The Fiery Queen goes mad for Phoenix

NME, 20 juillet 1996

New Björk times

BJÖRK has been working with influential dance stars such as drum’n’bass pioneers BLACK DOG techno veterans LFO and the FUTURE SOUND OF INDIA’s TALVIN SINGH to produce a string of limited edition 12" remix singles to be released between now and the end of the year.

Many of the tracks are to be taken from Björk s current album ’Post’ and will feature on a new album of ’Post’ remixes entitled ’Telegram’, scheduled for release early next year.

So far, two of the new 12" remix singles have been finished with another four in the pipeline.

Only 1 000 of each will be released with just 25 copies being sent to radio stations and press with the identities of Björk s collaborators on each project kept secret until the last moment.

Meanwhile Björk s next single her first since February’s ’Hyperballad’, will be ’Possibly Maybe’, although no release date has been confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Björk said : l haven t heard any of the remixes yet but they are very very low-key releases. Basically Björk just decided to do them because there are people she loves working with. She’s not aiming for any particular dance market it’s just something she wants to do for herself."

She hinted that not all the 12" tracks released before Christmas would find a home on ’Telegram’, as even more ’Post’ remixes were being commissioned. ’

Lunatic Ginge

Of course, us pop kids have always known Björk was a nutter, but when she battered a journalist in Bangkok she became tabloid property and, officially A Phenomenon. So as she prepares for her difficult third album and a headline spot at Phoenix festival she tells Sylvia Patterson what it’s like to be Bjönkers, about her 97 shopping bags of love for Goldie, and why Oasis remind her of... bread. Reflect action : Mike Diver.

Björk, she’ll tell you herself, is "plastered". On a rare day off from the tortuous 1996 touring schedule, she’s letting it all loose on the dancefloor of a Norwegian discotheque, her hair as perpendicular as the joints of her flailing limbs. Tonight, she feels bloody marvelous.

Already, she’s persuaded her accordion player to give it plenty, guv, on the karaoke - a particularly lusty rendition of the Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ classic. Björk’s up for Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough’ but she’s missed the deadline for the list. Curses. Never mind, she’ll just freak out anyway, it’Il take more than that to ruin her night. And here it comes now in the amorphous one-brain celled amoeba we recognise as The Posse Of Lairy Lads, all beer and bile, dancing in front of her, taunting her about being "famous", about being a "pop star" and how "we know who you are". She ignores them. It doesn’t work.

She’s getting annoyed now, tells them, "It’s my night off, OK ?" That doesn’t work either : now the loudest one’s frothing nonsense like, "l should ask you for your autograph, shouldn’t I ?" It’s so boring. She’s had enough. She tells him to, "F--- off !"

And fancy that, it works. He apologises, says he always liked her music, really, and would she sign her autograph for him, no hard feelings ? Well, of course she would. He proffers an piece of paper and Björk takes it from him, smiles the smile of the angels themselves, crunches it up in one hand and throws it into her mouth. Munch ! Munch ! Munch ! Gulp !

She reaches over, now grinning the grin of the devil himself, leers right into his face, eyeball to eyeball, snatches his pen and bites the top off. Crunch ! Then the middle bit. Crunch ! Crunch ! And the rest. Crunch ! Crunch ! Crunch ! Gulp !

Then she swipes the pint out of his hand - Glug ! Glug ! Glug ! Down in one ! - smacks her lips with a mighty relish, hands him back the empty glass, turns her back and marches straight back onto the dancefloor. To coin her own most favoured phrase of the moment : one-nil.

"IT WAS a pen like that," chortles the tangerine-haired Björk Guðmundsdóttir, aged 30, nodding to the next table’s Bicwielder on a cafe pavement round the comer from her home in west London.

"But to wash it down with his own pint, that really got to him. You should have seen him, this big guy, he just crumpled down to nothing. Heheheheheheheheh."

|t’s a gutsy laugh, is Björk’s, deep in the throat and laced with purest filth.

