Björk speaks out about the making of “Dancer in the Dark”

“Lars, who is a complete fanatic, wants his role figures to suffer, especially the female ones and I couldn’t
really accept that.”

You became a movie star thanks to your acting debut in “Dancer in the Dark”. Has this event changed your life ?

Not really. Playing the part was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. It was a great
relief when I received the award afterwards. But I have to point that the acting is in my head—whereas
the music is in my heart. This film was just an adventure for me—a very interesting adventure, though. I
don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as when I received the prize in Cannes. When I make music, I’ve got a
certain instinct, which tells me if it’s good or bad. It doesn’t matter if I get bad reviews, because I’m
always ten times harder to myself. That’s why I’m not very affected by critics, because I don’t care what
other people think. But during the filming I didn’t really know if my acting was good or bad, so I gladly
accepted all the flattering talk from the movie-business.

What’s the difference between music and the movie-industry ?

I think everyone occasionally wants to become an actor. In the movie you’re working on a dialogue, which
is something you try to avoid as a musician. Most people probably don’t know how introvert most musicians
really are. Just look at when you’re recording an album, for example. You are totally isolated. You’re
spending hours and hours thinking about which idea to use. During that period, the studio technician
may be the only person you’ll meet for months. When the album is finished you’re supposed to do lots of
live performances. I still get extremely nervous before every concert, until I hear the first notes of the
first song, then I can relax all about it.

There were many rumours about your arguments with Lars von Trier. What were you really arguing about ?

We had different ideas about who Selma really was. I wanted her to be more of an artistic character but
Lars, who is a complete fanatic, wants his role figures to suffer, especially the female ones. I couldn’t
really accept that. Selma has had a hard life and she is very imaginative due to all the times she has
escaped from her problems into a fanatasy world. Her despair gives you an emotional kick, she makes you
high ! But Lars thought that was impossible. All the time he just wanted more and more dreadful things to
happen to her and in the end she is even executed. I thought that was a bit too simple, a bit too easy. But
I don’t think the whole film is based only on conflicts, it’s a compromise between our different views. It’s
a combination between reality and fantasy just like a musical.

What about Björk ? Isn’t she a fantasy character ?

I think I’m very real. I have a working class background. I’ve worked hard all my life. As a teenager, I your imagination. Personallly I think a mixture between 50 percent realism and 50 percent fiction is the
best combination. Reality and imagination can blend in completely amazing ways. For example when you
sleep and dream about wonderful things, your dreams will give you enough energy to cope during the
following day. At day-time you’re face to face with reality again but when you go to bed you go back to
your dreams and fanatasies. This way, your dreams affect your life and your life affect your dreams.
“Selmasongs” is very different from your previous albums. It has got great bombastic arrangements and orchestrations.

Were you able to use your knowledge from classical music when you wrote the music for this album ?

Yes, today I’m very happy I went to music school during ten years as a girl. It wasn’t that pleasant back
then, I wanted to make music about the present, I wanted to write about emotions and love. I didn’t want
to play music about nostalgia made by dead German composers all the time. I was rebelling against being
forced to play Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. Sometimes I thought school was just a waste of time but at
last I realized it was important. School is there to teach things that are important to know to be able to
deal with everyday things and communicate with other people, things that you might have avoided
otherwise. That was exactly what happened to Selma. She was a Czech immigrant during the 30s who
acted out her great passion for musicals, by turning sounds from chairs and factory machines into music.

Were you inspired by Einstürzende Neubauten when you wrote the song “Cvalda” ?

Yeh. When I was pregnant I visited a Neubauten concert. The foetus started moving vigorously because of
the loud music, so I had to run out of the concert hall. But I still like Neubauten, they’re a great source of
inspiration for me.

You’re singing a duet with Thom Yorke from Radiohead in “I’ve seen it all” on the new album. Is he an intense personality
as well ?

Yes, but in a very different way. I respect him very much. He’s very shy and uncertain and doesn’t reveal
too much of himself. That’s why it’s quite hard for me to explain what he’s like. I can’t do him justice. But
he’s a very special person. When he enters a room he affects the whole atmosphere in a very positive way.
I also admire his great loyalty towards his band. He sees himself as a member and writer of Radiohead. His
work is based on communication and understanding. He’s very down-to-earth and not egocentric at all.
We worked together for three or four days, which I’m very grateful about. We worked together with
songs, which I had worked on during three years not knowing what to do with them. Thanks to him these
songs saw a new light of day and that was a wonderful experience.

There are rumours that you are working on a new album called “Domestika”...

Yes, and the name refers to an island which I use in my work. It’s a mental island. It’s very flexible and
portable (laughter). It’s a laptop. Thanks to my laptop, I can write everything by myself and I don’t need
help from peole I don’t know. Isn’t it amazing ? It’s very alternating and I feel like it’s a great challenge for
my individuality.

But there will hardly be any room for collaborations with other artists with this working method, will there ?

I think it’s like this : If you are in complete control about what you do, then you most often have good
relationships with other people. You are always best at communicating with other people when you
don’t really need them. It’s like that ! On the other hand, when you are sad and alone and really need other
people, then they most often run away from you (laughter).

How do you explain your many different affairs ? How did Björk get involved with such eccentric personalities as
Tricky, Goldie and Howie B.?

No idea ! There is no universal answer why some relationships work and others don’t. There are plenty of
matters when you fall in love, sometimes they’re very simple and sometimes they’re extremely
complicated. Every time it’s different matters that make you fall in love and that’s why you always fall in
love with different persons. So it isn’t really fair to compare your feelings from one relationship with
your feelings from another. That’s what love is all about ; to get lost in your subconscious and reach
something greater and bigger, something you don’t know. Falling in love is never about rediscovering
things you already knew. It’s about being part of a new adventure.

Marcel Anders

publié dans  ?? - 01.01.2000


Articles de la même année



Dazed & Confused, 2000
Studio n°156
The Guardian
Björk chat transcript
Dazed & Confused, 2000
Égoïste #14 vol 2
Total Film
Interview Magazine
Télérama n°2643
Sunday Times Magazine
V Magazine
Paper Magazine
Magazine ELLE
Vogue Allemagne