I’m spending time by myself and enjoying it very much. It sounds sad, but when I was a kid I didn’t really have friends. The most magical moments I had in my life I had alone. Like climbing mountains or swimming or singing or listening to music.

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Jóga

joga is written to my best friend jóga
i went to a cabin in midwinter alone for a week
my father dropped me there and
i was hiking in the snow and
i remember especially an epic night
with northern lights above ingölfsfjall
low clouds below them and
the towns mirroring in them
at the bottom of the horizon.
this was probably the bravest yet
i had gone with an arrangement at that point
playing the melodies of the first violin and violas
with clumsy fingers on the piano.
it probably took me a year until i found
the right words for the chorus : state of emergency ...
i was walking down a hill in southern spain
around midnight, singing the chorus again and again
trying to figure out what would match those vowels
and match the emotional intention jóga deserved

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less toys

I’ve definitely become more mature, yeah. And when you grow up, you need less toys. You also notice that as a musician. Debut and Post were full of little toys ; it was very simple to draw the attention with that for 45 minutes. Every minute new gadgets were introduced.

Later I thought : that’s actually a bit too easy. It would be a far greater challenge to record a double album with only one teaspoon and keep it exciting for two hours as well. So I figured, Homogenic should be made with less tools. Come as you are. Beats, violins and vocals, and trying to cover the entire emotional spectrum with that. Preferably the same spectrum as on Debut and Post. Look, those records showed the different sides of Björk, but it was also like : Björk goes on a journey and meets all kinds of exciting, inspiring people. That were all those musicians, mixers and producers who worked with me. Homogenic is : Björk stays home.

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moving to Spain

Well, I do go to Iceland. It’s my home and it always will be. But I need to get away from that as well. Iceland isn’t like it was when I was a kid, because I’ve become something ... different. It’s the same for me, but I’m not the same to them. If I’m gonna fight that one, I’ll spend the rest of my life doing it. It’s better to accept it. There were boring practical reasons too. The fact that I don’t know anyone here in Spain keeps me working. It’s also so beautiful here. There’s not many places where I feel at home, and I feel at home here for some strange reason.

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one flavour

It’s like a challenge in that you have few tools to work with but you want the whole emotional scale, as before. Some of my favorite albums arc just, say, one voice and one drummer, but you’ve got one sad song, one happy song, one intellectual song, one prankster song, just with fewer tools.

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one flavour

First, it’s the beats. It’s to prove that techno doesn’t come only from Germany. There should be such a thing as Icelandic techno, which if you look at nature in Iceland, you’d see that it would be very simple, very explosive, very raw. I mean, NASA sends its astronauts there to rehearse, because it’s like a moon-scape. So I want the beats like that.

Then the second thing is the strings. I attempted to make string arrangements, with a lot of help from Deodato. He’s been like a big daddy, letting me experiment with notes hut still being there for me when I need him, and sometimes just completely doing it for me. So the starting point of this album is beats and strings, with the voice in the middle. I wanted to have the whole album like that ; just one flavor.

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one flavour

I want it to be one flavor, pure. Strings will always touch us, they’re like our nerve system, we look like violins on the inside. And beats are physical : the heart, blood, pulse. I got down to basics, to the beats and the being, to the body and the soul.

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pleasing herself

With Homogenic I just decided not to please anybody except myself, and I’m really touched by the fact that people still seem to be interested.

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Pluto

It’s about getting plastered, that need to destroy everything so you can start over again. Having a lot in the planet Pluto, which I do, means you want to cut the crap, throw all the rubbish away No extra baggage. It’s death and birth.

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Pluto

when i wrote pluto i had finished homogenic
and felt it needed a cathartic explosive song at the end
i had just bought my first nordlead,
it was a sunny day in mountaine ous spain
and put the synth on the balcony enjoying the view
all the way to atrica
i then recorded the different arpeggio synth riffs
and wrote the melody and the lyric
i then brought it into the studio and mark bell
tidied up my synth riffs and put a beat underneath it
eumir deodato then wrote the the string arrangement
based on the notes in my backing vocals
i would also like to thank matt robertson"s score preparation
he did a marvellous job in notating my synth rifts
and orchestrating them for this concert
Soi guess this arrangement is a merge of
my backing vocals and my nordlead synth riffs ?
if that makes any sense ?

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Pluto

"Pluto", that was me and Mark having a laugh in Spain. It was a day like this [hot and sticky], and we got a little amp outside and a keyboard and I just did all these really punk things, just really thinking heavy metal.

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Pluto

I did ‘Pluto’ on a synthesizer. Trying to be as hardcore as I could. Then Mark Bell added a beat to it.

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recording

I recorded Homogenic in a house in El Madronal, Spain, where I could stand on a balcony that looked out to Africa. I sang in a mixing room with my friends near me.

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recording in Spain

I just wanted to get away from it all. Do the things you never have time to do when you’re in the city, like go on three-hour walks.

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So Broken

I recorded ’So Broken’ that infamous week for me, the week of the bomb. The only way for me to write a song about it was just to take the piss. I wrote it in my house hitting the table singing, ’I’m so broken (in corny, overwrought voice), ole !’ I was going to have the sound of washing dishes and three kids screaming ; it would be a soap opera. Then I went to the studio in Spain and met the flamenco guitarist who plays on the track and stayed there for six months recording.

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So Broken

I wrote it as a cliché then I went to Spain to record it because it was a Spanish cliché. And then it became real, that’s what Ramundo did to it.

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starting on the next album

It’s like mission complete, and it gives you permission to drop everything and start from zero. But I’m definitely not saying it’s free-jazz. Definitely not that crap. I grew up with all that shit.

