Q

Questions for Cash

Miraculously, nothing in the postbag about elves or smoked auk ; instead it was journo-bashing, fan-suicides and Goldie’s "teeth" all the way for the Palme d’Or-winning pixie. Meet the Q congregation, Björk...

Björk stands on a roof terrace
of the SoHo Grand hotel in
New York. It is August and
it’s raining. The whole summer has been bud, and New
Yorkers are not pleased.
“Don’t tell anyone," Björk
grins, “But I love this
weather. It reminds me of Iceland." She’s been
here for two months, recording her new album
with engineer Jake Davies (Madonna, All Saints)
in a SoHo loft kitted out with three computers. Björk is producing most of it herself "If l
have to lock myself away for a month with a
manual and a lap top, so be it," she declares.

Now 33, Björk is more reflective than the
relentless partygoer of the ’90s. Having a starring role and creating the soundtrack for Lars
von Trier’s Cannes Festival-lauded film Dancer
In The Dark seems to have triggered off an
intense creative phase. She spends most of her
days in the studio, or hanging out in Central
Park with son Sindri. For the Q photo session
she lets slip a little of the old mischief, donning
an orange leather dress, a feathery top and shoes
with huge lumps of fur on the front, while the
make-up artist paints on shiny orange lipstick.
“l can look like a tiger.” she says, walking
gingerly through puddles on West Broadway
to the newly-opened Tribeca Grand round the
corner. The foyer resembles a gigantic night-
club, with banks of black candles shining against
copper tiles. She poses for pictures, grubby fingernails on display. "Do you, er, want to put
some nail varnish on ?" asks the photographer. “Oh no,” she says. "l’m fine."

After the session she responds to the questions with relish, taking time before each reply.

Did you enjoy recording the soundtrack for Dancer In The Dark ? What is your favourite movie soundtrack, and why ?

Stephanie Thomas, Poole

Yeah, it was the most enjoyable part of the
film. It took a whole year. I was in a classical
music school when I was younger, and this
was the first time my academic side could be
expressed. It was a personal victory for me. l
learned craftsmanship and discipline. In terms
of movies, my favourite soundtrack is a
Mankiewicz film The Ghost And Mrs Muir,
done by Bernard Herrmann. He was very
good at making visual things, translating them
to audio. His most famous thing was how to
make a whole orchestra sound like a knife :
“Eeee ! eee ! eee ! eee ! [makes Psycho knife sound]. He did Taxi Driver. How d’you make
a whole orchestra sound like a taxi driving by
in wet New York ? [Demonstrates swishing sound] His effect was goose-pimply.

Have you been offered more film parts in the wake of Dancer In The Dark ?

John Wells, London N8

I’ve been offered a lot. But musicians get
offered films all the time. l don’t know what
makes them think we’ll be good actors. Being
on stage and singing is one of the most introverted actions you can do. It’s like living in a
bubble. Whereas acting is all about communication. A film set is my recipe for hell. You
have to talk to 10 people five minutes after you’ve woken up, digging inside you. It feels
like emotional prostitution. Certain people
are born to act. They have this detached
obsession with their individuality. I asked
Catherine Deneuve how she
did this job, She said “Don’t you just love
sometimes to become someone else ?" I went,
“No". In a word. I’ve no interest whatsoever. I haven’t even become myself yet.

Where do you keep your Palme D’0r ?

Michael Regan. Manchester

I gave it to my friend. She was with me through
the shooting for four months.

Why do you think Lars von Trier said you were difficult to work with ?

Heather Wright, Northwich

It took him a whole year to convince me to do
it. When he talks about being difficult, it means
I’m not a puppet. I like to collaborate with people and say what I think. He sent me a pink silk
cushion embroidered in Icelandic : “I always
promise to say exactly what I feel because otherwise Lars will manipulate me." Sometimes
during filming he’d take me tor a walk in the
fields and force me to confront him. He wanted my involvement. Each time I backed out he
reminded me of that cushion. He wanted
someone like Selma [her character] who’d
defend her and react like her.

Should celebs take the law into their own hands vis-à-vis the paparazzi ?

Martyn Basire, Reading

I can usually deal with the paparazzi OK. But
on that occasion [when Björk attacked a female reporter in Bangkok airport] they were forcing my
son to do an interview on live TV. They
wouldn’t stop. I guess it was a mother protection thing- I just lost the plot.

Who was the last person you punched ?

