S1:E2 Post

Sonic symbolism, 1er septembre 2022

(music)

Asi Jónsson : You are listening to Sonic Symbolism, where Björk discusses the textures, tempos, and emotional landscapes of her albums, with friend, author, and philosopher, Oddny Eir, and me, musical curator, Asi Jónsson. This is Episode 2, Post. (music)

Björk : I always use the word "promiscuous" for this album. I just wanted to try to work with several people. It was very much also reflecting my life at the time, kind of big city, big lights, kind of Trafalgar Square kind of energy. I was going through a lot of clubs, I was meeting a lot of new friends that ended up being like friends for life, actually. I was very extrovert, you know for the first time in my life. And then suddenly, I was just like, very extroverted, very extrovert friends, and you’re kind of spilling in your guts and being over the top, but really enjoying it. But maybe, also knowing that you didn’t want to do it forever. You know, it was once in a lifetime kind of thing. Duna : The words that describe Post are urban, greedy. (music)

Björk : Stand up You’ve got to manage Duna : Promiscuity. (music)

Björk : My name Isobel Married to myself My love Isobel Living by herself Duna : Euphoric. (music)

Björk : When she does it she means to Moth delivers her message Duna : Absorb. (music)

Björk : Electric shocks I love them With you dozen a day But after a while I wonder Where’s that love you promised me ? Where is it ? Duna : Orange pink. (music)

Björk : Every morning I walk towards the edge And throw little things off Like car parts, bottles and cutlery Or whatever I find lying around It’s become a habit, a way to start the day I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you Duna : Urban, absorb. (music)

Björk : Enjoy Enjoy Duna : Euphoric. (music)

Björk : I know by now that you’ll arrive By the time I stop waiting (music)

Björk : I miss you (music)

Asi Jónsson : Björk released her second solo album, Post, in the summer of 1995. Unlike her first album, which she had been writing since her childhood, Post was written in the previous couple of years. The music reflected the fast pace of her life at the time, and as the title says, the distance from her home. The album is a collection of duets, as she says, “even though I was working with borderline strangers, I thought the handshake between me and the collaborators were very genuine.”

Oddny Eir : When I heard Post being blasted at the restaurant in Reykjavík in 1995, I felt as if I had stepped into a time machine, I’d been plucked into a contact with the future, like Björk was a big sister going abroad, far away, and sending us siblings back home, the most innovative vibes, like sonic secret codes to the core of her new electric times.

Oddny Eir : So, we are back on track. We are in Keflavík, Iceland. How would you describe, like, the archetype of the Post ?

Björk : Well, I actually went for a photo shoot for the album cover of Post, and it was quite expensive. And I didn’t use the photos. And that was maybe the first time when I kinda realized that I knew what I wanted, that it was not just a photograph of me, but it was a photograph of like, some sort of a homemade tarot card, that it had to have certain symbols that stood for how I felt when I wrote those songs. And somehow, in a strange way, it was a way to remove it from me, the person, me. (music)

Björk : I adore back of necks Beautifully shaven, gives me Always, always, always, always, always, always A pretty rush down my spine

Björk : And in the end, I asked Stefan Malinowski, who was really close to me at the time, and Paul White, who did the album covers with me anyway, and we repeated the photo shoot. And I said, "Okay, I wanted to feel like the girl who has just arrived from the countryside to the downtown square. And it’s like all the fast lights and all the experiences, and she’s just devouring it very quickly, like, going to all the restaurants and meeting all the people and writing music with everyone.” And it was very sort of about this kind of celebration of consuming the best of a city. Like, the city in a positive — like a place of everything.

Oddny Eir : Of possibilities. (music) Listening to the irritating noises Of dinosaurs and people Dabbling outside Kahi Engin fylgist alveg Kahiiiiiii Sólin sekkur Kahi Engin sér við mér

Oddny Eir : I think also, looking at the lyrics, it’s a lot about somehow, the alchemy, like, about like, putting two different elements together, but—

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : —in each song, you’re putting very different elements together.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : And the outcome in each song is very different from the next one. So, you feel that it’s about that process a little bit ?