"Of course, the next day," she grins, clutching her stomach in memory of the resultant plastic/ink/intestinal wall/bowel movement scenario, "l was in total pain but it was worth it. Even just to see my friends on the floor laughing their heads off. I was on the phone to Goldie telling him and he was going, ‘Go on ! That’s my girl !’ and I was going, ’Oh God ! But sometimes it’s just so hard to be hard !"

And she makes it look so easy. If a few months later, The Lad, like the rest of the planet, saw Björk on the telly battering the head a journalist , by the hair, on the floor in Bangkok airport he must have considered himself the luckiest loser alive.

Björkgate, The Bangkok Incident, saw the myth of Björk - already eulogised by Spitting Image as the hysterical nutter who sings to fax machines - spiral into the next dimension. A tabloid media delighted to declare, to a man, our adopted foremost pioneer of soul-quivering spook-pop as The Wild Woman Of Pop, out of control, officially "Bjönkers !". To Björk it was simple stuff ; a matter of maternal instinct, someone was exploiting her son, attempting to weedle trifles of gossip out of a ten-year-old boy.

"What that woman did was against all my princips," says Björk in her musical Icelandic/Cockney/almost Celtic amalgam of accents and resulting variation on the English language. "it‘s probably the third time in my whole life I lost my temper. Last time it was protecting my brother, you do that kind of thing for other people don’t you ? So I just saw red. l’m not proud but if I was back in that position and it hadn’t happened before, I would do the same thing today. And it happens to me every seven years, so it’s not surprising it just went ‘priiignah !’ - the elastic stretched for seven years.

"The best thing about it is the woman was offered a commercial for a hairspray thing in Asia. It was going to be, ‘I get battered by pop stars all the time but I use this hairspray and it keeps my hair in place !’ And she said no ! I was gonna call her and say, ‘Do it !’ I thought that was very funny."

Obviously, she didn’t see the funny side of it.

"I wonder why. Heheheheheh. The weird thing, from my position, is to tear a woman’s hair off and everyone goes, ‘Yey-hay !’ I wasn’t waiting for applause. It was a very dark moment for me, to acknowledge that violence you have inside. My crew, they’d never seen me like this and they’ve toured with me for years and years. Three of them were holding me back, saying, ’She’s not worth it’ and were gonna take me off her. When they tried I just went right down (crouches in seat) and got some energy from I don’t know where and just went ‘pfoooof"’, up like that, three fully grown men couldn’t stop me. I don’t know where you get it from, it’s some door to hell. So, there’s seven years ’til my next one. See you all in 2003 !"

THERE IS nothing remotely insane about this tiny woman with the great big talent, seated today scoffing fresh fruit salad and Greek yoghurt, resplendent in fluorescent orange jumper and white shiny trews, blethering on about how last night she had restless body syndrome. To wear herself out, she ran round and round her garden wondering what was wrong with her until she looked up and saw the full moon. "Aha," she mused, "so that’s it". Volcanic impulses, seven-year cycles, moon madness - hardly "Bjönkersl" in the 1990s when the John Powers of this world have aliens living inside their ears.

Today the dynamic embodiment of the word ’gusto’ is positively serene, back from Roskilde Festival, now in Difficult Third Album preparation (number of songs pirouetting in the ether thus far : seven), putting together an album of her "favourite remixes" and working on collaborations with the dance gurus of the globe - about which she remains, as ever, cagey to the point of paranoia. Any surprises ? Duets with David Hasselhoff featuring Loyd Grossman on ‘vibes’ ?

"Not with me, really," she chimes. "l couldn’t really surprise you any more, could I ? The most surprising thing I could do would be a rock album, innit ? With ten harpsichords and three Australian monkeys playing phantom sticks. Actually, that wouldn’t be a surprise at all."

What could have been, until now, is the Saturday night headline appearance at Phoenix Festival for which she has enlisted the help of someone called Kristoff, a "French pyromaniac f---ing terrorist", a fireworks expert who has created displays for the Olympics and is organising a round-the-world, time- difference-considered, year 2000 extravaganza. Three Catherine wheels and a flailing damp squib he is not.

