Interview Eralp Baydar

Blue Jean , 1er avril 1994

She is nowhere to be found ! Her tour manager Laurie Small is walking around like headless chickens because Björk is not in her hotel room and she doesn’t answer her car phone, nobody knows where she is. It is almost 5 pm. It’s not just me, everybody is waiting for her to make the rehearsal for tonight’s concert at Royalty Theatre. She is 45 minutes late. It seems like the interviews she was supposed to have with the Greek magazines Iho and Pop & Rock before us will have to be postponed, hehe ! Laurie is really good at calming people down- other than herself that is ! She says that our interview will in no way be postponed but that we might have to do it after the rehearsal- and then she invites us to the catering section of the hall. Us ? I am with my photographer Russell and my friend George who will be Russell’s assistant for today- just to see Björk.

Suddenly we are "hit" by an inviting voice coming from the hall.

"Come to me, I’ll take care of you..."

Now we are downstairs as well and the song continues.

"You don’t have to explain, I’ll understand"

There she is, on the stage ! We silently sit on the front row and listen to this little-giant woman performing Human Behavior, Play Dead, Venus As A Boy, Big Time Sensuality and her new single Violently Happy to a handful of people in the hall. Laurie comes and says that Björk will be accepting us in the backstage 5-10 minutes after the rehearsal. Björk was late because she took her 7 year old son Sindri to the playground.

At about 6:20 pm the rehearsal ends and we knock on the door with the sign "private" on it at 6:30. Knock ! Knock ! Knock ! The door is answered but the only thing we see is a big funny hat ! And Björk is right "under" it. She is wearing a paper-like dress which is cleaning the floors ! It’s obvious that we came while she was having her dinner. The "thing" in her plate may be the worst-looking food I will ever get to see in my life. It looks like a soup. I hope she doesn’t offer that to us. When introduced by Laurie, she gets surprised that I am from Turkey. I will be the surprised one in a second.

"The drummer in my group is Turkish as well.His name is Tansay. I’m not sure but his surname is either Omer or Ibrahim"

So, that was why she was surprised. Right after that I tell her how much she is loved in Turkey and that she was chosen as the "Best Newcomer" by the readers of our magazine. "Really ?" she says. The first thing I ask is how she felt while taking her award from RuPaul at the Brits in which she won the "International Female Artist" and "International Newcomer" awards. She says that she was scared because RuPaul was twice as tall as her and was making offensive jokes all the time. Where did the idea of performing the Rolling Stones classic Satisfaction with PJ Harvey in the Brits come from ?

"They wanted me to duet with Meat Loaf" she says with her eyes wide open. "Can you imagine ? Me and Meat Loaf ! Using my most natural right, I refused. If I am to share the stage with someone, it should be someone that I like and respect the music of. The first person that popped up in my mind was PJ Harvey. They had offered her to duet with Jamiroquai at first"

I observe her while she is finishing the soup with her bread. She is calm like a cat, but I can’t say that she has the shy looks as in her pictures. She looks like a little brat with her little body, ultra-small nose, wide open eyes and that "huge" hat. There is no make up on her face and she doesn’t need any. It ’s obvious that she doesn’t like interviews al though she is smiling.

Her difference is that she is an anti-star. A star that refuses to be a star but can’t stop shining. Björk for sure is different from all the people I will ever get to know in my life. When I turn my head, we come eye to eye with Russell and George. All three of us must be thinking the same thing : Her English is bad ! Whatsmore the way she speaks is like whispering.

Why do you think you are receiving so much attention Björk ?

"Because of the media. Media likes to make me look like an interesting person, especially the English press. For them I am a foreigner that came from the cold land. They think that I am a mysterious, weird, crazy woman with strange clothes. But I have the same style since I was 14 and actually my facial features are the things that make me look mysterious. They find me strange like all the other people that can express themselves freely. And about craziness ? I leave that to your own decision. What do you think ? Do I look like I’m crazy ?"

I read that she shaved her head when she was playing drums at a group called Spit & Spot when she was 15 and that she tried to form a death metal group in the 80’s called Scud, and I thought "Is that woman crazy ?!" But, thanks to God, she continues without waiting for an answer.

"I think I have nothing in me that would make people curious. I mean, I don’t understand why we are making this interview here. When I was young, I only used to read the interviews of writers and scientists. As a pop star, I tell 99% of the things that I want to tell in my songs. The remaining 1% should be mine, don’t you think so ?"