Derek Coulter, Ayr

That woman in Bangkok. I’ve gotten into two
fights in my life. One when I was seven and I
hit the babysitter for treating my little brother
badly. And in Bangkok. That’s probably why
it was so.. erm... dynamic. There’d been a
17-year build-up ! She flicked with my child
and she was dead.

Have you ever considered going to anger therapy classes ? If so, did they work ?

Jason Eright, Saunderstead

I’m flattered people think I’ve got that in
me. I don’t. l’m just protective of the people I
love. Most of the time I’m the other way. My
friends say I should speak out more and be
more confrontational.

Have you seen Polly Harvey and Tori Amos since your Q cover with them in ’94 ?

Alan Kern, Bidford-on-Avon

I talk to Polly more, probably because she lives
in England. We don’t see each other regularly, I wouldn’t say we’re friends exactly But we
all definitely give each other mutual support
We have similar jobs. Tori is magical, euphoric and its enjoyable to be around her. Polly has
more of an earthy quality. She’s so truthful and
has so much integrity.

How unnerved were you by the video footage of that bloke shooting himself in Florida ?

Jim Brakell, Ellesmere Port

It was very upsetting. I saw it. You could see
the date because it was a home video camera
I remember going to Florida, funnily enough
the night he killed himself I was two blocks
away from him and he didn’t know it. So when
the letter bomb he sent travelled to England I
travelled with it. After it happened I got very
upset. I wanted to see the video. Once something like that has broken its way into your life,
rather than wrap it up and kiss it goodbye. you
have to understand it, find a level with that person, from a human point of view. It was difficult... I don’t think its right to talk about it
now it’s four years ago.

What do you fear in your life, and how do you interact with your fears ?

Rebecca Cox Virginia USA

I fear cowardice in myself, and laziness, I can
be sneaky, thinking l’m doing something
brave when it’s really quite cowardly. Like
putting myself in a work situation that’s comfortable, not bringing anything out that hasn’t been heard before, You have to be truthful with yourself.

Goldie, his "teeth" and physical intimacy : Discuss.

Jason Guriel, Toronto, Canada

That was four years ago. To comment would put over-importance on
something that’s in the past.

If time travel were possible, what time and whom would you visit and why ?

Sharlini Jeyaratnam, Kuala Lumpur

I’m against this question because I like now. If you can put magic into
now the rest falls into place.

l hear you’ve been working with Thom Yorke : is there a sexual attraction between the two of you, as I think you’re similar ?

Joe Pawsey Chatham

No. It’s purely to do with our vocals.
We are similar in the way we search for
integrity and communication. We’re not
into vocal acrobatics.

What symbol is tattooed on your arm and what does it stand for ?

Ruben van der Auweraer Tremelo, Belgium

It’s a compass so you don’t get lost.

When do you get your best ideas for songwriting ? Also, do you meditate ?

Peter Cochran, Victoria, Australia

I don’t meditate. Most musicians dont. Music
is meditation, In Iceland I would go for walks
and sing. You start softly because to begin with
that’s all your voice can handle. Then slowly
you get braver, writing a tune without thinking about it, Verses are how to get there, choruses are the highs. You come back after a two-hour walk like that, you’ve meditated without
knowing it. If you go to a shrink and get them
to solve your riddle, you’re not gonna want to
write a song.

Are you alarmed by Iceland becoming a trendy place to live ?

Andy Pegge, Hull

I’m quite pleased how long we kept it
in secret. l’1n amazed we got away with it for
so long, because it is the best place.

Is there any truth to the rumour that the vocal stylings of Einar Orn were as intolerable to you as they were to myself ?

Lance Ehlers, Albany New York

No, Einar is one of my best friends. l’ve always
known music is my heart, while others in the
Sugarcubes were poets. Einar’s BA was in
Media Studies, now he works on the Internet.
For me, doing interviews was just an excuse to
go back and do more music. For hirn it was the
opposite. He’s obsessed with communication,
I don’t think he looked on himself as a singer.

Are you in touch with the ex-Sugarcubes ?

Jone Durden, Chichester

Yeah. We all live near each other in Reykjavik.
They’re all my best mates.

Is it true you pooped on stage during a Sugarcubes show ? Have you ever heard of G.G. Allin ?

Marc Hewitt, London E5

Who’s GG. Allin ? [Q : a mad punk person who shat on stage] Er, no. [Small voice] l didn’t poo on stage. I’m flattered that I occupy the imagination of people out there.