"He’s brilliant," booms Björk, whose enthusiasm for the original work of others outlasts her own by several billion eons. "All fireworks I’ve seen so far, are like a punk song, it’s all, ‘Let’s buy loads and PSHOOOO ! just put them all in the air NOW !" But this guy he’s quite modern, he does patterns, it’s not (sings like, er, fireworks), ’Peu peu peu pee pchkschckkcpshh !!’ - his is all kind of... (waves hands around) patterns and it might not do anything for a few songs and then suddenly just... shimmer. I met him in this restaurant, he’s all scars and scruffy hair and lives in a barn with another barn full of powders and just thinks in terms of colours and explosions and the way he describes things. .He’s a scientist ! Outrageous !" It ls, insists Björk, an "accident" she became The Phenomenon she is. When she presented her record company with the demos of ‘The Anchor Song’ she was told it’d sell a third less than The Sugarcubes ever did (ie one copy). "I never thought I’d be playing so big places," she ponders."I’ve always looked at myself as quite private and my music as quite private - kind of for headphones, really, for inside. So the fact I’m headlining festivals is just hysterical. It’s weird because it’s introvert music and to make introvert music work for so many people you just have to get help with things like fireworks to still have that quite sensitive, delicate manner, but it’s big - like, how can you do that ? Without selling out ? I just want it to be good. I want to walk away from this without shame."

Björk doesn’t particularly see herself as a futurist. She is - like Goldie, The Prodigy, Underworld and the ongoing perpetrators of the dance ‘revolution’, creating the "sound of the world today". It’s her . religion. what she’s always described," before, anybody else, as "taking reality and making it into magic".

"Which is the bravest thing in the world to say, " she’s saying, her hands rubbing all over her face, the famed minuscule digits poking randomly up the nose, as ever. "’Oh me with my most gorgeous tits riding a white horse on Saturn’ - it’s very easy to make that into magic. But making f---ing this (belts saucer up and down) and that (points to bus roaring by) - these noises that most people find f---ing ugly, into something pretty is just I’m sorry, f---ing heroic.

"People always think the noises they live in is ugly, and I don’t find that. So if the music can make magic out of a double-decker bus, I think that’s just… one-nil. Against boredom. One-nil against death. One-nil for love. And that’s just the best. And people who aren’t using the noises we live with are cowards. That means it’s escapism, you’ve gone into another culture, another climate. People say techno music is cold : f---’em. Crap ! You’re blocking out half of your life, being a coward."

That’ll be Oasis and the entire spectrum of Britpop seen to, then…

"Britpop," she baulks, "for me is middle-of-the-road ; stagnation and normality. If we were talking food, it’d be something very boring I don’t really like, like bread. Potatoes. No taste, but it fills you up. Then some of the good thing you get with so-called dance music is… cherries ! And tequilas ! The extremes. Chocolate mousse with nine thousand billion f---ing calories and a bloody steak with it. That’s what I like in food, very spicy, f---ing Indian madras. Don’t give me toast and cornflakes and potato salad and a roast dinner and greasy pub foods."

Funny that ; all very British ’cuisine’.

"Yeah !" she guffaws, "and everybody hates British food. And that’s what Britpop is to me, boring and bland and egg and chips and beer. I don’t understand beer, it’s like drinking wood, it doesn’t get you anywhere. I’d rather skip it altogether or do a f---ing bottle of Cognac and go the whole way. But then again most of the people I love in my life are completely there, they want roast dinner and lager and security and things to be very basic and comfortable and I respect that. Spare me the rock’n’roll jangle, you don’t wanna dance to it, you don’t wanna lose the plot there with your body and you don’t wanna lose the plot with your head, it’s in the middle."

People do sing it, though. Very loudly.

"I’m probably missing something," she contends. "I’d be the first to say it."

You don’t hear the ‘spiritual’ Oasis dimension - all the living forever, etc ?

"Hmph, living forever in stagnation," she snorts. "Sorry ! I’m getting nasty here. But then again, I love going back to when I’ve toured the world nine times and done bungee jumping, going to my gran’s house for pancakes. The Icelandic telephone service added digits to all the numbers the other day and they changed my gran’s telephone number and I was furious. How dare you ! And then my gran moved house and I remember my grandfather wanted to sell his car - he had the same car for 20-years since I was a child - and I was like, ‘No ! You have no permission to change !’ But I’m gonna go out now, tour, be really wild, see all the things in the World that are really extreme, New York, Paris, f---ing Tokyo, and when I come back you better have the same telephone number and live in the same house and have the same f---ing car or I’m gonna be really upset.