Björk : Yeah. Maybe that’s why I picked, like, hot pink and orange, because it’s like two hot colors that kind of clash when they’re together. So, it was very much about that sort of friction. And of course, I would like to state the obvious that Debut was sort of melodies and things that I had written 20 years before. So, it was a lot of childhood memories and melodies as well, and teenage melodies, whereas Post was the first album that was just what I’d written the previous two years.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : So it was—

Oddny Eir : You’re catching up with yourself.

Björk : Yes, totally. And at that time I had done most of Debut with Nellee Hooper. And I started working with Nellee Hooper for Post, but then I kinda broke away from it, and ended up doing Post with Howie and Tricky and Graham Massey, and I sort of…I ended up almost going the other way, where I would, instead of doing a whole album with one person, I had done album with like, four or five different people.

Oddny Eir : Okay.

Björk : And also, I had been listening, myself, more to things that were maybe a little bit more — What do you call ? Not as polished. More, you know, like, 808 State, Free Manchester, and then later, like, Warp label, which is things like LFO and Black Dog, and Aphex Twin. So, it was a mix. (music)

Björk : I miss you, but I haven’t met you yet So special, but it hasn’t happened yet

Asi Jónsson : Then we have tracks, “Army of Me”, “Enjoy”, and “I Miss You’’, which are all different, but still feel part of the same musical family. Could you tell us about these three tracks ?

Björk : “Army of Me”, I wrote with Graham, Graham Massey, before I did Debut.

Asi Jónsson : Really ?

Björk : I did “Army of Me” and “Modern Things” with Graham probably in like ’92, probably. And I was gonna make it as a part of Debut, but then, for me also, Debut was a more gentler energy. And for me, Post was more raw, more brutal. And maybe you could say that Debut was London, but Post was more, you know, a little bit Manchester, a little bit Scotland, a little bit Bristol. So, it was not so slick, you know. At that time, anything that came from London was a little bit slick, and people from Scotland and Manchester and Bristol looked down at all things slick. They wanted things to be raw. (music)

Björk : And if you complain once more You’ll meet an army of me And if you complain once more You’ll meet an army of me And if you complain once more You’ll meet an army of me Army of me

Björk : When I use the word "slick,” I actually don’t use it as a bad word. I think it worked really well on Debut to kind of glue everything together, you know. But I think on Post, I was like, "Okay. Now, I’ve put aside this raw energy. Now, I want to bring it in." (music)

Björk : I wish I only love you I wish simplicity

Björk : Maybe after touring all of Debut, I wanted to learn, okay, how can I do a band and play live, but it can also have this raw energy ? You know, that an indie band could have, and could do it with electronic setup. That was kind of what I was trying to learn how to do. (music)

Björk : How can I ignore This is sex without touching I’m going to explore I’m only into this to Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy

Björk : And I think, still today, it’s the only album I’ve done in this way, where I would meet people as equals, and we would like, write together, which I think is quite common in electronic music.

Oddny Eir : So, the collaboration is really an issue here. Maybe there is more ego in Post, or assuming the popstar a little bit, you could say.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : But on the other hand, a lot of collaboration. So, it’s a deconstruction also there, uh—

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : —of the ego, of the artist as somebody that does everything alone, or needs to—

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : —own everything, you know, that you can somehow—

Björk : Yeah, to have the courage to merge with strangers—

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : —but in a genuine way, not in a superficial way.

Oddny Eir : Yeah, not taking it, but just like—

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : —yeah, you were borrowing and you give something back, because this is how I understand what was special in London at that time in this world, in this little underworld, that you were, like in Iceland before, you were a lot helping each other—

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : —giving voice, uh, making space for each other.

Björk : Yeah, it did feel like a little bit like that at the time for me. You know, that I was in London, and instead of like, you know, Bad Taste and Sugarcubes and this kind of collective, if you want. That, it was a new collective, and our group of friends. And I think we taught each other a lot. It was kind of strangely equal. We all had things to share to each other, you know, somehow. I also knew that you can feel it somehow, that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of coalition.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : It’s like a happy coalition, but you also know it’s not gonna last very long. Do you know what I mean ?

