Nellee Hooper

(Producer of Soul II Soul’s first two LPs, Massive Attack’s ’Blue Lines’ and Sinead O’Connor’s ’Nothing Compares To You’. Producer and part co-writer of ’Debut’.)

Her boyfriend Dom T was working as a DJ in LA. He said we should get together, so we hooked up in London. The initial plan was to do a couple of tracks ... but things went so well we ended up doing the whole album. She’d come up with an original idea, with an overall picture of the song. She liked the way I didn’t take her too literally. She’d say, I want this track to sound like Stockhausen, and I’d play a Quincy Jones loop from an old film score, and she’d say, That’s exactly what I meant.

Björk’s never written a lyric that actually rhymes. Björk works in a language that isn’t Icelandic or English but more of a North Sea gibberish. It’s a specific language with a certain melodic sound she only uses when she writes. It sounds like words, but if you ask her it doesn’t mean anything, and then later she translates it into either Icelandic or English. It’s an original approach to songwriting, just working from melody.

She would arrive, really buzzing from an idea, and we’d literally dive into it, and in a couple of hours, would have something resembling the final product. Of course there were tears and arguments, from both sides, but that’s how you make a good record. But every night we’d go out after recording to a different club, so every morning was a hangover and every evening was a party... She can be quite rude to people who ask her about her music when she’s out.

On holiday in Thailand, in this restaurant with a cocktail bar and piano, someone told the owner she was a singer, and he asked her to sing, so she sang a few standards. The place was full of people who’d never heard of her, mostly older people, American and European, and everyone just stood up and applauded. She just stood there, in a silvery dress, and sang, and won them all over. It was free champagne for the rest of the night. It was like Picasso, who’d walk into a restaurant, sign the napkin and get free food and drink.

Select, june 1994