Over the last two decades Björk has established herself as pop music’s preeminent innovator, a fearless and restless proponent of the avant-garde whose discography defies the staid categorisation of genre. When DiS' Kevin Perry meets her on a summer afternoon in West London they talk about her new album Biophilia, about education, about feminism and Lady Gaga’s outfits, about why she’s like 'carrot soup and tequila' and Coldplay are like 'chips and sausages', about political activism and aluminum mining and even about the lack of punk spirit in proprietary software, a topic she acknowledges she probably shouldn’t talk about.
Here, you will find all five-parts of our feature with Bjork, so that you can read it all in one go or save it to your Kindle/phone using a text-only tool like Instapaper orReadability.
DiS meets Björk - Part 1: BeginningsI was watching Björk play the Other Stage at Glastonbury in 2007 when the dreadlocked man in front of me took a live snake out of his backpack. “Jesus!” I said, “Is that a live snake?” The serpent danced slowly in his hands, flicking out its tongue inquisitively as Björk’s rhythms filled the air. The man looked back at me with a distant smile: “He loves the vibrations.”
Well, don’t we all? Over the last two decades Björk’s vibrations have established her as pop music’s preeminent innovator, a fearless and restless proponent of the avant-garde whose discography defies the staid categorisation of genre. When I meet her on a summer afternoon in West London her enthusiasm for her work is infectious and the ebullient conversation as eclectic as you’d expect. We talk about education, about feminism and Lady Gaga’s outfits, about why she’s like 'carrot soup and tequila' and Coldplay are like 'chips and sausages', about political activism and aluminium mining and even about the lack of punk spirit in proprietary software, a topic she acknowledges she probably shouldn’t talk about.
Fittingly for someone who can make even reptiles shimmy, she also talks about the passion for nature which informed her latest wildly ambitious project, which shares its name with the hypothesis that humans have an innate affinity with the natural world: Biophilia.
It’s an idea she relates to. We’re in Little Venice, where she has kept a house since the time ofDebut, and she tells me that the canals here are her surrogate for the sea: “Yeah, when I came here in ’93 I looked first for places by the Thames, but I didn’t really find anything I liked. Maybe it was a bit industrial, too. I guess I settled for the canals, I just like walking…”
This is a nicer place to walk than down by the river. “Yeah, I have a routine where I will go for walks and I can work on my melodies. I actually use the canals, but then I discovered because I go to the swimming pool in Westbourne Grove that I can walk through – there’s all these tunnels underneath the motorway. They’re quite good for working on my melodies actually. They’ve got a really nice echo. I sort of have to go somewhere where no one is, or they’ll arrest me and put me away.” She giggles. “In Iceland, even though you’re in the capital you can always walk for five minutes and you’re on your own. That’s kinda how I’ve worked on my melodies since I was a kid.”
The evidence for this is there in her songs: she says they’re all 83 BPM because that’s the speed she walks at. “Yeah, it’s pretty pathetic!” she laughs, “I’m actually trying to push one of the songs on the album now above 100 BPM but it’s proving hard!”