So that’s not fair, is it ? So I shouldn’t really attack those Oasis lager louts because it’s so good they exist. They do all the dirty work for us. It’s so good that somebody bothers. Heheheh. So, really, I think I’m quite conservative. Take the way I dress, people think I’m the wildest person on earth but I’ve been the same since I was a kid. I’ve been wearing orange since I was three. I keep buying the same garments all over again, l’ve been wearing red coats down to here since I was two. So I’m very conservative, really. "

Why the fascination with orange ? In colour psychology it’s the colour of healing. What d’you think that says about you ?

"Well," she grins, "obviously I’m very ill.

UP UNTIL three years ago, Björk had "no money". Life was "two jobs, working class, single mother, hardcore". Moving to London and the supernova success of ‘Debut’ changed her life. She’d been in bands from age embryo, of course supplementing her "no compromise, brave music, taking risks" (and thus selling three copies) ethos with work in antique shops, fish factories and a stint as an accomplished, er, thief.

"I once nicked a swimming pooI," she breezes, as one might breeze of pilfering an egg’n’milk chew from the newsie. "It was from a supermarket, an inflatable one, ’cos we needed a bath, we didn’t have one where we were renting. And I nicked a disco ball ! I used to do that sometimes when I got drunk and was bored. Reykjavik is sometimes challenging, in a town of l00,000 people you run out of new things to do, and every time you go out you want every occasion to be absolutely unique, so once I nicked a disco ball, a massive one, off the ceiling and got it out the club - got away with it ! I don’t know how I did it, obviously hysterically drunk, but I did it.

"But then the minute I got money I stopped nicking. Before it was me saying, ‘l’ve got no money, f---off, society revenge, let’s go to the supermarket and get what I deserve.’"

That sort of mentality is the scourge of society, ‘young lady’.

"Oh, I can understand why people nick," she says. "l’m not saying I agree with it but I understand it. People aren’t asking for a lot, asking for a f---ing meal a day. The reason people nick ? There’s 10,000 reasons for that and I couldn’t pretend to know two of them, really."

GOLDIE HAS said he and Björk were "fated", their coming-together a "big set-up by some f---er". What does Björk think ? For the first time today there’s a massive pause. She’s notoriously private about, well, the private. She’s a double Scorpio, astrology fans (ask a hippy).

"Um," she quavers, "I’m pretty anti-fate ’cos I want to know that you’ve got options, it’s important for me. But it is very tempting to think it is. It feels like it anyway. Which is something I wouldn’t admit to... a lot of things, it just really... feels like it." Their similarities are bordering on the "Bjönkers !" : both 30, ’ both parents, both pioneers of spook-pop, both spiritually obsessed, both speak in complex metaphors, both ‘misunderstood’, both possessed of one name in fame.

"I’ve tried to explain it to myself," she nods. "But at the end of the day, when you try to explain those really important things in life, it’s just not logic, is it ? It’s just the force of nature. We’re talking waterfalls and volcanoes, y’know ?"

They’d known each other by sight and reputation for years, met each other across clubland but it was the Björk/Goldie tour of last year when they finally felt the vibe.

"It was quite good, the way we fell in love," she chokes, mortified to discuss the personal. "We’d been touring together for a few months, which is quite intimate. He was doing his first tour and I’ve done touring since... well, I know it, put it that way. It was good ‘cos we ended up supporting each other, him completely emotionally because I was just crashing physically.

"I mean, you can analyse it to pieces and get f---ing nowhere, but it wasn’t until the end of the tour that we realised we’d built something up that we couldn’t live without. It’s good, because he saw me doing shows at 40 degrees fever, crying my eyes out before and after the show. He saw me at the bottom, finished, and I saw him as a beginner, a very graceful beginner. So (huge grin), it’s uphill from here, innit ? Heheh. Aw, now l’ve gone shy. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it. l’m really cautious about it. It’s important."