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : Yeah. (music)

Oddny Eir : Yeah, you know, it’s also a question of, not the party’s over, but somehow, people were going to their own directions more, after a certain period. This group mechanism cannot go on for endlessly, or usually people then start going more their own ways.

Björk : Mm-hmm. Yeah. That’s kinda why I wanted the album cover to be, like, I’m at the central station. You know, like, with all these people coming and going. We had this wind with all the cards turning, and that is like, "Oh my God, there’s so many interactions, and, uh, wow, this is so exciting, but it’s almost too much." It’s like, "This is too much." (music)

Björk : How can you offer me love like that ? My heart’s burned How can you offer me love like that ? I’m exhausted Leave me alone Possibly maybe possibly maybe Possibly maybe Since we broke up I’m using lipstick again

Asi Jónsson : I mean, there are like, six singles that were released from this album at the time. And then again, you do one cover. This, “It’s Oh So Quiet” became a huge hit. Why did you do that cover ? I mean, it’s a strange song, and it’s like ’40s, ’50s song, isn’t it ?

Björk : Yes. Uh, Guy Sigsworth actually introduced me to this song. And I think it was like some strange joke between us, because I wanted the album to have a lot of surprises. First of all, to start the album with “Army of Me,” which was kind of like a raw portal and metal song—

Björk : —which was the last thing I thought people would probably expect after Debut, and have that the first single. So, it was kinda like, you would have one song like that, and then you have one song, and one song, and then to have that was almost like a joke, you know. Like, I think it was like, this sort of element of surprise, maybe because it was like the last thing you would expect on that album. But I think it was also maybe like an experiment to embrace all the music in the world, you know, like to be that inclusive, to love music so much, that you can have all those different genres, and make it cohesive, because what is gluing it all together is your love of music.

Björk : So, it was also like, you think halfway through an album, or something like that comes, and you go like, "Oh, you think we’ve lost you, but no, it is inclusive because it is. We love music so much that we can include everything, including a ridiculous song like that." So, it is a very strange musical humor. (music)

Asi Jónsson : The song, “Isobel”, is to me, one of the standout songs from Post. It’s where you collaborate on the string arrangements with the Brazilian musician, Eumir Deodato. And the lyrics are written by your friend, the Icelandic writer, Sjón, based on your own story. Could you tell us about your approach in writing this song ?

Björk : Yes, I think from the minute I decided I’m gonna go into solo albums, which was a taboo for the punk generation, I had issues with the self-indulgence of that. So, I think my way out of it was some strange sense of humor, which was the tale of the girl who left Iceland, moved to the big city, and became that self-important that she wanted to release her own music to the rest of the world.

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm.

Björk : I could only do it in some sort of sense of humor. And it’s a very strange sense of humor, which I think nobody understands. But it is by making it into some sort of mythology story. (music)

Björk : Nana na na na, Nana na na na Nana na na na, Nana na na na In a tower of steel Nature forges a deal To raise wonderful hell Like me Like me My name Isobel

Björk : And “Isobel”, are lyrics that I worked with Sjón—

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm.

Björk : —And we would sit and drink like a couple of bottles of red wine, and talk for hours and hours and hours and hours. And it was almost like a joke with seriousness, of course, in it, but that’s kind of why I couldn’t write those lyrics myself. Because they had to be almost that you see it from the outside. You know, about this girl who leaves nature, and goes to the big city.

Björk : You know, kind of like the magic realism stories, but also, making fun of them, you know.

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm. (music)

Björk : While I crawl into the unknown Cover me

Asi Jónsson : In the song “Cover Me”, you tried sampling a piece of music by the French composer, Olivier Messiaen. Were you listening to Messiaen a lot at the time ?

