Babe Hound 6-7/97

Icelandic Spice

Interview by ?

She performed on Scandinavian TV with The Sugarcubes as a bare-bellied, heavily pregnant punk-rocker with shaved eyebrows. Her Spitting Image puppet portrayed her as a squeaky-voiced nutter who sings along with fax machines. And she's appeared as a topless cartoon character in an X-rated video that was banned. Björk makes those Spice Girls look as wild and tempestuous as a Woolies check-out girl who's run out of £1 coins.



The original Spice Girl, Björk's never out of the newspapers. She made news bulletins everywhere by giving a good shoeing to a female journalist who was hassling her at Bangkok airport. She made front page news again when a psycho fan sent her a parcel bomb in the post. Then the saucy animated video for her last single I Miss You got banned by all the TV stations for being too rude.

"Last year everything did get really out of control. It all got very big, but that was something that was offered to me, I never asked for it. I just tried to deal with it gracefully without moaning or committing suicide. You can walk away and be a Buddhist monk if you want to, but that's not really me. I know everybody thinks I'm completely mad and a lunatic, but in Iceland, believe me, I'm the quiet one."


Björk Gudmundsdottir - "It's pronounced 'Bjerk' as it rhymes with jerk" - was born and brought up in Iceland's capital city Reykjavik. Giving Geography lessons to journalists isn't one of her favourite chores.

"It's always a bore doing interviews for countries like Mexico or Japan where they haven't done you before. You just sit there going, 'No, I don't have a polar bear sitting in my bath at home."

She recorded her first album - called simply Björk - twenty years ago when she was only 11. But in a small country like Iceland where people make very little money from music, Björk had to put her pop career on hold and look for a real job when she left school. The only work she could find was in a local fish factory. She wanted more out of life, and she knew just how to get it...

"It was easy... I started nicking things from supermarkets. Once I even nicked a swimming pool. It was an inflatable one, 'cos we needed a bath and we didn't have one where we were renting. I used to do that sometimes when I was drunk and was bored. But then the minute I got money I stopped nicking. Before it was me saying, 'I've got no money, fuck off society, let's go to the supermarket and get what I deserve.'"

After brief spells in Icelandic bands Toppie Tikarras and Theyr, Björk formed The Sugarcubes, the group she gained indie fame with in the late eighties. But it wasn't until she left the group in 1992 to go solo that she became a massive worldwide star, worshiped by the likes of Kate Moss and Robbie Williams.

"People think I did nothing in Iceland before The Sugarcubes, but me and my friends did everything! We'd make pirate radio, attack the government, run into the TV station and take control, hold film festivals of only X-rated films, attack policemen - we were like terrorists, you know? We were... terrible! The Sugarcubes was just a hobby we did at weekends, singing silly pop songs."


With her angelic smile and elfin looks, she loves to play up her 'pop pixie' image. But down the pub, mate, she likes to be treated as one of the lads...

"The majority of my best friends are boys, especially when I go out and get drunk, but it doesn't mean I'm going to get involved. I tend to find out about five years later that the guy fancied me, and I'm like, 'What?'. Like I didn't know that was going on."

She's all for the new-age man... and woman.

"There's a new generation of men now who don't just want to be macho. It's completely unfashionable to be macho. It's just out. All the women have to be macho these days. I've got a lot of macho in me. People might notice that unless they know me well, but I've got a lot of that grrr.. motor in me."


Björk says she has a "big appetite" for sex and admits she can get "outrageously greedy" at times. "I lost my virginity about 14-15 - a pretty normal age. I've got a funny thing where for me love and lust are the same thing. I'm very healthy and natural when it comes to sex. Strange locations always turn me on. Aeroplane toilets... I think that would turn anybody on. Freedom and being brave, scary things turn me on too. I remember once I camped outside the biggest waterfall in Iceland. We were just in front of the waterfall and the tent was completely wet. That was scary and very healthy and we had very healthy sex!"

She likes snogging other pop stars - rappers Tricky and Goldie were two of her most recent 'musical collaborators'.

"In a lot of ways, writing a song with a guy is far more erotic than having a sexual relationship with him. People are so narrow-minded that they think sex only in the form of fishnet stockings or hard-core fucking. But everything can be sexual, from putting your socks on in the morning, to buying milk, to laughing, to talking on the phone. I'm not trying to say that sex is probably one of the least important things in life, but at the same time, I drown them."


Björk says she's been forced to put her home in Iceland up for sale. So she won't be having neighbourly natters with Damon Albarn.

"I found out that I can't move to Iceland because I can't lead a normal life there, and I can't live in London, either. At one time I used to be just the girl with the funny clothes and the strange haircut who lived at the end of the road. Now everybody knows my name."

Home these days is an exclusive beach house in Marbella, Spain. It's there that Björk's busily adding the finishing touches to her new album, due for release in September. She's also planning to buy her very own island... possibly off the coast of Tunisia!

"You know you can buy an island there for 50 grand? I'm going to buy one, with a house and everyting - it's cheaper than a flat in London. I don't know wheather I want one with villages and shops and people to talk to, or one with nothing. Then I'll come to London for little trips and go completely bonkers."