Love, eh ? It fair does you goofy in the gills. So what does being in great big huge massive love do to your head ?

"Nine thousand pros and cons," she decides, unhelpfully. "To me, it’s back to the instinct thing, the primal needs one has. Your body creates all these things and every morning in your sleep you’ve created all these things and if you don’t put them somewhere you go mad.

"In my case, I have to sing. Some people have to tell stories. It’s finding the road. And one of the things you wake up with every morning in your lap is very romantic love, innit ? So it’s about finding a channel for it. And when you find someone I guess you’ve found someone to fax to. To phone to. You’ve got that ping-pong going.

"We create so much love all the time. We go to bed and wake up with 59 tons of love. Where shall I put it ? And a lot of people who aren’t very happy are maybe running around with 97 Safeway bags full of love and they just don’t know where to put it. And, I guess when you find the right person, you’ve got somewhere to put it."

ls the right person the person with enough room for your 97 bags then ? Or is it that the bags fit that person because they’re the right shape ? Or something. Otherwise, you could just give the bags to anyone and we know that doesn’t work (You know when you’ve been Björked, etc).

"Yeah, that’s the riddle innit !" she guffaws. "And it ain’t solved yet. |t’s like going to a restaurant and wondering if they’|l have what you want on the menu. ‘Well, today I feel like three bungee jumps and having a very intimate talk with somebody I’ve known for 11 years.’"

And all they’ve got left is a , broken catapult and the nutter at the number 29 bus stop.

"Yeah, know what I mean ? And it’s the same thing with the Safeway bags. It’s like best friends. Why do you have best friends that you’ve had for ten years ? I dunno. Free for all. Free jazz ! Improvise !"

Ahem. Björk and Goldie won’t be getting married after all (employees of The Sun), at least not right now while everyone’s expecting it. They’re contrary that way - and who can blame them ?

"What happened is we fooled around it," she clarifies. "Not that we were joking completely, but it just took off and everybody started talking about it and, when you’ve got everybody asking you about it ten times a day, you just go off the idea. We were thinking of doing something else. Like buying a football team instead."

Goldie’s a birrova Sexy Beast, isn’t he ?

"Coo-or !" slavers Björk and then rolls around her seat in mirthful silence. There is nothing more to be said then, except LUCKY BASTARDS.

LOVE, SEX, fame, wealth, wisdom, respect, health, magnificent orange jumpers. It’s enough to make you sick, or at least contract Dave Stewart’s Paradise Syndrome, the one where your life is so perfect you can’t believe it, so you invent drastic problems in your head to keep you ‘sane’. It’s the timeless ‘be careful what you dream of’ malarkey that makes the most successful people in the world blow their brains out.

"I had this dream," says Björk, pondering the issue, "that I had to carry this really expensive porcelain Chinese vase across a motorway. And that’s what it’s like, you feel like you’re carrying this really precious vase, like someone just gave you the best f---ing vase in the world. So you’re thinking, ‘Aaaaaah !" I can’t just drop it !’

"l mean, I’ve got loads of friends that are as talented as me and they haven’t got this opportunity to channel it and put it out there in the world. And at the end of the day, what l’m trying to say throughout this whole interview, is that’s what makes you happy. Like waking up with not only 97 Safeway bags of love in your lap, but all this energy and ideas and to be able to put it out is just f---ing brilliant. It’s great and l’m ecstatic but also there’s this pressure thing."

Like, you created it, it’s yours, so you have the ability to destroy it as well ?

"Yeah. ln one second. And, hand on my heart, I never aimed for this position, ever, and it’s probably why I’m in it. So this thing, you have it now and it’s so tempting to just (mimes pushing vase off the edge of the table). It’s some sort of monster. Hmm."

As is the sex demon within. Björk, she’ll tell you herself, is "greedy" when it comes to sex. She has a "big appetite", as do all people who live in the sensual world.

"l’m very healthy and natural when it comes to sex," she states. "Very earthy. Strange locations always turn me on. l think that’s pretty healthy. Aeroplane toilets. I think that would turn anybody on. Freedom turns me on most of all, something like, ‘Let’s go on holiday’, and five minutes later you’re standing in the airport, passport in one pocket, credit card in the other.