Björk : Yes. When I was in music school, he was one of my heroes. I think I preferred him to Bach and Beethoven. I like the French composers, Ravel and Debussy. So, he was very important to me. (music)

Björk : I think the culture in the ’90s was, there usually was a sample in every song. And I think I didn’t want to do that. But it was also sometimes a beautiful idea, because sometimes, it is like you are quoting something, like the place you come from, and you’re paying respect. So, it could be like an honorary thing. And I’ve sort of capped it usually at that. Like, one, maximum, two samples per album. (music) I’m going to prove the impossible really exists This is really dangerous Cover me

Björk : “Cover Me” was a song I wrote myself, playing harpsichord I had in my house. So, it was more of a solitude song. (music)

Asi Jónsson : In a way, America was sad about your departure from rock. I remember that you got mixed reviews over there. And it seemed like some people took quite time to get into what direction you were heading, even though success was great. But it’s kind of different. When you look back on Post, your album that has been hailed as one of the all-time best albums by publications like Rolling Stone. My question is, why ? Do you think the times did change that quickly ? That people kind of took several years or two or three years to get it, where you were heading ?

Björk : Hmm. Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I mean, part of me is trying not to be so aware of the critics. I can answer your question from that point of view, but that would not be true. And part of me was really aware of it. So, if I could give you an actual binary answer, I will try to do that. I think because of course, from Sugarcubes, we did a lot of interviews. And we were really in the middle of the whole sort of music world, all the magazines, you know, this world. And a big, big percentage of it, I really did not agree with, you know, and I think I was just used to it. Also, from you know, back in Kukl, when we started this band in ’82, or ’81, you know.

Asi Jónsson : It’s probably ’83. No, ’82 or ’83

Björk : And when we did the first Kukl concerts, we would have 17 people come to our concerts, always the same one in Reykjavík. So, I have been uh, got the vaccination for life, to do what I have to do, and not be so worried about what the critics are thinking. But it was really curious, the whole kinda machine of musical criticism, because it was very male, and it was very rock, and lot of the huge publications, they would have like 10 male journalists, and then one person who would take care of all electronic music. And just put all electronic music in like, one box, you know, like, it was the same—

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm.

Björk : —thing. And there will be no women anywhere, you know. We had to remember, this is the world where Kate Bush released an album around this time where she did one song about being heartbroken, and washing the clothes of her ex-lover, looking inside the washing machine, going in circles and circles, and circles. And I remember like reading — I should’ve kept that review by some rock guy — like, talking so down on it like it was third class music, just because she was writing about the washing machine, you know. It was so sexist, you know. But it was okay to write huge reviews about bands that were singing about tits and beer, and you know, or heroin abuse or—

Asi Jónsson : Right.

Björk : That was okay, you know, but the sort of the inner life of the woman, and the everyday life of a woman was a lesser area, somehow, or a lesser art form. And I think I was just used to it. I didn’t expect more, you know. But also, USA, they were much slower with the electronic scene. It’s kind of ironic, because a lot of the electronic scene came from Detroit, from Black gay people in the ’80s. So, but they were kinda ignored. That’s both for being colored, and also for being queer. So, you know, we could probably do a whole radio show just about that.

Björk : The unfairness of that. Sorry.

Asi Jónsson : Yeah, I mean—

Björk : But, um.

Asi Jónsson : —outside of these male issues, I mean, I think the music was… it did not get it in terms of reading back these reviews. It was something that was not part of the culture.

Björk : Yeah, I think for example, there was — I always tell the story — that there was, the Rough Trade Record Shop, which was huge, and it had maybe 10 categories just on electronic music, you’d have like drum and bass, and you’d have jungle, you’d have progressive house, you have Techno, you have Ambient, and you have Dubstep and you….you know, you have—

Asi Jónsson : It was really complicated.

Björk : — all the subgenres.

Asi Jónsson : Yes.

Björk : But you would go to the same shop in New York, and it would just be one small aisle—

Asi Jónsson : Yeah.

Björk : —with maybe 20 CDs. There would be like one drum and bass CD and one Dubstep and one Techno. And they would all put it in the same box, and they called it Trip-Hop, which we in England used to laugh very much, because it’s just an American word for any electronic music. So—

Asi Jónsson : Okay.

Björk : —it was really lazy journalism.

Asi Jónsson : Mm.