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the album cover

When I went to Alexander McQueen, I explained to him the person who wrote these songs — someone who was put into an impossible situation, so impossible that she had to become a warrior. A warrior who had to fight not with weapons, but with love. I had 10 kilos of hair on my head, and special contact lenses and a manicure that prevented me from eating with my fingers, and gaffer tape around my waist and high clogs so I couldn’t walk easily. I wanted to put all the emotion of the album into that image.

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the challenge

The true challenge was to have almost no toys, down to one stick, without a second of boredom. My idea was to have just strings and beats and a voice, the strings on the left and the beats on the right and the voice in the middle. With the balance button on the stereo, people could pick the ambient version or club one, or both. That’s a great theory, but in practice, when the songs started growing, it changed.

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the next album

It will be very different : very lyrical, very ...lack of beat.

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the sound of Homogenic

I’m just trying to be truthful about what 1997 is. I’m talking about all the noises that most people call ugly in some instances because they’re too familiar. I’ve tried to reorganize them and put a bit of magic there.

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the title

I wanted to be able to say it was mine, to be more truthful
about what I’m about, who I am.

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the title

I called this album Homogenic because all the dots are pink-no green or blue-just one flavor

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the title "Homogenic"

It all has one flavour, that’s why it’s called Homogenic !

...says Björk, who confesses that she didn’t know this was a word not found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Don’t blame me, I’m just an idiot foreigner.

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the video for All is full of love

The video’s definitely got that ’hyperbeauty’. that sensuality in dead
things. I guess. All my friends say they touch toasters differently
after they’ve seen that video.

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the video for All is full of love

That video is very, very, Chris Cunningham, and I don’t think my part in it was controlling at all. I came up with some beginnings of things just to describe the songs. I gave him some little Chinese statues, the erotic ones of ivory, so it was sort of white material that would melt together because of lovemaking, and he took that, and thought about it and called me later with : "how about robots ?" So that video was completely his idea ; it’s not controlled.

And it’s trust as well.

It’s trust, and in that particular relationship I would say each role was different. My job was to protect him and provide him with a good working environment, and that he didn’t have to worry about business and money and all this rubbish and the marketing. And also most people have
like : "the single comes out in three months," or whatever, blah blah blah, and we never had that.

So when he said : "My video’s not ready," I’m like : "we’ll wait" and it came out a lot later, because it was more important for me to provide him with what he needed, and at the end of the day he got. So, you could call it control, but I don’t think so. I think it’s protection.

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Unravel

this is a lyric i had in my diary for a while .…. it is obviously
about long distance relationships
me and guy sigsworth wanted the arrangement to sound
like something was unravelling, an electronic spindle
tomorrow we will play this on an accordion , which would
with it’s great access to oxygen, be able to represent this
well

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vs Debut and Post

The reason I called my first albums Debut and Post was because it was like, "Björk moves outside Iceland, travels the world, and works with all these different people, blah, blah, blah." I knew it would take two albums ; Debut and Post are basically before and after.

I produced myself this time. I wanted to be me, not me visiting other places. Debut and Post were like duet albums. Like me being turned on by Nellee Hooper and vice versa, or like writing songs with Tricky or Howie B or Graham Massey. This is more me.

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what Homogenic is about

My album is really just about that. How to sit in a chair. Before I came here, I was just a lazy cunt. If I had some craving inside for some drama, I would just put a record on, or read a book or watch a film. And so the hardest thing then was to be hyperactive. But later, it became just as hard to sit down. ’Björk, sit down ! No, sit down !’ It got to the stage that I would go clubbing and I would manage to get to ten clubs in one night and only hear one tune in each dub - that’s just stupid.

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what Homogenic is like

I’m really seeking after something that’s Icelandic. And I want it to be more me, this album. Debut and Post (her first two efforts) are a bit like the Tin Tin books. Sort of "Tin Tin goes to Congo". "Tin Tin goes to Tibet". So it’s all these different flavors, me sort of trying all these different things on, which is very exciting, but now I think it’s a bit more "Björk goes home".

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who Homogenic is

Homogenic is a woman who was put in an impossible situation with a lot and lot of restrictions, so she had to become a warrior, but she fought back not with weapons but with love.

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working with RZA from Wu-Tang Clan

I thought, ’OK, Icelandic music would be very phat techno beats that are unfinished and distorted, like eruptions.’ I listen to a lot of Icelandic string music, so i wanted that. I thought, ’Who can I work with...?’ I started off with an engineer and we did a lot of beats that were just, Pchh-pkk-up-chhhu ! And then I thought that RZA’s beats were just gorgeous because they’re really simple and really raw. I can’t remember if RZA contacted me first, but it seemed to be a very mutual sort of thing. He said he wanted to come to Spain, but the Wu-Tang album took longer than they thought. Then I met them in New York.

What were they like ?

Oh, they’re gorgeous, like big teddy bears. They fall asleep in piles, do you know that ? They’re just like [snores]. Derek fell asleep on the studio floor at six un the morning and before he knew it there were five Wu-Tang members on top of him [lies across my lap and pretends to snore]. They’re just gorgeous people. And so we started off doing one track. It’s just doing my head in. I still think we can do better beats on that one. What he did was brilliant, but it was just not the right timing. I was out or something, and when I got back, he’d got all the strings people in and recorded them.

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writing for friends

This album is written more for these people than about them. This album is about me losing patience and that life’s too short and there’s a clock tickin’.

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5 years

5 years string arrangement was done when i was well into homogenic
and wanted to take the arrangement further into geometric dimension
making triangle shapes and squares and making them
sound like a synth with different oscillators
the song is about someone who didnt have courage for love
so i guess the narrator is kinda telling him off
so i wanted the song to be standoffish and cold
so the arrangement was supposed to be the opposite of jóga
and bachelorette, that were very passionate and open
therefore 5 years is more of a robotic and
a non vibrato affair

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