Iceland, being famous there

Are you just accepted in Iceland as you ?

The people who live there don’t give a st and it’s something they would rather make sure that I’m OK. They’re very down to earth there : salt-of-the-earth people. But there are a lot of tourists.

It’s one of the hottest places to go now, isn’t it ?

Yeah, it’s like my son rode his bike off all the main streets, and for like, ten minutes on a bicycle he said he only saw foreigners.

Why do you think that is ?

I can’t work it out ; it’s kind of weird. There are 260,000 people in Iceland and 300,000 visiting a year. One of my main triumphs when I started making music was that Iceland was too puritan, and their relationship with the rest of the world was fd because of the meglomania, and the minority-complex going on and it wasn’t balanced, so they were kind of "let’s never mingle with foreigners ever and be pure, because we are the purest" and then the next sentence was "let’s not buy our kind of music because it’s crap, so only music from London and America is great, or if it’s sung in English." So it’s kind of like the gap between the two opinions was too big. So I always thought you could be very, very Icelandic but still communicate, and you could still travel the world but you wouldn’t have compromised your identity in any way. I fought quite hard for that. And then now when I walk down the main street in Iceland and it’s full of foreigners, I’m kind of questioning that.

You’re not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing ?

[laughs] It’s a good test. But I think maybe it’s because it’s just beginning, that’s why it’s kind of funny and it seems a bit like an invasion, but maybe give it ten years and it’ll settle.

The Times, 2 august 2001