Björk : But I don’t know. To be honest, I wasn’t upset. I think of course, there’s other things that were amazing in New York, like hip hop and for example, uh, jazz, of course, but maybe experimental electronic music wasn’t really what was common there ? But that’s okay, you know. (music)

Oddny Eir : There is like a little bit of the archetype of the femme fatale or so, there, I must say. And the Explorer, of course. And there are some manifestos there in the text a little bit. So, this girl that’s like lost in Times Square. She is not maybe Che Guevara but… There is some…I see another, I feel another archetype that I cannot quite name it, maybe. But then…so, the challenges. You were claiming a space in Debut for your voice — what were you claiming there ? What was the challenge there ? Like—technical challenges. You don’t need to challenge the guitar music anymore.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : Was there any like, technical or musical or artistic challenges that you remember ?

Björk : Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean, right now, today, at this moment, I would like to say some sort of extroversy. I did like, so many interviews in ’93 and ’94, just like every day. Every single day. I would do many, you know.

Oddny Eir : Wow.

Björk : It was like —we should count it sometimes— it was like, insane. But for me, it felt like a genuine merge with every single journalist.

Björk : I put my heart in every single — you know, just as much as I’m doing this with you now. Cause that’s the only way I can do things. But then, it was kind of like, "Oh, now, I’m gonna be like the extroverts." But kind of knowing that I was pushing an introvert machine to 11.

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : And that I had to like, withdraw straight after, but it was somehow like, I don’t know, proving to myself that I could do it, or maybe, you have to try everything once, kinda like normal people go backpacking, what you call it, in the Himalayas. That’s like their way of testing themselves. I think from an introverted singer, it’s on the musical landscape, you know, it’s on the sort of emotional terrain.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And for me, the furthest point that’s away from me, is being 24/7 extrovert.

Oddny Eir : And not saying, no, to the interviews because —

Björk : Yeah.

Oddny Eir : — as you maybe told me before, like, your grandmother was an artist, but she didn’t have quite a voice.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : And your mother also. Like, and many artists, males and females.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : Especially, if they are, um, experimental or like, marginal in a way…

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : Sometimes they don’t have a voice.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : But sometimes, they don’t even want to have a voice. Or when they are given the opportunity it becomes like a quality of the marginal, of the experimental not to answer questions. So, it was not maybe obvious for you to answer all those questions about Iceland and about Alps and about yourself and about your persona and so on.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : So, it must have been somehow almost like a political decision, just to say yes and to use your voice—

Björk : Yeah.

Oddny Eir : —like, publicly as a woman artist also, without thinking like, every time, "Was it lousy ? Did I say too much ?”

Björk : Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It was strangely, like, if you get like a super loyal person that has to try once in a lifetime to have an orgy—

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : —with 10 people, but genuinely mean it. But then that’s it. I will never do that again. Like, that’s how it felt like, that I almost had to like, do it once. And I think also, maybe being for 10 years in bands and bad taste of so much anti-anything that was corporate, or commercial, and all the interview offers we got in Iceland, we always just said no. And then we just did our own thing our own way, you know ? So, it was always very anti the machine. So, I was the far youngest one, watching all these older people than myself. And they were saying no to everything, like a lot of things.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And I thought, "Yes, that’s very amazing to do that." And I really honor that, and that’s a beautiful, gorgeous thing. But I was also questioning myself in Post. "Maybe if you say no to everything, are you painting yourself in a corner ?

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : Are you stuck in your no, to the world ?" So, it almost… I had to push myself, the machine that I am, to 11, once, almost like a voodoo ritual.

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : To like, like [makes static noise]

Oddny Eir : Exorcism.

Björk : Exorcism, to burn it all up.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And almost prove that you could be genuine. You could do an interview in the most corporate, commercial radio station in the world, but still do it with a lot of, a lot of meaning. (music)

Oddny Eir : Later on, you were criticized by being too positive, a little bit. Like, yeah, not critical enough at that time. Or was that the criticism ?