"A lot of people talk about power as an aphrodisiac and that doesn’t turn me on at all. It turns me off. Freedom and being brave, scarey things, turn me on. l remember once I camped outside the biggest waterfall in Iceland, the biggest waterfall in Europe actually. We were on this tiny place just in front of the waterfall and the tent was completely wet. That was scarey and very healthy and we had very healthy sex !"

Do you find talent is an aphrodisiac ?

"Not for me," she decides. "It’s not that simple, you see. But creativity is. Sex is basically creating another person, innit ? So if a person’s creative, it helps. It can just be a good sense of humour, it doesn’t mean the guy has to make excellent paintings. It’s creative attitudes towards life, to want to do 700 exciting things tomorrow, that’s the source of creativity. And it’s courage as well : to have the courage to stand on top of a hill and take it all in. Funnily enough there’s not that many people have that kind of courage."

Before she met Goldie, she’d given up on boys, decided she’d had enough, didn’t need it, was alright on her own. Then he came along and ’ruined’ everything.

"That’s what was tops about me and Golds," she dithers, like the besotted 15-year-old she still obviously is. "|’d just gone off it. I’d tried so hard two years before and at that point I was like, ‘I’ve had it with boys ! It’s not my field ! I don’t know how to do it, it’s just pain : f--- ’em !’ So you say, ‘F--- ’em !’ and you say it out loud, just once, and really mean it and it’s like, ‘Hey ! AIriiiiiiight !‘ It’s

mad, innit ? It really is mad." A fly has just alighted on the lip of the Icelandic sorceress. She hasn’t noticed.

There’s a fly on your lip !

"Oh !" she chirps and sticks her tongue out to the side, flicking it up and down.

Good God, woman, are you trying to eat it ?

"Sometimes I wish I could ! If I’d been brought up in jamaica or something, I probably would do !"

SOMETIMES, WHERE you’re from IS where you’re at, and Björk couldn’t come from anywhere but Iceland, the first country in history to declare its own independence through sheer, bloody-minded Viking passion and self-preservation. A country that embodies The Cult Of The Individual, which possesses no army because, mythology has it, people wouldn’t be able to march, ie, they couldn’t walk together in one rhythm.

This, then, is her ‘madness’ : this unique human being who wrote her first song aged four ("Little songs, it was my diary. Things like, ‘Pete likes raisins too much, I think he should actually kiss Shirley today’. And then the chorus would go, ’If Pete and Shirley would kiss, I would giggle. Giggle, giggle, giggle ’til I die’). Who was a mathematical boffin at school, student of musical theory "forever" (she’s as versed in the classics as much as the entire back catalogue of Jimi Hendrix who her parents played every single day "so by age seven l was ‘enough is enough’ - the classic rebel"), and married aged 20 "because my boyfriend needed contact lenses" (the Icelandic government operate a personal young folk’s pension scheme : high interest savings which you can claim back aged 25 or when you marry. He got his contact lenses, they divorced, they’re still friends).

Who, in the same year, performed on Icelandic TV as a bare-stomached, seven months pregnant punk rocker with no eyebrows and caused a 79-year- old woman to have a heart attack in front of the telly ("She didn’t die ! But I was nearly sued..."). Who’s been making "my own music" for 20 years ("It was only last year that I realised, my God, l’m actually a f---ing professional"). Who is "obsessed with truth and integrity". Who on tour - to get over the lack of sex - drinks "27 tequilas for that physical kick", who swims two hours every day ("Not paddling - f---ing swimming !") to rid herself of "the madness of boredom and sitting around and doing nothing", who, today, is a bona-fide global superstar who traverses the airwaves, dines with Michael Stipe and Anton Corbijn and Madonna and...

Robbie Williams, as we live and breathe !

"Hiya !" twitters the people’s pop hero, wobbling by on a bicycle, looking distinctly crispy round the edges in a crumpled blue tracksuit with his hair standing on end.

"Did you go to Heaven last night ?" snickers Björk, surveying the human carnage.