NO WAY !!! I won’t go anywhere without learning the things I have in my mind. She says that when Debut was released, there were days that she had 14 interviews. Since the Greek reporters won’t be able to make an interview, I’m the only interviewer she’ll accept today. So, let’s roll on with questions...

So, tell me Björk, what happened to your remix album ?

"Those remixes really became a pain in the ass. We have lots of remixes in our hands made by very good DJs. But still, I don’t want to release an album like that. But of course not everything happens with my say. My record company One Little Indian is very insistent and I can’t refuse them because they supported me in every way possible when I was making Debut. My "boss" Derek Birkett left me free to do whatever I wanted by saying that he trusted me, and he gave me lots of opportunities. If that is what you want to hear, yes, you can see that album titled as "Björk’s Affairs" soon. I don’t know the exact date."

What about that album of duets that is full of secrets ?
"I won’t be doing that"

What about the second studio album then ?

" I was planning to record the second album as soon as I finished the first one. But things didn’t work out that way. I have been promoting Debut for the last ten months ! I have recorded 5-6 songs but still, it is hard to form a complete album. If we start working seriously, it may be out in the first half of 1995. Actually I don’t like planning. If the album finishes, it will be released, if it is not, then you’ll have to wait until I feel ready"

Could we possibly learn the names of the new songs ? She says that we’ll be listening 2 of them at the concert tonight : Army Of Me & Modern Things. She will also perform Atlantic, a b-side.

When I ask her to talk about her childhood, she tells me that she grew up with hippies, artists and musicians. She says that her name means "birch tree" in Icelandic and her surname means "Gudmund’s daughter". She says that she tried to make cats fly when she was a child- she is sorry that she couldn’t succeed !
Would she like to go back to those days ?

"Yes to pre-11, no to after-11"

The reason is simple : She released her actual debut album "Björk" when she was 11 and everybody at school started to hate her. That is natural if you are living in a small place like Iceland and your album goes platinum by selling 7000 copies and you become a child princess in the eyes of the adults. The best thing to do is to change the subject. Hmmmmmm, Sugarcubes ? Nope, there is nothing left to talk about it. What about her previous bands Exodus, Tappi Tikarass, Kukl ? But nobody knows them. What about her ex-husband Thor Eldon who she married with when she was 19 ? Uh, it’s better to not open old subjects. Ha ! Sindri ! Would she care to talk about her son ?

"Sindri grew up in tour buses, backstages, studios. That is why he finds my job pretty normal and thinks everyone’s mother is like me. The times that we used to be together for 24 hours a day are long gone because he started going to school and I became very busy. Now he spends most of his time with Dom. Dom is closer to him than his real father, they are getting along great ! I wish I was with them right now"

I am aware that our time will be up soon, Laurie might knock on the door anytime. But we still have to take some photos ! Russell finished at least 2 rolls but he is looking forward to make the special shots. So until Laurie comes, I will ask classical survey questions.

Yes, the world is listening to Björk, but what is she listening to ? She says that she likes trash, harp, ambient, jazz, bhangra and pop music. Black Dog
(which remixed some of her songs), 808 State (that she collaborated on 2 songs called "Ooops" and "Q-mart" on their album Ex:El), World Saxophone Quartet lead by Oliver Lake , 70 years-old Corki Hale who played harp on "Like Someone In Love" in Debut, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Diwani Bappi Lahriri who scores Indian movies, Nusret Fateh Ali Khan and ABBA are some of the most important names. By the way, in 1989 Sugarcubes offered Björn and Benny from ABBA to be the producers of their second album "Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week", but they refused by saying that they have never heard of the Sugarcubes before.

What else can I ask ? For example, who are her heroes ?

"People who listen to their hearts and do whatever they wanna do without listening to others"

Björk with TansayShe wears her jacket as we go down to the catering section for the photo shoots. We see that there are some other people there as well. Someone taps on my shoulder and I turn back : "Are you from Turkey" asks Tansay, Björk’s drummer...I chat with him while Russell and George make the shoots, but time is over. He says that he worked in Turkey for a while and then managed to join Boy George’s band, and then Björk’s...We decide to meet some other time and talk more...

Hundreds of people are trying to enter the Royalty Theatre as we leave. It is nearly 8 am. We have to eat fast if we don’t want to miss the concert. We eat all the junk food we can find ; hamburgers, cheeseburgers, coke...We are already seated when the lights go off. But don’t expect me to write about the concert ! I’m sure that even the masters of literature cannot that 70 minute magical show and that magnificient performance into words...

par Interview : Eralp Baydar photos : Russell Vaughan Goodwin transcription + traduction : engin publié dans Blue Jean