Björk : My opinion is that with the internet coming, and obviously becoming a force in the world where people have a voice that are not part of the media structure or the intelligence hierarchy, or whatever, or politicians or anything, but like, the people. And there were girls — called Millennials, born in the ’80s, basically — who would sort of say, "Could you please stop pretending that it’s so easy for you," you know ?

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And I just thought it was so interesting. And I was—

Oddny Eir : What was easy ? The career and like being a musician, being feminine in that….

Björk : Yeah.

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : I mean, I had many moments where I went to a studio, and when I came to my record company, the engineer I had hired that day, was credited as the producer of a song.

Oddny Eir : Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Björk : Because he was the only male there. And even people like my manager who knows me, you know, and I—

Oddny Eir : So, you had not been overtly like, publicly complaining or criticizing this, at that time, you used the possibility, uh, to talk about other things ? That was the criticism, a little bit, or what ? Yeah, because you were not…you were only later criticizing this, or analyzing or pointing that it had been a struggle for you to say, "No, it was me. I am the author, not this guy that helped me for 15 minutes."

Björk : Mm-hmm. I think obviously, the Millennials, they were not around in the ’90s, so they didn’t hear me do 1,000 interviews, you know. So, I had this opportunity and this open space. So, I was just like, "Okay, let’s just [mimics music beat]—

Oddny Eir : Yeah.

Björk : —while it’s there," and that’s gonna be more progress than to be critical. This is not a time to be critical.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : Maybe in five years or five years ago, but not right now, this is when things…kind of like when Me Too happened, or something, when something just aligns, and certainly like [mimics explosion sound] So, I just decided to just go for it.

Oddny Eir : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And I’m very happy I did. And, to be honest, it wasn’t really thought out. Everything happened so quickly, and it was just—

Oddny Eir : No.

Björk : —Very like…

Oddny Eir : Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying.

Björk : Yeah.

Oddny Eir : Now, it maybe seems like obvious, you know, that you had this possibility, and you said yes, that you did all those interviews. And then afterwards, it’s maybe easy to criticize you for what you were saying, or what you were not saying, but that’s the irony of times, somehow. That when you are judging somebody for when we are somehow trying to be critical it’s so important to understand like, that just the fact of seizing the possibility and speaking out and saying yes to the interview, maybe in itself, it was radical.

Björk : Mm-hmm.

Oddny Eir : You know, but maybe now, it’s so obvious that we don’t even count it as political or radical or a position, or something important.

Oddny Eir : You show somehow, mark of, yes, vulnerability, but also, somehow, strength and courage that was well-needed for women at that time.

Björk : I think it was the right thing to do, but I think it was also the right thing to do when I retreated and went to Spain. ’Cause I think it, something like that, lasts only so long, you know ? And there was definitely a moment in ’96, where I kinda was starting to be invited to the A-list celebrity parties, and you know, it was like a lifestyle that I could have done. And I went to like, few of these parties, and I’m very happy I got to witness it from anthropology reasons, you know.

Oddny Eir : Mm.

Björk : But very quickly, I stopped being able to write, you know. And for me, that’s always a sign that something’s not right. I think I was not thinking, to be honest, about feminist or not feminist. And I think I was like, "Okay. I came here for my songs. I cannot write songs in this lifestyle." It doesn’t work, you know ? So, I basically went to Spain and wrote an album. So, that was definitely a conscious statement. And also, I’ve never regretted it, because basically being, doing all these interviews for 18 months, every single day or something, you know, and being on covers everywhere and whatever, it gave me so much. Like next time, I could get better positions in the festivals, I could get more money to get symphony orchestras, you know, it gave me more tools to do my songs. (music)

Asi Jónsson : And then there is this companion project to Post, Telegram, the remix album that came out in 1996. This album has a new version of the song, “Hyperballad”, which you performed with Brodsky Quartet. Around this time, the English composer, John Taverner, wrote a piece for you, and you collaborated with the conductor ​​Kent Negano. It seems like many people from the more classical world wanted to work with you during this time. What are your thoughts on that when you revisit this period of your career ?

