Bjork talks her ‘post-ecstatic’ tour and new album

Mercury News, 19 janvier 2022

Bjork performs at Chase Center Feb. 5 and 8

The phone rings, revealing not just a call from a new number — but one from a new country as well (at least for me).
So, I answer my first-ever call from Iceland and hear a wonderfully familiar voice greet me on the other end : “Good morning. My name is Bjork.”

Thus begins a very cool ride of a conversation with one of the greatest pop artists of the last 30-plus years, one who got her start with the legendary avant-rockers the Sugarcubes in the mid-‘80s and went on to an even more accomplished solo career beginning with 1993’s appropriately named “Debut.”
Since then, Bjork has released eight other full-length albums, compiling a daring, far-reaching and ultimately fulfilling body of a work that rivals David Bowie and Roxy Music.
To put it very bluntly, it’s absolutely absurd that this groundbreaking artist has yet to even be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But that’s a discussion for another day. On this day, the conversation focuses on the epic Cornucopia Tour, which is based on the artist’s most recent release, 2017’s “Utopia.”

Bjork performs the show Jan. 26, 29 and Feb. 1 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and Feb. 5 and 8 at Chase Center in San Francisco.

It’s great to finally talk with you, Bjork. We had a couple of interview dates set and then postponed earlier in the month. Sounds like you’ve been pretty busy in the studio.
We were trying to wrap up my album before we would go to do the concerts. Then a couple of the team got COVID, so I kind of had to juggle a lot of things that week. I’m so sorry. Thank you for your patience. But I think we kind of got back on the horse. Yeah, so it’s finishing really nicely.

When will fans get to hear the new album ?
I don’t know. It depends on the speed of publishing in 2022. It’s sort of out of my hands. But I would say summer. That’s a rough estimate.

Definitely looking forward to hearing it. Moving from the future to the present, let’s talk about the Cornucopia Tour. Now, I’ve been fortunate enough to see many of your other tours — and a number of them, such as the Biophilia Tour, have been very elaborate. Yet, you’ve called this one the most elaborate to date. How so ?
I think because we are doing like digital theaters. So, I wanted to have a lot of screens. Sort of an overload of screens — kind of like Times Square (times) 10. That was sort of the idea — like abundance.
So that was sort of, both sonically and also the visual, kind of the starting point from “Utopia,” the album. This idea of plenty.

Thus the title of the tour — Cornucopia, which means to have plenty or an abundance.
It’s more a state of mind — if you are happy and that (is) enough. Obviously, the songs are very different – very, very different subject matter. But maybe what unites all of the songs on “Utopia” is that it is sort of about surviving after the pollution.
It’s not post-apocalyptic. I would say it’s post-ecstatic.

That’s a very interesting unifying theme. Tell me more about this “Utopia.”
It’s sort of about finding ecstasy. I made like a sci-fi idea for a novel, where we would all go to an island and start anew and make flutes from sticks. And we might, because of a nuclear accident, have mutated into birds or birds mutated into synthesizers. But, still, we do OK.
I think it is very much about, I guess, maybe an idea of making a safe haven without violence. And maybe being exhausted how 90 percent of stories (set) in the future are very dystopian and with no hope.

Good point. Seems like those types of stories are usually pretty grim.
I think it’s just a limit. It just means that you don’t have an open enough mind to imagine a new world. So, I think “Utopia” — which, of course, came out three or four years ago — is kind of all about that.
Also, it overlapped into the Paris Climate Accords. That’s “Utopia” too – the fact that we, all the countries in the world, could meet the rules of the Climate Accords. That’s a utopian manifesto as well. And it’s like, “Do we believe that we can do it ?” Or is it out of reach ?”
I think that’s kind of why I called the album “Utopia.” It’s a dream — it’s a pipe dream — in the future that we will be able to reverse the harms of climate change.

Where do you stand on the matter ?
I think we can do it. It’s just a question of state of mind. And we have seen now after the pandemic that if the humans on the planet they all decide to do something — to stop something — they can do it.
It was a dramatic reaction to the coronavirus everywhere and I’m hoping for a similarly dramatic reaction to the environmental problems that we have.

Cornucopia made its debut in 2019 in New York with more shows that followed in Mexico and Europe later that year. But then there was the big pause due to COVID. Does it feel strange to be returning to the show over two years later ?
Not really. I actually like it. I think for a musician, it’s very often that you write music and then you play it live — and then you write new music and then you play that live. So, it sometimes can become quite linear. I think to break up the linear feeling is actually refreshing for someone like me.
It was actually perfect for me to get a break from it for two years and write something completely different, and then I could come back to it and fine-tune it and maybe even improve it somehow. When you have a different year in life, you sometimes spot things that you didn’t spot when you were inside of it.

You are actually preparing for two tours. There’s Cornucopia. But you are also doing some orchestra shows. They are very different outings, yet it seems like they might also balance each other out quite nicely.

They actually complement each other for me as a singer. For me, the orchestra show is a like a holiday — I just arrive with a dress in the back and turn up and sing and go home. It becomes more about me the singer. I work with the local orchestras from each place so I am more like a guest or a visitor.
And the Cornucopia is like the total opposite, where I basically am responsible for every single detail in every single department. It couldn’t be more opposite.

par Jim Harrington publié dans Mercury News