Eumir Deodato

The work on Homogenic is actually simple. A lot of her rhythm loops are very contemporary, so before I attempted to write things on top of them I decided to write underneath, on her vocals, rather than to fight or add to the rhythm. Writing over the beat means writing a new line that’s not in the song, something that will stick out-a high violin part, for instance. But when you write a melody that’s already there, or chords in the low or mid range as pads, that’s writing under.

In some of the songs I followed her secondary vocal lines ; there was very little harmony and very few chords. I was doing that on ’Isobel’ too, where I wrote a natural C in a line that was in B minor. Much later on I learned that Björk is the type of singer who will sing the A sharp in A minor, but I wasn’t yet aware that she did that when I did that first song. It’s just something I felt about her.

Deodato’s old-fashioned pencil-on-paper approach blends nicely with the sample-churning techniques his younger colleagues embrace. Rather than diminish his contribution, both he and Björk feel that his traditional skills make him all the more valuable - and exotic - a commodity.

That’s where I shine, because all most people can do these days is program their drum machines and sequencers. They will take samples from television, which they have already heard from other movies ; that’s just rewriting, not writing. Sure I can sample but nothing ever beats the real thing.

He looks up to the cloudless sky, stretching his arms wide.

I’m here, Sitting in the sun, with beautiful mountains and this incredible view, in the company of Björk and all these musicians. I can’t sample that.

Then he looks our way and winks. But I can compose it.

Musician, december 1997