Björk : Yes, it’s an interesting question. Yeah, maybe what I was trying to do was put myself physically in a life context, which included more of my musical DNA, if you want. And, of course, I’ve always listened a lot to classical music at home, and was in a music school for 10 years, which is a long time. And, in my opinion, the best age to be in a music school — 5 to 15, because you were introduced to so much stuff, and then, it’s kind of perfect after 15 to do your own stuff, you know. At least in my case, I’m very happy with how that all ended up. But I think as much as I was in love with the whole rave context and the going to clubs, I knew that wasn’t all of me, you know. That’s Friday night, but there are six other days in the week. So, I think I was trying to find something that was truthful, somewhere in the middle, where you could both have the sort of confessional opportunities as a singer in a space that you do have when you’re singing with a string quartet. It’s amazing. There’s so much room for the voice, you know, because it’s another timbre of the violin. So, you can run everywhere, you know. And then also, you have all this musicality. And then, of course, the idea of the string quartet is just amazing. Amazing, you know, there’s a reason why there’s so much string quartet music in the world. It’s an incredible canon. (music)

Björk : I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you

Björk : There were people contacting me from the classical world a lot in that area. And I ended up actually performing “Pierrot Lunaire” in Switzerland once, with ​​Kent Nagano, which was an amazing experience. I think what it did to me, and I think also what I was learning very much in ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, was, suddenly, I became a public persona and a lot of people were offering me a lot of things, which was very, very flattering, but then it takes a lot of time. And I was feeling bad because I would do something, and I couldn’t give it my best. I only did a little bit of it. So, I think also, around this time, I’m starting to be very, very aware of doing fewer things, but give it my all.

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm.

Björk : And also, that I wanted to be the author, you know. I think after being for 10 years in bands, and serving another vision, even though it’s the vision of the group, it’s not my vision. I didn’t want to serve the vision of any other composer or any other conductor, or just to be the performer. I wanted to try, as a woman, I felt that the way I could change the world most for other women and girls, was to try to make an album where I would give myself the string quartet context, I would give myself techno beats, I would give myself… I would be the author.

Asi Jónsson : Mm-hmm.

Björk : You know, and I could do it all myself, you know. So, as it was very, very educating and very flattering, it was an amazing experience, but it also taught me that I wasn’t missing anything there. Like, what I needed to focus on in my mission —without wanting to sound too ungrateful— I think there are amazing performers in the world that just do that. And that’s a very valuable, respectable profession, you know. But I felt that my strengths as a musician is more in being a singer-songwriter, and to write my own material, and perform that, and put myself in a situation in each album, where I learn a little bit more, and become just a little bit better at what I’m doing. And put all the eggs in that basket. Does that make sense ?

Asi Jónsson : That makes sense.

Björk : Yeah. (music)

Björk : It’s early morning No one is awake I’m back at my cliff Still throwing things off

Björk : Subconsciously, maybe we are collecting enough experience so we can write. And something in me wanted to try this once in a lifetime. Be that sort of person that has no shelter, that is just on a pedestal with 1,000 spotlights. You can move your little finger, turntables fall down, you know. It’s kind of crazy. There’s a lot of electricity there, and a lot of voltage. It’s a lot of, a lot of voltage. Either you enjoy it, and you thrive on it, and you can write 100 songs, or you self-destruct, or you just retreat from it. And that’s sort of what I did. And I was very happy I did, you know. It was perfect timing for me. (music) I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you I go through all this Before you wake up So I can feel happier To be safe up here with you Safe up here Safe up here with you

Oddny Eir : Sonic Symbolism is a co-production of Mailchimp Presents, Talkhouse and Björk and was made by Björk, Oddný Eir, Ásmundur Jónsson, Anna Gyða, Ian Wheeler, Julie Douglas, and Chrstian Koons

Asi Jónsson : It was produced by Chrstian Koons and edited by Christian Koons and Anna Gyða. Special thanks to Derek Birkett, Catherine Verna Bentley, Zach McNees, Ævar Kjartansson and Duna Hrólfsdóttir.

Oddny Eir : Music appears courtesy of One Little Independent Records.

publié dans Sonic symbolism