A friend of mine was burgled, and they took his entire CD collection except for the last Sugarcubes album. Were they burglars with taste ?

Richard Morris, Leeds

[Smiles] That’s a tough question. I’m tempted
to say a lot of things. But I’m being careful. I’ll
give that one a miss.

Lars Ulrich recently made a comment about Napster, along the lines of : "If having you as a fan means I have to give you my music for free, then I don’t want you as a fan." A true artist would never make a statement like that, would they ?

Colin Miles, Doncaster

If I was born with my talent 100 years ago I’d
have been a busker. The whole machine behind
each record is hundreds of people in offices. It’s
ridiculous. If you have a song, you want to play
it to someone, it’s a basic need. The fact I can
write a song in my bedroom and put it on
the Internet so that those who’re interested can
hear it in 10 minutes - that’s a dream come true
in my world. A person like me gets a ridiculous amount of money for the job that I do. It’s
a structure based around power and keeping
people in offices. So the answer for me lies
somewhere in the middle : that we don’t have
to be buskers in the street, but also don’t have
to run an empire on a three-minute pop tune.

Tell us a really nice story about Tricky.

Jenn Zangen New York City

He’s a prankster. You never know what’s going
to happen when he’s in a room. That’s what’s
exciting about him. I liked the time he teargassed the paparazzi. That was funny.

What time do you get up in the morning ?

Trish Griffiths, London N76

It differs according to where I am. For 10 years
I was flying five times a week. I Went through
a lot of different time zones - I’d just sleep when
I was tired. When I’m settled in a place I go to
bed around 2am. Something magic always
seems to happen round mid-night. If I get a
song idea l stay up all night.

What’s the craziest time you ever spent with Nellee Hooper ?

Gary Briggens, Barron-in-Furness

There have been some good ones. We’ve had
some magical times. I know he’s got a bit of a
reputation in England as the head of Sodom.
Let’s just say he’s not one for mediocre experiences [laughs loudly].

What will your next album be like ?

Jacqueline Corkett, Stafford

It’s still moulding. I feel quite protective of the
creative process, so I’d rather not say other than
that I’m doing it all myself.

Where do you live now, mostly ? Could you describe your home ?

Ed Cowan, Durham

In Iceland, by the harbour. I’ve lived there for
quite a while now. It used to be a place where
they repaired the ships, quite industrial. My
house is pretty basic.

Do Icelanders have "Swede jokes" or "Norwegian jokes” ?

Andy Cryer, Chatham

Yes, we can’t stand the Scandinavians ! They’re
too calculated and organised. They have to
have a meeting before doing anything.
Icelanders are more like the Finns, We love having a laugh and getting drunk.

Are you seeing anyone at the moment ? Do I stand a chance ? I am fairly ugly but l have a sunny disposition.

John Oakley, Leicester

That one l’d like to keep a secret. I’d definitely go for a sunny disposition. I prefer that to
how they look.

People didn’t ”get” Homogenic, did they ?

Chris Hicks, Royston

I’ve been part of 20 albums in my life - every
one has been different. Each has been a step
forward for me. You never know if people will
pick up on what you do, you’ve just got to continue on your journey. So people didn’t get
Homogenic ? I’m with them. I’m very far from
what I’m trying to do. But it was a big step from
Debut, and a lot closer to where I’m heading.

A supernatural power tells you that a charming 6-year-old child will grow up to be a murderous tyrant as evil as Hitler. Could you bring yourself to smother it ?

Alan Cosgrove, Dundee

When kids surround me who aren’t very well
brought up, I get ticklish fingers. .. I Want to
get in there. I don’t think I’d kill it, that’s not a
solution. I’d give it a good upbringing for a few
years.

What are your religious beliefs ?

Steve Ryan, Melbourne, Australia

I believe in nature. It’s 5,000 times stronger
than us.

If Ben & Jerry’s themed a Björk ice cream, as they’ve done with Jerry Garcia and Phish, what flavour would it be ?

Cathy Capozzi, Boston, USA

Vanilla, shrimp and coconut together.

What drugs do you take, and how often ?

Kal Coulten Brighton

Coffee and peanuts. Once a week.

Do you drive and if so, what ?

Claire Pelfgry Derby

I don’t drive. I tried to drive for a year, but
I crashed 10 times.

Lucy O’Brien

publié dans Q - 01.10.2000

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