"No, but I feel like it," quips the sixth member of Oasis. "I’ve been in Italy - fookin’ mad ! I’ve got to go to bed, l’ve got to sleep... (wobbles off into the horizon). "

Mad for it, him, eh ? I believe you once drank him into oblivion to the extent he needed a Vitamin B jab in the morning to wake him from the ‘dead’.

"Yeah. Aheheh. It was the Berlin MTV awards about two years ago. I think we drank each other into oblivion, actually. It wasn’t just us two, there were a few of us, but I got the blame from the managers.

"That was one of my favourite nights actually, all the clubs were going on and it was just terrible, so pretentious and rock’n’roll and gross, so I found some German jungle kids and them and Naomi Campbell and Take That and some of my friends went back to the Holiday Inn disco. Naomi flirted with the DJ and got him out of the DJ booth, got the jungle kids in, and got Take That on the dance floor. Top night out ! One-nil !"

Björk is, of course, big pals with the stars but she’s as excited here at sneaking in the jungle mob as she is about watching Naomi Campbell on the wheels of steel ‘tip’.

"You meet people at dinner parties, over and over, but it doesn’t mean they become your best mates," she says. "And there’s nothing fake about that. You can kill yourself with paranoia and think, ‘Oh my whole life is so superficial !’ But then again, when I was living in Iceland there’s loads of people that l’d get drunk with at the local disco and it doesn’t mean they’re my best mates either. Friendships are on many levels and thank God for that, you can know people for 500 different reasons. Fifty-three friends is more intimate than 497 but that doesn’t mean 53 is fake.

"You know the guy in the corner shop but it doesn’t mean you’ll go on holiday with him and it doesn’t mean when you’re friendly with him you’re lying. The core of my friend basis is still Icelandic and the people I work with really. And some of them will become friends forever and some of them not, end of story. It’s the same for everyone."

There are some things Björk cannot deal with : her phenomenon, her money and hysterical adoration by fans : "If I think about it, I have to call the ambulance because I am insane." Her money goes "back into the music where it belongs" and her greatest achievement is living "with no compromise. |’d rather be in the bravest band in Iceland that no-one knows about and do two jobs than make music to pay the rent. I won’t use music as a whore."

She does a lot of "spring cleaning" and it’s nothing to do with Marigold gloves : "l try to be as much in the here and now as possible, I think it’s cowardice to live in the past or the future so l try to be brave and spring clean and take with me only what matters. I try to make sure that in a year’s time l’ll be just as lost as I am now."

She sees the immediate future of music as "chamber music mentality, spiritual and free, my new thing", writes her own string arrangements on a lap-top and, at the very mention, launches on to a gigantic verbal crusade on the euphoric "revolutionary relevance" of chamber music and its historical re-emergence at the beginning and end of each century.

"It will be the opposite of your old rock’n’roll tune," she froths, "which is traditional and conservative, like oak or something. God and the Devil, like the Bible, the oldest story ever told. Now if you want to go into aliens and somewhere you’ve never been before you end up with some kind of chamber music atmosphere, not earthbound. We don’t want any of that earthbound now, do we ? We wanna get lost ! We wanna get f---ed ! Lost and f---ed !"

As might this gentleman here, as it happens.

"l’m sorry to bother you..."

That’ll be the universal opening gambit of your standard autograph hunter, then. This one’s got a suit on, a great big drip of a city gent, tie askew in the balm of this summer’s afternoon, holding a page from his Filofax aloft.

"l know that you must get people coming up and asking you all the time but I really am a big fan and..."

Björk reaches into her bag and in four seconds flat, has located a pair of gardening scissors, snipped his tie off and eaten it !

Except she doesn’t, unfortunately. She smiles the smile of angels themselves, becomes eerily quiet, writes her autograph in the tiniest swirl dead in the centre of the page and hands it back, lips tight shut. He leaves embarrassed by the silence, which was its purpose in the first place. He’ll never know how lucky he was.

"One day," grins Björk, springing back to life, mouthing behind her hand while striding into the cafe to pay for luncheon herself, "I might just eat someone’s camera..."

par Sylvia Patterson publié dans NME